BPDA gives hearty thumbs up to 'Fieldhouse' project on Point

A rendering of the Dorchester Fieldhouse. RODE Architects image

In a unanimous “yes” vote, the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) last week gave the green light for developers to move ahead in building a new indoor sport facility on Mt. Vernon Street in Columbia Point. Board chair Priscilla Rojas said the facility will be “an amazing resource to so many young people in the community.”

A partnership between the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester and The Martin Richard Foundation, the Dorchester Fieldhouse project will include a three-story building and outdoor programming space. Inside, there will be an indoor multi-sport athletic field and courts, a walking track, fitness and training rooms, classrooms, an event space, a teaching kitchen, and office and conference room. The property will also feature outdoor athletic areas and parking for about 45 cars.

The site sits nestled between the McCormack Middle School, the Dever Elementary School, St. Christopher Parish, and Boston College High School. Since the parcel itself was awarded through the Boston Public Schools, its lease “spells out very clear terms” about access to the facilities, RODE Architects principal Kevin Deabler told the BPDA board.

“I’d imagine during the day this will be available for use for BPS students for just about anything they could ask for,” he said.

Along with the primary use of the site for students and local nonprofit youth and athletic groups, other community benefits highlighted include an expanded Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester and Martin Richard Foundation programming, training and workforce development, employment opportunities for local residents and students, and a $49,000 contribution for nearby Bluebikes stations.

Zoning relief will still be needed for the project, the BPDA recommendation noted. Speaking to the Columbia-Savin Hill Civic Association last week, Bob Scannell, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester, said they are hoping to open in the summer of 2023. He anticipated design completion this spring, and “if everything goes accordingly,” a groundbreaking in the fall.

Scannell asked the group for its backing before heading to the BPDA board. Members voted unanimously to write a letter in support, some of which had already been submitted by local state and city elected officials, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, and the Dever school, among others. Youth sports organizations and many individual residents and organizations also sent in supportive public comments. The project team emphasized the input of local youths in developing the design and programming.

City Councillor At-Large Michael Flaherty spoke in favor of the project before the board vote last Thursday. The proposal “speaks for itself,” Flaherty said. “It would be a great addition for the peninsula over there at Columbia Point and I think for generations to come.”

Flaherty said the location – near the Harbor Point public housing complex, adjacent to Boston public schools and near other educational instructions like UMass Boston and BC High – offers opportunities for local partnerships. The Boys & Girls Clubs have “done a great job in all their other sites and this will be no different,” he said.

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