Just as parents and neighbors have activated en masse to boost the Murphy Community Centerâ€™s use by local teens, the city is finally getting around to making a few crucial repairs that will cause it to close down for the entire summer.
The move, which was announced last week, came as a shock to parents, particularly those involved in a recent surge of community involvement in the center, which produced 19 new members for the centerâ€™s site council in January.
â€œI donâ€™t think everybody understood that the whole place was going to close,â€ Popeâ€™s Hill Civic president Phil Carver told City Council members at a hearing on the topic at the Murphy held on Tuesday evening.
Many feared the closure to allow painting and a new roof would disrupt efforts to revitalize programming, but as details were discussed the mood leaned more toward accepting the challenge rather than resistance or anger.
â€œThe only time they can do it is the summer,â€ said John Oâ€™Toole, one of the new council members. â€œIf weâ€™re used to anything weâ€™re used to obstacles, so weâ€™ll get around it. The cityâ€™s been very good, theyâ€™re very accommodating.â€
The work includes a complete roof replacement and a new coat of paint. Even though the cityâ€™s contractors will use paints that are low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs), they are still unhealthy for kids to breath, said a representative from the cityâ€™s Public Facilities Department, as would be dust from the old roofâ€™s demolition.
Not all of the programs normally hosted at the Murphy have found at homes as of yet, but through a deal with the stateâ€™s Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Devine Rink and Garvey Park have become destinations for the Murphyâ€™s teen programming, and the Holland, Marshall and Lee School will honor Murphy membership for pool access.
Community input indicates the summer camp could end up at the Kenny Elementary School on Oakton Ave., although BC High, UMass-Boston and the Neighborhood Charter School are being checked out as possibilities. Special Ed programs at the Murphy are set to move to the Lee School on Talbot Avenue. There are also a number of ideas for new programming in the area, including a new 13 and under team for the Boston basketball league and a one-day Red Sox baseball camp.
Councillor Michael Flaherty, a mayoral candidate and father of two Murphy students, took the microphone to demand assurances from Boston Public Schools and Public Facilities that the job get done on time.
â€œThere are two things that donâ€™t often happen in municipal contracts and that is on budget and on time,â€ said Flaherty, adding that gaping holes at Harvardâ€™s Allston campus and at the former site of Fileneâ€™s downtown are what â€œhappen when you donâ€™t hold contractors accountable.â€
He suggested the city issue a performance bond as part of the contract, which penalizes contractors who donâ€™t finish on schedule.
â€œWe successfully paint schools every yearâ€¦ we feel very confident we can meet your request,â€ shot back the PFD representative.
Councillor Maureen Feeney â€” who ordered the hearing â€” also got involved, telling Flaherty how, with new members joining the Murphy council, and all the work being done on the center, she thinks people â€œare going to be very proud of whatâ€™s going on.â€
To which he coolly replied, â€œI agree that new leadership can be a good thing for all entities.â€
Flahertyâ€™s pressing did produce a deadline from BPS on putting the roofing and painting jobs out to bidâ€”April 17.