Mimi Parseghian previews Tuesday’s Lowell City Council meeting:
The City Council agenda was posted on the City’s website at 11:30 Friday morning with a major item that I did not expect.
Motion (8.4) from Councilor R. Elliott “Request City Manager have City Solicitor prepare proper vote to change election of City Council from 9 current at-large Councilors to 6 Ward and 3 at-large Councilors. “ With one motion, the Councilors can get this going. We do not know what occurred during Executive Sessions nor in discussions with the attorneys of the litigants (those who filed a lawsuit against the City) but this is good news. I do not know if they can make it happen for 2019 but at least we can get things going.
As for other matters, there are six motion responses in this week’s packet.
Andover Street Sidewalk Improvements: Motion (10/24/18) by Councilors R. Mercier and D. Conway “Request City Manager to place Andover Street sidewalks on a schedule to replace and/or repair sidewalks to handicap specifications.” The response was prepared by Jim Doninson, DPW Commissioner. He writes that “It is proposed that DPW/Engineering perform a sidewalk condition assessment of City sidewalks over the next two years during the winter months (when engineering staff have more time available to perform this task). This condition assessment of sidewalks will result in a prioritized list of improvements to address conditions and ADA accessibility issues along with costs for the improvements…The estimate for Andover Street sidewalks is currently being developed by staff. It is expected that the total project repairs will require multiple years of $100,000 sidewalk expenditures.”
City Hall Pedestrian Safety: Motion (10/9/18) by Councilor R. Mercier “ Request the City Manager find ways and means to increase safety measures for pedestrians crossing in front of City Hall on Merrimack Street.” The response, submitted by Diane Tradd, Assistant City Manager/DPD Director, was a group-effort that involved a number of departments.
“The Transportation Engineer has investigated this location and agrees that safety improvements are in order for this location. Currently pedestrians can cross in front of City Hall at two different un-signalized crosswalks originating on either side of Cardinal O’Connell Parkway. These crosswalks are in a stretch of Merrimack Street that has no stop lights from the intersection with Dutton all the way down to the intersection with Cabot Street, resulting in fast-moving traffic and drivers who are not expecting pedestrians to cross the road.” A detailed plan has been drawn up to rectify the situation waiting for funding from the State. A second plan has also been drawn up in case the funding does not come through.
Dutton-Market Crossing: Motion (5/23/17) by Councilor J. Leahy Request the City Manager provide a report from Traffic Engineer regarding intersection of Dutton and Market Street Pedestrian Crossing.” The response submitted by Diane N. Tradd, Assistant City Manager/DPD Director presents three options to address this issue which is described as “The traffic signal at the intersection of Dutton and Market Streets is set up for concurrent phasing, which means that pedestrians cross when the cars in their direction of travel get a green light. This can create a hazardous situation for pedestrians if turning vehicles do not yield to them while crossing.”
Commercial Vehicle Parking: Motion (9/25/18) by Councilor V. Nuon “Request City Manager to review and/or update any ordinance regarding parking of Commercial Vehicles on City streets and in neighborhoods. In his response to the Council, Kelly Richardson, Superintendent of Police, included a copy of the current ordinance and wrote “The Lowell Police Department has issued a copy of the City Ordinance pertaining to Chapter 13-151 “Motor Vehicles and Traffic” to every patrol supervisor. The ordinance was amended January 8th 2008 and added prohibitions regarding parking of large commercial vehicles. The supervisors will be detailing their officers to conduct increased enforcement.”
Mounted Horseback Units: Motion (9/25/18) motion by Councilors R. Mercier and R. Elliott “Request the City Manager have the Superintendent of Police provide opinion and report regarding costs for scheduling two Mounted Police Patrol Units in downtown when the Lowell High School goes in and out of session during school year.”
In his response, Kelly Richardson, Superintendent of Police, wrote “The startup costs for two horses would be approximately $155,000. This does not include barn costs or having a trainer on staff. WPD (Worcester Police Department) currently trains their Mounted Unit 24 hours per week, which is highly recommended due to liability. Ongoing, yearly costs would be approximately $10,000 – $12,000 per horse.”
North Common Basketball Court Benches: Update on motion that was responded to on 9/26/18 informing the Council that “four granite benches were installed within the basketball court fenced in area along the sidelines. Due to concerns raised with the granite benches, we have since removed them and have ordered/placed a purchase order for 4 athletic benches which will be placed within the next few weeks.”
There are five other motions in addition to Councilor Elliott’s request to change the City Charter.
CITY COUNCIL – MOTIONS
Councilor J. Leahy/Councilor V. Nuon “Request City Manager have proper department check on lighting along river and canal walkways throughout the City.”
Councilor J. Leahy/Councilor V. Nuon “Request City Manager have proper department provide a report regarding installation of cameras at intersections in the downtown”
Councilor J. Leahy/Councilor V. Nuon “Request City Manager have transportation engineer provide a report regarding operations of pedestrian crossings in the downtown”.
Councilor R. Elliott/Councilor R. Mercier “Request City Council have Community Teamwork present program being implemented to address youth homelessness in the City”
Councilor J. Milinazzo “Request City Manager meet with representatives from RCN to discuss bringing a second option to residents for internet, cable and telephone services.”