Lowell City Council meeting: March 12, 2019

ROLL CALL – all present.

MAYOR’S BUSINESS – Presentation – 2019 Winterfest Soup Bowl Awards. Award winners by the judges were Purple Carrot, House of Hope, and Cobblestones. Also the “people’s choice awards” went to Cobblestones, Lao’De Café and Purple Carrot.

CITY CLERK – Minutes of City Council Meeting March 5th, for acceptance.

UTILITY PUBLIC HEARING – National Grid – Request installation of electric conduits on Quebec Street between Blossom and Maple Streets. Referred to Law Department.

COMMUNICATIONS FROM CITY MANAGER

Motion Response – Update status of Smith Baker Center – The Smith Baker Center was originally constructed as the First Congregational Church in 1886. The city of Lowell purchased the property in 1975 after it ceased being used as a church. The city used it as the Lowell Senior Center and sometimes as a performance space. When the new Senior Center on Broadway was occupied in 2002, the Smith Baker was left vacant and has remained vacant ever since. The city has offered the building through the RFP process several times, most recently in 2015 when the sole proposal was submitted by the Coalition for a Better Acre which proposed using it for a community center and an upstairs performance space. Negotiations between the city and CBA dragged on for several years, however, the RFP was cancelled sometime in 2018. The city is preparing a new RFP that should be available in the spring.

Councilor Nuon says he’s pleased to see the new RFP with fewer restrictions. He hopes Coalition for a Better Acre submits a bid on this new RFP. Councilor Elliot asks for an explanation of what happened. Manager Donoghue said the earlier RFP had language that said if the project wasn’t done within a certain amount of time, ownership would revert back to the city. This was a big obstacle to CBA’s ability to raise money. There was no way to negotiate this out of the RFP which is why a new RFP had to be issued.

Motion Response – Snow Ordinance Warnings and Violations. Council Leahy suggests all the city health inspectors spend the days following snowstorms giving tickets to people who don’t shovel their sidewalks. Eric Slagle replies that they do that although they also have to respond to other calls such as no heat and illegal dumping which the council has previously made a top priority. Manager Donoghue says they will take a look at how this is all handled.

Communication – City Manager request Out of State Travel (3) LPD; (1) MIS. Allowed by council.

VOTES FROM THE CITY MANAGER

Vote-Authorize Mgr. Ex. MOU MVEA Wastewater Unit I 7.1.18-6.30.21 – Approved by council.

ORDINANCES FROM THE CITY MANAGER

Ordinance-Delete two PT and Create one FT Clinical Recovery Specialist in HHS Dept. Referred to public hearing on March 26, 2019.

REPORTS (SUB/COMMITTEE, IF ANY) – Senior Citizens SC March 12, 2019. By SC chair Councilor Mercier. In response to Councilor Cirillo motion to develop an Elderly Action Plan for Lowell. Councilor Mercier says this is an important issue so she asked Councilor Cirillo if there is anything specific that should be done. There are many things that could be done but it would probably be best to focus on a couple of major issues at first. But then Councilor Mercier goes through many of the goals of the Boston Elderly Plan, like housing for seniors, transportation, health care, but she says Lowell already has all of these things and more. Councilor Nuon made a motion to invite the director of elderly affairs of Boston to come to Lowell to do a presentation on the Boston plan to the Lowell subcommittee. That’s the next step.

PETITIONS

Claim – (1) Property Damage. Referred to Law Department.

Misc. – Simply Dental of Lowell (Don Booth – NH Signs) request installation of overhanging sign at 155 Market Street. Referred to Law Department.

CITY COUNCIL – MOTIONS

C. Cirillo – Req. City Mgr. have the proper department implement a “Resident Satisfaction Survey” to assess community satisfaction with City services. Several people registered to speak including Ty Chum who supports the motion. Mary Taurus also speaks in favor. She represents Lowell Rise, a coalition of nonprofits in Lowell. Councilor Cirillo says she’s encountered many Lowell residents who want their voices to be heard by city government. She did some research and found that a number of cities around the country use these surveys to gather data that then is used to help shape policies. The purpose it so assess resident satisfaction with the delivery of city services and to hear what residents believe should be the budget priorities for the city. Councilor Kennedy says this is a good motion. He says “some of us” believe the city does a good job of delivering services and if that’s true the survey will show that, but maybe it’s not true and the survey would show that.

ADJOURNMENT – 7:35 pm.

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