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Councillors request answers to delay of Health & Wellness Center opening

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CFO: Opening hampered by compliance, mold issues at former gym

  City councillors this week asked for and received an update on the Robert J. Haas Health and Wellness Center on Charger Street and its benefits to the community. In January of 2022, the City of Revere took control of Greater Boston Fitness to create a community health center.

  “It’s been more than a year and we haven’t gotten any updates,” said Ward 6 Councillor Richard Serino, who, along with Councillor-at-Large Dan Rizzo, wanted information on the status of the project.

  “It’s my understanding that we’re spending $30,000 a month on rent for a vacant building plus salaries,” said Rizzo. “To me, it’s a slap in the face to taxpayers that we’re paying that type of money. It’s not fair, we’re spending a lot of money with no benefit to the community.”

  The job of explaining the problems with the health center fell to city CFO Richard Viscay. “There’s no question about it: This project has been slow to get off the ground. I don’t want to sugarcoat it,” said Viscay.

  Viscay said the health center had a total budget of $2.1 million with the funding coming from the American Rescue Plan Act, federal funding to help ease the effects of Covid on state and local government. According to Viscay, the goal was to use the funding to get something up that would give some kind of perpetual benefit to the city. So far, approximately $700,000 of that money has been spent on lease payments, design work, insurance, cardio equipment and salaries. “That’s where we are with finances,” said Viscay.

  But the problem hasn’t been funding. “There were a lot of problems with the building,” said Viscay.

  “There were problems with the fire suppression system, ADA compliance issues, mold and other problems. We are on the right track to get this building open,” said Viscay, who added that it’s the city’s hope that membership fees and programming will keep the center self-sustaining.

  “We’ve been stuck in the mud with the building, but we’re hoping now for a late summer opening,” said Viscay.

  Serino asked to send the motion requesting information to the Health & Human Services Subcommittee. He also asked that Susan Gravellese, who was appointed general manager of the health center, come before the council before the official opening to publicize the center.

  Rizzo agreed to send the request to the subcommittee, adding that he would like to know more about the operational cost of the center.


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