Residents Ask for Transparency Around the Nazzaro Center’s Future

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North End resident Ellen Hume, along with Kirsten Hoffman and Marie Simboli, are organizing a petition to Save the Nazzaro Center from sale for private use and redevelopment. They are also seeking support for “landmarks” status to ensure historic preservation of the building.

In their presentation to the Residents’ Association (NEWRA) on December 13th, Hume alleged a lack of transparency from the City about what is happening with the Center. Maria Lanza from the Mayor’s Office offered some answers about the planning process for a new North End community center, highlighting that the Nazzaro Center building is not for sale.

Watch the full presentation in the video above and follow along with this timeline.

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The North End in 1908. The Nazzaro Center and Polcari Playground are seen between Prince and N. Bennet Streets.

(1:55) Ellen Hume, an abutter to the Nazzaro Center, speaks about its history dating back to 1902. She then talks about learning from the Boston Landmarks Commission that the Nazzaro Center is on the Housing Innovation Lab list for developers to submit proposals to use certain public buildings for housing (8:40). Maria Lanza clarifies this is a request for information, not for proposals.

(10:58) Hume cites her concerns from the October public meeting with the Sasaki Architects where the architects acknowledged the city has received a commercial real estate estimate for the Center (~$8 million). She further alleges a potential deal is in the works to sell the current building to fund the new community center.

(13:20) The presenters introduce a landmarks petition, which is an effort to protect the exterior of the Center as well as the Polcari Playground. Hume acknowledges the inside of the building has already been redeveloped so they are not landmarking that, only the outside of the building.

The second petition, Save the Nazzaro Center, is to protect the building from being sold for private use.

Comments and questions from the audience begin at 16:32.

Some meeting attendees said they would like to consider the possibility of two community centers – a new one in addition to the Nazzaro Center. Lifelong residents referred to previous years when the North End had multiple gathering areas including the North End Union and Christopher Columbus (CC) Center.

(23:29) Attendees discuss what would happen to current programs if the Nazzaro Center is renovated and has to be closed for construction. One person says it can be done in parts, like the rehabilitation center. Hume suggested having the new center built, and then using that space while the current one is renovated.

(26:20) Concerns are raised about senior citizens having to walk to a new center on the outer edge of the neighborhood. Some attendees stressed that the Nazzaro Center is in an ideal location for everyone.

(32:25) Neighborhood Liaison Maria Lanza offers some clarifications from the Mayor’s Office. She passed out copies of the recent Mayor’s Column: Setting the Record Straight About the Nazzaro Center. Lanza clarified that there is no money allocated to build a new center right now and there’s been no developer selected. The Sasaki Architects, after reviewing survey responses, have determined three final city-owned sites for a new center. This does not mean other sites are off the table, according to the Mayor’s Office.

The “A Day in the Life of the North End” community center study survey is still open and can be accessed here. Residents are also encouraged to comment here on the specific sites.

Toward the end of the meeting, Hume asks that she and others be given the opportunity to present the idea of having two centers to the Nazzaro Center Community Advisory Committee. Lanza said that a public meeting would be held with the Sasaki Architects to discuss the results of the final study.

View more coverage of the community center issue on NorthEndWaterfront.com.


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5 COMMENTS

  1. Put the Fulton St lot back on the table. It is closest location to the promised YMCA at the big dig! Remember that promise?

    Other spots are all false choices- either lose water views or a park.

  2. I went back and read the Mayor’s letter on this subject which was posted to this site last week.
    It states :
    “Six sites were explored for the study, and options have been narrowed down to three sites: the existing Nazzaro Center, the Mirabella Pool House, and the Sargent’s Wharf Site.”

    and then states…

    “Throughout this process, strong community engagement is absolutely crucial.”

    It begs the question, what about Fulton Street? I was at the meeting in October and people in attendance made it their point loudly and clearly that Fulton Street should be back on the table. So what happened between October and the Mayor’s latest statements? Why wasn’t Fulton St. put back on the list of places in the letter?

    Moreover, I’m still amazed that, in the same week the Mayor came out with the city’s flood plan, two of the proposed spots to relocate the Nazzaro Ctr. are IN THE FLOOD AREAS! Why would anyone want tax dollars spent to build on a place that the city admits will soon be under water?

    Seems we’re getting mixed messages. Either everything is still open insofar as locations or we are down to the places mentioned in the Mayor’s letter.

    Bottom line, the people who live here deserve whatever option(s) provide the best of everything for years to come and which also preserve the character of the neighborhood.

  3. Mirabello and Sargent’s are poor choices. Not a good walk for children and seniors. In storms it floods. What happened to Fulton Street? What is wrong with this city. Gary, send your thoughts to the Mayor. The City cannot sidestep this process.

  4. Great points here! Why are the three remaining choices all less than ideal. Two are remote and in flood zones and the current site is small. I think Heather is correct, we need to email Maria Lanza (maria.lanza@boston.gov) with concerns because comments might not be considered. Also, Alistair Lucks is the city architect on the project alistair.lucks@boston.gov.

  5. We need to organize our efforts to realize a brand new, state of the art facility, with the Fulton Street site as the preferred location of the neighborhood.

Comments are closed.