Students from the Boston Architectural College (BAC) recently presented some possible options for Nazzaro Center use once a new community center is built. They met with many different organizations and stakeholders to develop possibilities based on recommendations they received. They reiterated that the plans they presented were meant to be used as a starting point for conversations on future use. We are thankful they put in the time and effort into helping the community see some possibilities.
I believe the Nazzaro Center should become a senior wellness center for our growing senior population. In 2019, the health center served 2,334 seniors which is a 40% increase from the number served in 2016. Most of this is due to patients aging up from younger years. Since there are 3 senior housing facilities and soon that will increase to 4, the North End will always have a large senior population.
Today’s seniors are not like our parents. Some say 70 is the new 50! Today’s senior wants to stay healthy and vibrant. The health center would like to provide health promotion and disease prevention services that are not provided today due to space constraints in its current building. Examples include acupuncture, reflexology, therapeutic and recuperative therapies, specialized behavioral health, memory care, exercise and gym equipment specialized for seniors and nutrition counseling and education. Open space would be available for senior clubs and community meetings. It would not include drug rehab or methadone services. In meetings with the Mayor, he has told me that the City will continue to own the building and would like to see it be used for seniors. Of course funding is always an issue and I believe the building needs a gut renovation to bring it up to modern standards. That is a challenge we face, but I believe is not unsurmountable.
Last week, Mayor Walsh was in East Boston celebrating the conversion of an old library into a new senior center. The community rallied around the idea and the City was ready to start the project. The Mayor should do the same in the North End. Our seniors deserve nothing less.
James E. Luisi
CEO North End Waterfront Health
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