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City of Boston to Study Potential New Community Center in Allston

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Officials from the city of Boston presented initial plans to conduct a study into a potential new community center in Allston at a public meeting on Thursday.

The event — hosted by the Boston Centers for Youth and Families, the Public Facilities Department, and the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services — is the first of four scheduled community meetings before a final report is set to come out in spring 2023 detailing plans to replace the existing Jackson/Mann community center.

State Representative Kevin G. Honan, a Democrat of Allston-Brighton, said the current Jackson/Mann facility is deteriorating, with leaks and other structural building issues.

“I realize the building is in terrible shape,” he said, adding that “the Jackson/Mann community center has been vitally important to the Allston-Brighton community for 47 years.”

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Marta Rivera, commissioner of the Boston Centers for Youth and Families, said the city plans to study the prospects of expanding from the current facility.

“The goal of this study is to address the ‘what,’ ‘where,’ and the ‘what’s possible,’” she said at the meeting.

Rivera added that the city hopes to expand programming, operating hours, and accessibility with the new construction.

“We’re limited by hours of operation, we’re limited by space,” she said.

Anthony P. “Tony” D’Isidoro, president of the Allston Civic Association, praised the city for taking on the project, but expressed concern about the new community center’s potential impact on election administration. The current facility houses polling locations for multiple precincts.

“I hope that that process is already underway — that once the community center closes next summer, there is a plan in place to efficiently relocate the five precinct locations as well so that there is plenty of equity involved and people can easily, in those precincts, get to their polling locations,” he said at the meeting.

Brett Bentson, a principal at the design firm Utile, which is working with the city on the project, said the study will seek to incorporate feedback from residents.

“Understanding what the community wants these programs and uses to be gets really to the heart of this study,” he said.

Bentson announced plans to launch an online survey to collect data on the existing uses of the community center and to study how it can be improved through the development of the new facility.

—Staff writer Yusuf S. Mian can be reached at yusuf.mian@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @yusuf_mian2.

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