Rourke Bridge: Councilor Belanger reports that the Northern Middlesex Council of Governments and the member communities of NMCOG are all lobbying the state to raise the priority of a Rourke Bridge replacement. He also warns that the initial feasibility study is several years old and that if the follow-on environmental study is not done in the next year or two that the feasibility study will be obsolete and will have to be redone.
Payments in Lieu of Taxes – Aside from a few churches that voluntarily pay a few hundred dollars per year, only the Lowell Housing Authority and two co-generation companies (which are compelled by law to contribute), no non-profits in Lowell make any payments in lieu of taxes so Lowell is 23rd in the Commonwealth in terms of the amount of money so collected. City Manager Murphy plans to reach out to the communities higher on the list and learn about their strategies with an eye towards adopting them for Lowell.
Master Development Agreement with WinnDevelopment Co LTD – pulled at request of City Manager.
Resolution in support of State Senate transgender anti-discrimination bill (which was debated last week). Passes 8 to 1 (Elliott opposed).
Councilor Milinazzo asks to suspend the rules to refer several matters requested by the Pawtucketville Citizens group to the Zoning Subcommittee.
By Councilor Elliott, request City Manager work with Superintendent of Lowell Public Schools to determine cost of out of district students. Councilor Elliott says the school committee has discussed this but never with a cost associated with it. Given the school department request for additional funds, the city council should know how much of the school department budget is being spent on students living outside of the city but who attend Lowell public schools. Councilor Leahy says this is more of a school committee matter. Councilor Mercier responds that it is her duty to do what’s best for Lowell residents, not for people from outside of the city (i.e., children of teachers in Lowell schools who don’t live in Lowell). Councilor Elliott says “it’s a Lowell issue” and “any Lowell issue belongs here.”
By Councilor Samaras, request City Manager establish a commission in order to best plan the future use of the Auditorium to ensure that it becomes a successful venture. He explains that the Auditorium’s finances and performance in the past few years have been shaky. He’d like some strategic planning to be done to help the Auditorium pay for itself. This would not take away from the Auditorium’s trustees but would be a way bring forward new ideas. Councilor Belanger appreciates the motion but says the city is suffering the consequences of a management contract that is not beneficial to the city. He says this is “another Tsongas Arena” since it loses money every year.
By Councilor Samaras, request City Manager work with Lowell Police Superintendent to establish a dialogue with the supervisors of the Nesmith Street group home regarding security and supervision of youth under their trust. There have been an increased number of break-ins of cars in the neighborhood and Belvidere residents are concerned about the type of supervision being given.
By Councilor Leary, request City Manager provide a report to the City Council outlining the financial and infrastructure impact that the Ameresco has had for the city. The report should include savings or increased costs achieved to date by project, savings or additional costs expected in the future and any recommendations for the future as it relates to this program;
By Councilors Belanger, Leary, and Samaras, request City Manager reopen dialogue between the city and local business Unwrapped regarding the potential purchase or lease of city building at 268 Mt. Vernon Street. Councilor Belanger says this is a very impressive company and would like the city to do everything it can to keep the company here in Lowell since the company hopes to expand. Owner of company is present, says they have outgrown their present space and are turning away work. Would like to stay (they have 200 jobs).
By Councilor Rourke, request city manager explore establishing a 5 year property study and to create a formal living document of abandoned properties and their five year progress into healthy homes. The study would chart the progress from troubled to good properties.
Meeting adjourns at 8:05pm