Special to the Times-Free Press
Last week, Mayor Michelle Wu, in partnership with Massport, announced the opening of a large new city-owned mall in East Boston, located at 7 Bayswater Street. Mayor Wu joined Masport, the elected officials and community members who joined in the call for the new center in cutting the ribbon on Wednesday, on the one-year anniversary of her mayoralty. The center will be run by the Age Strong Committee and managed by the Property Management Department.
“This new accessible center in East Boston will expand opportunities for seniors to connect and build community,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “I am grateful to all of the city departments, local partners, and community members who have pushed for years to make today’s opening a reality.”
The East Boston Senior Center, based on community input, will offer programs and services for seniors (Boston residents over the age of 60) beginning December 1. The center will offer lunch on weekdays, as well as wellness classes, entertainment, and more. Now through December 1, the center will be offering tours to interested community members, from November 21-23 and November 28-30, during normal business hours, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
“This new new center in East Boston will raise the bar for senior programming in Boston and is a great example of what can happen when the City partners with residents and entities like MassPort to meet vital neighborhood needs,” said President of Human Services Jose F. Masso. “We are excited to be able to offer programs that will resonate with all of the diverse groups of seniors that make up East Boston.”
Emily K. said: Shea, Age Strong Commissioner: “Socialization, communication, and community are vital to human well-being.” Research shows that people who have friends and participate in activities are healthier and live longer. The new center will provide a place for older residents to connect with each other and engage in richer, healthier lives.”
“This was a great collaborative effort between PFD, Age Strong and the property management,” said Chief Operating Officer Dionne Irish. “The renovation allows for additional programming and services while the new addition enhances accessibility in relation to its existing urban setting.”
Formerly serving as the East Boston Barnes branch of the Boston Public Library, construction of the new center site officially began in September 2020 led by the city’s Department of Public Utilities. New additions and revamping of the site were initially delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain issues. The project, which focuses on accessibility for seniors, is comprised of more than 20 outside partners, including architect Fennick McCredie Architecture (FMA) and general contractor GVW Construction (GVW). In addition, Lifespan Design was brought in as a consultant for their expertise in senior center features, which was referenced in the RFP.
The new center has two levels, with modern accessibility features for seniors, including an elevator (upgraded from an elevator), wave/sensor door openers instead of push buttons, tables that wheelchairs can easily roll to, bright lighting, and a hearing aid handhold system. (Hearing aids can be connected), stairs with stair handles. The center’s toilets are large enough to hold a care partner, wheelchair or walker and include dual grab bars and toilet seats of varying heights to accommodate seniors of varying heights. Light switches are installed lower and electrical outlets higher to accommodate seniors as they flex. Off the center, there is a backyard walking path to guide amnesiacs as well as raised garden beds, so that older adults can engage in gardening either from a wheelchair or without stooping.
“The opening of this vital civic space for our seniors follows decades of advocacy by many individuals,” said City Council member Gabriela Coletta. “I am so grateful to the community members, past and present elected officials, and Massport for making this dream a reality. The center will be a hub of activity and will bring people together for years to come.”
“Supporting seniors is one of the most important things we can do as a community and a city. Thank you, Mayor Michelle Wu, the Strong Commission, Utilities, members of the East Boston community, and MassPort for your work in bringing a new great center to the East,” said State Senator Lydia Edwards. Boston”.
“I am excited to see the long-awaited dream of a senior center in East Boston finally come true,” said Representative Adrian Madaro. “This is something I have advocated for throughout my time in office. Our seniors are the bedrock of our community, and this new arts center will provide East Boston elders with a dedicated space to gather, participate in enriching activities, and access support and resources. Thank you to the city’s Age Strong team and Mayor Wu for helping us get to Senior Center across the finish line!”
The city has allocated $6.5 million in the capital budget to design and build the new center. In partnership with the City of Boston to improve the quality of life for residents, Masport contributed significant funding to the establishment and operation of this center.
“Masport is pleased to partner with the City of Boston and support the new East Boston Senior Center, which will offer important services and programs,” said Massport CEO Lisa Welland. “We are thrilled to see the community’s hard work and dedication over the years come together in this wonderful new East Boston asset.”
The new center will be led by Age Strong’s Lina Trameli and Luz Leal, who are both bilingual in English and Spanish, to serve the diverse community of seniors in East Boston. Visit www.boston.gov/ebsc or call 617-461-3131 for more information.