City Council Meeting: January 13, 2015

Mayor Elliott and Councilor Mercier are not present (they are visiting Cambodia).

Council discussing report on vacancy rates in downtown.  Acknowledge that there are challenges beyond the control of the city.  For example, the city found a tenant for a large retail space that is vacant but the building owner wants to sell the building and believes it will get a higher price if the space is vacant and so is not interested in obtaining a tenant right now.

Petition for 143 Merrimack (Bishop’s Legacy Restaurant) for an overhanging sign.  This will go into the La Boniche space.  Chuck Saba, the owner of the business, addresses the council.  The only reason he’s here is because of the persistence of Kevin Murphy.  Says he’s never seen a city so supportive of businesses.  Cites numerous individuals at City Hall as being very helpful.  His family owned Bishop’s in Lawrence for 52 years.  His grandmother opened the first Bishop’s on the ground floor of a tenement.  The final version sat 550 people, calls it a mega-restaurant.  Says in 2001 his uncles asked him to take over the restaurant (he was doing corporate work) and he said no because the age of the mega restaurant was over.  Now, to maintain the legacy of his grandmother, they’re opening this new restaurant using his grandmother’s original Eastern Mediterranean recipes.   There won’t be the enormous meat dishes of the final stage of the Lawrence Bishop’s, but he’s confident people will enjoy this very much.

Technology Subcommittee report by Councilor Martin. Most of meeting discussion was about alternate cable providers like Verizon for Comcast.  Says Comcast contract is up for renegotiation.  Federal law is slanted in favor of the cable provider so it’s not a true negotiation.  City doesn’t control rates or channels or content.  There is a potential for a fifth channel for local cable.

Motion by Councilors Samaras and Milinazzo to investigate whether Lowell Historic Board Meetings can be televised on LTC.  Richard Lockhart, chair of the Historic Board speaks on the motion.  Says the board wants to be more transparent and to interact more with the community and televising meetings will help do that.  Councilor Samaras commends Mr. Lockhart for his leadership on the board, both for the cause of historic preservation but also for their interest in promoting small businesses.

Meeting adjourns at 7:04pm

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