Lowell City Council meeting: June 27, 2017

Motion by Councilor Leary to erect a monument on Tyler Park in memory of the late Walter Bayliss. Passes unanimously.

Police Superintendent Taylor asked to speak about crime and crime fighting strategies. Taylor says they focus on suppression, investigation, and community engagement. He says in the spring, there was a significant increase in violence in neighboring cities which resulted in increased police activity there, which caused some of the criminal activity to migrate here. Lowell Police are focused on preventing those looking to act illegally from deciding to come here. In the summer, they also focus on quality of life issues such as fireworks and noise complaints. Working with many community partners, the police also have success in preventing crime from occurring.

Spinners Lease – Manager Murphy says this is exciting news. Thanks Bob Healy who handled negotiations with the Spinners and UMass Lowell for a lease of LeLacheur Park. The lease is for 10 years. Having the Spinners here is essential to the city. The councilor has already approved in the capital plan the ability to borrow $1+mil to replace the field and upgrade the stands. The annual rent paid by the Spinners will cover the annual repayment for that loan. The Spinners get revenue from interior advertising, but the city is going to try to get revenue from advertising on exterior walls. That money will flow into a ballpark capital fund to make further improvements. The Spinners’ owner also envisions building luxury suites. The net revenue from them will go into the capital account. UMass Lowell has also agreed to stay for 10 years and will contribute $85,000 for the new field and $10,000 per year for the upgrade of the facility. Murphy urges the city council to approve the lease.

Councilor Mercier criticizes UMass Lowell for failing to fulfill her request to name the UMass Lowell roadway next to the field after Joanne and Drew Weber. She says she is insulted by UML’s failure to act on this. She says she has spoken with a UML trustee who said that she will bring it up with the UML administration. Mercier askes Murphy if he can check into this again.

Councilor Samaras questions Bob Healy about the lease. Healy explains that the field is now 20 years old and needs substantial repairs and upgrades. So while keeping the Spinners was the most important goal, finding a way to keep the field up to minor league baseball standards was an important objective too. He says investing revenue in upgrades is what will keep the Spinners here.

Other councilors say they will support the lease. Council endorses lease by 9 to 0 vote.

Access Agreement – Allows a parking consultant to enter on city land on Dutton Street to do testing in furtherance of design process for new parking garage. The design will be finished next spring and the garage should open in 2019. The garage will be tucked back in near Market Mills. It is needed where it is now. But the city is also hoping to build another garage adjacent to the Judicial Center. That will be another 800 space garage. The city will need to acquire a small amount of land from the state to do this. This is still in very preliminary stages. Manager Murphy says there is a desperate need for another garage in downtown. He says they are considering building another one on the Davidson Street lot. Councilor Leary urges him to consider finding space on upper Merrimack Street, near City Hall to build another garage in that neighborhood.

Vote to authorize school department lease for Bon Marche building. Councilor Mercier says that the city should plan to move the school department headquarters into one of the buildings to be vacated by the high school. The operations that were across the street in the Bertos building. Now the people who worked there will be moving into the fifth floor. The total lease for the Bon Marche will be $414,000 for 3 years. Councilor Belanger says it is a high number, but he agrees that the school department headquarters should plan to move into the freshman academy or 1922 buildings once the new high school is built. Councilor Leahy asks if the money saved on this lease will go to pay down the debt of the new high school after the school department moves its headquarters into the 1922 building.

Six end-of-fiscal year transfers are voted on.

Vote to allow an overhanging sign for Lowell Burger Co, a new upscale burger place that serves craft beer, that will located at 143 Merrimack Street, the space that once housed Bishop’s Legacy Restaurant.

Motions

By Councilors Leary and Leahy – Request Municipal facilities subcommittee meet monthly to review the list of outstanding school maintenance tickets and determine a timeline for completion.

By Councilors Leary and Leahy – Request City Manager review the feasibility of hiring an outside consultant to maintain and repair city and school departments HVAC and boilers.

Councilor Leahy request City Manager update City Council on needle pick-up program.

Meeting adjourns at 7:59 pm.

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