School Committee: New school playground to be named for Mattos

PAUL BILODEAU/Staff file photo/If a new school is built on Webster Street, the playground would be named after Joseph Mattos, who lost his life fighting in World War I. Meanwhile Mattos Field would be moved to Green Street, pictured, and the city would decide what to name the field. 

If the city votes in favor of a debt exclusion to pay for building a combined elementary school, the new playground on the property will be named after Pvt. Joseph S. Mattos. 

The School Committee had a brief discussion about honoring the fallen soldier at the proposed school combining East Gloucester and Veterans Memorial elementary school at Webster Street during its Oct. 14 meeting. 

The verdict: Mattos' name will live on. The 19-year-old Gloucester man lost his life on Oct. 5. 1918, while fighting in World War I.

"I don't think there should be any question that we will rededicate the playgrounds at the new school to Joseph Mattos," School Committee Chairman Jonathan Pope said.

The committee unanimously agreed to rename the new playground after Joseph Mattos when and if it is built at the current site of Veterans Memorial Elementary School on Webster Street. 

The softball field— known as Mattos Field — that currently resides on the property would be moved to Green Street. The city has agreed to move the lights to the potential new location, create parking and construct fully accessible bathrooms. 

Pope said the School Committee only has jurisdiction over naming school property, so if and when East Gloucester Elementary School site is claimed as surplus it will be for the city to decide its name. 

"It is not within our purview," Pope said. 

Other side of the coin

While the city and school administrations prepare for the potential of a new combined elementary school, there are voices that wish for things to remain as they are. 

In an Oct. 16 email to Pope and Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, Mattos' great-niece Lisa Templeton wrote that while the dedication of the new playground is appreciated it is not enough. 

"The offer to honor Joseph Mattos at a new playground and field is appreciated, but I am still opposed to the destruction of Mattos Field, as are other family members and residents of Gloucester," Templeton wrote. 

Mattos' nephew agreed with Templeton's sentiment. 

"For myself and on behalf of his family, we are very much opposed to moving (the softball field)anywhere other than where it is," said Reginald Santos of Salisbury. 

Santos explained that — in his opinion — moving the softball field to Green Street and rededicating the new playground to Mattos is not fair. 

"It is not suitable for a memorial for anyone because it is too small, it is artificial turf, and it is a poor location," he said. "It isn't going to serve the community the way that Mattos Field does."

With both sides elevating their voices, the final call will be up to registered voters on Nov. 3 with their response to the third question on the ballot.

Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-675-2705 or tbradford@gloucestertimes.com.

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