Mayor Walsh kicks off community process for new East Boston Senior Center

Former Orient Heights library to be renovated and turned into a new center for seniors

(BOSTON — Tuesday, February 4, 2020) — Mayor Martin J. Walsh today joined hundreds of older adults at the Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF) Paris Street Community Center to kick off the community process for a new senior center at the former Orient Heights library location. The event provided an opportunity for community members to provide input on programming they would enjoy, which will assist the architects in designing the renovation. The community process follows a $1 million investment in the City’s current budget. The full cost of the project will be included with the Mayor’s next Capital Plan released in April.

“We have heard from the East Boston community about how a senior center will enrich the neighborhood and the lives of residents in the area,” said Mayor Walsh. “It’s been a long time coming — and I am very proud that we’re moving forward with this project. We are more than doubling our current investment and engaging in this community process, so that this senior center can be as great as it can be for generations to come. I want to thank the residents and partners who have advocated for this new senior center for many years.”

The Mayor’s investment will transform the former library into a new senior center. The project will be managed by the City’s Public Facilities Department and will include creating flexible rooms to support the programs that will be offered, building a new deck on the North side of the building, relocating and upgrading the kitchen, and making all entrances and bathrooms fully accessible. In addition, all major mechanical systems will be upgraded or replaced including electrical, plumbing and HVAC. Investments from Massport will help support the programming and operational needs of the newly-renovated center once construction is complete.

“We are proud to join with Mayor Walsh to support this great project for the East Boston community,” said Massport CEO Lisa Wieland. “Massport strives to be a good neighbor to our surrounding communities. Over the years, with the help of East Boston residents and elected officials, we have fulfilled many community commitments in East Boston. Our support of this new Senior Center is a great example of these collaborative efforts.”

Senior centers and the senior programming they house promote connection, education, health and personal enrichment for older adults. As part of the Age-Friendly Boston Action Plan which details 75 concrete action items the City will take to become even more age friendly, senior programming has been mapped across Boston for easy access in finding opportunities for engagement and connection. Currently in its fourth year, the Age-Friendly Boston Action Plan has already celebrated the successful launch of several action items including the City’s first pilot Senior Civic Academy; an interactive public restrooms map; an age- and dementia-friendly business designation; an employment guide for people over 50; and a rebrand of the Age Strong Commission to better reflect the community it serves.

“I think this senior center is a wonderful opportunity for our community, and I thank Mayor Walsh and Massport for making it possible,” said Fran Carbone, who has been advocating for a senior center for the past five years. “Seniors look forward to having some substance every week. It’s going to empower us to have somewhere to go everyday and enjoy. Participating in the community process is a wonderful opportunity for us to put our happy wishes into the building. It feels like a dream–it’s finally coming to fruition. We have a lot of plans, and we are ready!”

“I’m thankful that we’ll have a place where at our age we can enjoy cultural and entertainment programming,” said Josefina Osorio, who lives in East Boston. “As a Latina, I’m happy and grateful to be included in these kinds of programs offered by the City.”

The East Boston senior center is being developed in collaboration with design firm Fennick McCredie Architecture and City of Boston departments including Budget, Public Facilities, Property Management, Age Strong, Department of Neighborhood Development, and Neighborhood Services.

ABOUT THE AGE STRONG COMMISSION

The Age Strong Commission works towards making Boston a city that fully embraces aging. The mission is to enhance the lives of people aged 55 years and older with meaningful programs, resources, and connections so we can live and age strong together in Boston. For more than 50 years, the Commission has served constituents as a City department, Council on Aging, and an Area Agency on Aging. In 2017, the Commission launched its Age-Friendly Action Plan, which is the City’s blueprint to make Boston the best city to live and age in. Learn more about us at http://www.boston.gov/age-strong.