Lowell City Council Meeting: June 13, 2017

Note: Councilor Samaras was hospitalized last evening and is unable to be at this meeting. Consequently, the site selection vote on the new Lowell High School has been postponed from this evening.

Communication from City Manager on upcoming Hamilton Canal event. June 21, 2017, DPD has organized a “targeted promotional event” at Hamilton Canal District. Audience is Greater Lowell and Boston commercial and residential brokers with an interest in large developments. Mass Secretary of Economic Affairs Jay Ashe and UMass President Marty Meehan will both speak at the event. The installation of utilities in Hamilton Canal will be completed in 2020. The Lord Overpass will be finished at about that same time. The new parking garage design was just put out to bid. That should probably also be completed in 2020. The city has a new RFP out for a new master developer. The deadline for responding to that is after the open house at Hamilton Canal. The hope is that someone who shows up at the open house might apply to be the next master developer. Separate from that, Winn Development has offered to purchase two lots within the District. The city is negotiating the terms of that.

Mayor Kennedy states that he expects Councilor Samaras to be released from the hospital tomorrow, so he expects a special meeting of the council next Tuesday (June 20, 2017) at 6:30 pm. The School Building Committee will be that morning at 10 am.

Vote on 5 year financing plan to pay for repair of TIGER grant bridges. Manager explains that the project appeared to be $11mil over budget. The city has revised the scope of the project. The Suffolk Bridge, which was repaired fairly recently and has little car traffic, has been dropped from the project (so it will not be purchased). The city also revised its budget projection. Then the city worked with the state house delegation and they convinced Mass Highway to include $3mil in its capital budget. That has the city’s deficit down to $3.5mil. The manager expects to get grant money to cover that but to get the Federal Highway people to release their money now, the city must show that the cost is covered which is the purpose of this vote even though it is unlikely that the city will have to expend all of this money. Councilor Leahy says he would not “let the University off so easy” and asks that the city send a letter saying that since the University is in partnership with the city, the University should contribute more to the cost.

Motions

By Mayor Kennedy: Request City Manager instruct the proper departments to look into ways to reduce speeding on East Merrimack Street

By Mayor Kennedy: Request City Manager update council on any potential funding for an environmental impact study for Rourke permanent bridge. Kennedy says we will lose an opportunity if we don’t get more aggressive with this. We did a feasible study several years ago funded by federal government for $500,000. That study will soon be outdated. If we don’t focus on this now, we’ll have to start the whole thing over again. He’s not sure where the city would get another $500,000 to do the same study over again. Wants the city manager to be more aggressive in getting the state delegation to be more aggressive about getting state money for the environmental impact study. Manager Murphy says there is $1.9 mil in the state budget for environmental impact studies like this but Mass Highway, which controls those funds, won’t release any of it. Councilors say the governor’s office should be contacted.

By Mayor Kennedy: Request City Manager reconcile the FY18 budget with regards to the school department. The Mayor says that the school department finds the budget process regarding the school department to be ambiguous. He would like someone from the city to meet with the school department to explain the process.

Meeting adjourns at 7:13 pm.

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