For Immediate Release - February 19, 2010


$1.5 million renovation will make new Cass Center a community resource for rollerblading and other activities

BOSTON - February 19, 2010 - Governor Deval Patrick announced today a $1.5 million renovation of the former Melnea A. Cass Rink as a year-round multi-use recreation center serving the community of Roxbury and surrounding neighborhoods.

"The new Melnea A. Cass Center is on its way," said Governor Patrick. "This is an important asset for this neighborhood and we are going to make it a great one."

The former ice skating rink - which fell into disrepair and has been closed for most uses for 20 years - was under consideration for a $450,000 upgrade as an open-sided facility for roller skating and other forms of recreation, but would be closed in winter. Now, with an additional $1 million in capital funds committed by Governor Patrick, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) will renovate the property as a four-season, multi-use recreation center for activities such as rollerblading, gymnastics and soccer.

Located at the corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Washington Street in Roxbury, the new facility - which will be the only one of its kind maintained by DCR - will be completed this fall.

"Governor Patrick has a deep commitment to the parks and playgrounds that give urban dwellers the active recreation opportunities suburban residents take for granted," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles, noting that in the past two years the Patrick-Murray Administration has provided $21.7 million in capital funds to create or improve urban parks across the Commonwealth - 58 projects in 48 cities, plus 14 major new parks in 12 Gateway Cities. "The new Cass Center is a testament to the Governor's commitment."

"This is great news for our community," said Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz. "People in the neighborhood have been working to restore the Cass for years - with many rounds of planning and then disappointment under past administrations. The Governor's office and DCR have been great to work with since I began talking with them earlier this year about restoring the Cass - and it's clear they were really listening to the neighborhood residents earlier this week. I thank the Governor for his commitment to making this project a tangible reality, in real time, this year."

"The Governor is backing up his commitment to young people in Roxbury," said Representative Gloria Fox. "This facility is an important addition to the recreation corridor and will provide jobs for young people."

"We are proud to partner with the community to reopen this valuable recreation center," said DCR Commissioner Rick Sullivan, who noted that at a community meeting 40 local residents volunteered to participate in a new Friends of Cass Center group to support the new facility. "With help from local legislators, DCR was able to jumpstart a public process that had lagged over the years and give this community just the facility they were looking for. The Cass Center will be a unique gem in DCR's crown."

DCR will invest $450,000 from its current capital budget to begin converting the former ice skating facility into a four-season, multi-use recreation center, including design and site preparation. An additional $1 million will be spent to complete the project. Improvements include a new roof, wall extensions and repairs, installation of heating and ventilation system, a multi-use floor surface, new fencing, and landscaping. The renovated facility is targeted for opening in Fall 2010.

Built in 1968, the Melnea A. Cass Rink, named for the Boston civil rights activist who died in 1978, operated as an ice skating facility for more than 20 years. It fell into disrepair and was closed in the late 1980s.