City officials cite simple ‘mistake’ on Mattapan pool fees as residents press for fixes

A probe into operations at a city-run community center in Mattapan found no malicious intent behind fees charged to members who signed up for swimming lessons. However, there remain concerns that the pool and other programming are not getting needed repairs at the Mildred Avenue center, run by Boston Centers for Youth and Families (BCYF).

The investigation began last summer when it was discovered that employees of the Mildred were charging for swimming lessons that were supposed to be free. In a statement to the Reporter this week, BCYF officials called it a simple mistake.

“The investigation found no malicious actions had occurred but was a mistake on behalf of staff. As a result, BCYF leadership reiterated the current policy of no fee collection and refunded the money to patrons involved,” the statement read.

But questions remain about investments to the facility itself, which experienced a major water leak in the gym area last year that has yet to be fixed.

Early this month, Mayor Wu announced plans to invest $12.7 million into creating a new lobby, gym, teen lounge, and multi-purpose room at the BCYF’s Mattahunt Community Center, also located in Mattapan, which is set to open this coming summer. There was no mention of Mildred Avenue in the announcement, which was made in the North End where a new community center will be built with state and city-sourced funding.

The concerns came to a head at the Greater Mattapan Neighborhood Council (GMNC) meeting last week.

“We would definitely like an update,” said chair Fatima Ali-Salaam. “We hear the other sites are being improved and that’s great, but we would like an update on the Mildred. I understand water got in there, but we need to understand what’s being done about that.”

Conditions in the gym, which was built in 2003, have long been critiqued as inadequate. At one time there was a hole in the floor just outside the playing surface that was blocked off with a gate, so kids simply played around the hole. That situation, city officials said, was made worse by a recent rainstorm that sent Boston Public Schools (BPS) officials – rather than BCYF officials - looking for a bigger fix than initially planned.

“The Mildred gym was initially scheduled to be repaired in January,” said a city spokesperson. “Recently a rainstorm identified another underlying issue with water penetration. BPS has since put out another contract to make a repair on the exterior masonry and waterproofing to address this.”

City officials said boards on the gym floor need to be removed and replaced. The new timeline to begin work is this April. They said the damaged area is not within the basketball court lines so the space is operable for the time being.

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