by Rick Winterson

For the last several weeks, there have been questions about the Curley Community Center’s deep, overall renovations, which began in 2020, were delayed for a year by asbestos litigation, and now are expected by many observers to be completed before year-end.  We inspected the site earlier this week and then asked a few questions ourselves, with the following results and conclusions.

On Tuesday, Ed Flynn, the President of Boston’s City Council and our District 2 City Councilor, kindly responded to our questions with an email, after he had talked with City officials and staff.  It’s brief and to-the-point, so we will quote it exactly as Ed sent it to us:

   “From my conversation with city officials and senior staff at BCYF, it is my understanding that following supply chain issues and legal disputes, the city is hoping to have construction on the Curley Community Center completed by the end of November; with permitting, supplies, staffing, and other considerations likely to push re-opening to early in the New Year.

“The Curley Community Center, or the “L”, has been an essential recreational facility and critical to the wellbeing of so many of our neighbors, young families, and seniors in South Boston for decades.  Following this renovation, the first since the Flynn Administration, it will continue to be a crown jewel for South Boston and one of the nicest facilities in the entire City of Boston.”

Yesterday afternoon, Erin Murphy contacted us with her own “take” on the Curley Community Center.  From her position as City Councilor-at-Large, Erin views the Center as virtually finished.  She told us the contractors should be leaving soon, possibly by month-end October, but definitely on or before Thanksgiving.  After that, the BCYF will have to start the facility up, staff up the Center, and then get at least a few of the Center’s 2023 programs up and running.  This will assuredly go into next year (right now, the BCYF is already firming up their citywide winter programming).  According to Erin, normal opening events such as a celebratory and joyful ribbon-cutting will take place during or after early phases of the Curley Community Center startup.

A Few Editorial Comments:

We took a thorough look at the Curley Center Project site two days ago.  There’s a significant amount of exterior landscaping going on, which is usually one of the final steps in renovating an existing building.  Doing this in the fall is advantageous, because grass and plantings have time to take root and will be the better for this in the spring.  In other words, landscaping is one sign that a project is nearing completion

However, there appears to be a fair amount of construction remaining to be done on the ocean side of the east wing (which had been the men’s side of the Curley) near the handball courts.  Whether this will interfere with at least a partial opening of the Center is questionable.  On the other hand, there’s about a six-week interval between now and Thanksgiving – a fair amount of time to complete the major Curley construction work that remains.

Staffing the Curley Community Center during the labor shortage around here will be a challenge.  Training intervals could then last for weeks, if not for months, depending on the prior experience needed to fill each of the Center’s jobs.  We note that electrical work still to be done could be delayed if it requires microchips, just as other construction work had been delayed last year, due to lumber shortages caused by supply chain difficulties.