Council Delays Life Science Biosafety Level Vote: HYM’s O’Brien Will Appear at May 16 Meeting

Once again Councillor-at-Large Dan Rizzo read the room, understood the magnitude of the imminent vote and its impact on Revere, and basically told his colleagues, “This issue needs more research.”

And the Council heeded his valuable advice, opting to postpone a vote on what would have limited the proposed life science building and laboratories at Suffolk Downs to Biosafety Level 2 research.

“It just seems to me where I don’t know enough to say I’m going to vote on Level 2, what does that mean?,” Rizzo said candidly. “Councillor [Marc] Silvestri made a very valid point. If somebody’s making mammogram machines, there’s no testing on live animals. That would be a great thing. I would love to see that hap-pen, but to vote on blanket Level 2, I don’t think I’m prepared to make a vote.”

Council President Gerry Visconti, a co-sponsor with Ward 1 Councillor Joanne McKenna of the motion, agreed to push the vote aside and keep the matter in subcommittee.

That decision sets the stage for the councillors and residents doing extensive research on la-boratory biosafety levels (which range 1-4) this week in anticipation of an appearance by HYM founding partner Thomas O’Brien at a meeting Monday, May 16 for the purpose of discussing the new life science building to be constructed at Suffolk Downs.

McKenna said that O’Brien will answer all questions from residents about the proposed life science building at that meeting.

During the Legislative Affairs Subcommittee meeting on the issue Revere resident Michelle Kelley was very impressive at the podium. Kel-ley articulated well her message in wondering why when the life science building was first proposed before the Council and a vote was taken, more incisive questions were not asked of the developer about matters such as bi-osafety levels. Kelly also praised McKenna for doing her research and explaining what each of the four biosafety levels entailed at the April 25 Council meeting.

“It seems like it was given approval and given the okay without anyone really knowing what goes on in these labs or the levels,” said Kelley. “I find it interesting that at this late stage in the game, she [McKenna] gave us the definitions – why wasn’t all that done way before this was approved and this was okayed. I just think that’s kind of backwards.”

Visconti responded, “I can’t answer that, to be honest, but I don’t think it’s that late in the game. The building is not built. It gives them the ability to build a life science building. I think we are putting some measures to be put in place so some rules and regulations can be put forward. It’s in the early stages, rather than late in the game.”

Local observers are predicting a larger-than-usual audience at the May 16 Council meeting with HYM’s O’Brien. It was stated that the meeting would be limited to one hour, but that decision is now likely being re-evaluated.

Councillor-at-Large George Rotondo requested that a physician representing the Revere Board of Health be present at the meeting.

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