CNC Gets Clarity on Constitution Inn Sale

The Charlestown Neigh-borhood Council (CNC) got a little more clarity on the future of the Charlestown YMCA and the Dennis McLaughlin House at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Charlestown YMCA Executive Director Dru Belli said there are no plans to close the Y at the Navy Yard as the Greater Boston YMCA looks to sell the Constitution Inn.

“We are not hoteliers, we are not in the hotel business, so the decision was made to put (the Inn) up for sale,” said Belli.

However, Belli said, before the decision was made to sell the Constitution Inn, the Y made sure the 10 families staying at the McLaughlin House, which was originally established for Charlestown mothers with addiction issues, would be housed at its Huntington Avenue facility.

Belli said the move was made about three weeks ago with the support of the McLaughlin family, and with the 10 families all staying on the same floor in a facility that will be referred to as the Dennis McLaughlin House.

“Once that was decided, we decided it was time to put the Inn up for sale,” said Belli. 

The Inn was put up for sale about a month ago, and Belli said the Y is still giving tours to interested parties and will likely be taking a round of bids on the property in the next few weeks.

When news of the sale was first announced earlier this month, there were some fears in the community that Charlestown would be left without a YMCA.

Belli said that is not going to happen.

“We are going to make sure there is a YMCA in Charlestown,” he said. Initially, the Greater Boston YMCA will lease the space from the purchaser of the Inn for several years as it looks for a Charlestown location to make its own, Belli said.

CNC members were generally supportive of the YMCA plans, although there were some lingering questions about the future of the McLaughlin House.

“Will Charlestown women still have preference?” CNC member Elaine Donovan asked.

Wendy Zinn from the YMCA Association office said it has been at least five years since Charlestown women have been given preference at the McLaughlin House, and that the house has operated as an emergency shelter through the state.

Belli was also asked if the proceeds from the Constitution Inn sale would be earmarked for a new Charlestown YMCA.

“The money will be brought to Charlestown to do a new facility,” he said.

CNC Chairman Thomas Cunha recommended that a CNC member take an active role as a YMCA board member, or at least in the planning process, as the Charlestown YMCA transitions over the coming years.

•In other business, the CNC met with Ryan Woods, the city’s Commissioner of Parks and Recreation.

Woods updated the CNC on several ongoing and impending parks projects, including at McCarthy Park (formerly Eden Street Park) and Ryan Playground, as well as the turf field at Charlestown High School.

The $1.1 million McCarthy Park project should be out to bid in April and completed by spring of 2021, according to Woods.

The larger Ryan Playground project could come in at close to $15 million. Woods said just over $1 million has been earmarked for the design of that project.

“The Langone/Puopolo playground in the North End came in at $15.1 million, so we think Ryan will be just as expensive,” said Woods.

The renovation of the artificial turf is lined up for the summer of 2021, Woods said.

Woods also fielded questions about the possibility of a dog park in Charlestown, improved bathroom facilities for existing parks facilities, and better policing of parks where residents let their dogs run loose and use the facilities as a bathroom.

The CNC also got a brief update from Don Haska on the ongoing battle to get historical designation for the Bunker Hill Battlefield. 

Cunha suggested the CNC regroup on the issue next month after determining where they are getting support and who is putting up roadblocks to the efforts.

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