Controversy Surrounds Proposed Gang Gym In South Boston

By Joe Shortsleeve, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – There are questions tonight in South Boston over a proposed gym designed to attract former gang members.

It is located behind a large locked door in a facility off “B” street in South Boston. Our cameras were not allowed in, but Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve says the site is under construction, but it is far from finished.

It is called “Inner City Weight Lifting.” Its stated goal on its web site is to help troubled youth get back on the right path. These gyms are frequented by former and active gang members.

WBZ-TV’s Joe Shortsleeve reports

Joanne McDevitt opposes the gym. A neighborhood activist, she says residents have been kept in the dark.

“There is a possibility it will bring into South Boston an element we do not need right now,” says McDevitt. “I think they should look for another facility.”

The owner of the now controversial gym did not want to talk to us on camera, but told Shortsleeve on the phone he is sorry he did not communicate with the neighborhood sooner. He also said he believes he is doing the right thing by trying to help troubled youth.

The proposed gym does not have an occupancy permit yet, and it may not get one. Mayor Menino is not happy a flier associated with the gym suggested he supported the plan.

“I have never issued any statement saying I am supporting it. As a matter of fact I am against it right now, because they did not talk to the community,” he said.

Just across the street from the proposed location, families just learning about it had nothing good to say as well.

A grandmother standing with her two grandchildren said, “To think they are going to put gang members there, it is kind of scary.”

But the owner says it is all about reducing inner city violence and giving the most troubled kids a place to go.


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