The City Council approved the warrant for the special election on funding for a new Northeast Metropolitan Vocational Technical High School building Monday night, but some councillors expressed concerns about the election being held in a single polling location.
Voters in the 12 vocational district communities, including Chelsea, will be able to weigh in on the funding of the proposed $317 million project on Tuesday, Jan. 25. Polls will be open in Chelsea in the City Council Chambers at City Hall from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
City Manager Thomas Ambrosino said there will only be a single polling location because a low turnout is expected. Many of the other communities in the district are also opening only a single polling location for the special election.
District 8 Councillor Calvin Brown said there needs to be more outreach about the election, and questioned only opening one polling location.
“We’ve always argued that voters are far from St. Rose, or far from the Williams School, but we’re just giving them one location,” said Brown. “I think this is a big decision. This vote carries a lot of weight on the city of Chelsea regarding the funding, and we need to make sure each and every voter who wants an opportunity to vote first and foremost knows where to go to vote in this election.”
Ambrosino said the city clerk has sent a notice about the election and the polling location to all registered voters in the city.
“I think Councillor Brown hit on some very strong points, “ said District 5 Councillor Judith Garcia. “We’re asking voters to come out on a special election date, to show up on Jan. 25 for something we haven’t really heard about. This is a huge decision for our community.”
Garcia said she will be mobilizing voters to get to the polls and letting them know that Chelsea is being asked to pay a $58 million share of the new building project that the city cannot afford.
“It’s placing us in a horrible predicament economically,” Garcia said.
The fate of the project will be determined by the overall vote totals throughout the 12 district communities.
“I feel in my heart we saved the Northeast Voke School, and now we’re being penalized by them asking us to pony up $1.9 million per year over 30 years,” said Councillor-At-Large Leo Robinson.
District officials have stated that Chelsea is facing a higher cost because the funding formula is based solely on the number of students a community sends to the school. Only Revere sends more students than Chelsea to the vocational high school.
“The $1.9 million is what we take in in new growth a year, and that will be expended to the new school,” said Robinson. “We will not be able to do any other new projects in the city of Chelsea for 30 years.”