ACTION ALERT! Drama aside, members of The Boston Athletic Club (BAC) should not summarily accept the disintegration of their corner of their cherished health club. Elected officials need to know how you feel. Congressman Stephen Lynch enjoys the camaraderie of the club, as does Councilor Michael Flaherty. Representative Nick Collins and Senator Linda Forry should be informed. After all, Massport is within their jurisdiction. Before Councilor Linehan rides off into the sunset, he too should be alerted.
It has just recently come to the attention of this newspaper that there are plans underway to convert certain areas of the BAC facility from their current uses as handball and racquetball courts. Handball, for sure, and racquetball by extension and reputation are, arguably South Boston Traditions. The others space at risk is what were the former tennis courts that had been converted and now being used as a field house of sorts accommodating a variety of activities. The field house, we understand, has also been available to South Boston Little League and other programs that an indoor facility can be useful to maintain practice levels off season.
The conversion plans do not sit well with a cadre of members that have made the BAC a center of both their social and health related interests. Former Mayor Ray Flynn, a regular user of the BAC, weighed in on this topic last week in his op-ed column in the Boston Herald, dubbing the BAC as “our Mar-A- Lago. He went on to name the legends of South Boston, who are still active and enjoy the atmosphere that engenders friendship, not to mention assures some longevity. Flynn named “Richie Dahill, Joe Ryan, Marty Connolly, John De Marco, Jimbo Daley, Ronny Lescinskas and of course Leo Mahoney.”
The BAC has always been a neighborhood club. History and collective memories show that its survival during the tough times can be traced to the loyalty of its inaugural membership of South Boston residents dating to the 1970s.
South Boston Today has placed calls into Massport and the elected officials to ascertain the status of the arrangement that the BAC has with Massport, the owners of property that the Pappas Company leases. Pappas Companies have owned their properties for many years but enjoy the enhancements provided by a cooperating public authority, namely, Massport. Our reporter plans to speak with the BAC manager as well.
SBT plans a follow up to this story as we expect to hear from the interested parties. Like many institutions in South Boston that have been leveraged for someone’s narrow benefit, it is more than a symbol of changing times, it often becomes just an unfortunate and short-sighted affront to those who have been loyal. The adage, ‘dance with the one that brung ya’, is apropos for this story. The romance may not last forever but respect and embrace the faithful ones as long as it can last.
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We will also pass along your concerns to our elected officials as well.