City Council Meeting: May 27, 2014

Moment of silence for Ed Trudel, former Lowell Special Events Coordinator who died on Saturday.

Lowell Green Building Commission award for “green building excellence” to Chris Gleba and Kris Erikson, owners of an 1895 property at 48 Epping Street that was recently renovated.

Vote authorizing CM to execute a lease with TMI Properties (Brian McGowan) for 605 Broadway for Lowell Police Department “re-entry program”. Councilor Belanger asks CM to send letter of thanks to landlord for giving city such a favorable rent.

Vote to approve submission of City of Lowell action plan for FY15 to HUD. This involves Community Development Block Grants which have decreased 32% since 2010 (Ed. Note: This is significant because these annual funds are used to pay the rent on the Lowell Senior Center).

Vote authorizing City Manager to make transfers of surplus funds at end of fiscal year between accounts within the city budget. Bob Healy explains we’re looking for a big deficit in city’s snow and ice account and also sick time buy back account so they’re looking for funds from every account to cover these deficits. Rather than come to the city council in the midst of the FY15 for requests on routine transfers within the FY14 budget, it would be more efficient to authorize these transfers in advance and then inform the council afterwards. Council Martin says council had previously authorized line item transfers within departments without prior authorizations of amounts up to $20,000. Councilors Kennedy and Belanger say they’re OK with it so long as they are informed about it afterwards.

Flood Insurance Maps – FEMA Flood insurance maps have been finalized. The council really has no control over this so it’s just for informational purposes. It’s very important to people who are deemed to be within the flood zone because some of them may be required by their lenders to carry flood insurance which can be very expensive. Councilors asked that the city notify people within the flood zone of this situation.


Councilor Leahy asks to investigate the need for a stop sign at Monadnock and Raynor Streets.

Councilors Rourke and Belanger request a report on all financial institutions hold city funds. Rourke says we should be reviewing these periodically to ensure we’re getting best return on our investment. Belanger says this was raised in 2011 but isn’t sure what was done about it. Says local banks are major contributors to the community as lenders, donors and volunteers. He would like to know where the city money is. What banks is it in? He believes the majority of the money is not in local banks. What is the possibility of getting it transferred into local banks. (Ed. Note: I believe stuff like this has to be put out to bid but I could be wrong). He closes by saying he expects unanimous support on this motion. Councilor Samaras praises local banks. Councilor Leahy says it’s not always important to get an extra quarter percent interest if we can keep the money local. Councilor Kennedy asks that the report explain the rationale for current placement of moneys. Councilor Mercier says local banks always step up when money is needed so we should reciprocate with the city’s money.

Councilor Samaras motion that city manager report on lines painted on Andover St which are difficult to see at night and during inclement weather. There are many accidents on that road so he’d also like a report on those accidents and an assessment of how to make it safer.

Mayor Elliott and Councilor Martin motion requesting opportunity to report on status of Concord River Greenway (Ed. Note: this is a walkway running from Lawrence Street near Lowell Cemetery to the Lowell Memorial Auditorium along the east bank of the Concord River). Mayor Elliott says it’s an exciting project for which funds are available and the city has a role to play. They want to meet with the council’s parks subcommittee.

Mayor Elliott motion for report on process for obtaining final water meter readings. (Ed. Note: Multiple reports of incorrect water bills being followed up by outrageously high bills). City Manager Murphy says in 2-3 years water meters will be read remotely but in the meantime he’s putting an immediate stop to these extremely high bills and also launching an investigation into why this has happened. Several councilors (Mercier and Kennedy) directly critical of the head of the water department because this is not a new problem and it hasn’t been addressed. Kennedy adds that the water department over the past few years seems to be a chronic source of trouble and problems. Councilor Belanger says first we have to address the problem then we have to figure out what caused it. Councilor Martin says his critical comments last week may have started this movement but he says that throughout his career the water department, especially in its response to emergencies, has been excellent and we shouldn’t lose sight of that. The water service and quality is good but this type of administrative problems gives “all of us a black eye.” City Manager says he should have an interim report next week.

Motion to adjourn at 7:59 pm

One Response to City Council Meeting: May 27, 2014

  1. Chris says:

    Below is more information about the property at 48 Epping that recently won the award.

    For those that are interested in local history, this house was the original Catherwood Dairy; it started as a shed in the back yard. When Lowell annexed Wigginville from Tewksbury in 1905 the house was re-numbered from 12 Epping to 48 Epping; click here for an 1896 advertisment for R. Catherwood. Later the Catherwoods obtained the two lots next door and built the brick dairy most people remember.

    Robert Catherwood was also a Tewksbury selectman and managed the volunteers for the 1903 United States Cartridge Co magazine explosion in Wigginville. Here is a link to an interview with his six-year-old son, Alfred Catherwood (who would later run the dairy).

    For those that are interested in more information about the project, we used novel techniques in this deep energy retrofit and below are some links that give more detail.

    1) Green Building Advisor: Wrapping an Older House with Rock Wool Insulation

    2) This house was used as an example in a DOE pamphlet on vapor out wall assemblies

    3) Building Green: Can We Replace Foam Insulation

    4) High Profile: Deep Energy Retrofit With Exterior Rock Wool

    5) Green Building Commission 2014 Award Announcement with the a full write up about the Epping Street project here

    6) Energy Sage: Lowell Deep Energy Retrofit