Community centers may lack written deals

It remains unclear what, if any, operating agreement there is between the City and the local organizations that help run community centers. The only known document covering their operation dates to the 1970s.

Earlier this year, a committee was formed to create a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City’s Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF) and groups that operate local community centers. An MOU is a document describing a relationship between two parties.

The relationship currently does not have an MOU, but there is a “Plan of Operations” that was produced in the early 1970s, according to BCYF spokesperson Sandy Holden. The BCYF, which is headquartered at Mission Hill’s Tobin Community Center, did not exist in the current form then and many of the organizations that run the community centers now did not then.

The Gazette asked for a copy of the “Plan of Operations,” but did not receive one by deadline.

Kerry Costello, president of the Jamaica Plain Community Centers, which runs the Hennigan Community Center (HCC) and Curtis Hall in JP, had told the Gazette she thought there was an original MOU when the community centers first came into existence. Holden said Costello probably is thinking of the old “Plan of Operations.”

The Gazette asked Wheelock College, which runs the Mattahunt Community Center in Mattapan, for any operating document, but the college did not respond with any documents by deadline.

Holden said that Noah Stockman, BCYF director of administration and finance, and other BCYF staff members make up the committee and that they are in close contact with the City’s legal department in crafting the MOU.

She said BCYF will host meetings to present the draft of the MOU to local council members once it has been completed. Holden said she anticipates a draft being ready in the fall.

The issue of an agreement between the City and community centers arose after the HCC bumped up rates in January, forcing several youth groups to make drastic financial decisions, including leaving HCC.

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