Preaching to the Choir

11May12

Judging from the comments of those who spoke, 99 percent of the hundred or so people who showed up for the April 30 public forum on the the Galvin Middle School were supporters of the project before they walked in the door.

Galvin Middle School - Wakefield, MAGiven the composition of the audience, the project manager, architect and Wakefield town officials must have felt like they were preaching to the choir as they made their case for the construction of a new, state-of-the-art Galvin Middle School. The choir, however, is not the audience that needs to be convinced.

The closest thing to a dissenting voice was Roland Cote. He raised a valid point, one for which there may be no good answer.

“There are hundreds of people in this town who can’t afford this,” Cote said, “who won’t gain anything from it.”

The standard response, of course, is that everybody gains because new schools raise everyone’s property values. But for those on fixed incomes like Cote, a higher property value won’t pay the light bill or buy a prescription.

“The other side needs some attention,” Cote said in conclusion. But on Monday, his was a voice in the wilderness, the only one at the forum voicing anything less than unbridled enthusiasm for the Galvin project.

School hallwaySo where was the opposition? For that matter, where were the proponents? Only about a hundred supporters of the project attended the forum.

“The poorest kids in Boston don’t go to a school that looks like this,” disdained one Galvin supporter.

Another supporter calculated the impact of the estimated $188 annual tax increase that the Galvin project would impose on the average homeowner. “$188 is only $15 a month,” he observed, “less than some people spend at Dunkin’ Donuts a week. We aren’t talking about a whole lot of money.”

So that’s where everybody was? Dunkin’ Donuts?

Maybe both sides are keeping their powder dry for Town Meeting and beyond.

Few people doubt that the Galvinizers can pack Town Meeting with enough voters to get the needed two-thirds majority to send the Galvin debt exclusion question to a town-wide ballot on June 9.

But that election hinges on a simple majority. Will the town’s unusual move of scheduling the election on a Saturday, with everyone in town voting at the Charbonneau Field House at Wakefield High School instead of their neighborhood precinct polling places, favor the Galvinzers?

The next few weeks will be very interesting.

[A version of this column appeared in the May 3, 2012 Wakefield Daily Item.]

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One Response to “Preaching to the Choir”

  1. 1 Dennis Clancy

    I wish I were there, Mr Cote needed the company. My take is what is the rush? Why do they want to commit to such a huge expense in an uncertain economy? Are they all richies? What about people who are already struggling? Has anyone explored the possibility of fixing up the old building? I never thought it was that bad. I would at least wait until the next presidential election & the economic fallout. To minimize it to the cost of a cup of coffee is BS in my humble opinion. It is like deciding on trading in the old car or spending a few dollars to keep her running & safe. You can make arguments for either side. In this case I do not want to be railroaded into spending more money in these uncertain times. You can always visit the possibility again but once you commit you can’t back out. It is time for another choir, I can’t sing but I can get in your face & rap.


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