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Mystic Valley Gets $8M Bond for Athletic Complex

August 25, 2010

MassDevelopment has issued a multimillion dollar tax-exempt bond to help finance Mystic Valley Regional Charter School’s plan to build an indoor athletics facility, the school announced today.

The $8 million bond, which was bought by Salem Five Cents Savings Bank, will enable the growing charter school to accommodate a more robust athletics program, school officials said.

The indoor field and regulation-sized gymnasium facility will sit on the site of the old Davidson Chevrolet dealership on Route 60, for which the school paid $4.4 million in cash in April.

“Thanks to obtaining financing through MassDevelopment the school will be able to move forward with its plans and Mystic Valley's students and children from throughout the community will be able to utilize a top-flight facility,” said Rick Veilleux, Mystic Valley's business manager.

The school, which educates more than 1,300 students from Malden, Medford, Melrose, Everett, Stoheham, and Wakefield, currently leases land throughout the city for athletic practices and games. School planners are working with multiple firms to finalize a design for the building, said Martin Gately, a school spokesman. Gately said planners are still in the early stages of the project. He said there is no firm timeline yet for the start of construction or the facility's completion.

“We will need a gymnasium that accommodates basketball or volleyball, a MIAA regulation-size gymnasium. We haven't chosen the exact final design or the exact final proposal. Even the field, I've seen different variations or proposals,” Gately said.

“Its one of those things that once it gets going, a gym facility is not that complicated of a building. It's basically shell construction. It's not like a house with bathrooms and bedrooms,” he added.

Since its founding 12 years ago, the charter school has amassed a real estate portfolio valued at more than $10 million comprised of houses, school facilities, and a fire station leased to the city.

“Mystic Valley Regional Charter School has a strong foundation of academic and athletic success, and the construction of a new athletics facility builds on that track record,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Robert L. Culver. “This low-cost financing will help students cultivate sound minds and sound bodies.”

MassDevelopment, the state's finance and development authority, works with businesses, financial institutions, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the state. The charter school has been working with the group for several months, said Gately.

Mayor Richard C. Howard was unavailable for comment today, a staffer in his office said.

Some members of the community have protested an agreement between the charter school and the city regarding the use of Roosevelt Park. According to the agreement, the charter school will contribute $378,000 to a rehabilitation project featuring the installation of a turf playing surface. The field encompasses two softball diamonds and will be lined for soccer and lacrosse, according to Stephen Wishoski, executive director of the Malden Redevelopment Authority.

In exchange for its partial funding of the project, Mystic Valley will enjoy exclusive use of the playing fields for 420 hours a year for 20 years, Wishoski said. Specifically, the charter school will have sole access to the fields between 4 and 6 p.m. on school days coinciding with the spring and fall sports seasons and between 8 and 11 a.m. on a certain number of weekends.

Others have questioned how Mystic Valley has accumulated the funds to acquire so much real estate.

“We have managed our budget and have been prudent which has allowed us to move forward in a very strategic and deliberate manner so as not to jeopardize the stability of the school or the education of our children,” said Fran Brown, Mystic Valley's treasurer, in a statement.

© 2010 NY Times Co.