Thanks to Jack Moynihan for pinch hitting for me tonight on the city council note taking shift. Here’s Jack’s report on the meeting:
Mayor Elliot called meeting to order at 6:14. Minutes were accepted unanimously. The first motion is by Rourke to take the motion to appoint Salmira Mitchell to Library Trustees from the table. It passes 5 to 4. Councilors Elliot, Kennedy, Mercier, & Belanger opposed. The appointment is then voted on, and passes with the votes going the same way.
Communication 1. Urban Renewal Plan for Tanner Street area.C Milinazzo moves to send to Economic Sub Committee. Approved. A, Baacke explains that some planning department members will be continuing on to follow through with implementation . Baacke also explains that neighborhood and other groups have been involved in discussions in response to a question from Mercier. Communication 2. Belanger first asks a question about parking, but is satisfied with Lynch’s answer that additional parking spaces would be needed for National Park security officers. Motion approved.
Pevey St. development. Mr. Baake explains that it could represent a very positive economic development
General Public Hearings:
To discontinue a portion of Worcester Rd. to allow for some development. Attorney for developer speaks first. Mr. Baacke noted that the rest of the road had been abandoned previously. No one spoke in opposition. However, C Leahy expresses concerns about changing the character of a neighborhood by altering frontage requirements. C. Kennedy sees it a positive development. Passes unanimously
Pan-handling ordinance: Discussion of changes to original ordinance. No one spoke in favor. Troix Bettencourt asks for a definition of “aggressive” particularly with regard to sign holding. He also asked whether or not panhandling police calls could have been covered by already existing laws. In addition, he had some questions about how much “police discretion” would be involved. The City Solicitor answered that aggressive pan-handling was added to the amendment, With regard to sign holding, that would have to be accompanied by some sort of aggressive pan-handling. She also went on to give examples of the types of reported aggressive behavior. As for existing laws covering incidents, she cited how other communities have felt the need to add similar laws. Marty Lorre then spoke. He believes that his original motion has gotten off track. He feels that it is difficult to identify what is aggressive. He also thinks that the ordinance should not only cover the downtown. (I missed the name of the third person. He also questioned how we could define aggressive, and confining the ordinance to the downtown area. C Mercier then spoke about how this type of motion arises out of concerns raised by business owners. In addition, she gives some examples of how citizens have been intimidated by pan-handlers. C Belanger goes on to say that he knows of women, in particular, who were afraid. Motion to pass amended ordinance passes unanimously.
National Grid – Electrical main installation on Industrial Ave. Speaking for, an engineer for National Grid. The underground installation is to improve capacity and service. Looking to start in late spring. C Leahy asks how long the project should take, and where it would improve power. The response was that it would improve power in South Lowell and points west. No one spoke in opposition. C Mercier moves to refer to wiring inspector.
Reports: M Elliot reports that on Monday evening the Councilors approved Michael Geary to take over as acting City Manager when Mr. Lynch leaves.
Petitions: Claim for property damage. Referred to Law Dept.
Mr. & Mrs. Gordon spoke about an easement 135 Beacon Street. She and her husband are concerned that they might have liability regarding the easement, and that was not what they agreed with. She also has concerns about the communication, or lack thereof. Lynch explains that the city did not put the wall there and merely granted the easement. He offered to have the City Solicitor discuss the matter further. Atty. O’Connor noted that the city only learned of the entire situation recently. Ms. Gordon praised the Law Dept. for all of the help and concern shown. Motion passes to refer matter to Law Dept.
Request to move a utility pole on S. Whipple St. Approved.
C Rourke – requesting exploration of installing a ShotSpotter program. C Belanger asks if Rourke has looked into possible grant funding. Motion passes 9-0
C Rourke – asking about problems and complaints regarding the new trash/recycling schedule. Lynch explains that the city has a number of notifications in place to notify citizens of changes. Motion passes.
C Milinazzo – requesting reports on outstanding claims against contractors with schools built under the MSBA. Motion passes.
C Belanger – to refer current parking ordinance to the Economic Development SC for review. Karen Bell then spoke. She speaks of how ticketing can makes the Downtown seem less welcoming for business. Lynch explains that they aren’t currently changing the current policy. He states that the purpose of meters is to help regulate parking, so that people don’t take up spaces all day. Belanger would like to eventually have free parking in the downtown on evenings and weekends. C Mercier, Kennedy speak in favor. Motion passes.
C Leahy requesting an update on the removal of the double poles by utilities. C Kennedy speaks in favor.
C Leahy – requesting a report on all utility work being done – including maintenance and emergency repairs. Approved.
C Leahy – requesting an update on fire damaged buildings throughout the city. Motion passes.
C Mercier – requesting that a number of spaces on Dublin Street be designated and marked as “Parking for COA Employees Only.” Motion passes.
Meeting adjourned at 8:59.