Lowell Visioning Session
Last evening I joined nearly forty others at the Lowell Senior Center for this week’s “visioning session” which was “Community Character and Civic Engagement.” The format was the same as the last session I attended. After a brief review of the city’s Master Plan of 2000, we broke up into four working groups. Each group stayed put while four teams of DPD facilitators rotated to each group, prompting conversation and comment and recording it all on large charts. At the end, the charts were consolidated and attendees voted for their favorite ideas. The results eventually will be posted on the city’s website.
The four questions posed were as follows:
1. What are the sources of Lowell’s community pride?
2. What would improve the quality of life in your neighborhood?
3. How can the city (or any of us) get more residents involved in the community life of the city?
4. Assess the arts and cultural resources in the city? What else is needed? How could it all be improved?
If you weren’t able to attend last night’s session but have an opinion on any of the above, please post your responses in our comments section and we’ll be sure to pass them along to the event organizers.
One Response to Lowell Visioning Session
Improving the quality of life and expanding attractions usually takes some money. The City has done a good job in obtaining funds, probably aided by the leverage that the National Park brings to the party. But the availability of federal funds will be stressed even more going forward, so some complementary means should be developed. Some of that may come from the State, which is on better footing now although that is always at risk.
Local funds come from benefactors, the tax levy and fees. Increasing the property tax for the “nice-to-haves” will be difficult, since that tax is pretty regressive and could become a burden to many residents. Fees can help, but if they are too great they will discourage the usage of the very attractions which they are designed to support.
The Greater Lowell Community Foundation has been successful, although its fund base is probably pretty well committed and cannot expand rapidly. Within the overall fund is the opportunity to develop “dedicated” funds, where people contribute to specific programs and needs. If such a fund were to be established for City arts, culture and public amenities it may grow over time to be a useful source of support for these type of attractions. Not very useful for some time, but it could eventually provide some annual support to the quality of life in the City. And the amount of the individual contributions would be based on ability to pay, as well as voluntary, so everyone who wished to do so could participate and collectively there may be substantial funds available.
Of course there would have to be an acceptable process in place to direct any fund distributions to specific efforts, and that may be a challenge to raising the funds in the first place.
So what type of public amenities may benefit?