Signs of Hope from “Belvidere” Residents for a Cawley Stadium High School

By: John MacDonald – Feb. 2017

Is the new Facebook public group called “New High School at Cawley Stadium” a sign that there are cracks in the Belvidere “Clark Road branch” foundation? Is there a small ground swell of resistance or is this the little boy sticking his finger in the dyke? To be honest, I’m not sure. Very small pockets of Belvidere residents are starting to publicly speak out against both a new high school being built downtown and some are even in favor of a Cawley Stadium High School.

Not all residents of Belvidere and especially the high society branch of Belvidere feel the same way. Steve Gendron, Lowell School Committee member and resident of Clark Road has publicly objected to a new high school being built in Belvidere. Sighting everything from disrupting the neighborhood to even using his influence to get the Lowell City Council to explore sites other than a Belvidere location. Now I do like Steve Gendron and I understand his concerns, because your home is your castle. So… now I’ll be accused of having “Irish Alzheimer’s” and forgetting everything, but the grudges…

However, when Steve Gendron served on the Planning Board and I had issues with Lowell Catholic High School in my neighborhood at the time, Steve told us that we the “neighborhood residents” needed to learn how to get along with Lowell Catholic High School. He said that it’s a city and these things will occur and that we needed to work together.

Well Steve… what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Find a way to work with a new high school up the street from your home. Get on board and do what’s good for the entire city, not just your own back yard.

I encourage all the readers of this article to log onto Facebook and check out the “New High School at Cawley Stadium”.

The page is filled with opinions, plans, renditions and opposing viewpoints. What’s best about the page is that it’s for the most part a respectful discussion. Now many Belvidere residents are starting to publicly share their support for a new high school location in Belvidere. As I write this column, the member count is well over 800 people. Now this has literally happened overnight and it warms my heart to see such civic engagement and sincere concern for what will be the most expensive project to the taxpayer in Lowell’s history.

Now the residents of Belvidere need to engage with the rest of the city. Prove that you do have the concerns for the entire city at heart. It’s my opinion that the city will be best served if we build a brand new “campus” at the Cawley Stadium location in Belvidere. My opinion will not always be appreciated, nor do I proclaim to have all the answers. But remember this… the Commonwealth will pay almost 70% of the project. All taxpayers in Massachusetts have skin in the game. Let’s make sure as Lowell residents that we respect the taxpayers’ money and invest wisely. We can’t go back to the well in 20 years, because we made a bad decision in a place where we can’t expand (yes, the downtown). We need to think of the future, not just our own self-interest.

John A. MacDonald is president and CEO of Big Decisions LLC, is an author and former radio host.