THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
NORTH END

Final chapter for printing press could be new start for school

March 29, 2009
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It's belt-cinching time for Boston. The city's printing press, which has been operating since the 1930s, will be closing its doors before the end of the next fiscal year. It is but one casualty in Mayor Thomas Menino's efforts to cut costs in anticipation of a significant budget shortfall.

The Graphic Arts Department employs just under 30 people and is responsible for churning out communications to the public, as well as letterhead, business cards, and even the city's 1,200-page budget, said Meredith Weenick, associate director of the city's Administration and Finance Department.

But with the current budget crisis, the city has determined it would be cheaper to use outside vendors. By closing down operations, the city will save between $400,000 and $500,000 in fiscal year 2010, and about $1 million in subsequent years, Weenick said. The city will also scrutinize what and how much they print.

The city is still in negotiations with the union, but anticipates that about five people will lose their jobs as of July 1, and the remaining employees will be out of a job by the end of fiscal year 2010.

It is too early to say what will happen with the building; there may be another public use for it or the city may sell it. No decisions will be made without public input, Weenick said.

But one institution already has its eye on the building, which is located in the North End. The North Bennet Street School, a North End landmark and craftsmanship school, has outgrown its building complex. Two of their programs hold classes in rented space in Arlington.

"The city's printing-press building would accommodate the entire school and allow us to reunite under one roof," said Miguel Gómez-Ibáñez, executive director of the school, which is nearly 125 years old.

He has expressed the school's interest to the mayor and to the BRA. Now they are waiting to see what happens, he said.

JESSE NANKIN

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