No reason to celebrate or panic

The city found out that soil located near the present high school abutting the railroad tracks contained higher than recommended levels of arsenic and you would have thought from some people’s reaction that Lowell had won the lottery and the moving vans for Cawley could be booked.

Others were busy posting concerns that our kids who attend LHS (including my daughter) were suddenly being taught in Chernobyl the day after the radiation leak. Many of us have kids at LHS who have been there a year or more and not many of us are as fear-stricken or panicked has others. We tend to not look for or expect the worse.

For a small vocal few, fear or fear mongering is running rampant. Believe it or not there is no reason to panic. There are protocols in place and these will be followed. The State and City have procedures that have to be followed.

Besides my concern with the fear mongers (on both sides) and with the over dramatic radio host(Mr. Teddy P) who is driving the Cawley Express but over blowing any/every negative thing possible, slightly worse is that false and totally untrue stories start to get spread, one that I heard this week was that the City didn’t tell the school department what was going on with the soil and that the School Supt. had to be told by a School Committee person on Wednesday what was going on.

That’s 100% FALSE and to his credit, in his letter to Parents on the School Dept. website the Supt. even states so –

The morning of April 11, 2017, City officials informed Lowell Public School Administration that one of the samples taken from a location below the 1980 walkway, near the entrance/exit closest to the dentist office at the end of the Lord Building, indicated a heightened level of arsenic. The test was taken in the dirt area between the trolley tracks and the concrete walkway that runs the length of the Lord Building up to Father Morissette Boulevard.

Sadly the more people celebrate the issues that arise at the downtown site and spread false information about how and when the city responds, the less value that real estate has and the less valuable it is to try to re-sell. Keep posting about all the problems so the place looks terrible and hope that forces the city to move, then complain when the site sits empty for years.

By law the City cannot sell the building for $1..if it isn’t going to be a school there is a clause that mentions fair market value. Lowell would need to spend millions to correct the asbestos, lead, arsenic and payback the state $350,000 – $450,000 from the last loan. None of that would be reimbursed.

There is nothing to celebrate.

I’m in favor of Cawley but I don’t want the value sucked out of the present site so we end up with Hamilton Canal Part 2. How long has it been since we tried to develop that area? NOTHING happens quickly.

After I first heard about the soil test, I was ready to write a “Let’s Unite behind the Stadium Site and stop this insanity and infighting” post.

Until I reread the latest letter from the MSBA and like it or not, Lowell has NOT BEEN CLEARED to do anything at the stadium. That site like the downtown has different issues but it still has issues.

First the STATE is aware of the Board of Parks vote and the city has made no announcement that they have cleared the article 97 hurdles and no home rule petition has been filed with the state legislature. The letter asked that the status of the article 97 issue be updated.

There also those pesky items on the DEED to the property at Cawley that still have not been addressed has the MSBA pointed out in this letter but for whatever reason no one wants to talk about them.

The MSBA also talks about the Zoning issue regarding the height of the building. If you think the Board of Parks is tough, check with people who request variances with Zoning and how often the Neighborhood groups show up to oppose variances.

Then again it will be a new opportunity for those folks who kicked the crap out of a city volunteer on the board of parks to beat up a few new citizens who dare not see things their way. I recall Steve Gendron and some members of the Belvidere Neighborhood group looking to have sections of rte 38 rezoned and restricted several years ago. You think a zoning board of appeals meeting will be an easy thing?

It may not be required, maybe the City can do a spot zoning change without having to go to the zoning board but I can’t find anything that specific that would explains if the City has the power to spot zone. The fact that the MSBA wants more information makes me want clarification from the city.

I’m hoping these issues do get resolved in favor of the Cawley site because I still think the Cawley site offers the best location and least disruption to students but like the downtown it still faces many challenges.

If the High School moves to Cawley the school committee will need to vote to bus the students. There is operational expense involved, that with the right committee, can be addressed. Speculation about busing getting cut due to budget cuts is as false and fear mongering has those spreading fear about the soil issues.

We as a city need to stop celebrating negative findings at either site and stop over dramatizing things to try to help our personal viewpoint.

We need to stop rejoicing at either sides misfortune, stop sign-napping and instead try to work together or my fear that we will self destruct and have no new high school may come true.

If for any reason Cawley is deemed unusable (deed restrictions, zoning etc.) and people keep telling everyone how dangerous and terrible the downtown site is, Lowell will end up with ZERO state assistance and still have to raise taxes just to do land clean-up, electrical upgrades and roof repairs.

Then we all lose!