In her role as Public Art Commission Chair, Ward 1 City Councillor Joanne McKenna continues to push for a city arts center at the long-closed Beachmont Fire Station. McKenna and the other members of the commission have discussed the use of the fire station as an arts center with studios, lofts, galleries and public meeting spaces since the new commission began meeting about a year ago.
Because of the state of the building, the commission members have been unable to get a closer look inside the fire station, but that might be changing soon. “The DPW has agreed to do the cleanout; we are just waiting for that to happen,” said Elle Baker, the city’s Open Space and Environmental Project Planner.
She said the Public Works Department has been in touch with the Fire Department about what materials in the station need to be saved and what can be thrown out. Once the final clean out is done, McKenna said, the commission members can tour the fire station to begin to get a better idea of how it could be converted into an arts center.
“We should go and see it, it’s a beautiful place,” said McKenna.
Once the planning for the space begins, McKenna said, the commission will also have to consider how it can raise the money to renovate the building. She said Fire Department Captain Robert Fortuna estimated it would cost at least $100,000 to renovate the building and bring it up to code. “I have a couple of ideas for renovating it and getting the money, but I am going to talk to Mayor [Brian] Arrigo and see what he has to say,” said McKenna.
Since the Beachmont Fire Station is a City of Revere building, and the plan is for a city art center, McKenna said, she is hoping there is a way to use some kind of city funds for the renovation.
“I really want this to come to fruition and use that firehouse, because it has been sitting there for 15 years doing nothing,” said McKenna.