By Cary Shuman
Though he is being urged by friends to run for citywide office, Donald Castle is focused on one campaign this month: Protect Our Reservoir – Preserve Pine Grove’s effort to win the March 14 special election on the construction of two new schools in the city.
Castle and the group want Lynn residents to vote against a proposed middle school project that would be built near the Pine Grove Cemetery and the Breeds Pond Reservoir off of Parkland Avenue. Another new school is being planned for McManus Field near Lynn Tech.
The group held a fundraiser Saturday night at Hibernian Hall attended by 200 guests. “We were very pleased with the turnout,” said Castle.
He illuminated on the group’s main concerns at the fundraiser. “We feel the process [of picking the site for the school] has been grotesquely unfair to-date. We haven’t had one neighborhood meeting. Not one person from the city has spoken to a 90-year-old resident in the neighborhood who will be impacted by the project.”
Castle said when his group attended the Sept. 14 public forum, “we found out after that meeting that a vote had already been taken on the site – they put the cart before the horse. We felt that was unfair and inappropriate.”
He said city officials haven’t given a thorough explanation why the land is not considered “cemetery land.”
“The Cemetery Commission believes that it’s cemetery land. Every single assessor’s map, atlas, and board’s map has it listed as cemetery land, so we feel there’s something missing – the document they’re not showing to us – why it’s cemetery land.”
Castle and his group are predicting a victory in the special election.
“I feel very confident. This is a wide and diverse group of people from all walks of life, from all over the city. In addition to the cemetery issue, people are worried about a Proposition 2 1/2 override. The city is telling people that 80 percent of the cost will be funded by the state and that’s not accurate. We believe that the figure of $20 per house is accurate. It’s going to be at least $500 per house. The tax ramifications for people in Ward 1 will be through the roof.”
Castle also cited the potential environmental impact that a new school would have on the neighborhood’s water-drinking supply. “How do they ask the voters to approve a project on cemetery land next to the reservoir without telling us the environmental impact on our water supply? Not one environmental study has been released to us. We have never seen a traffic study.”
Castle said his group is in favor of a second new middle school project that is being proposed for McManus Field near Lynn Tech.
“We’re for new schools,” said Castle, adding that it’s the site of the Parkland Avenue school that the group opposes.
Castle said there was a problem with the omission of some words in the ballot question and his group would like to see the election delayed. But City Clerk Janet Rowe said the issue has been rectified and special election will be held as scheduled.