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City Council votes to delay borrowing $11M for old EHS improvements

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Sen. DiDomenico addresses false statements over proposed soccer stadium


By Neil Zolot


EVERETT – Any action on a proposal to borrow $11,400,000 for improvements to the old Everett High School was delayed at the City Council meeting on Monday, April 8, based on a lack of information available to some members. In a letter to the Council, Mayor Carlo DeMaria requested the matter be taken up at the April 22 meeting “until the body has all the information they requested because City Councillor’s requests to tour the building have not had the opportunity to do so.”

“Why are we dragging this out?” Councillor-at-Large Guerline Alcy Jabouin asked in reference to her and others not being able to see the top floors of the building. “We asked to see it and were told we couldn’t. I want to know what the real issue is.”

“Let’s vote on this tonight,” Ward 6 Councillor Peter Pietrantonio whined out loud to no avail. “We did our due diligence. The City Council has been pushed around. We wanted to get to the third floor and they wouldn’t let us.”

Councillor-at-Large Stephanie Smith and Ward 4 Councillor Holly Garcia said they had seen the entire building. “Reach out to Facilities Maintenance,” Smith advised her colleagues. “If you want to go, call them up. They will make time for you to see any building.”

Jabouin, Pietrantonio and Councillor-at-Large Michael Marchese voted against the delay. Ward 3 Councillor Anthony DiPierro said he wanted to delay a vote until the members learned about tax-related implications of borrowing the money.

Located at 548 Broadway, the building houses a preschool, a boxing club and the Eliot Family Resource Center, but is in serious need of roof repairs. Many of these same issues were discussed at a Special Meeting on the matter on March 13, when it was tabled due to councilors not be able to see the entire building and the absence of some councillors at that meeting.

In other items State Senator Sal DiDomenico spoke during the Public Comment portion of the meeting to respond to remarks made by residents about having a sports stadium built next to Encore Casino. “I am tired and the community is tired of false statements made here Monday nights,” he said. “I wasn’t going to speak, but wanted to answer some questions that came up earlier.

“There is no Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City and the Kraft family. An MOU was put together with environmental groups. They initiated it and insisted on a stadium only if the Designated Port Area [DPA] classification is lifted. The Conservation Law Foundation was at the table and chose not to participate in the final agreement because they didn’t get their way. I resent when you don’t get your way and walk away and imply there are backroom deals.

“There is no process in which a shovel goes into the ground if the DPA is lifted. There is an extensive public process. The DPA is lifted to get to the public process. There is no process if the DPA isn’t lifted.”

DiDomenico spoke after comments made by resident Mayra Gutierrez. “Proposals to build a stadium near the [Encore] casino are redundant and oblivious due to congestion in that part of the city,” she said. “Traffic issues alone make the thought of developing the area more than it already is sound absurd. Navigating through Everett might become overwhelming due to the anticipated disruption. Challenges could impact residents who are commuting to work or school. The construction landscape is already littered with new establishments. The welfare of the people should be first and foremost rather than expanding the infrastructure.”

Later in the meeting, in response to a resolution introduced by Ward 2 Councillor Stephanie Martins “that the administration provides an update on the process to renegotiate the Encore host agreement including adding a public safety component,” City Clerk Sergio Cornelio read a message from DeMaria that “my team and I have met with representatives from Encore. Please be assured I have conveyed the Council’s interest in a public safety facility, specifically a fire safety facility.”

“I’m happy to hear this has come up,” Martins reacted.

At the suggestion of City Council President Robert Van Campen, the matter was referred to the Government Operations, Public Safety & Public Service Subcommittee. Ward 1 Councillor Wayne Matewsky brought this up at the February 12 meeting, feeling the casino increased the number of police and fire calls to that area.

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