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SOUTH BOSTON

Police station into community arts center? That's the plan

March 29, 2009
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Nearly 100 people in South Boston turned out last week to show support for an ambitious proposal to convert an abandoned police station into an arts and community center.

Calling themselves Concerned Citizens for a South Boston Arts Community Center, the grass-roots group says the neighborhood has long needed a place for local children and adults to learn about and participate in the arts.

The concept includes a 200-seat performance theater, an art gallery and ballroom, workshops and classrooms, office space for local nonprofits, a South Boston sports hall of fame, a café, and administrative offices.

Opened in 1914, "Station Six" at 273 D St. served the West Broadway area until it was closed in 1990. Last October, the city put it on its surplus inventory rolls and has handed it off to the Department of Neighborhood Development to oversee its disposal.

The department will hold community meetings beginning early next month to gauge public interest and get feedback about what should be done with the 13,000-square-foot brick building and two adjoining lots, said spokeswoman Lucy Warsh.

Organizer Brian Mahoney says he feels "very confident" that with the community's backing, they can successfully persuade the city to award the building to them.

Although most in the audience, in a show of hands, said they supported the arts and community center idea, it will have some competition.

Donna Brown, director of the South Boston Neighborhood Development Corporation, said they envision transitional housing for homeless veterans there. Brown said there was a "huge need" in the city for veterans' housing, especially those with families, and for vital services such as job training and counseling.

CHRISTINA PAZZANESE

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