New Community Center Relocation, Programming Public Meeting Held

Finding a suitable location to house a new North End Community Center, either the ground up construction, or even possible space to renovate, has become a major endeavor in the North End/Waterfront.

Steven Siciliano.

Working closely with the Boston Public Facilities Department and the Boston Center for Youth Services Department, residents want to tackle this issue by finalizing a plan to accommodate the move to green space as soon as it’s possible.

All parties agreed that the Nazzaro Center, as it is, has simply outgrown the current space, thus losing the ability to provide expansion or extended programming and accepting new memberships.

Currently there is a waiting list of over 100 people due to the lack of space. The Center cannot accommodate other activities or implement what residents want placed in a new neighborhood center like an outdoor swimming pool and a full-size gym.

Two meetings have been held with a Nazzaro Study Committee to discuss programs, activities that should be created in a new or renovated Center. A third public meeting has been held to hopefully find a suitable location that makes sense for the neighborhood, other demands and problems that could occur on a selected site, and there is the cost factor.

Close to 100 people attended the last meeting to express their point of view on how this endeavor can be accomplished.

Residents made it clear that the community wants and deserves a new facility that includes a pool, a gym more senior space and programs. They also called for a teen and adult program, more youth activities based on community needs and input.

A presentation that depicted three possible relocation sites and the possible renovation and expansion of the current Nazzaro Center site was discussed in length.

Possible sites included the Mirabella Pool, Sergeants Wharf and the Fulton Street parking lot.

One suggestion by a resident was to fix up the Center and expand the building into the current parking lot, basketball court and community garden.

The idea went down the drain when it was learned that in order to accomplish this idea, the Nazzaro Center would have to close its doors for about two-years with nowhere to house the current activities.

In addition, it would be a loss of public space and access to and from Prince and North Bennet Streets, plus impacts on two properties that abut the open space.

Soon to be named the Center’s Director Steven Siciliano quickly dismissed this idea because of the construction’s two-year closure of the community facility.

The two of the three potential sites posed water flooding problems, the pool and wharf sites. Fulton Street location seemed to be a more viable site because it is owned by the City and its closer to senior citizens housing.

Assess ability, traffic and safety were some of the concerns raised relating to these locations. In addition, parking and pick up issues were also raised.

It is been estimated the current value of the Nazzaro Center is 8-10 million dollars and a new or renovated Centered would cost tens of millions of dollars.

If the Center is relocated, the City would put the building up for sale, probably for housing. The square footage of the facility is about 20,000.

In order to build a new facility that meets the needs suggested, 40 to 50 thousand square feet is needed.

The City did look at other sites but they were not considered because they are privately owned.

Unless other locations can be found that will work, one of the above-mentioned locations will have to be selected so the project can be developed.

Eventually, city, state and the federal government must be involved at some capacity.

Currently, there appears to be no objections to the relocation part of the process as well as programming.

Additional meetings will be scheduled to hear any new ideas and to move forward with the community endeavor.

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