City Council Preview: December 3, 2018

Mimi Parseghian previews tomorrow night’s Lowell City Council meeting:

This week’s City Council meeting has a lengthy agenda mainly due to last’s week meeting cancellation.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

There are three items that require a public hearing prior to a vote.

Vote to Adopt the Minimum Residential Factor for FY 2019. With the approval of this measure, next year residential tax will increase by 3.1%.  The 5-page document provides an explanation as to where the local taxes are being spent.

Loan Order — Waste Water Treatment. A loan order in the amount of $450,000 to pay for the Lowell Regional Wastewater Utility’s Long-Term Control Plan and Capital Improvement Plan.

Ordinance — Amend Chapter 56, Personnel. According to the accompanying letter from City Manager Eileen Donoghue, the amendments were drafted at the request of her office.  They intend to address outstanding issues with the Personnel Ordinance
“and will provide the City of Lowell employees with indemnification should legal claims be brought against them due to their work for the City.”

MOTION ANSWERS

Upkeep of School Grounds The report is a follow up to a previous motion asking to clarify which entity is responsible for the “upkeep of the grounds at all school buildings.”  The reply, prepared by Billie Joe Turner, Assistant Superintendent of Finance & Operations, states that “School grounds upkeep is the responsibility of the Lowell Public Schools.  The Senior Custodian at each school manages and maintains the school grounds under the direction of the school Principal.

No Turn on Red Boylston and Rogers: Motion (9/25/18) by Councilor K. Cirillo “Request City Manager have proper department provide a report to the City Council as to installation of, ‘No Turn on Red’ signs at all intersections of Boylston Street and Rogers Street.

The response was submitted by Diane Tradd, Assistant City Manager, Department of Planning and Development Director.  “The intersection of Boylston and Rogers Streets (Route 38) is part of the MassDOT Route 38 Improvements project which will begin construction in the spring of 2019. This intersection was identified as high crash location in a Road Safety Audit (RSA). The purpose of the project is to implement safety improvements along the Route 38 corridor in Lowell…Given that signage to restrict turning movements was not recommended from the studies and analysis performed for the Route 38 Improvements project, the Transportation Engineer does not recommend installing them at this time.”

Lighting along river and canal walkways throughout the City Motion (10/30/18) by Councilor J. Leahy and Councilor V. Nuon “Request City Manager have proper department check on lighting along river and canal walkways throughout the City.”

The response was submitted by Diane Tradd, Assistant City Manager, Department of Planning and Development Director.  “The Department of Public Works (DPW) completes an annual walk-through of the downtown Riverwalk and Canalway lights owned by the City of Lowell and notes which lamps are not functioning… DPW is investigating a recent citizen request regarding lights along the Riverwalk. It found four nonfunctional city-owned lamps and three non-functional lamps believed to be owned by UML. DPW is investigating the City-owned lamps and will confirm the three others are owned by UML. DPD is scheduling a similar investigation of Canalway lamps in the coming week.”

The 4-page report contains a detailed graphic map as well as tables outlining the various responsibilities for all the entities regarding the upkeep of the Canalway.

Fence at Eagle Park: Motion (8/14/2018) by Councilor K. Cirillo “Request City Manager have proper department repair the perimeter fence at Eagle Park.”

The response was provided by Diane Tradd, Director Department of Planning and Development and Jim Troup, DPW Director of Administration and Finance. “The estimated cost to remove and replace 100 feet of the existing deteriorated fence is $13,000. Prior to the fence replacement, it will be necessary for DPW-Lands and Buildings to perform repairs to the concrete base wall. This concrete repair work will be performed in the spring of 2019 with more favorable weather conditions. DPW and DPD are in the process of identifying funds to complete this project, which we anticipate will be completed next spring once DPW finishes their work on the concrete wall.”

Lighting at Fort Hill Park: Motion (6/26/18) by Councilor V. Nuon “Request City Manager have DPW install appropriate light at Fort Hill Park.”

The response was provided by Diane Tradd, Director Department of Planning and Development and Jim Troup, DPW Director of Administration and Finance. “Fort Hill Park does not have any lights within the park. The only lighting is the perimeter street lighting. There are not any utility poles or electrical feeds or electrical power within the park. Fort Hill Park was funded through the Mass Historical Commission’s Historic Landscape Grant Program, and is protected by a deed restriction as a requirement of the funding that apparently would prohibit lights to be placed within the park.”

Fire Station Washer Ejector Units: Motion (5/29/18) Councilor R. Elliott and Councilor J. Leahy “Request City Manager to prepare a report regarding the status of the installation of washer ejector units in Fire Houses.

“As of this date (11/29/18), seven (7) washer ejector units have been installed in the City Fire Stations.  The eighth and last one is scheduled to be completed/installed and operational by mid-December 2018.”

LPD School Crossing Guards: Motion (9/25/18) “Request City Manager work with LPD to implement procedures to better keep our crossing guards and children safe.”  Motion (10/17/18) Councilor D. Conway “Request City Manager have the proper department supply safety flags to school crossing guard personnel.”

Response by Superintendent of Police, Kelly Richardson “The Lowell Police Department (LPD) requires all Crossing Guards to wear reflective jackets issued by the LPD. Additionally, the LPD purchased handheld stop signs for each Crossing Guard. The signs arrived the week of November 12th and there was a meeting scheduled for November 16th at 10:00am with all Crossing Guards to review protocol and disperse the signs. That meeting has been rescheduled to November 30th and will include training for the Crossing Guards. Additionally, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation recently released a Crossing Guard Training Curriculum in August of 2018. The LPD will use these materials to train the Crossing Guards on proper safety, emergency and personal conduct procedures.”

Senior Center Bus Motion (11/6/18) Councilor R. Mercier “Request City Manager look into the need of replacing the Senior Center Bus.”

Conor Baldwin, Chief Financial Officer/Acting Treasurer prepared the response and announced in the opening paragraph “am pleased to report that, at your direction, the finance team has successfully devised a financing strategy that would allow the city to purchase a new bus for the Council on Aging/ Senior Center to benefit Lowell’s senior citizens. Moreover, this financing strategy is comprised of entirely existing appropriations and does not require any additional burden on the tax payers.” 

INFORMATIONAL REPORT

This week’s agenda includes two informational reports.  The first is a notice from MassDOT announcing that a public hearing will take place on Tuesday, December 11th at 7:00 p.m.  at Tewksbury Town Hall “to discuss the proposed intersection improvements on Andover Street and River Road projects in Tewksbury.

The second document is the result of a verbal request by Councilor R. Elliott asking the Administration to report on the City’s capital needs.  Conor Baldwin, CFO, prepared the 34-page report.  In addition to the narrative, there are tables and graphs which “outline the city’s outstanding debt from prior projects as well as capital needs for future projects; all of which have an impact on the annual operating budget.”

CITY COUNCIL MOTIONS

Councilor D. Conway: Request City Manager Provide a report regarding The Joseph Cady Bicycle Race held at Shedd Park on 11/18/2018; include estimated costs to repair the damaged areas of the route to its original condition.

Councilor Rita Mercier: Request City Manager have City Solicitor draft the proper vote on a resolution in opposition by City Council of the FCC Proposed Rule to cut 5% funding for Public Access Stations.

Councilor E. Kennedy: Request City Manager consider entering an energy savings performance agreement aimed at reducing energy costs in all school and municipal buildings and using those savings to pay for capital improvements and repairs.

Councilor E. Kennedy: Request City Manager instruct the Transportation Engineer to review the efficiency of the traffic light sequencing along Route 113-VFW Highway—Route 38 Traffic Corridor.

Councilor E. Kennedy: Request School Department and/or Law Department provide the Council with a copy of the “Soon to be Completed” Fiscal Audit of the School Department.

Councilor E. Kennedy/Councilor K. Cirillo: Request City Manager take the necessary steps to install a Water-Level Gauge at Pawtucket Falls.

Mayor B. Samaras: City Manager place Starr Avenue on the Paving List.

Mayor B. Samaras: Request City Manager instruct proper departments prepare Traffic Mitigation Plans in response to anticipated opening of stores selling recreational cannabis.

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