Reappointment of Nancy Pitkin, Salmira Mitchell and Marianne Gries to Pollard Memorial Library board of trustees. Endorsed unanimously by council.
Vote to trade parking spaces for WCAP employees at Early Garage in exchange for radio advertisements promoting the city of Lowell. Manager Murphy says there’s been such an arrangement with WCAP since 2008 but it has not been in writing or monitored. He wants it formalized. This will give WCAP employees parking passes that will incur charges at the same rate that everyone else pays. In exchange for this, WCAP will provide 150% of the cost of the parking in advertising credits on WCAP. CM says council wants to promote the city. Focus groups tell us we should focus on the Greater Lowell area. Advertising on WCAP will be a good way to reach this audience. Says it’s a great opportunity for the city. Councilor Belanger says it’s a beneficial agreement for the city. Says this council has asked for more promotion of the city. Here’s a radio station that reaches the entire Merrimack Valley so it’s a good way to do it. Councilor Mercier says it appears to be a good deal for the city. Says she’s concerned about what is the rate being charged by WCAP for the ads. CM says it will be at the lower rate (whatever that is). Councilor Milinazzo asks about the origin of the agreement in 2008 and asks how many pass cards have been issued in the past. Mr. Troup says WCAP has 14 of them; they’ve averaged about $8000 per year in parking charges. Passes unanimously.
Vote on garage repair bonds for Lower Locks and Leo Roy Garages. Public hearing on February 24. Manager Murphy suggests this get sent to the finance subcommittee for a presentation on the ability of the parking fund to repay the bonds. Council refers it to that subcommittee.
Report on Public Safety Subcommittee Meeting by Councilor Rourke: Discussed the Matrix Study from 2008. Included a complete review of policies and procedures of police department. Back then, the problem was the dissemination of those policies. Supt Taylor reports that they have adopted better ways of distributing the policies to all officers. The meeting also discussed Neighborhood Crime Watch. Police talked about cooperation with neighborhood groups, the use of social media, and the “see something, say something” program. Manager Murphy said that 9 additional officers have been put in place since July 1.
By Councilor Martin re policy by police on use of sirens. Arose out of two claims made by people injured in collisions with speeding police vehicles that were not using their sirens. The report he received says it’s in the discretion of each officer; he feels there should at least be guidelines in place. Passes
By Councilor Kennedy re discussing new High School project with Education Subcommittee and School Committee. Kennedy explains the council should stay abreast with the process throughout. A feasibility study costing up to $1.5 million could be required this year. The council will have to vote on that. No matter what happens, the council should be involved in the process throughout and not just be presented with a bill at the end of the process. Manager Murphy explains that in March if the School Building Authority invites Lowell to apply, the city must pay for a feasibility study using a contractor chosen by the state. Explains that reimbursement of building costs would be at 78% so city would pay 22% of the cost. The cost of the feasibility study might not be reimbursed.
By Councilor Belanger that the city enforce parking ordinance through all of its hours and consider an overnight parking ban. Belanger says businesses report number one issue is inconvenience of parking when suburban establishments have onsite parking. Says we need turnover of curbside parking spaces to free them up. He’s asking that the ordinance be enforced through the state hours: 8am to 6pm and same hours on Saturday (currently it’s enforced only until 4pm and never on Saturday). He says downtown residents parking on streets overnight are “taking a heavy toll” on businesses. Regarding the overnight parking ban, he says it should begin at 3am once “late night establishments” let out. That will push residents and guests into garages and free spaces for customers. He says we have to change the perception of downtown that there is no parking. Says an added benefit of this would be to make it easier to clear snow in winter and clear debris in the summer. Councilor Kennedy says the overnight parking portion should be sent to the manager for a recommendation. Councilor Rourke says enforcing the audience has been talked about at length at prior subcommittee meetings. Manager Murphy says they could start enforcing the current ordinance immediately. Council is edging towards sending the entire thing to the City Manager for a report, partly to publicize the coming enforcement of the ordinance but also to get a specific recommendation on the pros and cons of the overnight parking idea.
Council adjourns at 730 pm