Lowell City Council meeting: March 31, 2015

Several procedural votes allowing sidewalk seating for downtown restaurant, etc.

“Minor change to Acre plan” to incorporate Lord Overpass.  Craig Thomas from DPD explains that this is the existing Lord Overpass plan.  A small portion of it, the intersection at Fletcher Street, is within the boundaries of the existing Acre Plan as well as the JAM Plan (both are existing plans already certified by the state).  Thomas explains that this just puts the state on notice that both plans will be impacted somewhat by the Lord Overpass project.  Passes unanimously by voice vote.

Councilor Leahy gives report on Neighborhood Subcommittee meeting.  Discussion of reserved parking placards in neighborhoods, especially those that have expired.  Also talked about oversized trucks being illegally parked in neighborhood, also a number of cars with out of state license plates routinely parked in neighborhoods.

Public Hearing – amending Personnel Ordinance.  Among other things, this would shift the city to bi-weekly payroll which would save the city money however it can’t be implemented until all unions agree to it.  The CM says the school unions are refusing to agree to this but the city will continue negotiating.  There are also adjustments to sick time, capping sick time buy back for new hires.  It also makes the day after Thanksgiving a holiday for city employees.  Passes unanimously.

Corey Robinson, president of Local 1705 has petitioned to address the council.  CM Murphy explains that the union has filed a grievance on the issue of the assignment of overtime.  They met last week and agreed to try to resolve this through negotiations.  Says it’s a pending grievance and that any public comment on it at this point would be out of order and asks that it the administration be allowed to negotiate in the normal course of procedure and not at a public hearing.  City Solicitor corroborates that and says they are meeting with the union’s attorney yesterday.  The union rep says he doesn’t intend to speak about the details of the grievance.  He begins by saying the union members were congratulated in the council chambers last Tuesday and the next day “we were stabbed in the back.”  The mayor cuts him off and asks for a motion to delay this until after the litigation is resolved.  (Someone in the crowd keeps shouting from the floor and the mayor silences his).  Mr. Robinson says he isn’t meeting with anyone tomorrow.  Council votes to delay.

Motion by CC Mercier to study possibility of a delayed red light or a left turn signal onto French St from Bridge Street (especially to assist people going to Lowell High). Passes.

Motion by CC Belanger and Samaras asking CM to meet with UMass Lowell to investigate the process for selling naming rights for city buildings, especially school buildings.  CC Belanger mentions the possibility of a new high school and refers to a city solicitor report that said it was legal.  He says he’s looking for ways to minimize the bill that will be paid by the taxpayers for a new high school.  CC Samaras says he is interested not only in naming buildings, but also for possible sponsors of programs in science or the arts.  He says UMass Lowell has done a wonderful job of this and would like to learn how they did it.

Mayor asks for suspension of the rules to discuss new information that arose yesterday at a meeting at Lowell General Hospital.  CC Mercier talks about a proposal to increase the number of beds at the Tewksbury State Hospital for addiction treatment.  Suggests the council pass a resolution in favor of this expansion.    Chief Taylor endorses the council endorses this.  Says everyday on average the city responds to 2 opioid overdoses but there’s a lack of facilities that provide follow up treatment.

Meeting adjourns at 7:29pm