The cheers you may have heard in Revere Monday night were those of parents of schoolchildren applauding the City Council for voting by an 8-2 margin to approve a loan order in the amount of $29.5 million for the acquisition of the Wonderland Park property.
Wonderland was designated by the Revere High School Building Committee as its No. 1 choice for the site of the new high school. If everything goes according to plan, the new high school will open its doors in 2027.
Councillors Anthony Cogliandro, Patrick Keefe, Joanne McKenna, Steven Morabito, Ira Novoselsky, John Powers, Marc Silvestri, and Gerry Visconti voted in favor of the loan order for $29.5 million. Councillors Dan Rizzo and Anthony Zambuto voted against the loan order to acquire the property.
The Council discussed the issue at length during a Ways and Means subcommittee meeting chaired by Rizzo.
Ward 4 Councillor John Powers asked Mayor Brian Arrigo whether flooding and traffic issues at the Wonderland site would be addressed, and infrastructure improvements would continue to be made there.
â€œI think you probably more than most understand the commitment that weâ€™ve made in terms of infrastructure and improving that,â€ Arrigo told Powers. â€œI think itâ€™s really important for people to understand that when we build a high school at Wonderland, weâ€™re not going to say thereâ€™s no more money to do anything. Obviously, our commitment to quality-of-life improvements and infrastructure, especially close to low-lying areas like the lower end of Revere Street is critically important and we know that those are investments that need to be made. You have my commitment that those investments will continue, that work will continue, and it will continue with the great team that I have around me.â€
Zambuto has been steadfast in his opposition to Wonderland being the site for the new high school throughout the process
â€œIâ€™m going back on the record again tonight that this is the biggest fiscal mistake in the history of the City,â€ said Zambuto. â€œItâ€™s taken a piece of property at Wonderland off the tax rolls.â€
Zambuto estimated that the city will lose an estimated $1 billion in tax revenue over the expected 50-year life of the new high school at the Wonderland site.
Rizzo, who led the construction of the new Hill Elementary School and the new Harry Della Russo Stadium during his mayoral administration, said, â€œI come down on the same side as my colleague Councillor Zambuto and I have the same concerns as Council President Visconti about the unknowns.â€
Rizzo acknowledged that the city does need a new high school. â€œBut I think the primary function of this City Council is to provide fiscal oversight. Thatâ€™s why weâ€™re here, to represent the taxpayers. This is the largest single appropriation to the tax levy in the cityâ€™s history. I think it deserves a little bit of conversation,â€ said Rizzo, who suggested that another meeting be held to consider the issue.
But Supt. of Schools Dr. Dianne Kelly ook the podium and spoke about the importance of the timeline in the MSBA new school building process.
â€œWe have a strict deadline that we have to have paperwork to them [MSBA] in December, which means we need to be getting on that land in the next week,â€ Kelly told the Council. â€œIf weâ€™re beyond another week of getting access to the land â€“ our hope iss that this will be voted tonight â€“ that we could file the notice of taking with the state, and that they would approve it, and that we could get on the land next week and start doing soil samples and pieces. The bottom line is we canâ€™t wait until another meeting unless we want to push the whole project out.â€
In the end, the Council heeded Kellyâ€™s key advice and voted during its regular meeting to approve the loan order for the acquisition of the Wonderland property.