Adding Wood to the Flame

Roof leaks reminder of the need for new school building

Eddy Olu, Staff Reporter

By Eddy Olu

Lowell, MA – Rain interrupted an indoor varsity volleyball game on Tuesday evening but did not spoil the scheduled Senior event.

Lowell High volleyball hosted Greater Lowell Technical Vocational School for the annual Senior night game.  After a roof leak suspended play, LHS won.

During the first set, water had begun to drip from the ceiling creating an unsafe area to continue the game. Referees stopped play to prevent any slipping injury to the players.

Play was suspended for approximately 20 minutes until the floor was wiped clean and the referees made the decision to resume play.  Apparently the leak stopped after an outside rainstorm subsided.

The referees had initially concluded that, if the leak did not stop, then the game would have to be rescheduled. Luckily the rain had stopped and Lowell defeated Greater Lowell 3-1.  The Seniors were recognized during an intermission of play.

Roof-leak incidents aren’t new to Lowell High School. Last year a boys volleyball game against North Andover was cancelled because a similar leak didn’t stop in the Raymond Riddick Field House, built in 1980.

Such incidents have added fuel to the ongoing debate about Lowell High’s future location.

Already this year Lowell High was in the news for multiple gas leaks and heating issues which caused a number of interruptions and cancellations of school.  As a result of snow days and interruptions related to school building repairs the last day of school is scheduled for June 27.

After students complained in January about a cold school climate, parents voiced their concern and the administration was forced to cancel school and address heating issues at that time.

Then, in April sudden gas leaks in the heating units on top of the Riddick Field House caused a number of canceled or interrupted school days.

Last November, pipes had burst in the basement of the 1920 building which caused disruptions in classrooms in the past.

The numerous repair issues have given Cawley proponents more reason to clamor for Lowell High to be moved to Cawley Stadium where a new campus was proposed last fall but later defeated at the polls.

The previous City Council voted to move the school to the Cawley location, however a non-binding citizen’s petition received over 50% of the vote citywide on the November 2018 City Council election ballot.

As a result of the election, the debate was shifted in favor of the Downtown location. The binding election of City Councilors resulted in sweeping out councilor proponents of the Cawley plan and replacing them with many new councilors in favor of the current Downtown location.

The City Council voted last week 8-1 to renovate the school on the current Downtown location according to the wishes of the citizen petition.  The previous City Council had voted 5-4 in favor of the Cawley location.

The Council selected the $345.4 million dollar Option 3A plan which proposes a complete renovation of the current structure and requires a final approval from the Massachusetts School Building Authority before moving forward.

The proposed renovation project would begin in the summer of 2021 with an estimated completion date of 2026.