Mimi’s Council Meeting Scan: Read All About It

The agenda for this week City Council meeting indicates that the Council will hold an Executive Session at the conclusion of the regular agenda to discuss “matters of litigation” including the Huot et al v. City of Lowell.  That is the municipal election lawsuit.

MOTION RESPONSES

Beautifying the City: Motion by City Councilor J. Leahy (5/8/18) “Request City Manager initiate a program to involve community/business members to assist in beautifying the City.”

The response was prepared by both the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) and the Department of Public Works (DPW). “The Department of Public Works has recently completed several beautification projects around the City including the installation of 87 hanging flower baskets in downtown and plantings in City Hall plaza. DPW staff installed additional banners along Middlesex and Branch Street. Over 100 trees have been planted across the City by DPW staff. .. Many of the City’s active neighborhood groups actively work to help beautify the City in several ways. Just within the last couple of months neighborhood groups in the Lower Highlands, Belvidere, Tyler Park organized park cleanups at Armory, Kittredge and Tyler parks as a part of annual spring cleaning efforts.”

Flowering City: Motionby City Councilor K. Cirillo (6/12/18 ) “Request City Manager instruct DPD to provide a report and proposal regarding a plan authored by former LHS headmaster, Peter Stamas, entitled ‘Lowell-the Flowering City’.”

Diane Tradd, Assistant City Manager/DPD Director provided the 4-page response. She writes “The “Lowell: The Flowering City” report, written in 1996 was a summary of the Project Anthopolis Charrette conducted on April 19-21, 1996, at Lowell High School… The Flowering City Report was broken out into five areas of focus: Thematic/Cultural Gardens, Greenways, Blueways, Environmental Ways (E-Ways) and System Concept. Each of these areas of focus had several recommendations.”  DPD Director Tradd explained in detailed the programs that the City has undertaken to address the five area of focus.

Electric  Vehicles: Motion by K. Cirillo  (3/27/2018) “Request City Manager Provide a report regarding how many and what types of city vehicles are up for renewal or replacement and the costs of transferring those and other city vehicles in the future from gas to electric, which would produce an all-electric fleet for the City of Lowell.”

According to the response submitted by Diane Tradd, Assistant City Manager/DPD Director the “Capital Plan that was included with the FY19 budget includes the replacement of 98 vehicles over the next 5 years.” After explaining the considerations for replacing the Lowell vehicle fleet with battery electric vehicles, it was suggested that “if the City Council would like to explore moving forward for electrification of the municipal fleet, the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) will continue to monitor programs [resources for funding of fleet electrification] to apply for future awards.

311 System: Motion by Mayor B. Samaras “Request City Manager review the costs of creating a “311” Number for the City of Lowell.”

Conor Baldwin, Chief Financial Officer, provided the Council with a report from the Collins Center at UMass Boston that provides a very brief overview of the “311 call center” service in the Commonwealth, as well as country-wide information from ICMA studies (International City/County Management Association). In his memo, the CFO writes that “In Massachusetts, 311 began to gain popularity in and around the early 2000s. It is currently well embedded in at least five municipalities (i.e., the cities of Somerville, Springfield, Boston and Worcester; and Dukes County), and there numerous others considering it. More recently, though money available from the Governor’s Community Compact initiative has allowed other municipalities to fund implementation costs for such programs. Fall River, Haverhill, and Revere have been awarded grants of $68,700, $59,500, and $54,000, respectively… While the fiscal constraints of the FY2019 budget do not afford the city the ability to appropriately staff a call center this year, the city will look to the next round of funding from the Community Compact, as well as other outside funding sources to implement such a program.”

Dominos Paving Grant: Motion by Councilor R. Mercier (6/26/18) “Request City Manager have DPW Commissioner apply for Domino’s Pizza Grant of $5,000 to aid in road repairs.”

James Troup, DPW Deputy Director Administration and Finance,  writes that “the Department of Public Works researched how to apply for a Domino’s Pizza Grant for up to $5,000 to help local municipalities with pothole repairs. This campaign asks individuals to go to https://www.pavingforpizza.com/ and to nominate their town. Upon entering our City’s zip code, we were asked to enter an email address. Only one nomination per email address is allowed…The DPW strongly recommends promoting this opportunity and hopes we drive enough traffic to the above mentioned website to make Lowell an awarded community.”

I went on line and nominated Lowell.  It took less than 1 minute.

Downed Wire Ordinance: Motion by Councilor J. Leahy (6/22/2018) “Request City Manager have Law Department draft ordinance that would fine utility companies $100 per line after they were notified that such lines were illegally hanging from their pole.”

I liked this motion.  Unfortunately, the utilities are protected. If I understand the letter drafted by the Law Department indicates that if we wanted to impose fines, we would need to submit a home rule petition as other cities have done.  Although a number of legislations have been introduced on Beacon Hill, they all ended up parked in Committee. “Based on the legislature’s apparent lack of interest in passing legislation to that effect and its lack of action upon the home rule petition filed by other municipalities on this same issue, there appears to be a high degree of likelihood that any home rule petition from the City of Lowell would receive similar treatment.”

Maryl Drive: Motion by Councilor K. Cirillo (4/24/2018) Request City Manager explore feasibility of installing “Do Not Enter” sign at the bottom of Maryl Drive:

“The Transportation Engineer has investigated this request and recommends a 60-day trial. A Do-Not-Enter sign will be installed upon acceptance of a 60-day trial by the City Council.”

Plug in America; Motion by Councilor R. Elliott Request City Council work with Plug In America To set up an event In Lowell For National Drive Electric Week. “

Henri Marchand replied that the “Office of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (CASE) would be happy to assist Plug In American to bring an electric car event to downtown Lowell. Based on initial information provided the Sierra Club, they are hoping for a mid-September, Saturday event of approximately 8 hours. Event would be on Middle Street between Central and Palmer. There was a request to include a children’s play space and food trucks.”

Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness: Motion by R. Elliott (6/12/2018) Request City Manager have DPD apply for Municipal Vulnerabiilty Preparedness Grant from the State.”

The response submitted by Diane Tradd, Assistant City Manager/DPD Director states “The Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness grant program (MVP) provides support for cities and towns in Massachusetts to plan for resiliency and implement key climate change adaptation actions for resiliency. The state awards communities with funding to complete vulnerability assessments and develop action-oriented resiliency plans… Announcement of grant availability through the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs is generally made in April and applications are due in May. Grant awards range from $10,000-$400,000 and the City would be required to provide at least 25% of the total project cost. DPD and the LPD would partner with Northern Middlesex Council of Governments (NMCOG) to determine a scope of work and submit an application for MVP funding in May of 2019.”

APPOINTMENTS

Martin Hogan to Lowell Commission on Disability.

David J. Cunningham to Water Board

Sreypov Vary Colwell to Sustainability Council

Tooch Van to Hunger Homeless Commission

Louisa Varnum to Conservation Commission

Katelyn Bierdon to Conservation Commission

VOTES

Accept MGL Ch. 59 S.5N a program for reduced property tax for veterans or a spouse in exchange for volunteer services.

Authorize CityManager execute access license agreement -175 Willard and 271 Humphrey Sts.; Grand Manor Association, Inc.

Authorize City Manager execute lease with Daly Group LLC 60 Carlisle St. Chelmsford MA; 3 years.

Authorize City Manager execute permanent and temporary easements from Trustees of Keith Academy Condominium Trust.

Authorize City Manager execute Sponsorship Agreement for the Manning Field Complex; 99 Years.

Authorize City Manager execute Sidewalk Seating License Agreement-LD Holdings LLC Dba Bar 74-76 Merrimack St.

MOTIONS:

Councilor J. Leahy: Request City Manager update the City Council on Community Outreach Procedures.

Councilor J. Leahy: Request City Manager update the City Council on Mental Health Resources throughout the City.

Councilor J. Leahy /Councilor R. Elliott:  Request City Manager update the City Council on 29 Frothingham Street.

Councilor R. Elliott:  Request City Manager provide a report regarding pipeline excavation on recently paved streets.

Councilor R. Elliott/Councilor J. Milinazzo:  – Request City Council discuss establishing a Human Rights Commission similar to numerous other cities in the Commonwealth.

Councilor D. Conway:  Request City Manager work with LPD on the installation of surveillance cameras in high narcotics trafficking/usage areas throughout the City.

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