Witnesses plan Agawam Hall
Friday, July 14, 2006
By DAN LAMOTHE
AGAWAM – A congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses based in West Springfield is seeking to move to the Feeding Hills section of the city, where a new Kingdom Hall would be built.
The structure, planned at 326 N. Westfield St., would be located about a mile from the center of Feeding Hills, on land that once served as part of a parcel where a DB Mart convenience store was located, according to city records.
“It would basically be the West Springfield congregation moving to Agawam,” Dan Bean, a member of a Springfield Witness congregation representing the group, said this week. “We’re just looking for acceptance and to be welcomed into Agawam like we have been in other communities.”
The West Springfield congregation, which numbers about 100, is looking to move due to handicapped accessibility issues it struggled with in its old home at 88 Elm St., West Springfield, Bean said. The bathrooms were located in the basement, making it difficult for elderly members to get to them, he said.
A proposed site plan filed with the city last month shows the structure would be 4,365 square feet in size, with 79 parking spaces. The plan will be reviewed by the Planning Board next week and could be changed before it is approved.
Bean said the congregation realizes that Agawam does not have a Kingdom Hall and hopes to be able to grow when it settles there.
Headquartered in Brooklyn, N.Y., Jehovah’s Witnesses are members of an international organization whose members are known for going door-to-door to discuss religion. They base their beliefs solely on the principles found in the Bible and view first-century Christianity as their model, according to the religion’s Web site.
There are currently more than 98,000 congregations worldwide, with Kingdom Halls based locally in at least 10 communities.