Reports from City Manager:
UMass Lowell bus routes thru Pawtucketville. UMass Lowell redirects its buses to avoid traffic. Councilor Samaras suggests this might be causing a problem for the neighborhoods they are driving through. He understands that altering routes to avoid construction might be necessary, but would prefer it not happen just to avoid traffic.
LowellStat report – Building permits are based on estimated cost of construction. It used to be that no one checked the accuracy of those estimates, so now, the builder has to prove how much was spent before the permit is closed out. The city has realized substantial revenue from this process.
Vote to authorize city manager to accept a grant of $450,000 from Federal government for substance abuse education and response among Lowell High School students.
Also a report on the city’s “drug abatement response team” which combines police, code inspectors, etc, to target properties that host illegal drug activity.
Ordinance to ban the feeding of water fowl. Jo-Ann Keegan of Health Department reports that last summer there were high bacteria levels at Rynne Beach. There were also large amounts of droppings by Canadian geese at Edwards Street Soccer Field. These problems are connected. State health department recommended this ordinance as the first step in addressing this problem. It’s a first-step prevention method that should help keep the beach cleaner. Ordinance passes unanimously.
Public hearing to create a parking space at City Hall reserved for veterans who are Purple Heart recipients. Ordinance passes unanimously.
Vote to apply for a $400,000 grant from the state to be used for Phase I of the South Common Master Plan. Manager Murphy explains that a big goal for the city is to allow people to walk or bike to their destination. This money would be used to create a walkway/bikeway across the South Common from the Gallagher Terminal to South Street. It will be aesthetically pleasing and safer due to improved lighting. After this project is done, the city will apply for more grants of this type. Construction should begin in July.
Verizon wants a lease to put equipment on a telephone pole on Bridge Street. It’s for wireless and cell phone signal strength for customers because there’s a gap in coverage in that vicinity. Rita Mercier asks why Verizon won’t offer Fios services in Lowell and links this lease to that refusal. The Verizon rep says he represents the wireless side of Verizon, not the cable side. He has on prior occasions relayed the council’s displeasure to his superiors at Verizon. Other councilors echo these complaints. Councilor Mercier moves to refer this to the technology subcommittee. Motion passes.
Auditor selection process. Application window closes Friday. All resumes will be sent to councilors. Councilors will each select their top three candidates. Human Resources will tally those responses and will contact the top three vote-getters to schedule interviews.
Motion by Councilor Milinazzo for a report on parking near McAvinue School. There’s a conflict between residential parking places and spaces where teachers have parked. Motion passes.
Motion by Councilors Leary and Leahy for a report on electric costs after the city entered special arrangement with electrical providers.
Motion by Councilor Leahy that traffic lines at VFW Highway and Bridge Street be retained during construction.
Motion by Councilor Leahy that the proper state agency clean up the litter on the Lowell Connector.
Motion by Councilor Belanger for an update on a spring Art Festival. Explains this is a follow-up to a similar motion from a year ago. Back then, the arts community seemed to have reached the conclusion that there was not enough time to organize such a festival last year, so Councilor Belanger is wondering what the status is for the event to be held this year.
Motion by Councilor Belanger requesting the Substance Abuse Task Force review the recommendations of the Massachusetts Municipal Association regarding opioid addiction and overdose protection. Councilor Belanger says the city is already doing many of these things, but he would still like the task force to review the recommendations. There is some discussion about whether to send this to the special opioid task force that was created a year ago or to the council’s substance abuse subcommittee. Motion passes.
Councilor Mercier announces that the Friends of the Council on Aging had a meeting in January and compiled a list of all the things that the Friends contribute to the Senior Center which she shares with everyone.
Councilor Leahy makes announces that the city received a couple of state grants for various things on Monday.
Meeting adjourns at 8:07 pm.