Once again, it was standing room only at the Nazzaro Community Center on North Bennet Street as residents flocked to the main hall for an update on the relocation of a $40-$50 million-dollar new Community Center, which will be managed by the Boston Centers for Youth and Families (BCYF).
BCYF currently manages the Bennet Street site, which will remain open for the construction of the new Center that will be built from the ground up, a first in the City of Boston.
The North End Community Study Committee and several other City of Boston departments presented potential plans calling for the new Center to be relocated to the Mirabella Pool building next to the Coast Guard Base on Commercial Street.
A 40,000-plus square-foot building that will house all the current Nazzaro programs and many new activities will be eventually decided by the neighborhood.
Suggestions by the City included, the move to the Mirabella Pool area, relocating the children’s splash pool to an area near the basketball court, removing the diving pool and taking space from the building to make more room for community programs like a full-size basketball court.
Reportedly, a study indicated that the area along the diving pool is not regularly used and it’s a safety problem.
Apparently, relocation plans and changes are not cast in stone until plans are approved by the neighborhood.
Study suggestions did not include pickup and drop off for program attendees, one of the things residents made crystal clear that is needed.
It was also made clear by the BCYF that the Nazzaro Center will remain open and active until the relocation project is fully completed and they officially take over the management of the new structure.
However, once the movie takes place, the Bath House building will become surplus and BCYF will no longer manage the building and will have no say as to what happens to the 100-plus-year-old facility.
In addition, once declared surplus, that’s a horse of different color and the City of Boston will create Request for Proposal (RFP) to determine the faith the building.
The neighborhood will play a role in the RFP requirements before it goes out to the public for potential development, according to the City.
As far as the relocation site, residents did not like the placement of the splashing pool or the removal of the diving pool which they claim is well used by teens and young adults.
They disputed the claim by the City that the area is not well used and the removal will create the loss of seating and surrounding area.
Regarding the splashing pool, it was a suggestion to move it to DiFilippo Playground (Gassy). They did not like the relocation site proposed.
There was no drop off or pick-up area included in the current plans and residents were concerned.
One suggestion was to relocate to the Fulton Street site next to the expressway, which is being used by the City for parking. Vehicle pollution was a prime issue at the site.
Residents wanted the Center to remain open even with a new site. They called for a senior citizen program to remain active and for public meetings space.
They noted that getting to and from the Commercial Street site was too far for seniors and crossing a major street to get to the site was dangerous.
They asked for the City to set up a neighborhood meeting before any RFP would be issued to make sure that there was direct input from the neighborhood. The City agreed.
Residents were told that the best possible way this could occur is if a non-profit organization manages to take over the property.
The community was assured that there are no plans to build condominiums in the old building and at this time there was no funding allocated for new neighborhood Center.
Residents told the City they didn’t like the relocation of the children’s splash pool, the removal of the diving pool and a lounging area that will be lost.
One community suggestion was to the pool to the DeFilippo Playground on Prince Street.
All suggestions by the community will be taken into consideration and another public meeting could be scheduled. The wharf site apparently has a sea-water level potential problem and Fulton Street has a possible vehicle emission problem due to its closeness to the expressway and the mouth of the tunnel.