Editorials and Opinions

What are our priorities?

By Denebola
Published: December 2007

Newton residents ought to be outraged at the deception gushing from Newton City Hall. Over the last few years, one word has continually been associated with North construction: asbestos. In fact, a major reason for the new school construction was the threat that the carcinogen posed to students at the “old” structure at Newton North. Now, after years of discussion about asbestos, contractors in the course of foundation excavations have discovered the substance at North and claim that the find was “not anticipated.” They have asked for an extra $6 million to remove the asbestos from collapsed and buried building connecting tunnels generations walked through’€and whose pipes they observed every day of school. $6 million is not a small amount of money. Think about the cold classrooms, paper shortages, and custodial cuts. Think about the regular threats of teacher reduction. Think about the mobile units filling in for building space at Newton elementary schools. $6 million extra to clean pipes of asbestos’€a problem we could have anticipated’€is not just a major error in judgment. Worse, the funding increase for asbestos is merely a reflection of the larger management problem afflicting the Newton North project: managers are being fiscally irresponsible. In the one-week layout period here at Denebola, our staff watched the estimated cost increase from $171 million to $179 million. City management is treating the cost estimates as numbers on a page, rather than real money that could be used to make real improvements in other areas.

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