The City and a group of Community Advisory Committee (CAC) members are looking to get a major study of the BCYF Charlestown Community Center on the radar of more residents as the group begins meeting and seeking input on what could end up being a brand new facility with updated programming in the Town.
The BCYF Charlestown Community Center is currently housed in Charlestown High School, but also includes the outdoor Clougherty Pool and the Golden Age Center on Main Street. All of them are successful in their programming and management, but the facilities and additional programming are being eyed for an upgrade from the City – a process that has played out successfully already in the North End.
Mayoral Liaison Quinlan Locke said the need to upgrade the Community Center – and potentially build a new stand-alone building in the Town – was identified about 18 months ago in the Capital Improvements Plan.
He said the kick-off meeting for the CAC and the community took place on Monday night, and they got good participation, but would like to get this on the radar screen of more people.
“Charlestown is just getting started and is in the very early stages of the study,” he said. “The first community meeting was Monday night and introduced the topic. The big thing that is being talked about is if Charlestown can have a stand-alone BCYF center and what it would look like. In a time of COVID-19 and so much going on, you’d like to think this is some good news in the Town. Charlestown might be getting its own, stand-alone community center.”
Kim Mahoney, past president of the Bunker Hill Associates, said she is on the CAC as part of the Associates and considers it a pleasure to assist. She said she grew up in the Charlestown Community Center and wanted to participate in guiding it into the future – perhaps with a new building and expanded programming on top of the existing successful programming.
“This is something that should be on more peoples’ radar screens and the mayor really wants to take care of Charlestown and get input from everyone,” she said. “I’m going to be looking for a common sense space for them to land. We want to make sure we protect the integrity of programs already in place also. Finally, I’d like to see long-term more programs for teen-agers. We need peer leadership programs. When I was a teen, you were a peer leader at the Community Center and you got paid and produced a public service. You were out volunteering and cleaning up parks and bringing other kids together and serving the elderly…
“To see it all come together and for the City to have this vision to put it under one umbrella in one building makes perfect sense,” she continued.
Locke said the official timeline features another meeting in late January or February where they will be talking about preliminary site selection for any new building. Already, in the North End, a space on City land has been identified for a place to build a new building. Locke said the City will be scouring the Town likewise to find a similar space.
“It doesn’t have to be a BCYF property or a City-owned property,” Locke said. “They will look at every possible property they could get to work on – whether City-owned, state-owned, public or private. They will look at that and really take it seriously.”
Further meetings would discuss the concept of the Center and the design. A final report from the study would be due in the summer of 2021, with action steps identified for the next step in the process.
For now, though, Locke and Mahoney said the City hopes to get more input from the community over the next few months. That can be had by going to the Community Center website at www.boston.gov/departments/boston-centers-youth-families/bcyf-charlestown.
“Right now what we’re really hoping for is to drive people to the website to fill out surveys and let BCYF know what the community is thinking,” he said. “This is a really good thing and we want as much participation as possible and as much community input as possible. We hope to get more public participation in the process. The first meeting went well, but we’re looking for a lot more participation at the next meeting because this could be a really good amenity for Charlestown.”