The following statement was provided by Mary Russo, Watertown resident and former Watertown teacher:
I. Issue One: Watertown, sick buildings, our babies, and Covid 19
Sick building issues have been political losers in Watertown because of long latencies. That is mostly because the most serious illnesses – in particular asbestos related ones – can take 30 years or more to manifest. 30 years of legal non-compliance and negligence have been ignored at the local and state levels. Easy to hide and hard prove things with 30 year latencies.
But political reality is about to change for two reasons.
- The coronavirus is an immediate threat. The main issue is transmission. Dr. Mark Fishman, the founder of the Novartis Institute, has called it the perfect virus because it has so many ways to move from one person to another.
- We are sending our babies into another deteriorating building – this one in Waltham that has not met Federal standards and has not properly identified sick building issues. Where is the public notice? Where are the AHERA reports? What are the full costs?
- I’m forwarding an article by Dr. Joseph Allen, the director the Healthy Building program at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Dr. Allen describes conditions that create grave new risks. Inspectors have repeatedly found those kinds of conditions at Watertown High School and Watertown Middle School. Watertown and the MA DLS have already admitted to them. These concerns are based on the inherent structure, age, and deteriorated status of the buildings.
This is no longer a long-term latency issue. No 30 years to hide. It’s no longer a political issue you can easily bury. It’s now a coronavirus issue. It’s now.
And Waltham hasn’t been West Watertown since 1738.
II. Issue Two: Long-term contracts in the middle of a world financial meltdown
It is irresponsible to enter into long-term contracts when the world doesn’t know the value of money. Inflation? Deflation? Depression? Recovery? Most businesses are entering no deals or short-term deals for now.
Beyond that we don’t know if our employees and politicians have prepared us for the current crisis. Let’s see if our schools can open first. Let’s see if Waltham is a safe and appropriate West Watertown.