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Boston councilors outraged that high-school athletes from wealthy suburbs getting priority for practice time at the Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury

Boston city councilors today condemned what they call an abuse by the state-owned Reggie Lewis Center at Roxbury Crossing: Boston student athletes have to clear out by 3:30 p.m. so busloads of students from well-off suburbs can use its state-of-the-art facilities for training and not get home too late.

City Councilor Erin Murphy (at large) won unanimous support for a resolution condemning the practice, which she introduced after reading a Dorchester Reporter article about how track students at Tech Boston Academy in Dorchester have had to resort to practicing by running up and down hallways and stairwells at their school.

She called for a formal council hearing at which state, BPS and suburban-school officials could explain themselves.

Murphy acknowledged that, as a state-owned facility, the Reggie should be open to any Massachusetts residents. But she said that when it opened in the 1990s, BPS was promised that local kids would get priority. Instead, she said, only students from the nearby O'Bryant School can get in any serious practice time because they can walk down the street to the center - most BPS schools, unlike their suburban counterparts, don't have buses to get students to and from Roxbury Crossing.

Councilor Tania Fernandes-Anderson (Roxbury) addressed her haters who think there is no such thing as systemic racism. "This is systemic racism," she said. "Money talks. In Roxbury, this is very real."

"This facility's in the heart of Boston and if we don't advocate and fight for kids from this city to have the opportunity to compete in a world-class facility such as the Reggie Lewis Center, we're really shortchanging our BPS students, our young kids across the city," Council President Ed Flynn (South Boston, Chinatown, South End, downtown) said. "I'm really disappointed that a city kid is unable use the facility and that some wealthy kid from Weston or Duxbury has the opportunity to compete."

Flynn added: "The day we stop supporting kids from the city and not giving them the same opportunities as wealthy families throughout greater Boston is really they day we should get out of politics, if we're not defending city kids."

Watch the discussion:

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Comments

Doesn't it follow that Boston should be able to use state land in the surrounding suburbs to help house homeless people and treat drug addiction? If state land is gonna be used for state purposes, its time for the 'burbs to start pulling their weight.

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It's a state facility and according to the article in the Dorchester Reporter the evil suburbanites only get priority use of the facility for meets, not practices. It also states that the Reggie Lewis Center is the closest indoor fieldhouse for many of these communities.

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It also states that the Reggie Lewis Center is the closest indoor fieldhouse for many of these communities.

Indoor fieldhouses are not that common, and schools that want to field an indoor track team generally need to travel a considerable distance to get to one. That's part of the package, particularly if you live outside the city. Maybe the suburban schools should approach colleges that have such facilities, or do their training in their school gym as most teams have to do.

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According to TFA, more BPS kids don't travel there because BPS doesn't bus kids there. Fernandes calls this "systemic racism" for no apparent reason.

Also the suburban kids aren't practicing there. They are competing in meets there. That's a big difference. You can practice track events anywhere, but meets have to be held on an actual track which means an athletic center or local college.

Also want to add that in my suburban high school, it was completely normal in indoor track to run inside the school hallways sometimes for practices. You'd run outside when you can but run inside when the weather sucked or you and your teammates just felt like it.

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I was just thinking that we should be entitled to use their pools, but your idea is better

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The state bought the land from the City and it's a state-owned facility.

Also the headline is incorrect. The Dorchester Reporter article states that the suburban schools get priority for meets, which are not practice time. I'd agree that it would be outrageous if suburban students got priority for practices, but that's not the case; they're holding track meets at the Reggie Lewis Center because there just aren't a lot of indoor tracks available to schools in metro Boston.

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And these school are part of the state. Also I’d sent some of the kids from these rich suburban schools are city residents via METCO.

Be careful, when you start throwing punches people tend to punch back.

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"Also I’d sent some of the kids from these rich suburban schools are city residents via METCO"

It would be good if METCO was available to ALL students. Not just an ELITE FEW.

Maybe some marketing people can come up with a catchy name like -

SCHOOL CHOICE!

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Don't tell me they get to use it for free. The money should go to our kids' education and sports programs retroactively and let their kids practice at their own damn schools. I've never seen showing no shame as this bullshit.

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Didn’t actually read the article.

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This is an ongoing problem for all bps athletes. I appreciate the city councillors having a hearing to address this. This is also an issue at the New Balance track where private high schools, clubs and colleges are getting access.
While we are on the topic, why can't BPS athletes have access to the sports facilities at universities like Harvard, BU, Northeastern and BC as part of their payment in lieu of taxes?

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That’s a pretty interesting idea. Many of those facilities aren’t used for long periods at a time.

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Peak hours for when their athletic teams are practicing are going to be the same times when BPS student-athletes would want to practice. Plus they have students/faculty/staff who also want to use the athletic facilities.

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These schools have more flexibility with their schedules. Often fields and facilities are not being used at the same time (colleges are often still in classes when BPS schools release). I have BPS kids on 2 different teams that have no place to practice. One commutes an hour after school to meet the team, then a 2 hr practice and then another hr+ commute home. For kids in Eastie, or Hyde Park it is even more time. The Universities have not paid their PILOTs and this would be a small contribution that would enable the student athletes to practice. Even one or two days a week would have such a positive impact.

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completed renovated the Carter Playground fields, including a winter bubble over one of them, along with a commitment for 30 years of maintenance in 2017-2018.

https://recreation.northeastern.edu/carter-playground/

The outdoor stadium for NU is in Brookline, Parsons Field, and Brookline High athletics does use that facility.

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. . . . the New Balance track where private high schools, clubs and colleges are getting access."

Oh, the Humanity!!

It is a privately owned facility.

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The topic is student athletics, not vaccines.

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Fernandez does not seem to hesitate to declare an act realist. If the suburban kids only have priority for meets that is not a problem but what about the fact that suburban do not have their own facility when the city kids do? That seems as discriminatory as what Fernandez was overreacting to

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"Flynn added: "The day we stop supporting kids from the city and not giving them the same opportunities as wealthy families throughout greater Boston is really they day we should get out of politics, if we're not defending city kids."

So under the Marty walsh plan to renovate Boston public schools in 2017 a billion dollars was needed to renovate bps schools and modernize them. Now 5 years later under the next mayor 2 billion dollars is needed to modernize and update BPS schools....so how much funding has been allocated in the past 5 years in the city budget which I understand city councilors have a chance to comment on?

Does anyone happen to know?

And fyi - how many bps schools even have a track team that would need a place indoors to host events at?

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I don’t know what the current athletics scenario in BPS schools is, but for Pete’s sake—every high school should have a track team.

I know BLS had track and x-country when my kid was there, also that Franklin Park was filled during the season with meets of mostly suburban kids. It was nice to see the park getting used and filled with sporty teenagers, but it begged the question—why weren’t there more Boston teams and groups? Were the teams that were there paying some kind of fee to use a city park for multiple events? Could kids from Boston take over a park in Weston for an afternoon?

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Indoor track is a different animal.

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Running has grown in popularity and should be encouraged but yes, sports in BPS have been decimated. Less than 1% of the budget is devoted to it. It is nearly impossible to run a program with no resources and then the perennial problem of having no place to practice(in many sports). It's tragic as there is so much talent in this city.

Some fun facts for you:
The Citywide XC Team team qualified for States 2 yrs in a row as did BLS.
Do lookup Coach H and what he has done for kids in this city and also what they're up against.
Watch this for inspiration. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPYYmf2VkT4

Last year BLS came in 2nd in the state in the 800 and 3rd in the 4x800 and qualified for nationals in indoor and outdoor.

Track and XC is often a no cut sport and there is little barrier to entry. It has changed the lives of so many city kids. Boston (Franklin Park) hosted the World XC Championship in 1992 and the NE Regionals were just held there. New Balance in Brighton hosted the Nationals last year and will again this year and the NCAA College final will be here as well.

Running is bigger than you think in Boston and the coaching is understaffed everywhere. They deserve support.

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Under the current regime has a whole new set of cohorts who have no experience in facilities. Theses jobs were created by the then acting mayor and the current mayor. Thats why the cost estimates skyrocketed.

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Boston Latin School
Boston Latin Academy
O'Bryant
Madison Park
East Boston High
Tech Boston Academy
Burke
Fenway High
Quincy Upper School
Snowden International
South Boston Excel High
Brighton High
Charlestown High
Dearborn Stem Academy
English High

I didn't look at Middle Schools or Junior Highs

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In Massachusetts, high school athletic is regulated by the MIAA. There are three seasons, fall (cross country), winter (indoor track) and spring (track, which is outdoor). There are many schools that field a track team and possibly a cross country team, but not an indoor track team, because of a combination of lack of facilities and kids playing other sports, mostly basketball.

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My kid ran for one of those schools and competed against kids from other of those schools above--and it was in the winter as he rowed in the spring and fall.

Your point is taken, however--not all track is indoor.

But my point to the early comment as to "how many bps schools even have a track team that would need a place indoors to host events at?" The answer is: Every one on the list above could have indoor track if they had access to the Reggie per the BPDA's agreement.

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Unless you have anything beyond the Reporter piece, you are making things up. According to the linked article, the suburban high schools are not practicing at the Lewis Center. Only BPS kids get to train there, on the rare occasion that there's time available. The suburban high schools are having competitive meets at the Lewis Center.

Should BPS athletes have better training facilities? Undoubtedly. That said, the article notes that most suburban track teams train the same way or outside, since only a few public schools have indoor facilities at their disposal.

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Adam watched the City Council meeting, in the embeded video., and provided original reporting on a public meeting...?

I haven't watched all of it, but within the first 3-4 minutes of Murphy discussing the issue, she speaks of "practice" or practice time for BPS students at least 4 times.

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We are the driver of this city state. I am sick to death of the outlying areas taking advantage of us. Hello T funding. hello liquor license limitations. If you want your own facilities but don’t want to contribute to the literal driver of this state then screw.

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what you vote for.

And just a wild guess. If Boston would fund the MBTA, instead of the State, no one will complain.

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And the MBTA takes in 1% of all state sales tax, or 1.3B a year!

How is Boston being taken advantage of in either scenario?

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Think everyone who lives outside the Boston city limits is a millionaire who deserves nothing.

The kids in the suburbs with upper income parents already go to private schools with private sports facilities, for the most part. The kids in the public schools aren't inherently wealthy just because some people in their town are.

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Is a different thing than practice time for suburban high school students. It is accepted that BPS, and particularly the very esteemed Tech Boston team, are forced to practice in less than stellar locations, but I have yet to see the proof that a suburban high school team is practicing at the Lewis Center.

Someone tell me which high schools practice at the Lewis Center, and I'll humbly apologize for asserting that Adam is reporting something that is untrue. If there is no proof we are talking about anything other than meets, Adam did a poor job.

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BLS practices outdoors all winter . . . and it is fine. As a parent I have happily shoveled the O'Bryant track when necessary. Let everyone in the state have their meets at the Reggie.

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...for the state championships, often. That's one day. This is ongoing.

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It is a state facility that happens to be in Boston. Boston sold the space to the State, the State invested all the money into it. Why should it be only for Boston kids?

The suburban kids are not practicing there. They are having their meets there. Why should they be pushed out so the Boston kids can practice? When I played football we practiced in a field that was blah and then we're allowed to use the local stadium for games. The stadium was used for multiple teams and sports.

One of the arguments seems to be that Boston kids need to practice there because they are somehow at a disadvantage if they don't but how does that make sense when most of these suburban towns don't have the facility either?

This is an excuse for Boston politicians to complain about something and pass the blame. They dropped the ball on pools this summer, now it's kids with no place to practice. Last time I checked this is not 1985, Boston has massive tax pools coming in from all over the city. Why isn't Boston building simple facilities? Revere and Everett are rinky dink local suburbs and somehow they managed to get little indoor practice tracks built. That one that's falling apart in Dorchester, why isn't that upgraded and then used 24/7?

My final point is simply math. How many track teams are there in Boston? How many hours of practice time are there at the center? Even if they kicked all the other kids out of you have dozens of teams that want to practice daily , that isn't possible. So would it only be Roxbury kids? Only kids in that immediate facility? So taxpayers across the state should just pay for a building that only a handful of kids use?

If Boston wants a private facility they should buy it from the State. If it's an issue it is in Roxbury then the state can just build a new one in a suburb and run it there.

For those Make Boston Great Again crowd who believes Boston by nature of being Boston is more important than everyone else , it's time to wake up. Boston is not the poor little city it once was and it has enclaves that are just as wealthy and just as bougie as the fancy suburbs. Those people just don't want to pay for this stuff. So the well off peeps push their politicians to push off city stuff to the state.

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"most BPS schools, unlike their suburban counterparts, don't have buses to get students to and from Roxbury Crossing"

The nerve of Milton, Brookline, and Dedham forcing BPS to be so f'ing incompetent.

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More tilting at windmills, how about they tackle some issues they have direct control over.

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Of all the issues plaguing BPS, this is job number 1?

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But, really, they are able to consider more than one issue; just because they're upset about this doesn't mean they aren't dealing with other matters. In fact, the Reggie Lewis discussion came after an equally heated discussion about the fate of the O'Bryant School.

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It’s not like the council has been a functioning and professional chamber over the past few years.

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Boston councilors and facts are like matter and antimatter.

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When I was a student athlete at the flagship school in BPS we had our practices in the furthest part of the city you could possibly go from the school (almost 8 miles away). We also did not get the benefits like getting out early on game days that suburban schools did, meaning we frequently arrived to our home field after our opponents, especially when traffic was bad.

This set up was even worse for kids who lived in Charlestown, Southie, or Eastie who had to commute several hours home after practice. BPS, even at its best preforming schools, often treats its own students as an after thought. This needs to change.

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When the Lewis Center, built on land sold to the state by the City of Boston during the Flynn Administration, opened in 1995...

Boston owned the land. They sold it to the state -- and the Councillors are surprised that people from other parts of the state are allowed to use it? What did they think -- that state-wide taxpayers should pay Boston for the land, pay to build a facility, pay to operate and maintain the facility, and then keep non-Bostonians out?

What's next? Make outsiders stand when a Bostonian wants to sit along the Esplanade?

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