HSTF youths continue to make waves

Youths from the Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF) are pressuring Mayor Martin Walsh and Gov. Charlie Baker to be more involved with the proposed Jackson Square Recreation Center and an issue over the TD Garden not complying with a state law that might lead to even more money for the center.

That 1993 state law states that the Garden would host three charitable events a year with a portion of the proceeds going to the state. The HSTF youths came across the law when brainstorming ways to fund the proposed $21 million recreational center. Urban Edge, the community development corporation behind the proposal, has raised more than half the money needed for the rec center.

The HSTF youths say they independently calculated that TD Garden owes the state of Massachusetts $13.8 million for not complying with the law. They would like to see that money directed towards the center, and have held several protests over the issue.

TD Garden held talks with the state about the state law after the HSTF youths raised the issue and has since agreed to pay $1.65 million for the rec center, while the state has said it will be adding an additional $1 million, bringing its total to $8.31 million. The HSTF youths want TD Garden to pay more money.

HSTF youths held press conferences on Aug. 17 outside the State House and City Hall asking the governor and the mayor to be more involved and left letters to them both.

“Governor, it is time for you to step up and provide the leadership that has been lacking from your administration,” stated the HSTF letter to Gov. Baker. “The people you sent from your office to negotiate with TD Garden did a terrible job. These two state officials were obviously bullied by billionaire Jeremy Jacobs [who owns the Garden] and his team to side in his favor. The amount offered by TD Garden and initially accepted by your staff—$1.65 million—is disgraceful and an insult to the citizens of the Commonwealth. And not only do we need to hold TD Garden accountable for past years, but also for each year moving forward.”

When asked for a comment about the letter, Gov. Baker spokesperson Billy Pitman responded, “The administration is pleased an agreement was reached to direct $2.65 million to the community athletic facility project in Jackson Square, bringing the total state commitment up to $8.2 million for the for the project and will ensure the TD Garden fulfills their statutory obligations moving forward.”

The HSTF letter to the mayor stated, “We are here today to tell you we need to hear your voice on the Jackson Square Recreation Center and the TD Garden’s refusal to satisfy its obligations, thereby short-changing the people of Massachusetts. We are encouraged that you are the Honorary Committee Chair of the Jackson Square Recreation Center Capital Campaign, but we are disheartened that you and the City of Boston have still not committed one dollar to this effort.”

When asked for comment, Mayor’s Office spokesperson Nicole Caravella said, “The City of Boston has been actively working with Urban Edge since last year to help these students in their funding efforts. We commend them for their advocacy and passion in bringing more resources to their neighborhood, and we encourage them to continue working with the state, TD Garden, and other partners to make this project a reality.”

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