Lowell City Council Preview: July 23, 2018

Mimi Parseghian previews this week’s Lowell City Council meeting:

This week’s City Council agenda continues the summer tradition; long in items and deep in content. There are also quite a few public hearings.

GENERAL PUBLIC HEARING

  1. Ordinance: Amend Chapter 272 by establishing new Article X, entitled Stormwater Management.
  2. Ordinance: Amend Chapter 272 Water and Sewers S. 272-73(B)(1) compliance with Pretreatments Standards.
  3. Vote: Accept MGL Chapter 59 S.5N a program for reduced property tax for veterans or a spouse in exchange for volunteer services.

UTILITY PUBLIC HEARING

This should be interesting for a number of reasons.  One is the continuing lock out of National Grid Gas workers. Another is the condition of the utility poles and the last one is the digging up of City streets by the utility companies.  The utility company representatives who are attending this week’s City Council meeting to speak in favor should prepare themselves.

  1. National Grid request permission to install sole owned pole on Ellsworth Street for new feeder extension for Markley Data Center.
  2. National Grid request permission to replace existing Gas Main on Nesmith Street between Andover Street and Bartlett Street.
  3. National grid/Verizon New England Request Permission to relocate Pole #2 on Maple Street towards Gorham Street.
  4. TC Systems Inc. (AT&T) request permission to install Underground Cable Conduit on Aiken Street at the Intersection of Father Morisette Boulevard.
  5. TC Systems Inc. (AT&T) request permission to install Underground Cable Conduit on University Avenue between Riverside Street and VFW Highway.

 MOTION RESPONSES

There are 18 motion responses on this week’s agenda.  This might be a record.

Acceptance of Grosvenor Street. Motion: Councilor R. Mercier (5/15/18) Request City Manager have City Engineer begin process to accept Grosvernor Street.” Response: DPW/Engineering has started the process to investigate the existing right-of way and properties along Grosvenor Street. DPW/Engineering will work on the preparation of the necessary documents over the next four months and if appropriate return to City Council to request the acceptance ofGrosvenor Street.

Do not Enter Sign, Maryl Drive. Motion: Councilor K. Cirillo (4/24/18) Request City Manager explore feasibility of installing a “Do not enter” sign at the Bottom of Maryl Drive. Response: “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.”

Trees Along Route 495. Motion: Councilor r. Mercier (6/26/2018) Request City Manager contact Mass State Highway Department to inspect and ensure trees are safe along section of Route 495 that abut Crystal Street off of Woburn Street.  Response: One tree has been removed, which presented a danger as it was hanging over a garage. DPW will meet with MassDOT to further investigate other trees in this area and will take appropriate actions to cut any trees that present safety issues.

Pickle Ball Courts. Motion: Three (3) different Councilors requesting City Manager investigate possibility of Pickle Ball Courts in our public parks. Response: “It is recommended that three separate parks for Pickle Ball/Tennis use be designated in the City. These three parks would be: 1) the double courts in Shedd Park off of Boylston Street 2) O’Donnell Park off of Gorham Street with 3 tennis courts and 3) Father McGuire Park off of Woodward Avenue with 2 tennis courts. … In addition, the Parks Department has 6 pickle ball kits available which were purchased as part of the summer youth recreation program. These kits have not been used very frequently by the youth and are in good condition. The kits include nets, paddles and balls. They could be available for pickle ball users with coordination with the Parks Department.”

Hovey Park Improvements: Motion: Councilor K. Cirillo request City Manager
Instruct proper department to provide a report to the council regarding age and condition of the playground equipment at Hovey Playground on Aiken Street in Centralville. Response: “The playground equipment in Hovey Park is probably the oldest in the City. .. this equipment was “handed down” from other parks as they were upgraded over the years. .. the playground equipment was placed over 30 years ago. The improvements will be proposed as part of next year’s FY2020 Capital Plan for DPW/Park improvements. In addition, DPW will work with DPD to explore grant opportunities to assist with these costs.

Water Detection in Municipal Buildings. Motion: Councilor E. Kennedy (1/23/18) Request City Manager consider installing water detection devices at strategic locations in all municipal buildings throughout the City.” Response: Library will receive proposals for installation on July 27th. . DPW will request that the selected firm provide an amended proposal to also perform this water detection device investigation service at other city buildings including City Hall (air conditioning condensate piping), Civic Center, Memorial Auditorium and West 6th Street Fire Station.

Pollard Library Roof Repairs. Motion: Councilor J. Leahey (6/26/18) repair section of Pollard Library Roof. Response. Response: DPW/Lands and Buildings has scheduled the rental of a high lift unit for the second week of August 2018 to perform roof repairs at various City facilities. The City lifts are not capable of reaching the very high roof areas that need addressing. The rental cost for the high lift is $10,000 per week. The Pollard Roof is scheduled to be repaired at that time. In addition DPW/L&B will be performing window repairs in the downstairs bathroom within the in early August, 2018.

Pedestrian Safety City Hall. Motion: Councilor J. Leahy (10/17/17) Request City Manager have the Traffic Engineer address safety concerns of Pedestrians crossing in front of City Hall. Response: “The Engineering Corp (TEC) is under contract to perform the above design work for $124,000. They have completed the preliminary design of the bike corridor on Merrimack Street which will have the added benefit of improving the safety of pedestrians crossing in front of City Hall and the design improvements would be consistent with the City’s Complete Streets policy. The key features of the project include: Crosswalk at City Hall’s side entrance (Merrimack and Cardinal O’Connell Parkway); Improved safety for pedestrians; Strong bike connection; No loss in parking.”

Signs at Police Garage on Middlesex Street. Motion: Councilor R. Elliott (1/30/18) request City Manager have proper department remove the sign infrastructure at police garage on Middlesex Street. Response:  “DPW has investigated this request. Rather than removing these signs and incurring an expense in retaining a crane company to perform this work, DPW/Solid Waste is proposing that City Council repurpose these signs to be used for education and outreach as part of the Solid Waste Recycling Program over the next few years. The City recently received grant funds for this outreach which can be used to have a local sign company place material on these signs.”

Jackson Street Trash Barrels. Motion: Councilor K. Cirillo (6/12/18) Motion Request City Manager instruct proper department to provide trash barrels at various locations along Jackson Street especially the segment between Martson and Canal Streets. Response: “DPW has investigated this request. To improve collection of trash on Jackson Street, DPW/Streets Division has performed the following: relocation of one spare trash barrel from Middlesex Street to Jackson Street midway between Marston Street and Canal Street and also has provided a second additional trash barrel at the corner of Jackson and Canal Streets.”

No Parking Richardson Street. Motion: Councilor J. Milinazzo (5/15/18) Request City Manager have “No Parking From Here To Corner” signs installed at the end of Richardson Street by McPherson Park. Response: “As of June 25, 2018, the described signs have been installed as requested.”

Lowell Telecommunications Corporation (LTC) broadcasting in the Mayor’s Reception Room (MRR): Motion: Councilor E. Kennedy request the LTC consider installing the apparatus necessary to televise the Sub/Committee Meetings and other appropriate events in the Mayor’s Reception Room. (UPDATE) Response: In May a communication was provided to the City Council regarding the feasibility of procuring and installing the necessary equipment to allow for public meetings in the Mayor’s Reception Room (MRR) to be televised. The response included a preliminary estimate for purchase and installation of approximately $150,000, plus any costs associated from Lowell Telecommunications (LTC) staff time. It also included an upgrade of the City Council Chamber broadcast equipment. …Ms. Wendy Blom (LTC Executive Director) indicated that LTC would now be willing to purchase and operate the equipment. In the FY2019 city budget $50,000 was appropriated for the LTC capital allocation. This would allow LTC to use the cameras not only broadcasting meetings in the MRR, but also other meetings and events outside of the building. If the newly available option of televised meetings in the MRR results in a significant increase in staff time by LTC, the current terms of the contract would need to be amended.

Letters of Support for CARE Act: Motion Councilor V. Nuon Request City of Lowell join with non-profits to send a letter to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in support of Comprehensive Resources Emergency Act (CARE) proposed by Senator  like the critical public health emergency it is. Response: Letter sent on July 18th.

Community Outreach Procedures. Motion: Councilor J. Leahy request City Manager update the City Council on Community Outreach Procedures. Response: A four-page report including a list of methods and their applications. These methods include Website, Social Media, Emergency Management Office, Lowell Police Department, City of Lowell Economic Development Office, City Manager’s Facebook page, Lowell Fire Department, Print Media and Banners.

Sampas Pavillion: Motion Councilor K. Cirillo Request City Manager provide an update to Council regarding the State’s response to the issues that arise at the Sampas Pavilion i.e., late night noise; parking; and safety. Response: A number of meetings have taken place with the Commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Recreation. “Commissioner Roy has attended two ‘Motorcycle Nights’ and personally met with the permittee to let them know that their permit is subject to revocation based on the Commissioner’s discretion. He did not observe anything unusual or out of the ordinary at either visit. At this time, his primary focus for DCR for this season’s motorcycle nights will be noise-related, specifically adhering to the 9:00 P.M. curfew. In addition to addressing the noise complaints, Commissioner Roy has instructed the permittee to ensure that the river walkway (behind the stage at Sampas) must remain open to the public during all permitted events.”

Traffic Patterns. Motion: Councilor J. Leahy (6/26/18) request City Manager have Traffic Engineer review traffic patterns at the intersections at Westford and Wilder Streets, as well as, at Middlesex and Wilder Streets and report on whether the installation of traffic signals are appropriate at these locations. Response: A 2-page letter from Department of Planning and Development explains in details what is required to undertake a detailed study whose methods are described by law. The cost for that study would be about $10,500.

Citizen Police Academy Motion: Councilor V. Nuon (6/26/18) Request the City Manager have the LPD provide an update regarding the status of the Lowell Citizens’ Police Academy. Response:  “The Lowell Police Department Citizens’ Police Academy has been part of the Police Department’s community policing program since 1998. Two eight week sessions are offered twice per year, once in the spring and once in the fall. Enrollment usually numbers about 25 students. To date, approximately 600 citizens have completed the program.”

Traffic Mitigation Plan Motion: Councilor D. Conway (6/2/18) Request City Manager and the Department of Planning and Development meet with the MassDot (Massachusetts Department of Transportation) for the purpose of addressing and mitigating the traffic in the City during construction projects on the roads and bridges; plan to include timetables for completion of the multiple projects and presentation of the plan for the public. Response: Representative from MassDot will be at the City Council meeting on August 28 to present and discuss current and future projects in the City of Lowell. MassDot specifically wishes to present conceptual designs for Lowell Connector Reconstruction and Exit Reconfiguration between Thorndike Street and Gorham Street to the Transportation Sub-Committee and the full City Council.

VOTES FROM THE CITY MANAGER

1.       Accept Gift ($250.00) From Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 429 in Support Of Lowell Police Department Community Programs.

2.       Accept Gift of all funds raised from Crowdfunding Challenge Program by Mass Development to enhance Kerouac Park.

3.       Authorize City Council ratify Small Cell Agreement between City and New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC-AT&T.

4.       Authorize City Manager execute License Agreement VYO-Boston, Inc. (740 Aiken St) Church Parking

5.       Execute Sidewalk Seating License Lao De Cafe Dba Lao De Cafe-108 Merrimack Street

6.       Vote transfer $24,300 to fund contract for appraisal services.

7.       Vote transfer $29,600 to secure funds for right of way acquisitions Route 38 widening.

PETITIONS

Four of the five petitions are from utilities.

Miscellaneous: Phoenix Avenue, LLC (Atty. James Bowers) request permission to amend Zoning Ordinance By Extending RR (Regional Retail) Zoning District to include 55 Phoenix Avenue currently Zoned LI (Light Industrial).

National Grid/Verizon NE request permission to install new pole located at 23 Holden Street.

National Grid request permission to relocate utilities for bridge replacement on Pawtucket Street over the Pawtucket Canal.

National Grid request permission to relocate utilities for bridge replacement on Pawtucket Street over the Northern Canal.

New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC (AT&T) request permission to install Small Cell Site for mobile device data delivery located at 1007 Gorham Street.

CITY COUNCIL MOTIONS

1.       Councilor E. Kennedy: Request City Manager have law dept. draw up a resolution calling for a height capacity reduction of Pawtucketville Dam from 50 feet to 48 feet.

2.       Councilor E. Kennedy: Request City Manager assemble a three man subcommittee consisting of construction professionals who currently sit on the Lowell High School Building Committee for the purpose of acting as a liaison between Lowell High School Building Committee and the Lowell High School Building Consultants.

3.       Councilor K. Cirillo request Environmental & Flood Issues Sub-Committee consider the feasibility of prohibiting the use/sale of plastic straws in Lowell and provide a report to full City Council in a timely manner.

4.       Councilor R. Elliott request City Manager explore the possibility of installing solar tress in the City. 

5.       Councilor R. Elliott request City Manager work with appropriate state and federal agencies to have an additional river gauge installed above the Pawtucket Dam, to use as a basis for a more appropriate dam height with Enel. 

6.       Councilors R. Elliott/R. Mercier Request City Council vote to prevent further permits from being issued for gas line work in the City. 

7.       Councilors R. Mercier/R. Elliott request City Manager find ways and means to supply benches for the children at the North Common Basketball Courts. 

8.       Councilor R. Mercier request City Manager provide a report regarding latest shooting in City; including the cause of the shooting, whether drug or gang related and preventive steps being done to resolve the violence. 

9.       Councilor V. Nuon  request City Manager investigate the feasibility of constructing a new parking garage on the Davidson Street Parking Lot in order to free up parking in other city facilities. 

10.   Councilor V. Nuon request City Manager develop a protocol for selling Tax-Title Properties to non-profit organizations with a flexible payment schedule in order to promote their redevelopment as affordable housing. 

11.   Councilor J. Leahy request City Manager inquire of the school administration if they would be in need of any assistance during time of transition. 

12. Councilor J. Leahy request City Manager provide update to City Council regarding the Hamilton Canal Innovative District.

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