To the editor:
I have been following very closely and quietly from the sidelines, but now feel the need to speak up.
As the debate continues on the future of the “Milton L. Fuller School,” I’m hearing and recently seeing both sides of the argument.
Councilor Tobey toured the building armed with a camera and a great deal of positive energy and shared this with the TImes. School Committee member Melissa Joy Teixeira took a similar but very different tour, and painted a much uglier and dire picture of the same building.
I attended this same school in the late 1970s as a preschooler and returned for fourth and fifth grade after being bused to West Parish from next door to Forbes School for first, second and third grades.
I began working for the city’s Facilities Department in the fall of 1993 and ultimately took over as facilities director in 1999. I left the department in 2003 to close out the construction of a newly built facility in a nearby town.
Unfortunately, I have not been into Fuller School since. But Councilor Tobey’s pictures showed hope for a school that has sat idle for quite some time.
I was absolutely disgusted when I saw the pictures that showed the growth on the ceilings, floor tiles buckling — all from leaky roofs that were not tended to and possible broken water pipes. Paint peeling off walls, furniture strewn about …
Was I surprised? Absolutely not. What would happen at your home if you turned the heat off in October and didn’t return until May? What do you think you would have found? That’s not to mention the years it spent vacant with minimal attention.
This is not the school I remember spending the winter of 1995 with my maintenance crew painting every classroom in the building top to bottom. These were not the hallways that Ambrose Lovasco would have shining every day — or the classrooms that Dick, Ted, Mike, Jack or Maureen would have in tip-top shape after the wrath of approximately 500-plus students every day, 180 days a year. I spent many a long days in the office where Allan Harper, Peter Asaro, Ben Dory and Stan Serrin all sat before me. (I wonder what they would think of its current state.)
This is not the school that proudly hosted the Cape Ann Symphony for so many years. This is not the school that served as our emergency shelter. This is not the school that our inner city kids called “their school.”
It saddens me to think of what has happened to this once vibrant facility, and in my personal opinion, the most well-constructed facility that the city owns. What’ll become of the three sets of Skylights that were replaced less than 10 years ago? What about the fuel storage tanks that were replaced in 2003? How about the roof on the stage that was installed in 2002? These were all sizable capital expenditures.
And if I never hear that we bought this building for $1 and that was the last dollar we spent on it, it will be too soon. Dare I remind everyone that, shortly after we acquired the property from the archdiocese, we added the rear wing, which housed vocational shops that later became the maintenance shop and storage as well as some classrooms?
We are at a crossroads. I think we all understand that we need to renovate and/or replace our aging infrastructure. We are starting to understand that we have antiquated fire stations, City Hall, police station, and public works.
What about Beeman, East Gloucester, Veterans and Plum Cove schools? We need to look at the big picture.
I understand West Parish is in the pipeline with MSBA, and I think that is great. What is the plan for the rest? Are we just going to cross that bridge when we get to it? Are we going to rent more private space or maybe purchase more modular classrooms?
We have a perfectly good solution to that problem; it is located right off Blackburn Circle.
I believe the “Milton L. Fuller School” can and should be brought back to its glory before we even think about spending one cent on the ITT Rule site or any other privately-owned property.
Let’s bring the folks from the former Medical Center and Pond Road back where they belong and allow the kids to “swing” at the Fuller School until their new West Parish and maybe Beeman; Plum Cove; East Gloucester and Veterans schools are renovated.
Montvale Avenue, Gloucester