May 20, 2018
 
Urban Edge Gets $500K Toward New Recreational Center

February 2, 2018 — Urban Edge, a community development nonprofit that aims to strengthen communities and families in the Boston neighborhoods of Jamaica Plain and Roxbury, recently announced it received a $500,000 grant from the TD Charitable Foundation to support construction of a recreation center.

The Jackson Square Recreational Center, which will cost $30.6 million to complete, will be two-stories high and include a turf field, an ice rink and spaces to study, meet, and complete homework.

Last November, the City of Boston granted $2 million to support the project. Since then Urban Edge has been working with the Boston business community to secure $6.8 million from private funders to complete the center, which will serve 26,000 young people who live in and around Jackson Square.

Urban Edge launched a $21.5 million capital campaign three years ago to help fund construction of the recreation center. At the time, it secured a $5.69 million state bond to help build the facility.

The Jackson Square Recreation Center is part of the effort to redevelop the Jackson Square neighborhood. The idea for the recreation center came from the community, which recognized that the young people in their neighborhood did not have the same access to recreational activities, especially in the winter months, as their peers in suburban communities

According to Urban Edge, "The Jackson Square neighborhood of Boston lacks a safe, affordable place for youth and their families to learn, grow, and succeed," which the new recreation center seeks to address.

The organization currently supports youth by helping families gain access to resources they might otherwise find beyond reach, and runs a summer Youth Leadership Academy, in partnership with Action for Boston Community Development, through which young people who live in Urban Edge properties are placed in meaningful jobs.

Plans for the year-round Jackson Square Recreational Center include a regulation-size ice rink on the first floor and a turf field of equivalent size on the second floor, with both organized and unstructured recreational activities.

The new center will not supplement existing space. Currently there is no indoor turf space in the neighborhood and the only ice rink in the neighborhood is the temporary outdoor Kelly ice rink. The ice rink, turf fields, and meeting spaces will be open to the community and will also host Boston Public Schools (BPS) athletics, youth soccer, an adult ice hockey league, educational programming, and homework help for the community at large and BPS students.

“Recreational centers provide crucial spaces in our communities for young people and families to learn, grow, meet up with friends and have fun,” said Boston Mayor Martin Walsh. “The City of Boston strives to provide opportunity in every neighborhood, and with so many young people living around Jackson Square, it was an easy choice to contribute these funds to this important and inspiring project. I want to thank all Urban Edge and our partners in working together to make this recreation center a reality.”

No date has been set to begin construction, as design details are still being developed, a spokesperson said.

Urban Edge traces its origin to 1974 with a focus on "urban homesteading," which meant acquiring and renovating condemned and abandoned homes to make them habitable, and then serving as a nonprofit real estate broker, selling them to first-time homebuyers. Today, in addition to helping new homebuyers, Urban Edge offers a range of services relating to home ownership and financial literacy.

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