Here at Lexington’s Estabrook Elementary School for a day that’s been two long, hard years in the making, State Treasurer Steve Grossman, the chairman of the Massachusetts School Building Authority, looked to the podium he stood behind to find the perfect words to open and close his address.
“I don’t think any phrase could be better than ‘What a morning in America,’” Grossman said, taking small liberties with the town motto, “What a glorious morning for America,” scripted in the town seal that adorned his podium. “What a glorious morning here in Lexington, a perfect day, a beautiful day for a new beginning.”
The other officials felt the same way.
They were here for a groundbreaking ceremony to at Estabrook Elementary School, marking the start of a new building project roughly two years after the discovery of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the current building just before the start of the 2010-2011 school year.
The town filed an emergency statement of interest (SOI) with the MSBA in late 2010, and local and state officials remarked on how quickly the project has progressed to here from there – as well as the advocacy that helped along the way.
“Here it is, within two years we’re at a groundbreaking ceremony,” said Paul Ash, Lexington’s Superintendent of Schools. “That doesn’t happen very often in government; wish it did, but people recognized the seriousness of the matter. And here it is – we’re about to have a groundbreaking ceremony for a building that will stand for a very long time, a building that Lexington residents will be very proud of. But most importantly, the students that are going to go to that school are going to have an educational facility that is absolutely first-rate and will allow us to deliver the best possible education for students.”
At the polls in January and at a special Town Meeting this past April, Lexington voters approved funding for the $40 million-plus school building; the MSBA will reimburse the town for about 37 percent of the project cost.
Here's a quick look back at Estabrook's PCB contaimination situation from discovery to project acceptance and appropriation.