Lowell Week in Review: February 19, 2017

New Lowell High School

Talk of the new Lowell High project dominated the city this past week. There was Tuesday’s council meeting, the “committee of the whole” council gathering on Thursday that included 16 public speakers, a blizzard of comments on Facebook, and the bombshell news that the intended footprint of the new building on the Cawley Stadium site sits on a parcel encumbered with a deed restriction that limits the land’s use to recreational purposes. At the finish of Thursday’s meeting, the eight councilors present voted to recommend to the full council that it forward all four sites recommended by the city’s school building committee to the state for its consideration. In the meantime, the city will commence the process of undoing the deed restriction on the Cawley site.

Because there is so much to discuss about the Lowell High project, and because there is no city council meeting this week due to school vacation, I’ll save some other issues – the Hamilton Canal District and the Trust Ordinance for example, for later. Today, it’s all Lowell High . . .

The Cawley Site

Below are a couple of overhead photos of the Cawley Stadium area, the first a Google image of the area as it is now, the second is a similar image with the footprint of the proposed high school atop of it:

Overhead view of Cawley Stadium as it is now

Overhead view of Cawley Stadium with new high school superimposed

In the “as it is now” photo, the white building at the top is the state-owned Janas skating rink. To the right of that is Martin Baseball Field. Below that are several practice fields. To the right of them is Clark Road; below them is Village Street. The wooded area below Village Street is part of the privately-owned Holy Ghost Park. In the lower right corner is the rear of Market Basket. In the bottom center is the outfield fence of Alumni Park baseball stadium. Above that is the soccer field. To the left of the soccer field is the rear of 495 Chrysler and Lannan Mazda. In the center, ringed by the brown running track, is Cawley Stadium. To the left of Cawley is the stadium’s parking lot and Douglas Road.

When you compare the top photo to the one beneath it, you see that the new high school building would be constructed atop the practice fields and baseball fields that lie between Cawley Stadium and Clark Road. That tan area between the new school and Clark Road is a surface parking lot. Previous versions of this slide showed the stadium parking lot along Douglas Road retained as parking, but this latest version shows that area as green space. The reason for that change is related to the Thursday discovery of the restriction on the practice fields.

Recreation Only Restriction

UPDATE – It turns out that the recreation-only restriction from 1999 was in fact recorded at the registry of deeds. It was actually recorded on June 16, 2000 in Book 10880, Page 122 (although it is dated November 1, 1998). [To get your own copy, go to the registry of deeds website, move your cursor over the “search criteria” command on the upper left menu bar, and select “book search” under recorded land. Enter the book and page and you’ll find the document].

UPDATE 2 – After further research, the deed restriction recorded in 2000 encumbers Cawley Stadium itself, not the practice field. See my February 21, 2017 post on this issue for details.

I’m not sure why this was so difficult to find and I confess missing it myself when I first looked for it. It could because it gives a property address of  “424 Douglas Road” which I believe is the address of Cawley Stadium itself. But the document also contains a “marginal reference” to a deed in Book 859, Page 20 (to see that, from search criteria, select “unindexed property search” and enter the book and page number). That is a 1934 deed from the Lowell High School Alumni Association to the city of Lowell which covers the land that now contains the practice fields and Martin baseball field.

This agreement, like the one recorded in 1995  in Book 7412, Page 155 at the registry of deeds for the soccer field, restricts the use of the property for recreational purposes in exchange for money received from the Commonwealth to improve the property for recreational use.

Both the 1995 and the 1998 versions specifically state that any attempt to use the land for other than recreational purposes must be done in accordance with Article 97 of the Massachusetts Constitution (which requires a two-thirds vote from both houses of the state legislature to remove land from recreational use), the approval of the Secretary of Environmental Affairs, and the provisions of Massachusetts General Laws chapter 40, section 15A (which requires a two-thirds vote of the city council). When discussing this at Thursday night’s meeting, City Manager Kevin Murphy stated that the Code of Massachusetts Regulations (which supplement the General Laws) has the additional requirement of a unanimous vote of the local Conservation Commission and the Board of Parks.

The agreements go on to say that even with all of those approvals, the city shall “provide other property and facilities of equal value and utility” with the agreement of the Secretary of Environmental Affairs, hence that conversion of the Cawley Stadium parking lot to green space as a partial offset of the recreational land that would be taken for the school building.

The Downtown Site

Existing high school footprint – renovate in place option

Option 2 – new field house and freshman academy wing on existing footprint

Option 3 – expanded footprint by eminent domain with new field house and freshmen academy

The other three options (in addition to the Cawley plan) being forwarded to the state involve the current downtown site of Lowell High School. I believe the three photos above depict those proposals. If they don’t, they will serve to illustrate the concepts involved.

The current Lowell High School is made up of four buildings: the field house, the “Lord” building (both of those were built in the late 1970s), the “1922” building (which was built partly in 1899, partly in 1922, with 1990s additions), and the Freshman Academy which was once a K-8 magnet school and before that the Lowell Trade High School. The Freshman Academy is an entirely separate building, located at the corner of John Street and Fr Morissette Boulevard. The footprint of these four buildings is best shown in the first photo above. This option would renovate all four buildings. Among other things, it would require “extensive modular classrooms” and “temporary gym facilities.” The reason it would require many modular classrooms is because it just renovates the existing buildings so there is no place else to put students while any one of the buildings is being worked on. The total cost would be $331mil with the city’s contribution $116mil.

The second photo down would renovate both the Lord and 1922 buildings and would demolish the existing field house and replace it with a new fieldhouse and a new Freshman Academy wing. The current Freshman Academy would revert back to city control, presumably to be used as a middle school. This option would require “temporary gym facilities” but “few modular classrooms.” Both this and the previous option would be entirely on land already occupied by the high school. The total cost of this option would be $344mil with the city’s contribution $136mil.

The third photo down shows option three. It is similar to option two, but it involves taking the adjoining property by eminent domain. In the center left of the top two photos, there is a small building ringed by a parking lot adjacent to the high school. This is the property – commonly referred to as “the dentists’ office” – that would be taken by the city. This option would construct the new field house and the new Freshman Academy wing around the existing Field House. Once the new buildings were complete, the old Field House would be torn down. Consequently, few modular classrooms and no temporary gym facilities would be needed. The total cost of this option would be $334mil with the city’s contribution $126mil. (According to Manager Murphy, the cost of the “dentists’ office” in an eminent domain taking would be $2mil, which given the scale of the entire project, would be a negligible cost).

Building the school at Cawley would have a total cost of $332mil with the city’s contribution being $148mil.

Note that the city’s contribution of the downtown option three – $126mil – is $22mil less than the city’s contribution to the Cawley project – $148mil – even though the overall cost of both projects is essentially the same. The reason for that is that building at Cawley would incur more costs that would not be reimbursed by the state such as utilities and other infrastructure work.

Modular Classrooms

There has been much consternation about the need for modular classrooms if the high school remains downtown. In fact, not wanting their children to be taught in modular classrooms was been one of the major arguments used by the pro-Cawley side because the Cawley site would require no modular classrooms.

But as the architect pointed out Thursday night, only the “full renovation” option would require a substantial number of modulars. So why are there few modulars required with options two and three? The main reason is the sequence of construction. In option two, for instance, the field house will be demolished and the new freshman wing (with its 60 classrooms) will be built in its place. While that work is being done, students will continue to occupy the Lord and 1922 buildings. Once the new freshman wing is finished, students from the Lord Building will move into it and the empty Lord Building will be renovated while the 1922 and Freshmen Academy buildings continue as is. Once the Lord Building is done, students from the 1922 building will move in there and the 1922 building will be fully renovated. Once that’s done, the project is done and the renovated 1922 and Lord Buildings plus the new Freshmen wing will all be in use. This sequencing will be supplemented by a more efficient use of space in the existing pre-renovation buildings. The architect, I believe, said that currently only five out of seven classrooms are used at any one time due to complicated scheduling. That’s an occupancy rate of 71 percent. If you increased that to close to 100 percent, you would have additional space within each of the buildings.

With option two, you would still need “temporary gymnasium” space, or as the architect put it the other night, an inflatable gym. That’s because the current gym, called the fieldhouse, would be the first thing to go to make way for the new classrooms. That’s also why option three, which involves the eminent domain taking of the adjoining property is the least disruptive of the downtown options for the students. With the additional real estate, you can build the new structures around the existing gym and still use it until you’re ready to move into the new facility. The fact that option three is cheaper than option two is a bonus.


Thursday night, concerns that building a new high school on the Cawley site would pose a substantial obstacle to students who walk to the downtown high school were brushed aside with “we’ll put them on buses” types of comments. That’s great, because we don’t bus any Lowell High students now. More accurately, we don’t pay to bus them. Those who ride the bus now have to buy their own LRTA bus passes. Will the city now take on the cost of transporting Lowell High students from around the city to a high school on the Cawley site? What would that cost? And would that have to be absorbed by the school budget since that is where busing costs come from or will future councils add the cost of busing high school students to the city budget so it does not constitute a net cut to future school budgets?


One reason concerns about transportation can be minimized in these debates is that not a lot of parents of children who are or will be walking to the downtown high school have participated in this public conversation. Demographically, Lowell High today is 32 percent Asian, 31 percent white, 24 percent Hispanic, 11 percent African-American, and 2 percent mixed race. That means 69 percent of the students at Lowell High are non-white.

Watching the Thursday night council meeting on the new high school, I only recall one of the 16 citizen speakers being a person of color. That was Dominik Lay, who was a candidate for school committee last year. Not that it’s scientific, but if you scroll through the profile pictures of the 1,668 people who are members of the New Lowell High at Cawley Stadium group on Facebook, a group that has been extremely active in this process, both online and at public meetings, you’ll see fewer than 80 people of color which is about 5 percent of the group, a demographic blend that is far from representative of the high school’s population.

My point is that a great many of the people who will be most affected by this decision – the children bound for Lowell High and their parents – are not being heard from. Sure, they have every right to speak up like others are doing, just as they have every right to vote in city elections. Yet for a variety of reasons, they don’t. But that doesn’t mean that their questions or concerns should be ignored. It just means we’re not trying hard enough to reach them. If the council fails to actively seek out parents and students in the Southeast Asian, Latino, and African-American communities and hear of their wants and desires for a new high school, they will help make the case of those who claim that our current system of at large representation does not truly represent the interests of all of Lowell’s citizens.

[NOTE: A prior version of this post wrote that the deed restriction limiting the proposed site of the high school on Cawley Stadium had not been recorded at the registry of deeds. That was incorrect. The deed restriction was recorded although no one including me had been able to find it. This post has been rewritten to reflect these changed circumstances].

[Note 2: The deed restrictions are on the soccer field and on the stadium itself, not on the practice field as written in this post. Please read my subsequent post on this topic for updated information]

17 Responses to Lowell Week in Review: February 19, 2017

  1. Mary Jo Brown says:

    Given that restrictions on the Cawley site can be resolved, how is it that the South Common site presents such unsolvable restrictions. It’s a great location for the new high school.

  2. Jack Walsh says:

    Thank you for highlighting the transportation issues, which, as you said, have been “brushed aside”.

    There are maybe a hundred kids who walk down Dutton Street every day. The morning commute will be tough for any buses carrying them; the afternoon run, though, will be a nightmare. Traffic at that time is awful.
    Riding a bus to the far reaches of Varnum will take a long time.

    Does anyone have a clear sense of how many kids will need to be bused? Is there currently a rule about the minimum busing distance for HS students?

    Someone must have a handle on the transportation issues. Discussion has so far managed to avoid any direct consideration of the times and distances involved.

  3. PaulM says:

    Anyone who suggests blowing up the South Common, which is the only park land in its neighborhood, should be prepared to offer Fort Hill Park, Shedd Park, McPherson in Centralville, the soccer fields at Edwards, and other green space in their neighborhoods if the view is that new schools should be built on public parks. The South Common is not an empty lot waiting for a better use, but an active recreational and natural space that serves multiple constituencies, from the residents at Bishop Markham who do their health walks on the track, to the summer program kids at the Family Y, to the teens from the Colwell Avenue apartments of the Lowell Housing Authority who have no other place to play basketball, to the weekend soccer and flag-football players, to the hundreds of swimmers in the pool in July and August, to the Jackson St. charter school students who use the Common for physical education classes, to the people who walk their dogs, to the families on Elm Street who bring their kids to the playground — not to mention the soon-hundreds more people who will be living at Thorndike Exchange and the workers at the Justice Center who will want to take advantage of a beautiful park a block away. The City this spring will begin a large improvement project at the South Common that was been anticipated since 2010 when a renovation plan was approved by the City with extensive neighborhood input. The people in the South Common Historic District deserve to have a high quality park to enjoy, and the City and state delegation leadership is on the verge of delivering something great that will benefit the entire city. This is an important gateway and historic gathering place for community events going back to the creation of the Common in the 1800s. Lowell High School Field Day, carnivals and fairs, baseball, Lowell Folk Festival, military assemblies, many large events have occurred here. City Councilor Danny Rourke has a plan to bring youth football to the South Common, and the City Council voted to re-install lights at the sports field as part of a large-scale revitalization of the South Common.

  4. George DeLuca says:

    I haven’t heard the numbers and the costs of busing students to Cawley and Shedd Park for practice and games, the times of day, etc.

    As for the transportation issue, there is ongoing communication between the city manager, the school department, and the LRTA to review all options. The manager said he’ll have a report shortly, although I don’t know when exactly.

    As you may have seen, there are plenty of general comments being tossed about that are unsupported by details and facts. Much of this will be sorted out in the upcoming studies.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I fell like race% did not need to be added to this article. Have LHS send a print out to all the kids and parents about what’s going. This way people like you can’t vaguely say that only the white parents care about putting where it belongs at Cawley.

  6. Taxpayer says:

    The south common houses homeless drunks and heroin addicts during the day because they forced out from our shelters, lets face that fact.
    Secondly, not one person has an estimate of the cost which residents will have to pick up for sidewalks needed along Douglas and Clark Roads with the site moving to Belvidere. There will also need to be sewer separation and paving which will entail residents losing property and trees. The busing costs will be astronomical as we don’t bus (currently). There are only 8 LRTA buses which leave the high school upon dismissal which adds up to about 320 kids. My guess is that a larger population walk to school and will be forced to find other methods of transportation which is such a disservice. I will guarantee the dropout rate will rise kids less willing to walk to school when its closer. I have a real life example my class started with 1200 and I graduated with just under 800. We lost 1/3 imagine what it will be will kids have to walk 3 miles. Sorry to downtown residents but the high school was always there and new residents new that fact upon buying or renting!

  7. Bob McCarthy says:

    Dick, I think your review of the over-all status of the ongoing debate and stipulations is accurate; However, while I believe the idea that many representative demographics in Lowell have gone unheard from, I find it problematic how they are suddenly being defined, especially, after they and more than 90 % of this City was absent from the meeting. And as you pointed out, someone has failed to reach out. I would argue no one has reached out to any of this cities inhabitants in a constructive way; but suddenly someone’s deciding who isn’t being heard from and taking their speculated concerns as the evidence to focus upon. Is there a real detriment to the students living Downtown if they walk or ride a city bus? Do you believe they won’t come? Being a person of color and being low income is not one idea, low income is something all races of people endure, and their are many more affluent people of color in this city who should, or must suddenly be speaking for the low income, or rather speaking simply because their a person of color and they have an opinion to. I think the fact that the large faction of parents pulling for the Cawley site is just the beginning of a much broader surge that will soon become more and more educated and determined about the parents #1 goal being pushed–the best outcome for the children of this city. They pursue it for all the children of Lowell and are focused on providing the best education Facility we have ever seen in this city! The parents speaking now is evidence that shows parental investment which has nothing to do with placing the school at more of a convenience to them; are these parents trying to take a school and hide it from the low income. Actually that’s offensive. The idea that every student in this city has to come from some distance on a bus or driven by a parent is fact! Low income is not isolated to Downtown; however, the parents in those area neighborhoods should be asked and the question is what do you think about the current plans for Lowell high School? I find it less that the current voice of the apparent “white-non-person-of-color,” rally calling for a brand new school is an issue that is one of–look who wasn’t invited; and as such they are dismissing the concerns of the low income… How…? that night the issue wasn’t presented; it was a statement to a reporter. So, without having heard from them, or the speculation that moving the high school would hurt them how is their passion part of the problem, its part of the solution. The Idea that walkers from the the Downtown area make up the majority of the low income population in Lowell is based on what… that Centerville, South Lowell, Lower Highlands, the lower Belvedere area, and families in Pawtucketville all shouldn’t be heard from because their hardship and low-income status is tradition in Lowell, I fail to see the “Bus,” as this obstacle to education. Tell me do we not provide assistance to deal with issues just like this? I think that any idea that makes assumptions without fact, and that’s exactly what was done, it has lead to finding ways to cast shadows where none exist, especially, when their real intention is to shine a light on the entire process. The concern was not raised as: we should ask the parents and students in these areas for their feedback; it was we can’t do it because it not fair to them! Just like the remodeling plans are going to provide and build the better School, without causing disruption or long term detriment. Where is the data; where is the out reach; if you don’t have it, don’t cite it. I’m not the only parent feeling like this whole process that has been going on for years and now is suddenly coming screeching to a halt before the community is even aware the decision was already made!

  8. Greg says:

    Your last two paragraphs are off base and basically some what nonsense as race has nothing do do with this.
    It basically could be re wrote as the poor ethnics have had more than months to voice their opinion but are too poor or ethnic to do so. So In The end this is how Dick forces his opinion that the school should stay downtown.

  9. Renee Aste says:

    I participated in the online conversations on Facebook, but was a bit disappointing how it ended up this weekend. If downtown is not feasible, then I am definitely OK with Cawley. But there isn’t anything wrong with older buildings either. I don’t want to ‘throw away’ Lowell High.
    I have a daughter attending NDA’s upper school in Tyngsboro, it’s as old as Lowell High. No one would ever consider building new, for the sake of a building new. The same with Saint Michael’s on W. 6th St. It was built around the same year in 1922.

    I can’t believe that a building in constant use wasn’t maintained, but I believe the concerns people have with Lowell High in terms of lack of maintenance are very real. I also don’t want to build a brand new high school and find out 25 years from now that it doesn’t meet the needs of our students either. I see these brand new schools and the infrastructure for technology and for all we know it can be obsolete in three years.

    Where is education going in terms of the classroom? In Vermont they have a Catholic High School that physically meets once a week, an hybrid of online/classroom.

  10. B cossette says:

    I think it is important that all voices be heard. I am not sure what exactly could be done to get all ethnicities involved, but clearly they are a huge part of out tax paying citizenship, amd should step up if they have concerns.

  11. Sally C says:

    With respect to transportation costs, remember that that is not a one-time cost but will increase probably every year. So transportation to the Cawley site may create an increase in taxpayer costs every year.
    PS Many school systems have used modular classrooms routinely without ill-effect. I personally like option 3 and taking the “Dental building” to minimize disruption but don’t think that people should be horrified at the thought of modulars.

  12. Brian says:

    Cawley is a better location for the high school if athletics is the primary objective. But the objective of Lowell High School is to educate all kids of Lowell equitably. Downtown beats Cawley every time using this measure.

    Cawley is exclusive, downtown inclusive. The strongest communities are ones designed with a “something for everyone” philosophy. We have that already downtown and moving it to Cawley would forever damage this common good.

    Lawrence, Brockton, and Fitchburg went new and moved their schools to the edge of town. Winchester, Somerville, and Newburyport kept theirs more centrally located by renovating. Which places should Lowell emulate?

    This debate boils down to long-term(downtown) vs short-term(Cawley) thinking. But the concerns of parents who kids will be attending the school during the renovation are legitimate. Every effort and accommodation must be made to ensure the parents, students, and faculty that they won’t be negatively affected by the renovation.

    That is the case in Winchester where 36 modular classrooms are in use and the sky hasn’t fallen. Kids are still getting a great education. Teachers aren’t teaching any differently. The renovation is also on budget.

    Lowell is a city, not a suburb. We don’t live in the city of Belvidere. We have kids from every socioeconomic background with different levels of parental support and involvement. Chris Arnade, a photographer and writer, has coined the terms “front row” and “back row” kids. Front row kids are motivated, studious,have good attendance, participate in extracurricular activities, and most likely have involved parents. Back row kids aren’t motivated, aren’t engaged, don’t participate in extracurricular activities, have poor attendance, and most likely have little or no parental involvement.

    With 3500 students we have huge numbers front and back row students. Some back row kids live in Belvidere and some front row kids live in the Acre. But making it more difficult for back row kids to get to school or participate in extracurricular activities by moving the school from its central location is a cruel and unusual punishment they don’t deserve.

    Chronic absenteeism was 21.8% at LHS, including the Career Academy, last year. Not good but not the worst. The LeBlanc Therapeutic Day High School had 75% chronic absenteeism last year! That school is in Belvidere and every kid who goes there is a “back row” kid. Though the school is small it could be a predictor of harmful outcomes by locating a school in the wrong neighborhood. Why give back row kids another reason to not show up for school?

    A speaker at Thursday’s special meeting, who likes the Cawley plan, mentioned jr high football players riding their bikes home from Cawley at 7:30pm in her speech. THOSE are the back row kids. It struck me as odd because it highlighted the remoteness of a Cawley LHS for the majority of kids in the city. Those logistical issues will be MUCH greater with 3500 students compared to 200 football players.

    Belvidere kids will be home, showered, fed, and doing homework while the unfortunates will be on a bus, waiting for a ride, or walking miles to get home. The could be a permanent twice per day, 5 days per week, 9 month, 4 year burden. Kids will hate it. Many front row kids could turn into back row kids. Drop out rates could rise.

    Belvidere is a great neighborhood but we need all neighborhoods to be great for Lowell to reach its potential. Moving the high school is a gamble we shouldn’t take. This is not the time to shy away from our responsibilities to current and future generation of Lowellians. Keeping the high school downtown is so essential to our cities future it must be undertaken.

  13. Lisa says:

    I have read through many of the comments for the various sites and honestly can’t find a particularly fair reason to move it out of downtown.
    Many who state they will not put their child in LHS if it involves modular classrooms through renovation, apparently have forgotten that we lived through the need for more space in 5th, 6th 7th and 8th grade and modular classrooms were brought in. We turned out alright.
    The arguement that the building is pushing 100 and we would be denying our children a start of the art facility is absurd. Look around the city, How many mills have been successfully stripped inside and turned into fabulous start of the art, “luxuary” appartments and or residential or commercial condos. Looking at a picture posted where they showed Lawerence before and after, suggesting from the outside something that may not be shiny is not deserving. Hhmmmm, I think there we send the wrong idea of judging a book by its cover or that beauty and ability are only skin deep. When we rise above difficulties or perceived difficulties we teach tolerance and patience. One arguement for putting everything at Cawley is that it encompasses all of the high school experience. Not true we will see the elimination of green space that id not sufficient enough space as it stands today. Where will this be replaced obviously not on site? So, as we struggle to get students from a centralized location we will also struggle with the athletics program attempting to ship students here there and everywhere for practices and games. At what cost? We currently have great athletic facilities in one location now we will do away with that. Must I remind many that are in this debate we lived through the institution of athletic fees at LHS and a lack of transportation to and from practice, and in many of the spring sports programs only transportation to away games. That all became easier when the fields ended up together at Cawley and Shedd combined relatively one location. Easier on parents with those in sports or multiple children in sports. But all of that would be lost.
    Finally, what good is the word of City stating they will leave the space as recreational so that they may ascertain funds for upgrades if they petition to have “their” word reneged. Where will that leave the city in future endeavors for grants and monies from the state and federal governments if we can’t keep up our end of the bargain.
    Again from my standpoint not seeing a valid reason for site relocation.

  14. Brian says:

    As we debate LHS’s future and weigh the concerns of parents and taxpayers maybe a hybrid option should be considered. What if we don’t gut the “old” building but still renovate the “new” building and build a new freshman academy and new gym. Could we save 50-100 million and minimize disruption at the same time?

    Every option should be on the table.

  15. joe from Lowell says:

    It’s very odd to read Lowellians, of all people, talking about buildings being “new” and “modern” and “not downtown” as innately superior to buildings that are old, traditional, and urban.

    Were we bullshitting in all of those City documents and policies lauding the value of historic preservation and pedestrian-friendly urban development? We conned all those developers with happy talk, but when it’s our money and our students, downtown isn’t good enough – is that it? It’s as if they think they need to save the kids from having to be downtown, and put the school in a “good area,” defined in the same sense that people who moved to the suburbs in the 1970s would use “good area”‘ to distinguish the cup-de-sac development they moved into from…well…Lowell.

    Well, I like Lowell. I don’t think a less-Lowell LHS would be good for our city, for our sense of community, or for the students who attend it. It means something that the LHS kids walk by St. Anne’s, and the canal, and the and the old smokestack outside the FA building, as part of their daily routine during their formative years, when they are developing their identity.

    The historic urban location isn’t something the kids need to be saved from. It’s an asset that enriches their experience.

  16. Brian says:

    Well said joe from Lowell. I’d add that the thousands of visiting student athletes, parents, and faculty who’s only experience in Lowell is at the downtown high school is an immeasurable good that shouldn’t be discounted. These “required” visits are different than trying to draw visitors through marketing.

    I like to think the majority of their first impressions of downtown Lowell are positive so getting them to come back for dinner, a show, or attend UML is that much easier. It’s like free marketing.

    A visitors impression of Lowell with a Cawley LHS will be Applebees, Home Depot, gas stations, McDonalds, and car dealerships. AKA Anytown USA. What a huge missed opportunity that would be.

  17. Hugh McGill says:

    I found it very interesting to read this post – thank you Dick. I was certainly surprised to see “Anonymous” express concern regarding race. Lowell is an ethnically diverse city, with 62.5% of the population being Caucasian, 16.5% Asian, 14% Latino, 4.2% Black, and 2.5% other ethnicities. Lowell has the second largest Cambodian population in the United States. Certainly to reflect, on the fact there appears to be minimum diversity involved in meetings and Facebook groups, is important. This is a city that has at-large representation and this means that we have to work harder at asking if the right conversations are taking place and if the right outreach is taking place to the various communities that are not well represented. I am hoping that the decision that is made will support the students in the long term and that decisions will not be reactive. I do not have children in the schools and my taxes will go to support whatever decision is made – I do believe that it is important to ensure that every voice is heard and I wonder, with 69 percent of the students at Lowell High being non-white, is anybody talking with them?