Economic uncertainties tied to the coronavirus pandemic have led to some thoughtful, appreciated recent announcements regarding two anticipated Cambridge-area building projects.
The Cambridge Community Fire and EMS Commission said in late March that it will work with an architect to finish drawing up plans for a fire and EMS station expansion. However, the commission announced it will wait until at least this fall to ask its five represented municipalities to commit to setting referendums to fund the project that could cost up to $6.75 million.
Holding five simultaneous referendums in the spring of 2021 has been the plan. Whether those referendums happen in 2021, amid coronavirus economic fallout, now remains to be seen.
The Cambridge School District, meanwhile, announced last week that if an April 7 referendum to build and operate a performing arts center at Cambridge High School is approved, the start of construction will be delayed until at least 2022.
The two-part referendum sought to construct a performing arts center for $9.9 million and to operate it for $150,000 annually.
School district officials have said they have five years to use the borrowing authority a referendum provides, to fund the performing arts center’s construction at CHS.
We hope that the local, state and national economies bounce back as fast as they nosedived. No one has a crystal ball on that, however.
Waiting to take the next steps on both of these Cambridge projects respects the reality that many local businesses have been ordered shut. It respects the reality that businesses still open likely aren’t operating at full throttle, and that their revenues are correspondingly down. It respects that many local taxpayers have been laid off from their jobs, and that those still employed may be working reduced hours. It respects that many local taxpayers have seen personal investment portfolios plummet as the stock market sinks.
It recognizes that no one knows when — or if – the financial situations of local taxpayers will regain pre-coronavirus stability.
Both the fire and EMS station expansion and the CHS performing arts center addition are worthy projects. If approved via referendums and built, both would serve the Cambridge area for many years.
We support the decisions of local officials to wait on them both for a little while, until the economy shakes out. We appreciate the commitment of those local officials who could not have foreseen just a few weeks ago, having to make these hard choices and announcements.
We look forward to better days and to watching these projects, if approved, being built and enjoyed by the Cambridge-area community.