Mimi Parseghian shares a detailed look at what’s on the agenda for this Tuesday’s Lowell City Council Meeting:
The Lowell City Council Agenda posted on the City website is a wealth of background information and significant data on the business of our local government. Not only does it provided the topics to be discussed but also the material required to help the Council make informed decision. This week’s edition is a decent representation.
The Council Motions: They usually fall into three general categories. The first is the constituent motion. That is the one that asks the City Manager to address a situation or a request that pertains to a specific area, street or individual. The second type is asking the City Manager to provide information or a report on a particular issue. And the third is a motion to set policy or put in a place a major program. This past year, we have added a 4th Category, which is in reference to the high school. Given the amount of motions, the extensive details provided in the Administration’s reply as well as the combative debates those documents generate, the high school renovation/reinvention/construction deserves a category of its own.
There are 10 motions this week.
Two of the motions are regarding the residence at 75 Beech Street; one from C. Rita Mercier and one from C. Dan Rourke. According to the motions, there is an “ongoing problem” and the Lowell Fire Department and Inspectional Services are asked to provide a report. The home is located in the Centerville section of the City.
C. Dan Rourke is requesting the City Manager to have the Department of Public Works (DPW) to dedicate a park bench at Callery Park in honor of Mrs. May Kay McNeil.
There are 3 motions for requesting updates on ongoing project. One is from C. Dan Rourke on the impact to safety the delay of the VFW project from University Ave to Aiken Ave is having. There is an issue with contaminated soil. The second motion in that category is a follow up to an earlier motion. C. John Leahy is asking the Manager to give them an update on the Lowell Fire Department Turn-Out Gear. The Gera is the firefighters’ external clothing. In February in replying to the initial motion, the City Manager indicated that the Fire Department was applying for a grant to purchase 213 Turn-Out Gear. I do not know if the grant has not materialized yet, or we were declined or we have the money and have not yet spent it. We may get an answer on Tuesday.
The last motion asking for explanation is also from C. John Leahy and he is asking the Manager to clarify the “issue regarding park land which was to be used by Central Catholic.” I do not know if it is a typo but I am not sure what land in Lowell a high school located in Lawrence is going to use. Again, we will find out.
There are four other motions on the high school construction covering costs and logistics.
City Manager (Administration) Responses: The official response to City Council motions. Depending upon the research that is required, the answers may take more than 1 or 2 weeks to prepare. For this upcoming meeting the answered motions, for the most part, are pretty straight forward. The Administration provided answers to 8 motions this week. Sometimes the more innocuous the topic, the m ore significant it is to our quality of life.
- Trash Violations: If you violate the City’s Trash Pick-Up procedure, wrong day or overflow, you will be warned once. Next time you get a ticket which is issued immediately.
- Belise Memorial Square: The memorial plaque has been officially moved from the corner of Moody and Pawtucket Streets to Moody and St. James Streets. This request was made by C. John Leahy and C. Jim Milinazzo.
- Development of J. J. Boomers Site: According to the memo from the Administration: “The City has been approached with very preliminary plans for a Market Baskets to be located at 677 Pawtucket Blvd. There has been no filing for any permits or relief from any land use Board. We are not aware of any imminent timeline for such filings.”
- Bus Storage at 63 Avon St. This response is regarding an ongoing issue with buses being parked illegally at 63 Avon Street (Pawtucketville Section). After being made aware in early September of this potential zoning violation, Development Services issued an initial warning, which was not obeyed. The City began legal action, which got the attention of the property owners and they discontinued the activity.
- Shadow Conduit: In response to a motion made in September by C. John Leahy, the Administration is suggesting that the City Council entertain the concept of having an ordinance to implement In response to Councilor Leary’s motion, the finance team has investigated the potential public benefit of the implementation the so-called “shadow conduit” or “dig once” procedure. The Administration’s response is enthusiastic and indicates that it would be an economic advantage to the City. They wrote “The framework of the ordinance would contemplate a requirement that any time a contractor or private utility opens the roadway for underground construction, sufficient and necessary space shall be reserved, free of expense, for municipal purposes. In the alternative, an additional conduit, known as a “shadow conduit”, of equal size and length shall be laid along with the permitted conduit, for the exclusive use, and under the exclusive control of the city.” Let’s hope that the subcommittee that will receive this motion meets quickly and gets the ball rolling.
- Comcast Comparable Charges: The City’s IT Department provided detailed data on the cost of Comcast cable services for Lowell and its neighboring towns; “pricing is consistent across all of these communities” for the most part. The memo also reminded the City Councilors that “Please note that cable rates are regulated at the state level by the Department of Telecommunications and Cable.”
- MassDOT Proposed Traffic Improvements: An answer to a motion regarding the ‘high school.” Here is the link to the full document.
- Cawley Right of Way Costs: An answer to a motion regarding the ‘high school.” Here is the link to that document.