Mimi Parseghian previews tomorrow’s Lowell City Council meeting.
Auditor Perry informed the City Council that the Department of Revenue (DOR) has certified “free cash” for the City to be $2,513,634 as of July 1, 2018. He wrote “This figure represents the portion of the General Fund’s balance which is unreserved for future expenditures/liabilities and is available for appropriation by the City Council, if they so choose.”
Since “Free Cash” is the portion of the General Fund balance that the state certifies as available for appropriation, the Council will need to decide where to apply these funds.
Under the category of General Public Hearing there are two items. The first is to extend the Regional Retail District on Phoenix Avenue to 55, 75 and 77-81 Phoenix Avenue. Under Communications, the agenda also provides the Planning Board’s recommendation on this zoning change.
The second item is increasing the number of Associate Members of the Planning Board from one to two. This ordinance change is being requested by the Department of Planning and Development to address the situation that occurs “when and if regular members are absent or recuse themselves from a particular agenda item, allowing greater ability to act on projects.” The change was unanimously supported by the Planning Board.
Hamilton Canal Innovation District (HCID) Garage Update Motion (1/8/19) by Councilor Rita Mercier “Request City Manager provide a report regarding the Hamilton Canal Innovation District (HCID) Parking Garage, outlining timeline/timetable.” The response was submitted by Diane N. Tradd, Assistant City Manager.
The report is detailed and informative focusing on the bidding process from November 2017 through January 2019. “Only two general contractors bid and the bids contained significant cost escalation above Walker’s estimates: the lowest bid was $46,557,000, approximately $11 million over anticipated prices.”
Polling Location Accessibility Motion (1/23/19) by Councilor David Conway “Request City Manager provide a report regarding signage and accessibility at polling locations throughout the City for people with disabilities.
Eda Jane Matchak, Director of Elections, provided the response. In her report she writes “For the past two years, the Election & Census Commission has also partnered with the City of Lowell Commission on Disability and the Northeast Independent Living Program in conjunction with The Disability Law Center to survey polling locations prior to Election Day to identify locations that could benefit from additional signage, staffing, lighting and design. On Election Day, surveyors visit polling locations to confirm required equipment is set up and functioning properly. For the past two years, the Election & Census Commission has also partnered with the City of Lowell Commission on Disability and the Northeast Independent Living Program in conjunction with The Disability Law Center to survey polling locations prior to Election Day to identify locations that could benefit from additional signage, staffing, lighting and design. On Election Day, surveyors visit polling locations to confirm required equipment is set up and functioning properly.”
Mandatory Voter Purge In a memo to City Manager Eileen Donoghue, dated January 17th, Eda Jane Matchak, Director of Elections writes that the “City of Lowell Election and Census Commission was contacted by the Elections Division of the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Office regarding the need to delete inactive voters…” The two-page memo provides detailed information as to how one is considered inactive and the process involved in verifying that status.
“The Election and Census Commission will mail final notices of removal using forwarding mail services to all removed voters the week of January 28, 2019.”
Medical Marijuana Revenue Motion (1/8/19) by Councilor Vesna Nuon “Request City Manager explore possibility of using revenues from recreational marijuana sales to repair municipal buildings.” Chief Financial Officer, Conor Baldwin, who submitted the two-page response, writes: “Lowell would be a trailblazer in utilizing these specific receipts in this manner, so the finance team has reviewed the proposal closely with our representative at the DOR and received confirmation that this innovative solution is consistent with their guidance. The City Council could therefore establish—by a two-thirds vote—a new, special purpose stabilization fund for the repair and maintenance of municipal facilities or, more specifically, school buildings.”
Downtown Pedestrian Crossings Motion (10/30/18) by Councilor Vesna Nuon and Councilor John Leahy “Request City Manager have Transportation Engineer provide a report regarding operations of pedestrian crossings in the Downtown.”
The three-page report that includes a map outlines the issues with pedestrian crossing at the various identified street corners. It also includes a number of recommendations to address these problems.
The agenda also has two Petition Responses. The first is the petition presented on 12/11/18 by residents of Belvidere and children who attend the Pyne Arts School requesting that a crossing guard for the start and end of the school day, a flashing yellow light and repainting the crosswalk across Boylston Street at Berwick Street. The second is the petition presented on 12/18/18 by Brian Meade Jr. and Nitin Patel to Transportation Sub-Committee revising the design of the intersection at Boylston, Fairmount, Laurel and Rogers Street that is part of the States’ Route 38 Improvement Project.
Councilor Vesna Nuon “Request City Manager have Transportation Engineer review the “Dangerous” flow of traffic at the intersection of First St., Bradley St. and State Highway Rt. 110.
Councilor Vesna Nuon “Request City Manager provide a report regarding updated status of the Smith Baker Building.
Councilor Karen Cirillo “Request City Manager have proper department provide the City Council a plan to design and build Lowell’s OWN Municipal Broadband Network to provide our residents fast and affordable internet service.
Councilor Ed Kennedy “Request City Manager instruct the DPD to assist the dwelling House of Hope in finding an appropriate location for a residential program for women.