Rally to Demand Promised Jackson Square Rec Center on Tuesday

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[Editor's note: Because of the weather, the rally has been moved to Tuesday. The headline and story have been updated to reflect this change.]

Youth of Jamaica Plain and Roxbury were promised a major recreation center in Jackson Square 16 years ago by the state during the Jackson Square redevelopment project. After many years of waiting, the youth leaders of the Hyde Square Task Force will be holding the "Where is the Love for Urban Youth?" rally on Tuesday.

The rally and press conference is being held on Tuesday, Feb. 14 at 4:30 pm at the Youth Community Development Center (behind the former Blessed Sacrament Church).

Rally organizers are calling to support a proposed two-story, $21 million Jackson Square 75,000 sq. ft. recreation facility with a regulation size ice rink on the first floor and a turf field of equivalent size on a second floor.

Urban Edge, a local non-profit has raised $13 of the $21 million needed, but no date to start construction has been set due to the funding gap, according to a press release from the Hyde Square Task Force.

The state has closed two regulation size ice rinks in the area in the last two decades --- the Melnea Cass Rink in Roxbury and the Kelly Rink in Jamaica Plain. In 1999 a temporary outdoor Kelly Rink near the Stonybrook MBTA station was built, but it is only open three to four months a year.

Two community centers in JP, at the Agassiz School and English High, also were recently closed.

Youth from the Hyde Square Task Force have "researched this issue looking through a social justice lens" and examined how recreational facilities are distributed throughout Boston. The health needs of families an income inequality in Jamaica Plain and Roxbury were taken into account.

What the local youth learned was that more than 26,000 youth, most of them black and Latino, live within 1.5 miles of the proposed project and the Jackson Square neighborhood is a predominantly low-income community.

“Low-income communities have fewer recreational facilities than wealthier and predominantly white communities. Where is the love for JP and Roxbury?” said Roxbury resident Edelind Peguero, a 16-year old youth leader from the Hyde Square Task Force.

“Black and Latino youth in Boston are twice as likely to be overweight and obese when compared with white youth. If this center had been built, these statistics could be different,” said Jonah Muniz, a youth leader for the task force.

Compared to Jamaica Plain and Roxbury there are functioning ice rinks in South Boston, Brighton, Allston, the North End and Neponset in Dorchester.