Surprised? Another possible obstacle for LHS Project.

Cawley cost may NOT be that much higher than the cost of moving out of Downtown.

M. Kennedy – Req. City Mgr. Provide City Council And The LHS Building Committee With Clarification Regarding The Apparent Conflict Between 963 CMR 2.21 And The Recent Skanska Response To The Inquiry Regarding Section 3.1.8 (Regarding Past Projects) Of The MSBA Preliminary Design Program Review, Report To Include An Estimate Of The Financial Impact Of This Provision Should The High School Leave The Downtown Area.

In the MSBA review letter that has been getting selected excerpts discussed on Facebook, one item that caught my eye which hasn’t been discussed in detail has also apparently caught the Mayor’s eye and he has the above motion on the Council Agenda this week.

It seems like the restrictions that exist on open/park land when you take state funding also exists when you take MSBA funding.

At Thursday’s Building Committee meeting which I attended (btw so did fellow candidates Noelle Creegan and Dan Shanahan), when I first heard this mentioned Skanska gave the impression it was only a 20 year requirement for reimbursement to the state. I and many others there didn’t see an issue since it would be well over 20 years before a new school at the stadium would go on-line.

However what wasn’t mentioned or apparently known is the specified years that the building is required to be used has a school in the agreement.

The MSBA expectations are a 50 year usage!

2) If the Authority determines that said facility that will be sold,leased or removed from service,is an Assisted Facility or was an Assisted Facility that has received a payment from the Authority or the Commonwealth but has not met the 50-year service requirement, the Authority may recapture a portion of the financial assistance that said Assisted Facility has received.

If you have read the 1,000 plus page PDP (and who hasn’t) you will see the following grants that Lowell has received.

• CA19963459 – Renovation of existing building and addition. Construction began 1996 and was completed in 1998. Total grant, net of refunding savings, was $54,115,680 according to the audit. MSBA paid $28,407,855 of the grant, with final payment in FY2016. 1998 repair is 18 years old as of 2016.

• 201101600505G – Roof green repair. Total grant $733,509. Completed October 1, 2012 (Coburn Hall) and is 4 years old as of 2016.

So based n the 50 years of service requirement. I believe Lowell would need to reimburse the state.

Unfortunately this revelation again brings up the question, was this information regarding this restriction known earlier? and shouldn’t it have been? This appears to be another potential obstacle that the administration (including the School Dept. which sadly has taken very little leadership in the entire process) should have known about.

No one including Skanska knew that if you took a school offline that had previous grants (which EVERYONE knows about) there was a defined years of usage requirement?

I believe we are potentially looking at a possible $13,000,000 payment. The other issue is that before closing a school the school department (Not City) has to say the building will no longer be needed in the future based on future enrollment projections. How many years have we heard about the space crunch in the middle schools and the need to open a preschool and autism school.

Strictly from an educational viewpoint, this is possibly “good” news for the School Dept. If I am reading this correctly, the school department could in theory, have a “NEW” High School at Cawley and keep the entire present High School Site for their use.

It could be repurposed for a combination Central Office, Parent Information Center, and the ability to have one centralized middle school.

That would give the School Dept the ability to use some of the current middle or elementary schools to house special education focused programs such as Autism Schools and to have dedicated preschools.

We know bringing special education programs in-house results in the district saving money and possibly allowing surrounding communities space to send their students to programs closer to their towns. Of course doing so increases operational cost and potentially drives up City cost since schools are not self funding.

How this new issue is addressed and dealt with will be fascinating to watch.

Here is what this week’s MSBA response was regarding closing the school

Here is the MSBA information from their website

and here is the repayment requirements per the MSBA…note the requirement for Fair Market Value (so much for selling Kirk St. for a buck and letting developers clean up the Asbestos).

Author: Gerry Nutter's - Looking at Lowell

I'm BACK...! I've followed the finances and issues with the City of Lowell and the Lowell School Dept. for the past 8 years while blogging and contributing to Saturday Morning Live! After serving 1 term on the School Committee I am back with my view on the events, people and politics of Lowell.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s