A mass mailing was sent to thousands of North End / Waterfront residents this week opposing a new community center at the site next to the Mirabella Pool. The City has yet to decide on a site, although the Commercial Street location remains under consideration, according to city officials. A potential new building would be built where the spray pool is located on Commercial Street and include the area where there is currently a bathhouse.
The North End Community Advisory Committee last met in December 2017 to discuss results from a study on the needs, layout options and expectations for a new building. [See North End Community Center Study Shares Program Recommendations for New Building.]
The property owners that sent out the postcard told NorthEndWaterfront.com they want to raise community awareness about the site selection process and are asking the City to remove the Commercial Street location from consideration. They are in the early stages of asking residents to respond via their firstname.lastname@example.org email address. So far, they count 30 residents and property owners that are against the Commercial Street site for a new community center.
The opposition postcard says “Save the North End Waterfront” and lists concerns such as flooding, park shadows, waterfront view restrictions and highlight that the peripheral location is inconvenient and potentially unsafe for seniors and children. [Note: We have confirmed the mailing is not associated with the previous group using the same “Save the North End Waterfront” moniker who were fighting a proposed hotel development at Lewis Wharf.]
City officials emphasize that no decision has been made yet in the site selection process, but the location next to the Mirabella Pool remains a potential location. Alistair Lucks, City of Boston Project Manager for the Study at Public Facilities, provided the following update in response to the recently raised concerns.
“We are still considering this site, adjacent to the Mirabella Pool, as a potential site. We are certainly mindful of all of the issues raised, as we work with various City agencies to vet all of the potential sites before presenting them to the Community Advisory Committee for feedback. We definitely plan to meet with the CAC and gather feedback from the community before making any final decisions. We hope to hold the next CAC meeting in the early fall for this express purpose.”
At previous meetings, the proposed plans for a new community center introduce designated spaces for key constituents, including the general public, seniors/adults, teens, children, and also for popular activities, such as music, sports, cardio, weightlifting, and studio fitness (ie. dance, yoga). The Mayor’s FY19 budget includes $3 million for the design of a new North End Community Center.
Renovation of the existing Nazzaro Center on North Bennet Street remains an option, but officials note the current building is over capacity and too small for the community’s expanded needs, even including the outdoor lot/basketball court. It was also designed as a bathhouse, not a community center so the existing structure would likely have to be torn down. There is not much public land ready for development in the Boston’s North End. Besides the pool site, there are a a few remaining parking lots, on Cross Street and on Commercial Street including the BRA-owned Sargent’s Wharf. A new center is expected to be significantly larger, more accessible and include amenities such as an indoor swimming pool.
The City could also look to sell the existing Nazzaro Center property to a condo developer and use those proceeds for a new building in the neighborhood.
A community meeting in the early Fall is expected to be scheduled. Stay tuned to the Community Calendar for upcoming meetings.