The Oak Grove Community Building [OGCB] stands tall with weeds surrounding the building and trash and a tire in the driveway. A cardboard sign is taped to the front door with the words, “NO MEETING HERE TONIGHT.”
When you hear the word community, what comes to mind? How you answer that question speaks volumes about what Malden means to you and in particular The Oak Grove Community Building. It’s doors are closed and is awaiting a decision from the Architectural Access Board (AAB) regarding its future. Many Malden residents have one question, can the Oak Grove Community Building be saved? As a member of the Oak Grove Improvement Association I certainly hope so. Built in 1928, the Oak Grove Community Building has been available to Malden residents for close to 85 years. Residents and civic groups have held meetings, performances and many special events at the historic site. The Mayor and Ward Councillor have held Public Safety Awareness Meetings in the community building.
Carol Melle, current President of the Oak Grove Improvement Association [OGIA] said that the association met with Councilor Jim Nestor and discussed the building’s budget and making the community building more handicap accessible back in January 2008, but the city did not approve OGIA’s request to make the community building handicap accessible.
“Call it whatever name you choose a community house, community building or community center, but how can we truly call it any of the above, if it’s not accessible to the entire community?” said Melle.
In 2011, the City Council approved $100,000 to be allotted for the repair of the Oak Grove Community Building from the increase in Meals Tax revenue. The community building received a new roof installation, chimney work was done, and a new heating system and hot water tank were installed. The repairs cost $25, 000 which left $75,000 over for additional improvements.
“The building was believed to be in violation of the Rules and Regulations of the Department of Public Safety, Architectural Access Board (AAB),” said Mass Senior Action Council Organizer, Pam Edwards during a phone interview. “I knew the City’s budget was tight, but believed there was Meals Tax money earmarked to the tune of $100,000, for the Oak Grove Community building renovation. Our goal was to work with the City to hopefully show them that if the building was open for civic assembly that it should be accessible to all.”
Edwards said that after the formal complaint was filed with the AAB it seemed to herald the beginning of the end for the community building. “I am confused as to why the building was prematurely closed,” said Edwards.
A request for an interview with Mayor Gary Christenson was made, but due to the on-going matter before the Architectural Access Board (AAB), he was unable to speak to Neighborhood View.
On Monday September 8, there is a public hearing in Boston at the Architectural Access Board in regards to the Oak Grove Community Building’s future. The meeting will be held at 2:00 pm.