Lowell City Council Meeting: January 8, 2019

ROLL CALL – all present.

CITY CLERK

Minutes of Cannabis Control SC December 18th; City Council Meeting December 18th, for acceptance.

COMMUNICATIONS FROM CITY MANAGER

Petition Response: Dalton and Fisher St.- Four Way Stop (report on a citizen petition re 4 way stop). No discussion.

Communication-Accept resignation of Caitlin Nover from Conservation Commission – accepted, no discussion.

Communication-Appoint Perry Downs to Conservation Commission – accepted, no discussion (Mr. Downs thanks manager and council).

Communication-Appoint Muriel Parseghian to Pollard Memorial Library Board of Trustees – accepted, accepted (Ms. Parseghian thanks manager and council).

Communication-Reappoint Marieanne Gries to Pollard Memorial Library Board of Trustees – accepted, no discussion.

VOTES FROM THE CITY MANAGER

Vote-Accept Gift from LHA’s nonprofit affiliate Operation Returning Veterans, Inc. of $995 to Veterans Commission – accepted unanimously.

Vote-Amend TIF Agreement between Kronos Inc and CP Assoc. LLC by amending property owner to CH LH Crosspoint Owner LLC-900 Chelmsford St. This doesn’t change the terms of the TIF. The change is merely due to the change of ownership of the property. Allowed.

ORDERS FROM THE CITY MANAGER – 60 day trail on South Street. Adopted unanimously.

Order-60 Day Trial-South Street

REPORTS (SUB/COMMITTEE, IF ANY)

Transportation SC January 7, 2019 – Councilor Elliott reports that meeting was about proposed traffic re-alignment of Rogers St/Rte 38. Traffic engineer presented a proposal, reviewed the timeline. This is part of the highway safety improvement project. It was selected because of the high volume of crashes that occur there. Council would like to contact Mass Highway to see if this portion of the project can be delayed. The City Manager indicated that any request for delay might jeopardize the whole project. The subcommittee also asks City Manager to look at several side streets for possibility of installing “traffic calming” measures. Councilor Mercier urges city to find better ways to publicize public meetings on projects like this. She says a number of neighbors who are affected by the project have complained to her that they only learned about public meetings at the last minute. Manager Donoghue explains that much of the discussion and publicity focused on the Andover/Nesmith/Kittridge Park section and not much discussion on the Rogers St/Boylston St area. There was a lot of attention paid to crossing lights however these are owned by the state not the city. Right now, the crossing lights at Boylston/Rogers do not work. This will address them. Finally, the state maintains this is the safest design alternative. Discussion goes on for some time with specific questions about specific intersections by councilors. Report accepted and placed on file.

PETITIONS

Claims – (2) Property Damage.

Misc. – Garibaldy Cruz (Infante Grocery) request installation of “15 Minute Parking” sign at 198 Broadway Street. Referred for report and recommendation.

Misc. – Enterprise Bank (Luke Bouchard – Facility Mgr.) request installation of two overhanging signs; one at the Merrimack Street elevation and one at the Palmer Street elevation. Referred for recommendation.

Misc. – Linnett Vega (For benefit of Silvia Flores) request installation of handicap parking sign at 22 North Street, #2. Referred for report and recommendation.

FirstLight (Joyce Consulting Group) – Request permission to install underground fiber optic conduits at intersections of Lawrence and Billerica Streets. Referred to public hearing.

CITY COUNCIL – MOTIONS

(first two motions taken together)

Nuon – Req. City Mgr. establish a working group to examine Judicial Center parking in the Hamilton Canal District, over the short and long term, and provide policy and planning guidance and coordination; advisory body should include representatives from DPD, DCAM, LRTA, parking authority, courts, HCD commercial and residential communities and any others as determined by the City Manager. Councilor Nuon explains that he’d like representatives from the various groups to meet regularly about parking. This will be especially important if the Judicial Center opens before the new parking garage does. There needs to be contingency plans in case this happens.

Mercier – Req. City Mgr. provide a report regarding the Hamilton Canal Innovative District parking garage; outlining time line/time table. Councilor Mercier says she sees the progress at the Judicial Center and wonders about where employees and visitors to the building will park. She wants a timeline showing the progress of the judicial center and the parking garage. She asks if the land swap with Federal Government has been finalized. Manager Donoghue says it has not been finalized. Manager also says the Parking Garage has gone out to bid and the bids that came back were higher than expected so they are re-examining the design of the garage. Councilor Mercier then asks for a report on how much it will cost to refurbish Lowell High rather than following through on the intended project for the high school replacement/renovation. Councilor Mercier is concerned that the cost of the high school will rise to a level the city can’t afford so we should start considering changing the scope of the project to just repairing what we have in place now. Manager Donoghue says the High School is still in schematic design but she should be able to provide a report to the council on the high school for the January 22 meeting. Manager Donoghue says regarding the Hamilton Canal District that steady progress has been made on the infrastructure needs that are a pre-condition to some of the other lots being developed. Councilor Kennedy says these are both good motions but he points out that there is no urgency to move out of the existing courthouses, so if it was determined that there would be a “parking nightmare” if the move takes place, we could delay the occupancy of the new judicial center until the parking garage is ready. Manager Donoghue says that the timetable for the judicial center has been pushed back a bit and that whenever the move in occurs, it will be phased in over many months. Councilor Elliott supports getting a timetable but he is concerned with the first motion to establish a working group. This is the job of the manager. He doesn’t oppose engaging stakeholders and having meetings with them but he doesn’t think there should be a working group that sets policy and restricts the city manager. Councilor Nuon says there is not intent to usurp the city manager. He just wants to try to avoid any problems when the judicial center opens. Councilor Milinazzo returns to the land swap. Kara Keefe explains that the current holdup is with the MBTA, not the National Park, but there is progress being made on getting the necessary easements signed. Councilor Leahy says he’ll leave it to the City Manager who should work on this because there shouldn’t be too many involved when DPD can handle it. Councilor Elliott requests roll calls on the motions. Councilor Mercier asks that they be separated for the roll calls. Mayor Samaras calls for roll call on Councilor Nuon’s motion. It passes 6 to 3 with Elliott, Mercier and Conway voting against it.

Nuon – Req. City Mgr. provide update regarding progress on the Hamilton Canal Innovative District and schedule a tour of the newly installed signature bridge. Councilor Nuon says this spring the Lord Overpass project and the Winn Apartment Building constructions are to begin this spring.

Nuon – Req. City Mgr. explore establishing pay maternity and family leave policy. Councilor Nuon explains that we try to attract new employees so how we treat maternity and family leave are potential benefits that may attract more applicants for these positions.

Nuon – Req. City Mgr. explore possibility of using revenues from recreational marijuana sales to repair municipal buildings. He explains that we have significant need to repair municipal meetings so if we are able to use funds from these sources it might be helpful.

Milinazzo – Req. City Mgr. have a Handicap Parking sign installed at 438 Central Street for the benefit of Maria Menessis.

ANNOUNCEMENTS – none

ADJOURNMENT – at 7:57 pm

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.