The future of the Fernald is one that is of keen interest to the residents of Waltham. As your State Representative—if you would grant me the privilege of serving—I promise to do everything I can to ensure that this property is offered to the City of Waltham as the land’s primary bidder and ensure that the property is used to construct a new residential community as well as a new high school.
It is my hope that this property be granted to the City of Waltham rather than used by the State to suit it interests rather than those of the community here in Waltham—such as another housing development complex. From the Ridge on Lexington St., the old Waltham hospital, and the newly developed condominiums on Pleasant St. in Watertown, the last thing we need is more overdevelopment.
I have stated on a number of occasions my desired plan for the Fernald. What I would like to see done is for the City of Waltham to be offered primary bidding rights to the property and to see it turned into a new residential community of one to two family houses—not more apartments or condominiums.
Also, I would like to see this land used for the purposes of constructing a new high school. It is the last educational building to be renovated or reconstructed as all six elementary schools and both middle schools have seen either renovations or have been moved to completely new buildings. It is a shame that the students of Waltham experience the best that a new school has to offer during their elementary and middle school years only to end their Waltham public education at a school that is now over 40 years old, tiring, and out-of-date. The situation has finally come to a head as, according to Principle DeMeo’s recent report to the School Committee, Waltham High School risks losing accreditation if necessary updates and improvements are not made.
Rather than see renovations made to the High School, I would much rather prefer for the money to be spent on constructing an entirely new building. Since the current high school was constructed in 1969, there are many issues that the building has that, up till this point, have been overlooked by the state due to “grandfathering” clauses. Yet, if the building is to updated to meet State standards than these issues—such as possible asbestos, energy inefficiency due to the school’s window paneling as well as infrastructure (made all the more clear this past summer with the air conditioning malfunction)—will need to be put up to code.
This is all in addition to the school being a “dead zone” for wireless internet access which could provide all sorts of new innovations for classroom learning and activities. All of these necessary updates as well as new communication, science labs, and creating better handicap access to the school may very well end up costing the city just as much, if not more, than what it would cost to build a new school entirely. It may be more cost effective to build a new educational facility.
The time is ripe for a new high school in Waltham should the Fernald land be made available. The new building could accommodate high school students and the old one could still be used for administrative purposes as well as a location to be used to reduce overcrowding which appears to be developing in some kindergarten and preschool class years. A pretty good precedent has also been laid out by Wayland, Norwood, and Natick who have all built new high schools that were constructed on time and under budget. There is no reason why Waltham could not follow suit.
It is for these two purposes, the Fernald and education, why I humbly ask for your vote on Tuesday.
Francis X. Stanton