By Sara Brown
The new McKinley School, which will be renamed the Staff Sgt. James J. Hill School, will be located at the Hill Park site. City officials were told that out of all the options for the new school to be located, this would be the cheapest. Part of the bond includes purchasing four homes that are in the area to help with accessing the school and parking.
“It was a shock to me,” Ward 3 Councillor Arthur Guinasso said. “That’s not what I was expecting.”
Guinasso said that he was surprised by how much more money it will cost than was originally expected.
“I am researching the old plans with the most recent ones and I am trying to figure out the wide difference between the two,” the Ward 3 councillor said. He continued, “We were told that this site was more financially viable. I don’t know anymore.”
He is also worried about the taxpayers and how the school can affect them: “I don’t know if the city can afford it. I don’t want to burden the taxpayers so we can build the Taj Mahal.”
Burdening the taxpayers concerned Councillor-at-Large Robert Haas as well.
“We really have to think of our taxpayers,” Haas said. “We could be forcing them out if they go up any higher.”
Haas believes the city needs to start evaluating where they are spending money: “We are spending a lot of money. When is it going to stop? We need to start analyzing and figuring out what the great needs of the city are. We have to realize we have a big senior population who can’t afford this.”
Haas also worries about where else that money could be going to. “We could be spending money on building more of a police presence or sprucing up the city. Are we paying too much to buy these four houses? We need to take a comprehensive look at this,” he said.
Ward 4 Councillor Stephen Reardon wants to see the specifics of the bond. “Tell us exactly how you are going to pay for this. Nothing is really explained. That’s what everyone is concerned about. I don’t see any specifics,” Reardon said.
The council is prepared to ask questions about the bond at the next subcommittee meeting.
“There is no question we need a new school, but we just have a lot of questions that need to be answered,” Haas said.
Mayor Dan Rizzo defended the authorization. In an e-mail statement to The Revere Advocate on Wednesday, the mayor stated: “The city council has received information as soon as we’ve been able to provide it. I cannot give them solid numbers until I get them. We have been forthcoming and have no reason to blindside or withhold information, as they are part of the approval process. These are projects that are needed and mostly interconnected. If the complaint is that we’re spending money, I would only say that not spending it now will only guarantee we’ll undertake these projects at higher costs in future years. I’m hopeful that the council will share my vision in supporting the 690 children and families of the McKinley School district, as well as the thousands of others who will enjoy these new recreational facilities that are wanted, and desperately needed in our community.”