Close Vote Expected on $11.4 Million Appropriation for Roof Repairs at Old EHS

After two previous postponements of a vote on the appropriation of $11.4 million for improvements at the old Everett High School building on Broadway, the Council is expected to decide on the issue at its Monday, April 22 meeting.

Because it is is an order seeking to borrow funds, the motion needs to reach a super-majority (‘yes’ votes from eight councilors) threshold as opposed to a majority (‘yes’ votes from six councilors) threshold for passage. A close vote is expected, and a lively discussion will likely precede the key vote.

The vote has been the subject of much discussion by councilors.  Residents have also brought up the issue during the public-speaking portion of meetings.

Ward 3 Councilor Anthony DiPierro said at prior meetings that he wanted all councilors to have an opportunity to tour the building before casting their votes. It is believed that all councilors are now ready to cast their votes.

DeMaria said improvements to the building are crucial and time sensitive because the insurance policy on the building expires in January, and he doesn’t expect that the policy will be renewed without major repairs being done to the roof.

The old EHS building, located at 548 Broadway, currently houses the Webster School Extension (pre-K students), the Eliot Family Resource Center, the city’s health and wellness center, and the Broadway Boxing Club. All four programs would theoretically have to cease operations inside the building if the repairs were not completed by January. Mayor DeMaria stated at a previous meeting that the old EHS building could also serve as a temporary home for the Everett Police Station or the Everett Recreation Center as he contemplates the construction of new facilities in the city.

The issue of over-crowdedness in the schools has also brought considerable attention to the $11.4 million request for funds.

“We have a tremendous overcrowding problem in the school department, and we have two heavily underutilized buildings (the old Everett High School and Pope John XXIII High School buildings) and a study has to be conducted to figure out where we go to address this overcrowding program. I think that causes some a great deal of hesitation in considering putting a band-aid on a bigger problem.”

Charter Review Committee Appointments to be Discussed

Council President Robert Van Campen said he is hoping that Mayor DeMaria will provide to the Council the names of his five appointees to the Charter Review Committee at the April 22 meeting.

“We’re at a critical point in time where the Charter requires that we do this ten-year review,” Van Campen said at the April 8 meeting.

Past Council President Michael Marchese announced the Council’s four appointments to the Charter Review Committee following the municipal election in November. Following a question from Ward 2 Councilor Stephanie Martins about whom the Council’s nominees were, City Clerk Sergio Cornelio said the Council’s four appointees are current councillors, Robert Van Campen and Guerline Alcy Jabouin, and former Councillors Darren Costa and Fred Capone.

Mayor’s Chief of Staff Erin Deveney said at the April 8 meeting that Mayor DeMaria had received acceptances from two residents for positions on the Charter Review Committee while other residents are considering appointments to three positions on the Committee.

Ward 6 Councilor Peter Pietrantonio asked Deveney at the April 8 meeting about the invitation process for the Mayor’s nominees to the Committee.

“The Mayor knows individuals who have expressed interest in serving the city in some capacity previously, and then there’s other people who have involved in the issue,” replied Deveney.

“So, we don’t advertise in the newspapers and say, ‘We’re doing a charter review. Is any citizen interested in being on the Committee?’’’ Pietrantonio asked Deveney.

Deveney said in the past other committee positions have been advertised, but there had not been any advertising during the Charter Review Committee appointment process.

Deveney added that she would be willing to share Pietrantonio’s suggestion about advertising with Mayor DeMaria.

Ward 4 Councilor Holly Garcia asked whether Charter Review Committee meetings will be open to the public. Cornelio said that all meetings and hearings will be open to the public.

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