The downtown site provides the most access for the most students and their families, and strengthens Lowell High School’s relationships with downtown businesses, educational and cultural institutions, and the nonprofit organizations that tie the community together.
Downtown Option 3’s mix of new build and renovation preserves and adds on to the Lowell High School that we love, and the phased construction plan gets kids into new classrooms fastest. Soil testing, asbestos testing, and real estate assessments have all agreed: the current building is an excellent renovation candidate and its best use is as a high school.
Lowell is not a suburb, and we should celebrate what makes us unique: the shared downtown core that ties our neighborhoods together into one community.
Why Not Cawley?
Cawley Stadium is the site that is furthest from the most students. Moving the school would turn LHS into a commuter school for a majority of the students. The move would overwhelmingly impact minority and lower income students while benefiting those who live in Belvidere.
Cawley Stadium is not an empty lot. It is a beautiful, Article 97-protected multisport complex in a city with a shortage of green space, and building the school would require moving 4-5 actively used fields to lesser sites around the city. If it is chosen, the city will likely face Article 97 lawsuits that delay or prevent the high school project from even happening due to the decision to “work around” state policy protecting open space.
Choosing Cawley also requires eminent domain. The city’s transportation engineer has confirmed repeatedly that the infrastructure improvements required would necessitate the taking of 12 feet on the north side of Rt. 38 – this includes Milan’s Pizza, the office building owned by the Alexis family, two car dealerships, and Young Dentistry. The only difference between these businesses and the dentists downtown is that the latter is represented by an expensive lobbyist.
Cawley is the most expensive option by a significant margin. Preliminary estimates show it as $12-15 million more than Downtown Option 3, with Downtown Option 2 coming in even cheaper. Busing students to the edge of the city would permanently add another $3.2 million and rising to the city’s annual transportation budget.