Council Postpones Vote on $11.4 Million Appropriation for Roof Repairs at Former EHS

The City Council decided to postpone a vote on borrowing $11.4 million for improvements and repairs to the roof at the former Everett High School building, located at 548 Broadway, until its April 8 meeting.

Ward 3 Councilor Anthony DiPierro, who made the motion to postpone the vote, said before a vote is taken, he wants all his colleagues on the Council to be able to tour the building and the entire Council (three members were absent from the meeting) to be present for the discussion and final vote.

“We just don’t have an unlimited budget, and we really have to make a tough decision here on which way we move forward,” said DiPierro.

Council President Robert Campen asked if an assessment could be done on the building “to determine appropriate uses for the building, and if that can conclude construction estimates that truly upgrade those upper floors.”

“I can support the motion to postpone, but the caveat is that I would like to understand what an assessment of the building will cost. I’d like to see that as well before we can truly decide on this,” said Van Campen.

Mayor Carlo DeMaria and Director of Facility Maintenance Angelo Febbo led a thorough presentation about the roof repair project at the Council’s March 12 special meeting. DeMaria stressed to the Council the importance of the vote, stating that insurance companies would not insure the building when the current policy expires in January, 2025, unless the roof repairs are done. Febbo said the repairs, if approved by the Council, would begin June 24, 2024.

DeMaria said the building currently houses a health and wellness center, the Eliot Family Resource Center, the Webster School Extension (pre-kindergarten students), and the Broadway Boxing Club, which has flourished under the leadership of Dennis Willcox.

Councilor-at-Large Katy Rogers asked for “a more comprehensive vision” for the future use of the space in the building.

“I think that would help alleviate concerns about any future expenditures coming to the Council,” said Rogers. “I think several of us are concerned that if we vote on the $11 million, what other issues might come up in the future that need to be repaired? What I really don’t want to see is an $11 million band-aid on a building that’s going to need more repairs.

DeMaria said he did not envision any other expenditures for the building.

“All I’m asking tonight is [doing repairs] so we can insure it, and I can keep the Eliot, the wellness, and the preschool kids inside the building – that’s all I’m asking,” said DeMaria.

Councilor-at-Large Guerline Alcy Jabouin made it clear that the Council “is not trying to kick anyone out of the building.”

“We want what’s best for the community,” said Alcy Jabouin. “My concern is coming here, I thought that we’re going to find a solution and compromise and find something that works for the community. But all I hear is, ‘if you don’t do this, you lose this.’’’

“It’s not fair,” continued Alcy Jabouin. “This building’s been in the shape that it is for the longest time, for more than ten years. We can’t keep on patching it up – patching does not work. It got to this point because we neglected it.”

Later in the meeting, DeMaria said he “took great offense that a councilor called this administration inactive, inept, or whatever the term was.”

“We prided ourselves in the last 17 years on moving this city in the right direction and I think a lot of you can agree this city is a different city from before we took over,” said DeMaria, who also cited numerous improvements in the city.

Councilor-at-Large Mike Marchese was the lone councilor to vote against postponing the vote.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *