Letters to the Editor
Vote yes for new schools
The most important item on the November 5th ballot for the Town of Winthrop, for its impact now and in years to come, is the ballot question for the new combined middle/high school. We may not be able to control much in the rest of the world in such a concrete way, but we can vote to support our own town in investing in a school building.
As someone who has served in this community as a town meeting member, a school committee member for two terms and a School Building Assistance Committee member for over three years, as well as a taxpayer and parent whose children have gone through the school system, I feel well-versed both in the needs of the educational environment for our local students and in the concerns over the aging systems in our middle and high school buildings.
Many in our community make suggestions that the town look to grant funding to help with the cost of running our community. Well, as a current member of the School Building Assistance Committee, I can tell you that the Massachusetts School Building Authority under the auspices of the State Treasurer’s Office is offering Winthrop the most sizeable grant opportunity in the history of the town – a 59.97% reimbursement rate for eligible costs that represents a potential $42 million grant to help bring the educational environment for our middle and high school age children up to 21st century standards. The School Building Assistance Committee with the assistance of our consultants, Skanska and HMFH, has examined any options available to us to address issues related to our aging school buildings. As a partner with the MSBA we were mandated to pick the option we thought best addressed the community’s needs. After conducting a feasibility study which had us carefully consider all options, we picked a new middle/high school building option, an option that addresses the concerns of both buildings at once. After reviewing all our work, MSBA agreed that we picked the best option.
Even though my children are in their twenties and finished attending our local public schools, Winthrop is still my home and I want Winthrop students in the future to have access to an updated educational environment and tools to enhance their education. My children benefited from many outstanding educators. But neither they nor their teachers had the most up –to-date in learning environments. It’s one thing to have old-fashioned classrooms that are too small by today’s educational standards; it’s another to have less than functioning science labs in a time in which STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) are so important for employment in the future. And as a former town meeting member, I remember how we continually “postponed” our moral commitment to bring our buildings up to ADA compliance. At the end of the 20th century, Winthrop replaced the inadequate, antiquated elementary buildings that my children attended. It’s time to do the same for the Middle School and High School buildings and provide all Winthrop students with the tools necessary to benefit from 21st century educational opportunities.
I know that the “building” does not educate our children. But a state of the art building will instill pride in our community, renew enthusiasm in our students, and attract and help us to retain more teachers who have been professionally trained in using the most modern educational tools to impart knowledge and love of learning. I truly believe that this new building is an essential component in preparing our students to be successful adults.
I know that there is a cost to taxpayers for this school project. In order to take advantage of this tremendous grant we need to show our financial support. I consider the cost an investment in our community and part of the generational legacy to the Winthrop citizens who come after us. I am grateful for what previous generations did to make sure I was well educated and I recognize my responsibility in contributing to the education of our current and future students.
I am proud of the work that the School Building Assistance Committee has done on behalf of the Townspeople of Winthrop. We invite you to attend our upcoming Community Presentations: Thursday, October 17th at 6:30 p.m. at Winthrop Middle School, Wednesday, October 23rd at 10a.m. and 3 p.m. at the Robert A. DeLeo Senior Center, and Tuesday, October 29th at 6:30 at Winthrop High School.
Please vote “yes” on November 5th to support the school project! Winthrop Is Worth It!
Mary Lou Osborne
Questions cutting down of trees
When I moved to Winthrop six months ago I was enthusiastic- I felt like I’d finally found a place after my own heart.
The people were friendly and there was a sense of community. And for me, someone who almost considers himself a New England connoisseur (having lived in some great New England locales); I felt like I had found a real rarity-a place that valued both its historic and natural legacy, with beaches and evergreens to boot!
Winthrop Center is a treasure, well laid out with Metcalf Square, the Frost Library and the shops along Winthrop St.
I also was consistently impressed with the E.B. Newton School and the little campus of trees that surrounded it.
Valuing green space around institutions was something that our forebears found merit in, but that value seems to be on the slippery slope to anachronism in more and more places.
I’ve seen many schools sacrifice greenery to expediency in the form of parking lots or new buildings, and indeed when I called the Town Hall office I was told that the space was cleared to be used for parking.
For me, this West side of the Newton School was a mini-arboretum, containing both deciduous trees and conifers; it was not densely overgrown and messy, but clearly a charming part of the town center.
You could say that one working definition of charm vis-à-vis urban planning might be- the right elements offered in the right degree.
It’s pretty simple math- if you take one pretty thing and replace it with one ugly thing eventually you start eroding what was appealing in the first place.
For two weeks I watched one tree after the other go- the Town Hall confirmed 12 trees were taken down.
By week 3, there was a vestigial wreath of three trees at the top of the slope- with one very pretty evergreen remaining.
At the end of that week even this was gone. Now, I’m told they are planning on planting 8 trees; but why did they all have to go in the first place?
Was that really necessary? Some of the trees had great big boles of two and a half feet in diameter and seemed representative of the spirit and obduracy of the New England character.
I feel like I witnessed Winthrop have an accident that didn’t need to happen, and I wish I wasn’t the only one who felt this way.
Voting for Koutoujian
Winthrop and the entire Fifth District will soon choose our next Member of Congress, and I have no doubt that Peter Koutoujian is the one for the job. He is an outstanding advocate for our issues, like reducing gun violence, standing up for women’s rights and breathing life back into the middle class.
Peter’s resume features 14 years in the state legislature. He led on the big issues that matter to Winthrop people. I’m supporting him because our next Member of Congress needs to know how to pick the big fights when it’s called for and still be able to get real things done for real people. Peter has an uncanny ability to thread that needle, and that’s why he’s got my support.
I was a dedicated volunteer for Elizabeth Warren, for Ed Markey, and for Speaker DeLeo. I see in Peter what I saw in them: an unwavering commitment to our town. I’m a kid from Winthrop and Peter’s a kid from Waltham. He understands our stories and will stand strong for us.
If you are a registered Democrat or Independent please mark your calendar and remember to vote on October 15 for the best candidate in the field – Peter Koutoujian. He has the background, experience, and leadership needed to serve Winthrop and the entire Fifth District in Congress.