Curley Center to reopen next week, in a limited way: Beach closed through summer

The Curley Community Center. Ed Forry photo

The Curley Community Center in South Boston, closed since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, is scheduled to reopen for self-workouts next Thursday ( June 15), according to city officials. Limited programming and classes at the Columbia Road facility, more commonly known as “L Street,” are scheduled to start June 20.

The $31.2 million renovation has confronted delays for a variety of reasons over the last year and a half, among them a legal dispute between City Hall and contractors and supply-chain slowdowns that held up furniture deliveries.

Birds known as piping plovers added to the woes, since during the pandemic, they started nesting in the sand on the beach side of the center. Because the species is considered a “threatened” population, city officials were waiting on a state-level permit so that they could reopen the facility.

The continuing presence of the birds means no beach access from the center until the fall, the Boston Centers for Youth and Families, the city agency that oversees the center, said this week. The agency is working with state officials to figure out beach access while L Street members use other beaches close to the facility during the summer.

A ribbon-cutting for the renovated facility will occur in the “next few weeks,” with details expected “soon,” BCYF officials said.

Free community tours will be available starting this Friday (June 9) and last until June 14. On weekdays, the tours will be available once an hour, from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Weekend tours will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The center first opened in 1931 as a bathhouse, and was named for many-termed Boston Mayor James Michael Curley. It last saw a renovation in 1989.

The most recent overhaul includes a fitness studio, a yoga and dance studio, space set aside for children, steam and sauna areas for men and women, separate areas for teens and seniors, a strength training area, and multi-purposes offices.

The renovations were done with an eye toward climate changes and high tides, meaning interior waterproofing and metal plates that can be moved to prevent water coming in on the ocean side.

Mayor Wu has toured the facility and held a cabinet meeting inside. “It’s ready to go,” she told the Reporter in May, expressing some frustration on the fine-feathered reason for the latest delay.

Work started in October 2020, and the overhaul was initially set to be completed by November 2021.

Executive editor Bill Forry contributed to this report.

Subscribe to the Dorchester Reporter