Lowell City Council meeting: June 23, 2015

(transcribed on Thursday, June 25, 2015)

“Day Program” at Transitional Living Center

Director of Lowell Transitional Living Center (“the Shelter”) speaks to council about its day program which will begin in July.  In the past, residents of the shelter had to leave during the day and return at night to sleep which left many of them hanging around the streets of Lowell.  This will offer those individuals the opportunity to come into the shelter during the day and also to provide them with workshops and training.

Response to motion on foot passage across railroad tracks along Western Ave.  City Solicitor explains that the site of the crossing is at a bend in the track which makes it more dangerous than a normal crossing.  Says there’s not enough land to make it happen.  Councilor Leahy presses the issue.  Asks to take another look at it, saying it’s an important connection.  Doesn’t want to spend $3mil on a bridge but wants them to take another look at it.  Councilor Belanger recognizes importance of linking Western Ave to downtown but says we should explore using canal boats or water shuttles to connect Hamilton Canal with Western Ave.  Says it would be a nice feature.  Asks manager to reach out to National Park.  Manager says they will take another look at it.

Council authorizes license agreement with Jimmy John’s Sandwich Shop for outdoor seating on Merrimack Street.

Members of SEIU address the council on a labor issue (new company took over the maintenance contract and cut the pay of the workers).  They are on strike over these issues.  Now, a representative of the Teamsters speaks, saying the new company has a deal with the Teamsters to collectively bargain.  Says he believes this is SEIU misleading the employees as part of a power-grab by that union.  City Manager suggests referring it to the City Manager’s office to investigate if and investigate in to protect the city.

Motion by Councilor Leahy for a plan for street sign replacement throughout the city.  There is a process underway to replace damaged or faded signs.  The new signs have the city seal on them which makes them much more expensive than the older ones.  Council Martin asks about removing No Right on Red signs.  The Manager says they are working on a comprehensive review of several intersections in downtown which are hazardous for pedestrians to cross.

Motion by Councilor Leahy for a report on school repairs being done this summer.

Motion by Councilor Kennedy to repair handicap ramps, ladies rooms, and scoreboard at Alumni Field.

Motion by Councilor Milinazzo to streamline the permitting process for use of Alumni Field.

Motion by Councilor Belanger to have street department clean all gateways into the city prior to the Lowell Folk Festival.

Motion by Mayor Elliott for a report on status of Branch Street property (site of fatal fire last year).  Says members of the community asked about it and prompted him to file this.

Motion by Mayor Elliott for a ban on aerial drones over schools and playgrounds unless prior permission granted.  Says residents of South Lowell complained that a drone flying over children.  It could have been harmless or it could have been something else.  Says it is good technology when used properly but would like the administration to look into it before some type of incident occurs.  Wants to stay ahead of the technology.  Ask for a report and recommendation from city manager.

Mayor Elliott and the Council commend Marc Ducci of Lowell Telecommunications Corp who will be leaving after 12 years of, among other things, filming council and school committee meetings.  (He’s the new Executive Director of the Acton Cable TV station).

Council goes into Executive Session.

One Response to Lowell City Council meeting: June 23, 2015

  1. Brian says:

    I happened to catch 5 minutes of the meeting on re-run and it was about widening Nesmith St from Andover St to E Merrimack St. I now believe in fate!

    C Martin commented on motion response C that the short term solutions aren’t great but the long term solution is to widen the street to IMPROVE SAFETY! Let me say that again— IMPROVE SAFETY!


    It’s now common knowledge in the planning and engineering professions that widening roads to improve traffic flow actually decreases safety for both drivers and pedestrians. Drivers will feel more comfortable going faster and when the inevitable “accidents” do happen the results will be far worse than they are now. As in fatal.

    You can tell Nesmith st was widened already, probably in the 60’s, by looking at the “stairs to nowhere” connecting the street to Kittredge Park. Sidenote: I remember seeing Paul Tsongas planting flowers along that route at the park. Walking from Belvidere to DTL used to be commonplace and could be again if the corridor was actually redone for LEGITIMATE safety reasons.

    Cities across the country are actually narrowing roads(road diets) as an economic development and social equity tool that helps redefine neighborhoods. The economic capital of Belvidere could be unleashed upon DTL if folks felt safe walking or biking across Nesmith St. There’s no chance if the road is widened.

    Nicolás H. Bosonetto, the city’s traffic engineer, and Diane Traad of the DPD should know better than to advocate for this plan to MADOT. Incredible.