City Council and Cross Point: Pivotal Vote on Cross Point in 1994

I was interested to hear two people in two days refer to the consequential vote by the Lowell City Council in 1994 to put the City on record as backing the new owners of the Wang Towers, which were re-born as Cross Point. On Wednesday night, at a panel discussion about entrepreneurship in Lowell, my writing colleague Dick Howe Jr raised the example of that crucial vote by councilors as vivid evidence that proves the make-up of a city council is so important. The passage of the vote was not guaranteed. The next morning at the annual Lowell Plan, Inc., breakfast at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center, John Power of Farley White Interests, property owner of the technology cluster at Wannalancit Mills, used the example of the city council creatively and courageously supporting the redevelopment of the towers as proof of how government and business can work together for a productive result. Power said it may have been the first time that any city council in the country had made that kind of financial decision. Getting Verizon into the towers was the catalyst for bringing in more businesses and filling the complex at the time. I found the following reference to the vote in a Jennifer Myers article for the Sun in December 2011, in which she summarized the contributions of 24-year city councilor Edward “Bud” Caulfield:

In 1994, the downfall of Wang Laboratories led to Wang Towers, assessed at $42 million, selling at auction for $525,000. Then-U.S. Rep. Marty Meehan secured a federal 108 loan to assist Verizon in coming to the tower. The loan needed a two-thirds vote of the nine-member Lowell City Council. “We need six votes. Your vote is critical,” [councilor Richard] Howe told Caulfield. Caulfield cast the sixth yea in the 6-3 vote. “If the council had not approved that loan, that building, 1.5-million square feet of office space, would have remained empty for years,” Caulfield said. “It would have been disastrous, but today it is flourishing.” (Sun, 12/27/11)

Cross Point

Cross Point (web photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

3 Responses to City Council and Cross Point: Pivotal Vote on Cross Point in 1994

  1. Joe S says:

    Yes, it was a pivotal vote, and today that complex is contributing millions of dollars per year to the tax levy to help control the expense for the homeowners of Lowell, as well as it provides a significant number of local jobs – a win-win.

    But that vote in 1994 barely passed, and the reasoning, or lack of it, of those who voted against it should be examined. Bring that forward to today and we see councilors who dwell on petty issues, and do not give sufficient attention to the issues that are more important to our City’s future. Some may say they are “keeping the Manager on his toes”, but it is more like he is on his toes because they are ankle-biters. And that constant negativity has to play into the minds of any company considering locating in Lowell, as it puts a cloud over the future path the City takes, and that uncertainty has to be in the minds of those who make investment decisions.

    We can only hope that the residents elect councilors more like the 6 than like the 3 when they vote this November.

  2. George DeLuca says:

    Hi Dick, here’s the final edited version, spell checked and all. I’d appreciate it if you would participate in the cross post:

    “Interesting post, thank you Paul.

    It’s not so much the make-up of the City Council as the willingness for City Councilors to collaborate per the example in your post. Dick Howe was wise to solicit support for the motion that led to the success of Cross Point Towers in 1994.

    For the most part the voters got it right last Tuesday. Rita Mercier, Rodney Elliott, Bill Martin and Ed Kennedy comprise the leadership of the incumbents.

    Rita Mercier is one of the City’s all time great ambassadors. Bill Martin is the stalwart “voice of reason” on the Council.

    Rodney Elliott has displayed leadership in his courageous persistence and determination in encouraging his fellow City Councilors to move forward with eyes wide open. He consistently asks that Councilors keep open mind and consider counterpoints of view.

    Ed Kennedy is working towards optimizing Lowell’s benefit from commercial taxes by leading an ongoing discussion which addresses the rate, and its effect on economic development. He also wants to bring an art school to Lowell. Wouldn’t it be great if Lowell partnered with Mass. College of Art and Design to locate a satellite facility Downtown?

    Joe Mendonca wins the unsung hero award for his efforts to ensure the stability of the City’s finances, which has led to Standard & Poor’s upgrade of Lowell’s long-term bond rating from A to A+. If asked, I’ll personally work on his campaign to ensure he’s elected. I’ve only held sign once in my life, but I believe that we need Joe on the team. It’s that important that he be retained. His door is always open to citizens who approach seeking advice for their ideas.

    Next term will be one of the most important in the City’s history. There’s room for new people to join the Council. People like Derek Mitchell, Bill Samaras, Jim Millinazzo and Corey Belanger.

    It may help if Rodney Elliott and Bill Martin went out to dinner together with the wives, to get to know each other better. There’s room on the Council for both points of view, in fact its crucial for each City Councilor to seek to understand contrasting opinions among their colleagues.

    One of the most difficult decisions in the City’s history is now on the front burner. The talent and experience to make those decisions exists among the remaining 18 candidates.

    In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve named 9 candidates above, who in my view represent the most capable of the 18 candidates in terms of leadership and experience. Yes, that’s the slate endorsed by Lowell2020 and, and perhaps the most formidable in the City’s history by measure of pure individual capability. Can they all get along and work together to face the coming challenges faced by the City of Lowell? I believe they can.

    Cautions: Several of the above candidates live in Belvidere, and, several have a connection with the Lowell Plan.

    I ask that all candidates keep an open mind when considering the future of Lowell High School. Listen to the Lowell School Committee. They will soon begin the process of soliciting the input of residents, parents, Lowell businesses and agencies, the colleges and ultimately the City Council.

    All candidates should be paying attention to the School Committee’s effort to chart the future of Lowell Public Schools K-12. The Lowell Plan is not running point on this issue. The future of Lowell hangs in the balance, and will depend on the outcome of the consensus building process.”