Dear NBSS Community,
In these early days of 2019, with the sunlight lasting just a little longer, I am excited to be at the beginning of my tenure as President at North Bennet Street School (NBSS) and the start of work together. In the fall and December, I had the good fortune to work alongside Miguel Gómez-Ibáñez, and the full staff and faculty. Now, Miguel has earned the distinction of President Emeritus – the School’s first – and while he is at the ready should I need counsel, he has returned to his woodshop and the work he loves there.
In the months ahead, I will continue the listening and learning that I started in December, making my way through conversations with the greater NBSS community, while working day-to-day with the faculty and staff. I’m asked, regularly, about my plans and priorities which I’m taking time to let form. During the Presidential search, I learned that extending the School’s reach to new audiences, new partners, and new projects is critical. This is work that I welcome. NBSS has positioned itself well with a new building, a new endowment for scholarships, and a track record of success in its programs. Now, it’s simply time to use that platform for the next chapter. Together, we’ll be considering expansions of programs, new and existing. We’ll be leveraging our scholarship aid to attract the strongest applicants, and finding ways to become a more inclusive and diverse community. And, through work inside the School and with the greater community, we’ll be keeping NBSS financially healthy – after all, this is what underpins so much of what is possible.
Since its founding, North Bennet Street School has offered so much to so many. It has provided an education in hands-on work that has led to meaningful lives and solid careers. As I watch education costs soar and students search for the application of their studies, I am proud to be leading a School that values hard-work, intense learning, and the acquisition of life-long skills. My own craft training made me more capable, more independent, and gave me new agency in the world. NBSS is giving these capabilities to its students every day; in turn, these students apply these skills in their lives and for our communities.
Thank you, for all the ways you make NBSS possible. To our Board Members and Advisors, thank you for your wisdom, your advocacy, your many contributions. To our donors and fans, thank you for generosity and for believing in what NBSS does. To our community partners, you extend our abilities and our reach, thank you. To our employers and commissioners, thank you for giving opportunities to help NBSS students move forward. To our faculty and staff, thank you for every day, for tireless working and leading. And to our students and alumni, you are the proof. We are so proud to have you as NBSS in the world.
I look forward to working with all of you. Please stay in touch.
Planning for a New North End Community Center
Dear Mayor Walsh,
For over 20 years, the North End Waterfront Residents’ Association (NEWRA) has actively worked to promote and protect the quality of residential life in Boston’s historic North End. With that purpose, we are contacting you regarding the City’s planning for a new North End community center.
NEWRA supports the City’s initiative “to create a community center with the space and amenities that meet the needs of North End residents today” and for the future. The existing Nazzaro building has long lacked the full capacity needed to meet all of the modern civic and recreational needs of a growing community.
As we learned at the Oct. 17, 2018, community meeting held by the Boston Public Facilities Department (BPFD), expanding the facility at the existing site has several serious negatives, including (a) the loss of public open space, (b) the need to close or relocate events and programs during construction, and (c) a possible lack of sufficient land area. NEWRA requests that consideration be given to planning a state-of-the-art facility at a new site for some community uses, such as children’s and recreational programs, while maintaining the existing Nazzaro building for sorely needed community event, meeting and performing arts spaces.
While the Oct. 17, community meeting was well attended and had a meaningful exchange of information and community response, attendees did express frustration with the public participation process, including a lack of notification of apparent earlier meetings. We respectfully offer the following comments and recommendations, supported by vote of our membership.
• The set of potential sites for the new community center should be broadened and thoughtfully evaluated and rated with community input at open public meetings, not solely through on-line surveys. Among sites that we would like to see added or restored to the site selection process is the BPDA’s parking lot at the corner of Fulton and Cross streets.
• The programming and uses that form the basis of design for the new community center have not been adequately shared with and vetted by the community.
• A new community center should not cause any loss of our limited open space, and consideration should be given to creating additional open space with a new facility that can serve the 10,000 residents, school and athletic programs and thousands who visit the North End each day.
• The site selection process should include thorough evaluations of current and future public safety and environmental conditions, such as proximity to public transportation, traffic volume, safe pedestrian access and potential flooding risks.
• If a Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) should continue to inform the City’s planning, we respectfully ask that its membership be expanded to include NEWRA representation and other, broad community representation. CAC meetings should be open and advertised. We would be glad to notify NEWRA members.
The existing Nazzaro building, even with its deficiencies, has been the center of community involvement and assistance for more than 100 years. By vote of its members, NEWRA has the following positions on the future of this historic building:
• NEWRA supports City of Boston Landmark designation to preserve the Nazzaro building’s architectural significance and its physical representation of the North End’s immigrant history.
• NEWRA opposes any sale of property or other plan that would remove the Nazzaro building or adjacent open recreational space from public asset and use. We urge the City to include in its plans for the new Community Center the long-term use of the Nazzaro building for community-related purposes.
NEWRA appreciates the many significant investments that the City under your leadership is making to improve public facilities and public spaces in the North End.
We are hopeful that the City will respond to the community’s concerns and recommendations with a rigorous and transparent public participation process as we work together to develop a new community center for the North End. We would welcome the opportunity to meet with appropriate City agencies and participate in planning for the new community center.
Cheryl DelgrecoPresident, NEWRA