It was a full house at the Curley Center on Day Boulevard last evening, the 30th. Several hundred concerned residents of South Boston and members of the Curley Center from all over the City (and beyond) showed up for the first introductory community meeting about the project to renew the Curley Community Center – commonly known as “the L”. The meeting convened right at 6 p.m. It took the following format: Overview, Challenges, Opportunities, Schedule, and Discussion (including a Question-and-Answer session that lasted for nearly an hour). Boston’s City of Operations Patrick Brophy hosted the meeting.
South Boston Online is referring to this project as a “renewal” for several reasons. The project as described at Monday’s meeting will deal with every portion of the L’s structure, as well as preparing it to accept many new programs, while retaining most of the current ones. Part of the project’s justification is to update the L, in conformance with current legal requirements – access, safety, and so on. And the project is planned to cover all foreseeable directions the L may take in the future, perhaps as far out as a full generation from now. The verbs ‘repair”, “renovate” and “refurbish” simply do not cover everything discussed. This will be a project that combines existing programs with new, multi-generational offerings.
The Overview mentioned that the Curley, a quarter-mile long structure, has a sum of $16 million authorized for the renewal project at this time. According to the officials present, more could be obtained, in order to make the project last into the “next generation”. The renewal’s Challenges include handicapped access, safety and proper alarms, and the damage expected from rising sea levels. This latter Challenge means that all operations, equipment, and electrical supplies must be raised up and redone.
Generally, the Opportunities can be summed up as improving the quality of life for all members, as well as the surrounding neighborhood. That includes all ages and backgrounds; the most viable programs will be retained. Favorable comparisons were made with the new facilities in East Boston and the Vine Street Center in Roxbury. Initially, the presenters mentioned Scheduling that included a year for planning, and then another year for construction. The construction interval later became 18 months, which would be a shutdown period, during which half or three-quarters of the L’s current programs would be curtailed.
Questions asked during the Discussion included continuance of the popular senior lunches (Yes), and the possibility of performing the Curley upgrades gradually in steps (an emphatic No). Requests to retain handball and to bring back boxing were noted. Mention was made of the historic nature of the L. It was pointed out that the Charlestown Community Center, a smaller facility, took three years to complete. The reception of the overall proposal, although indefinite right now, was cordial and positive.
There is still the overall question of whether to do this project at all. Should the Curley Center shut down for two years? Or should it stay open while smaller improvements, limited to $16 million, are made instead? How do you determine the answer to this? Simple! Just ask each of the Curley Center’s members between now and the end of 2019.