Council Prepares For Key Vote on Roof Repairs At Old EHS Building

The Everett City Council will vote on an order requesting approval to appropriate by borrowing $11.4 million for improvements at the old Everett High School building at 548 Broadway.

The vote is crucial from the prospective of time. Mayor Carlo DeMaria, who gave a thorough presentation on the issue at a March 13 City Council Special Meeting, said the repairs must be made because the current insurance policy on the building expires in January and the City would not be able to secure a new insurance policy because of the unsafe condition of the roof.

At the Council’s Special Meeting, Councilor Anthony DiPierro asked that the vote be postponed until April 8 so his colleagues could view the upper floors of the building before casting their votes.

Thanks to DiPierro’s thoughtful gesture toward his colleagues, councilors have had additional time to take a closer look at the building and the potential expenses associated with its future upkeep.

In fact, Councilor-at-Large John Hanlon, who had missed some meetings due to an illness, will visit the old Everett High School building today.

“I have a 10 a.m. meeting (Wednesday) on top of the roof before I make any decision,” Hanlon said Tuesday. “I’m going right up to the roof and while I’m there, I’m going to examine the whole building.”

Hanlon said he will ask Mayor DeMaria what his future plans are for the old Everett High School building.

“We have to maintain our buildings,” said Hanlon. “I believe the old Everett High building is a fantastic building. I know we need additional school space for our students due to overcrowding issues. Someone has to look at this building and determine how we can fix it up. I will likely vote for the ($11.4 million) appropriation so the building can continue to be used. It’s just like it’s your own building. You have to put a new roof on it. You can’t let it fall apart. You have to do the repairs. It’s not whether you want to do it – you have to do it, it has to be done.”

The vote is shaping up as a close one. Ward 1 Councilor Wayne Matewsky said he is leaning toward voting in favor of the $11.4 million request, while Councilors-at-Large Stephanie Smith and Katy Rogers said they will vote against the measure.

“I will most likely vote for the appropriation so we can repair the roof and the City can continue to use the building and not have to oust the people and programs (health and wellness center, Webster School Extension pre-K, and Broadway Boxing Club) that exist there now,” said Matewsky. “I feel we need to keep the building safe and the programs up and running until further notice. I do not want to see the building close in January (due to the building not being insured).”

Councilor Smith said Tuesday, “At this time, I am not in favor of a new roof at the old EHS as I believe that it is not fiscally responsible to invest $11 million-plus in a building that we do not have a long-term master plan for City usage.”

Councilor Rogers weighed in on the crucial vote, stating Tuesday that, “As of now I’m voting ‘no.’ The old high school is more than half vacant and there is a lot of uncertainty on how the rest of the building could potential be used. I would feel more confident voting in favor of a comprehensive plan that includes a discussion about utilizing more of the property for a public use.”

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