Didn’t find any “Belvidere elites” just concerned citizens

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Last night I chose to attend the LHS Downtown meeting at Long Meadow instead of going to the Sub-Committee meeting. I wanted to see and listen (okay I may have said a few things also) to the concerns of those in attendance.

One thing I surely didn’t find is any Belvidere elites! What I found were people who cared about their neighborhood, about their community and most of all about their kids and grandkids.

In the City of Lowell we have approx. 18 different “Neighborhood Groups” including ACTION (Acre Coalition to Improve Our Neighborhood -Back Central Neighborhood Association-Centralville Neighborhood Action Group- Cupples Square Business & Residents Association – East Pawtucketville Citizens Group- Friends of Tyler Park – JAMBRA (Jackson Appleton Middlesex Business Residents Association) – Lowell Downtown Neighborhood Association – Rosemont Terrace Neighborhood Group

Why aren’t they labeled elites? They are just like the folks I met last night, people interested in what is best for their neighborhood. Look at the names of these groups, some are very specific neighborhoods. Yet because people from Belvidere unite out of concern for their neighborhood they are labeled elites?

If this was happening in any section of the city there would be groups not in favor.

I shared a story about MY neighborhood in Centralville. When the city wanted to build the McAuliffe School, the original plan was to take the existing empty field between July and June St. and the exiting Tennis and Basketball courts at Gage field. The courts would be replaced where the girls softball field used to be on the Beacon St. side of Gage.

Neighbors on 12th St. – June – July – Beacon street all had huge issues and concerns with the plan…where they elites? NO ! They were citizens/taxpayers that cared about their neighborhood. The city listened and found a way to move the school to the other side of the park, closer to where I live on Whitney ave.

The people at the meeting last night included parents from Pawtucketville and the Highlands who are concerned about the amount of time their students would be on buses.

Here are some of the most reasonable reasons I heard last night from these people who support keeping the High School Downtown. To me they are just as valid has the reasons to move it out.

It keeps it centralized for all students , especially walkers.

It doesn’t increase the traffic on Rogers, Clark, Douglas and the surrounding streets

Traffic issues and concerns are already known downtown

It supports Dr. Pat Mogan’s vision to honor those things that others would rather ignore and use them to create a learning laboratory “Where others saw canals and old buildings in decay, he saw living history” he was talking about the whole city being a museum without walls, with the heritage of the city being the content material.

It is our past that allowed us to be a Historic Park and Dr. Mogan saw a city rich in culture in the ethnic groups. As a teacher, he favored learning by doing and place-based learning

Has anyone thought of the impact of students who walk and have to be home to watch their younger siblings when the get home from school? or the students who walk over to Market Basket or other downtown businesses who need to work to help support their families?

How do kids who miss a bus get there? They aren’t walking…how does it affect attendance and the drop out rate?

What about Adult Ed? How do those people get out to the Cawley Site?

The School kitchen is used to feed kids during the summer, will the city provide transportation out there?

It’s easier for the students to go to:
1)Teen Block / Lowell Community Health Center
2)The Boys and Girls Club
3)Angkor Dance Troupe
4)LHS 21st Century Compass Program
5)The 30 plus Clubs, Orgs and Teams offered at LHS, how would they get home?
6)UTEC
7)Girls Inc.
8)YMCA

There are places the kids already go to –
1)Eateries/ Small Local Businesses before and after classes (Brew’d, DD, Subway)
2)Pollard Memorial Public Library
3) Bus Transfer Center (15 min walk) + all the bus stops in the area
4) Middlesex Community College Buildings for programs and meetings.
5)Umass Lowell Buildings for programs and meetings.
6)Access to some of the most beautiful historic pathways, landmarks, museums and monuments for a variety of courses including photography classes.

The High School Downtown in an Urban settings stand out from the suburban schools. We should embrace the fact we are an Urban City. It is what sets us apart from Chelmsford, Tewksbury and Dracut.

So please don’t dismiss these people because of where they live. That’s not fair unless you want to publicly dismiss ALL THE NEIGHBORHOOD GROUPS?

I didn’t know much about Pat Mogan but did a little reading last night and found the following:

When Mogan served as school superintendent, he recognized that keys to the city’s renaissance were not just its bricks and mortar, but it’s rich ethnic history.
Its immigrants, he argued successfully, needed to be afforded educational opportunities in order to become productive members of society, thus he formed the adult ed program.

“He was such a proponent of people who came to this country, learned English, worked one or two jobs and tried to better themselves,” “He knew education was the key to it all, so he wanted to make sure immigrants had that opportunity.”

Does moving the High School lessen that opportunity for not only the students but the adults who also learn there?

So let’s stop name calling and remember that once a final site is chosen, we have to get behind that and support the future for ALL the students of Lowell.

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2 thoughts on “Didn’t find any “Belvidere elites” just concerned citizens

  1. Sean Thibodeau

    Thank you for attending our meeting last night, Gerry, and for this post. I had to leave last night’s meeting early to get my kids to bed so it’s nice to hear some of the things I missed. I’m an LHS alum. I have two children in Lowell Public Schools. I live near you in Centralville now but I grew up in Belvidere. I work at the public library downtown with many of current LHS students (we still get lots of kids studying and socializing after school and attending our teen programs despite what some of the Pro-Cawley folks claim). I have many reasons for prefering downtown. I don’t want to give you a huge litany so I’ll just highlight some here.

    I cannot stress enough the impact of going to a high school in the midst of downtown shaped my world view and allowed me to truly get to know my city. The city as classroom, as Pat Mogan dreamed, lead me to want to move back to Lowell to raise my children to get the kind of urban inclusive education I did.

    I support the high school being downtown and especially option 3 that involves new construction up along Arcand Drive and the taking by eminent domain of 75 Arcand. While an LHS student I went to the orthodontist in that office building because it was really convenient for me to go after school. What happens when the students are no longer next door to that office park? There’s nothing to stop the dentists who are resisting the eminent domain from moving up to Rte. 38 once their clients are out of the downtown.

    I would support either of the other two downtown plans that involve modular classrooms over Cawley. In fifth, sixth, and seventh grade I learned in modular classrooms at the Reilly and Moody schools while the Sullivan was being built. With no ill effects. It’s the teachers and the curriculum that matters. And modular classrooms are not horror shows, they had heat and a/c and desks and blackboards and everything. Kids are adaptable. The city and the state are not going to approve a plan for renovation that will be dangerous for students.

    The traffic impact will be felt in Belvidere (in the neighborhood and along Rt. 38) and in other parts of the city. The LRTA isn’t set up to serve the needs of a decentralized high school. Let alone burdening the additonal cost of a bus pass to many students who don’t need one now. Lowell has bridges that already fill up to capacity in peak traffic hours. That situation will only be exacerbated by forcing all the school traffic over to one edge of the city.

    Thanks for your call for civility. For asking good questions and for keeping an open mind.

    Reply
  2. Tarmey William

    The most important part in an education is pride, If you feel good about yourself you will do well, I believe that it is critical that we start with a new school, with a campus type atmosphere, The days of having a downtown school are a thing of the past,,The placing of the school will impact the city for generations to come, Lets not forget the primary focus is the the education of our future leaders, Not petty politics negativity or nimby ,

    Reply

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