Notes from tonight’s (relatively uneventful) Lowell City Council meeting.
Designation – Lowell as a National Wildlife Refuge. 80% of Americans live in cities but have little contact with wildlife refuges. This grant program helps highlight work done in cities (especially here by Lowell Parks and Conservation Trust) to expose people to nature within cities. Lowell is now one of only 29 cities in America with this designation.
Presentation – City of Lights Parade Awards. Greater Lowell Technical School won award for best float. Shane’s Anti-Bullying Team won community service award. Troop 7 of Boy Scouts won most festive float award. Lowell High and Middlesex Community College also won awards. Other awards were given to downtown businesses.
[Motion taken out of order] C. Conway – Req. City Mgr. 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. Council directs City Manager to produce a report on what happened and how to prevent it from recurring in the future.
[Another item taken out of order] ORDERS FROM THE CITY MANAGER
Order-60 Day Trial-Maryl Drive. This is a small street that connects Rogers and Fairmount streets. It has a huge amount of cut-through traffic that is a safety hazard. Many residents speak of the problems this poses. The proposal is to restrict access to Meryl to residents only. Councilors promise residents in attendance that if this doesn’t work they will try something else.
Minutes of Public Safety SC November 20th; City Council Meeting November 20th; Neighborhoods SC November 26th, for acceptance. Accepted.
GENERAL PUBLIC HEARINGS
Vote-Adopt the Minimum Residential Factor for Fiscal Year 2019. Sue LeMay, chair of Board of Assessors, urges the council to adopt this. No other speakers for the public hearing. Council adopts it unanimously (Councilor Milinazzo absent tonight due to his mother’s passing – Council held moment of silence at start of meeting).
Loan Order-Wastewater Treatment Bond 450,000. This will help with flood mitigation and also with required separation of sewage and rain water. Allowed.
Ordinance-Amend Ch. 56 entitled Personnel by amending various sections. Passes.
COMMUNICATIONS FROM CITY MANAGER
Motion Responses (some accepted without comment)
A) Upkeep of School Grounds
B) No Turn on Red Boylston and Rogers
C) School Zone Speed Limits – Legislature has authorized municipalities to reduce speed limit from 30 to 25 mph. Question on how to inform/remind drivers that the speed limit is now 30 mph because many drive so much faster than that.
D) Lighting along river and canal walkways throughout the City. Leader of downtown residents association and a representative from the city were doing a walk-through tonight to identify lights that are not working. City will then contact the responsible organization.
E) Fence at Eagle Park
F) Lighting at Fort Hill Park
G) Fire Station Washer Ejector Units – all fire stations have working washing machines that will remove soot and contaminants from equipment.
H) LPD School Crossing Guards – recently bought hand-held stop signs for crossing guards. Difficult to hire enough crossing guards. Chief of police says biggest problem is distracted driving by people texting. Says police are putting priority on issuing tickets for texting and driving.
I) Senior Center Bus – sounds like a new bus for seniors.
J) MassDOT Hearing for River Road Project
K) Capital Needs
Communication-Appoint Mary Donnelly and Beverly Gonsalves to Council on Aging
VOTES FROM THE CITY MANAGER
Vote-Authorize Mgr. Ex. MOU MVEA II 7.1.18-6.30.21
Vote-Authorize Mgr. Ex. MOU MVEA IIP 7.1.18-6.30.21
Vote-Authorizing the filing of Special Legislation to add 3 associate members to the Conservation Commission. Why? Sometimes difficult to reach a quorum. By adding associate members should address that. Passes unanimously.
ORDINANCES FROM THE CITY MANAGER
Ordinance-Amend Ch 290 Zoning by extending the Regional Retail District to include 55, 75 and 77-81 Phoenix Avenue – referred to public hearing on January 29, 2019.
Ordinance-Amend Ch. 9, Article V Planning Board, s. 9-15 by increasing Associate Members from one to two – referred to public hearing on January 29, 2019.
REPORTS (SUB/COMMITTEE, IF ANY)
Neighborhoods SC November 26, 2018. Report by Councilor Cirillo. Much discussion at subcommittee meeting on preparing for snowy weather. Lowell High Junior ROTC does volunteer snow shoveling.
Claim – (1) Personal Injury.
Misc. – Eduardo Beato request reimbursement for towing charges.
Misc. – Wendy Blom (Ex. Dir. Lowell Telecommunications Corporation) request installation of overhanging sign at 246 Market Street.
National Grid/Verizon NE – Request installation of new pole at 198 Riverside Street and Sarah Avenue.
Verizon NE – Request installation of underground conduit to replace overhead services at 165 Thorndike Street and Highland Street.
CITY COUNCIL – MOTIONS (Motions all were passed with minimal discussion).
Mercier – Req. City Mgr. 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.
Kennedy – Req. City Mgr. 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.
Kennedy – Req. City Mgr. instruct the Transportation Engineer to review the efficiency of the traffic light sequencing along Route 113-VFW Highway—Route 38 traffic corridor.
Kennedy – Req. School Department and/or Law Department provide the Council with a copy of the “soon to be completed” fiscal audit of the School Department.
Kennedy/C. Cirillo – Req. City Mgr. take the necessary steps to install a water-level gauge at the Pawtucket Falls.
Samaras – City Mgr. place Starr Avenue on the paving list.
Samaras – Req. City Mgr. instruct proper departments prepare traffic mitigation plans in response to anticipated opening of stores selling recreational cannabis. Patriot (on Industrial Ave), an existing medical marijuana store, has received a retail license and expects to open at same location in early 2019. Part of their process is to file a traffic mitigation plan.
ANNOUNCEMENTS – by Manager Donoghue – last time for picking up yard waste is next week. Also, next Tuesday from 4 to 6pm, there is a Holiday Open House at City Hall. Everyone is invited to attend.
ADJOURNMENT at 8:53 pm.