Parents with kids participating in the Tenacity program at the North End tennis courts have run into “big guys wearing suits” hired by the Mitt Romney campaign at 585 Commercial Street. The parents say this is not about politics, but about keeping access to the only safe drop-off/pick-up spot they have used for years. A few months ago, the Romney campaign leased the building to serve as headquarters going into the 2012 Presidential election. It is the same site he used in the 2008 campaign. Tenacity is a free tennis and literacy camp.
In the past, access was granted by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) which is trying to advocate on behalf of the parents. This is the first year there has been a problem. DCR has been asked to look for documentation showing that they have easements for access which is what parents have been told over the years.
The parents are from various political stripes, but are surprised the campaign is not being more neighborly. “Ten minutes of friendly access in a sparely-used parking lot seems a lot more important to the Romney campaign than the safety of their children,” said one parent.
In a (very) quick conversation with one of the guards, they referenced a previous “hit and run” as the reason why the lot is closed to the parents. The issue is not a matter of space since the lot, shared with Zipcar, is usually half empty.
A meeting is scheduled for this week between Tenacity, DCR, the building managment and the Romney campaign. The North End parents are ready to fight for their rights at the lot, with many having already contacted several media sources.
Parents say the guards have been rude and argumentative. Apparently, a younger “pair of suits” was out there earlier in the week having been replaced by the guys shown in the photo above. A traffic barrier has also been placed at the entrance of the lot instead of the cones used previously.
In the meantime, parents are out of luck. They are not allowed to double-park on Commercial Street, nor is that really safe when carrying infants or toddlers in and out of car seats. They are also afraid their children will walk out of their line of vision with all the surrounding traffic near the busy intersection of North Washington Street.
It is unclear whether a formal agreement exists with DCR stipulating easement rights for the Tenacity program. With previous tenants, like the movie productions, there were always a few community spots and rest were marked as private. With every new tenant, however, it seemed like the community spots were dwindling.
Last year, Tenacity served over 4,400 Boston youth at 30 neighborhood sites providing tennis and structured reading sessions designed to keep children’s minds and bodies active over the summer so they are ready for school. It is a free program attended by students from diverse economic, racial and educational backgrounds.
“It’s pretty safe to say that the Tenacity program has never had a run-in with a presidential candidate before,” noted a North End parent.
Correction: This post was edited to delete a reference to sponsorship of Tenacity by City Year. Both organizations are part of the Americorps service network and sources indicated a sponsorship, but we have not been able to directly reference support by City Year to Tenacity.