By Ellen Hume, Marie Simboli and Kirsten Hoffman – Save the Nazzaro Coalition
WHAT: The future of the Nazzaro building and all the community programs currently housed there are on the line as the city’s consultants present a briefing to the community April 25 at 6:30 p.m. at the Nazzaro Community Center, 30 North Bennet St., Boston.
WHO: IT IS VITAL FOR YOU TO BE THERE! PLEASE COME AND HAVE YOUR VOICE BE HEARD.
WHY: The Mayor promised us that he will keep the Nazzaro building in city hands, and won’t tear it down, even as the new community center is built. But what actually happens to it will be directly affected by what is announced on April 25. At this public meeting, the City’s Sasaki Associates architects will present their final proposals for building a new North End community center building, probably on the waterfront.
THE PROBLEM: We strongly support having a new community center for some programs like basketball, because we all agree that the current Nazzaro building is too small to house all the programs that the North End’s growing population needs today. The current building urgently needs to be refurbished, and a creative team from the Boston Architectural College has donated their time to help us imagine what might be done there.
From the beginning, our public officials have treated these two issues as separate: build an entirely new community center, and then later figure out what happens to the Nazzaro building, left empty when they move. This does not seem logical or fiscally responsible. This is not what the community wants!
THE SOLUTION: We will find out on April 25 if the city finally recognizes the obvious: we should keep some programs in the Nazzaro building and put others in a new facility at a second location. At their first briefing last October, North Enders told Sasaki they should consider Fulton Street as a possible second site. It could be part of a mixed-use building—which could include the new indoor basketball court, a pool, and other needed programs, but also include some revenue-generating features, such as offices, condos , parking or other uses.
Have they heard us? We have no idea.Our requests to meet with Sasaki have been ignored, despite nearly 1,400 signatures on two petitions about the future of the Nazzaro building. The decision to move all the programs to one new location was made behind closed doors and never offered for a public vote.
This lack of transparency backfired at Sasaki’s first briefing, last October. They proposed putting the all-eggs-in-one-basket new community center on Sargeant’s Wharf, or next to the Mirabella Pool. The waterfront locations are controversial. People are concerned about flooding, moving everything to the edge of the neighborhood, and requiring our youngest and oldest neighbors to travel there.
Sasaki’s third and final choice was the least popular of all: tearing down the current Nazzaro building– a beloved North End institution that is pending as an official Landmark due to its immigrant history and architecture—which they admitted was even less practical! When they proposed this, Sasaki acknowledged immediately that the current footprint would still be too small, even if they took over the open space of the Polcari playground!
So what will Sasaki propose on April 25 at 6:30 p.m.? Please come to the Nazzaro Center to give your feedback: the city wants to give us new community facilities, and we need your support to go forward in a positive way.
By Ellen Hume, Marie Simboli and Kirsten Hoffman, Save the Nazzaro Coalition
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