My Plan E Comment from Gerry’s Place

With the currrent talk about city charter change in the air,  I am copying and sharing here my comment on Gerry Nutter’s blog from a few days ago for the readers who are following the developing community conversation around this topic:

Lowell is the envy of many cities of its size. Leaders from cities across the nation and around the world visit Lowell to see what has been accomplished since 1970 and to learn what tools and formulas enabled such success. The betterment of the city is an ongoing process, and Lowell will always be a work in progress, but we cannot overlook the strengths. One of the important tools in the community toolbox is the Plan E municipal government structure. This tool should not be undervalued in analyzing the Lowell revitalization narrative.

One Response to My Plan E Comment from Gerry’s Place

  1. George DeLuca says:

    I agree with Paul, and certainly appreciate his own contributions.

    We could focus more on strengthening the relationships between the City Council and City Manager, as well as between the City Manager and the delegation. There are too many closed door meetings with blue ribbon panels that decide issues that the general public need to be considering.

    People are noticing that the executive body makes decisions on their behalf without a real discussion. Yes, public meeting are called like the Tanner St. meeting at LRTA on Monday at 6pm. However, most of the workshop style meetings I’ve attended have been relatively poorly attended. Hopefully, that won’t be the case Monday as its a crucial time for public input on a major initiative. Kudos to Adam Baacke and his department for spearheading the process and getting the required funding to proceed with the brownfield site cleanup, planning and marketing study.

    We’re probably more advanced in the neighborhood group department than ever, but obviously only a small minority are participating and even knowledgeable about them. Again, this seems to continue to get better, at least with regards to awareness.

    My biggest concern regarding economic development is the refusal of The Lowell Plan to be accessible for public discussions about their initiatives, especially the Jeff Speck report. Yes, its available online, but how many people have seen it. There’s been virtually no publc awareness campaign to gain public sentiment. What happened to the commitment to acting on the “low hanging fruit” that was promised. Does anyone remember that?

    Finally, how are we going to implement the master plan upgrade with sustainability woven into its fabric. It would seem that a massive public education campaign would be needed for this. So far social events are the City vehicle for public participation, and they’re all great. But when do we actually start the consensus building process that we’re all waiting for? Who will be the facilitator? I’d hate to see the accomplishments of those who have went before squandered because of lack of interest.

    No need to point to Hamilton Canal, UML major initiatives, Lowell General expansions, trolley expansion plans, etc. We all know about those things. But when do we get to the details that directly enhance the lives of the residents? Hopefully, we’ll see some of that kind of progress on Monday.

    Times are changing and a change of the guard may be upon us. We need to generate more awareness to 106,000 people and assurances that everyone’s opinions are considered important, meaniingful and ultimately heard.