The city council approved the mayor’s $10.5 million request to apparently purchase the empty Pope John High School property and to ultimately build a combination of veterans and elderly housing on it during the final meeting of the year last Monday.
The motion passed unanimously but not without the mayor delivering stern admonitions to those who questioned his request.
This included Councilor Fred Capone, whom the mayor called a liar because Capone questioned the mayor’s purchase of Pope John without any research or paperwork whatsoever.
He belittled Councilor Mike Marchese and derided him for suggesting that the Pope John property be used as a public school because, Marchese pointed out, the public schools are overcrowded and insisted the city needs another new school.
Councilor Mike McLaughlin, who the mayor also lambasted, made similar suggestions that the mayor and the city explore the options.
The mayor tried to make the case that these three are against elderly and veterans housing in an effort to discredit them and their intentions.
The City of Everett wants to pay $10.5 million to the Archdiocese of Boston to purchase the empty Pope John school campus in North Everett.
The mayor, and several others in city government are looking to remake the campus into apartment housing for the elderly and for veterans, according to public statements made during the past few weeks in city hall and development circles.
“I believe the campus should be used for the purpose it was built,” Councilor at Large Mike Marchese told the Leader Herald.
“With our public schools overcrowded and nowhere to place classrooms full of new students we should use the Pope John site as a public school,” he added.
In recent years the need for elderly and veterans housing has produced very little tangible relief in what is considered a housing shortage.
On its face, this is a good idea by the city to add to our stock of elderly and veterans housing units while at the same time giving a new use to what had been a Catholic School with a long history.
Far better would be to attract private capital to rehab the place into a gleaming new residential property that offers mixed rent housing based on income so that taxes are paid and the property does not become a liability to the city.
The location of the former Pope John property is ideal for a mixed use type of development without overrunning the neighborhood with dense development and added traffic.
Pope John XXIII High School deserves the aid of the Boston Archdiocese in order to remain open.
It deserves to come back from a death sentence that was placed upon it, and then removed, by the Archdiocese.
Cardinal O’Malley needs to reach out to the hundreds of alumni, present students, teachers and to the administration of the Catholic school who are now involved in a life or death struggle to keep the school open.
If the Boston Archdiocese and Cardinal O’Malley can spend $25 million to rehab Holy Cross Cathedral, then certainly $1 million can be found to keep Pope John XXIII High School open.
This is not just another Catholic school that has lost its reason to exist.
The outpouring of energy and emotion from everyone involved with the school leaves us with the strong sense that Pope John XXIII has a chance to sustain the reprieve given it by the Archdiocese – but this won’t happen without the direct intervention of the Cardinal.
Pope John XXIII isn’t financially unsound at this point because of its own financial ineptitude. In fact, the school was cruising along nicely… until a vendor the school did business with went bankrupt and stopped paying the school what he owed it to the tune of $600,000.
That vendor, who should be in jail, cannot be allowed to sink the school.