The Springfield City Council on Tuesday approved $3.15 million in public financing to create 41 apartments in the beleaguered Booth-Ferguson buildings in downtown. In late August, the council voted 8-2 to table the tax increment financing plan, citing worries that Rick Lawrence, the former developer who owes $1.2 million in benefits for workers who've done some renovation work, might somehow still be in the stew. Six days after the tabling, Lawrence, sans witnesses or notary stamp, signed a document promising that he would have no further involvement with the project in any way. "That helped," allowed Mayor Jim Langfelder after the 6-4 council vote. No public money will be released until the project is finished. The council voted after Michael Higgins, downtown restaurant owner, noted that council members had said that they had bad tastes in their mouths from the project's dismal history and that the new developer has vowed to pay owed benefits. "He's willing to give us Chiclets, so our breath smells better," Higgins said. "Go ahead: Fight with him. And in the meantime, look at your downtown."

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