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Published on May 20, 2024
Roxbury's Cass Recreational Complex to Reopen for Public Use After Stint as Migrant ShelterSource: Google Street View

After serving as a refuge for hundreds of migrants and homeless, the Melnea A. Cass Recreational Complex in Roxbury is making a transition back to its original role as a public community space. The complex, which had been temporarily repurposed to manage the overflow from Massachusetts' strained emergency shelter system, will reopen its doors to local residents beginning June 22.

As confirmed by Governor Maura Healey's office in a statement obtained by Boston.com, all families who took shelter at the Cass Center have been moved to more stable housing or another overflow site. Expected to resume operations by mid-June, the Department of Conservation and Recreation is set to take over, aiming to bring back both the pool and make significant improvements to the facility.

These renovations, outlined in a late April public meeting, include upgraded athletic flooring, new sporting equipment, a fresh array of trees and the installation of eco-friendly solar panels on the roof, as reported by Healey's office to Boston 25 News. While the process of transformation unfolds, the shelter will close effective May 31.

Despite the Cass Center's pivotal role in providing relief to the region's most vulnerable, including many migrant children, its use as a shelter raised eyebrows among locals. Craig Robinson, a lifelong resident of Roxbury, expressed a need for greater transparency with decisions affecting the community, telling Boston 25 News, "You could have let the people around here know that that’s what you were going to do before you did it." However, Robinson also emphasized the importance of inclusion: "Everybody should be welcome right this America, let’s make space for people and embrace that’s what the community is about it says community center."

The facility's host to sports events, community gatherings, and various programs has closed its doors for the past several months to the wider community, causing a mix of frustration and understanding among locals. In their departure from the Cass Center, Healey's office assures continued collaboration with school districts to ensure displaced students do not face educational disruptions, adhering to federal mandates offering families choices regarding their district enrollments, as informed by Boston.com.