Guest Op-ed : Siting of New Mckinley School is Wrong

The proposed site for the new McKinley school at Hill park  is an inappropriate location.  It has the potential to create gridlock in our city center, slow emergency vehicle response times, and deprive residents of many of the recreational activities they have been enjoying throughout the years.

This appears to be another school site picked solely on the needs of the school administration. By using this site the school administration doesn’t have to find creative solutions to the issues they face. They are able to plop the school where they want, fill it with vice principals, and let everyone else in the city deal with the mess they will have  created.

Most people understand the need for a new Mckinley school  but there has to be other considerations when deciding where to build it. One of the primary concerns should be public safety. Another is what effect the project will have on the quality of life.

Having attended the Mckinley school for eight years during the 1960’s, I know first hand that it was antiquated when John F. Kennedy was President. At that time multiple grade levels were taught in the auditorium, in the basement, and anywhere else there was space for a few desks.  The school superintendents at that time were creative, and utilized the available space to address the needs of the community as a whole.

My two children also attended the Mckinley school. During the 90’s and through the early 2000’s our family participated in many Mckinley school events from fundraisers, to PTO meetings as well as area beautification efforts.  I am acutely aware of  how great the need is for a new Mckinley school building. The students deserve to be educated in a environment that fosters learning, and the staff deserves to work in a healthy, modern facility. That has been the case for many years.

Constructing a large school complex at Hill park  is very short sighted and is going to adversely effect the quality of  life in the city for years to come. The intersection of  Park Ave, Central ave and Broadway will become a parking lot. Currently at peak hours the crawl along Broadway can take in excess of  15 minutes. This project will only increase travel time, costing everyone more

in fuel, time and stress, as well as increasing the response time of emergency vehicles serving the city.

Parents will have difficulty safely picking up and dropping off students as they attempt to navigate around the city’s most active fire station, dodging school buses and the addition of as many as 500 cars. Also, the MBTA will continue to run bus service right by the front of the proposed school, thereby further complicating an already confused traffic pattern with several major bus routes rolling busses within a few feet of the front door. The influx of new traffic will bring an already difficult traffic situation  to near gridlock at one of the busiest intersection in the city. This is bad for business and dangerous for our children.

Student safety and traffic gridlock are only a couple of the reasons not to put the new Mckinley school  at Hill park. The loss of  one of the city’s premiere recreational areas for all residents of Revere is another. Each year the Hill park complex houses softball leagues, high school games,  tournaments, basketball leagues and is the venue for many other events enjoyed by adults and children of all ages. The loss of that centrally  located recreational facility  will be nearly impossible to replace, and will adversely effect the quality of life for countless numbers of the residents of the city of Revere. Many of whom use the recreational facilities at Hill park on a daily basis.

This is not the first time the school department, led by superintendent Paul Dakin , has sited a school for the sake of convenience, at the expense of safety. The Rumney Marsh Academy was built with the front doors opening on to a four lane divided highway. The roadway in front of the school, American Legion Highway, is used by all types of commercial vehicles, most notably high capacity fuel haulers and an accident at that location could be catastrophic.

Yet, if you drive along American Legion Highway today, passing right  by the Rumney Marsh Academy, you will not see one sign indicating the possible presence of school children crossing or otherwise congregating in the area. You will not even be made aware that you are in a school zone, or that students exiting the rear of the high school may attempt to cross the highway. The only signage from Revere  street to Bell Circle are two small signs indicating where vehicles are to turn into the RMA parking lot. This situation is another tragedy waiting to happen.

It may be too dangerous to put school crossing guards at Bell Circle, but apparently not too dangerous to have YOUR  children cross 6 to 8 lanes of highway traffic to get home. After all we needed the school and got 90% state funding.  A few casualties will be a small price to pay. The proposed school building project at Hill park will create another school department fiasco and will be a huge logistical problem we will have to deal with  for many years to come.

A school building project similar to what was done at the Paul Revere school on Revere Street would make the most sense and cause the least amount of disruption to the rest of the city. Building on the existing site would be the best longterm solution. However this  would require creative scheduling, strategic placement of modular classrooms and effective management of all aspects of the educational process in order to educate students while the building is being constructed. A skill set seemingly unfamiliar to the current superintendent.

While it may be more expensive in the short term to build on the current site, gambling with the safety of our children, and diminishing the quality of life in Revere is a much higher price to pay. We will undoubtedly be paying that price for many years to come.

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