Wu and Michlewitz Announce New North End Community Center

Special to the Regional Review

Mayor Michelle Wu and House Ways and Means Chair Representative Aaron Michlewitz together recently announced state funding for a new Boston Centers for Youth and Families (BCYF) North End Community Center, replacing the current BCYF Nazzaro Community Center. The new center will be located adjacent to the BCYF Mirabella Pool on Commercial Street in the North End. The City will also be launching a facilities assessment to ensure access to high-quality BCYF spaces and programming for residents across the City and that facilities are being maintained at the level that families deserve. 

Rep. Aaron Michlewitz.
Mayor Michelle Wu.

At a press conference in the North End, the Mayor and Representative Michlewitz announced the City is receiving $25 million in state funding to support the new North End center, of which $5 million will support renovations to the current BCYF Nazzaro Community Center building to repurpose it for community uses. 

“Boston has a legacy of public spaces that have created family, community and connection,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “Spaces like the BCYF Nazzaro Center are critical infrastructure for our city and community members so that we can truly have neighborhoods where people live, work, play, and grow together. Every neighborhood deserves modern spaces that reflect the full needs of our communities. I’m thankful to Representative Michlewitz for securing funding for a brand new center in the North End.”

“I was proud to secure this State funding for the City of Boston,” said House Ways and Means Chairman Representative Aaron Michlewitz. “These funds will not only help to build a brand new and much needed Community Center for the North End, but it will also help preserve the old Nazzaro Center site and ensure it continues to be an asset for the neighborhood.”

The City engaged in a community process from 2017 to 2019 led by the Public Facilities Department to envision the future of a community center in the North End due to the neighborhood’s needs, outgrowing the existing Nazzaro building. The result was the recommendation to build a new center next to the BCYF Mirabella outdoor pool on Commercial Street and repurpose the existing BCYF Nazzaro building for community uses. The full cost of the new project is estimated to be $50 to $60 million.

The building that now houses the BCYF Nazzaro first opened in 1906 as a gym and bathhouse. BCYF acquired the property in 1985 and converted it into a community center.

In late spring 2023, the City will begin designing the new community center on Commercial Street and will engage the community to ensure resident’s needs are met. 

“I am so grateful for the leadership of Mayor Wu and our state delegation in choosing to make this substantial investment in our city’s community centers,” said José F. Massó, Chief of Human Services. “Boston residents deserve safe, accessible, updated public facilities and this administration has made that a top priority.”

“As Chairman of the North End Athletic Association we are in full support of the proposed New North End Community Center which is long overdue,” said Ted Tomasone the Chairman of the North End Athletic Association (NEAA). “The addition of this center and the renovation of the Nazzaro center will continue to make the North End one of the most exciting neighborhoods in the City of Boston. Chairman Michlewitz continues to be a dynamic leader for the North End and the City of Boston.”

Additionally, the City will soon begin a Citywide BCYF facilities assessment, which will ensure that assets are repaired and replaced proactively. The assessment will inform a comprehensive plan to better anticipate needed capital investments and plan for regular maintenance that will prevent sudden closures and the need for emergency repairs. 

Boston Public Schools (BPS) has already begun an assessment of its facilities as part of the Green New Deal for BPS, which includes the BCYF facilities that are co-located in schools. BPS is prioritizing those facilities that house pools managed by BCYF for assessment. The assessment of the City’s remaining facilities will prioritize BCYF facilities and will also include recommendations for the appropriate staffing levels for maintenance.

“Our Community Centers and swimming pools are important resources that all Bostonians cherish and rely upon,” said Dion Irish, Chief of Operations. â€œWe are excited to receive such generous support from the state, thankful for Representative Michlewitz’s advocacy, and committed to partnering with the Human Services Cabinet to build, renovate, and maintain these facilities going forward.”

“This investment in a new North End Community Center is one of several major renovations and new builds that will ensure that Boston’s residents have high-quality, green community centers with modern features that meet the needs of today’s families,” said Marta E. Rivera, Commissioner of Boston Centers for Youth & Families.   

The Nazzaro Center will stay open until the new community center is complete. In the coming years, as the new community center enters construction, the City will engage with North End residents about the future of the Nazzaro building.

The Nazzaro Center and facilities assessment announcements build off of recent investments and ongoing work, including centers across the City that have recently reopened, facilities under renovation that will open soon, and new projects entering design. In November, Mayor Wu announced the opening of the East Boston Senior Center, which is operated by the City’s Age Strong Commission and managed by the Property Management Department. In October, Mayor Wu and BCYF announced the site of the first full service BCYF community center in Grove Hall.

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