Lowell City Council Meeting: August 25, 2015

Public Hearing on $2mil loan order for Lowell High feasibility study. A city resident, a Mr. Hebert, speaks in support. School Committee member Steve Gendron speaks in favor. Explains that this feasibility study is a pre-condition to qualifying for state funding. Without it, the city will not qualify for any state funding. He says he hopes the study looks at more than one location. Also says that if we don’t do this study, Lowell will lose its place in the state funding line for up to ten years. Reminds the council that their predecessors in the early 1990s voted for a loan order for 13 new schools and asks everyone to imagine what the city would be like today if that council had not taken that step. Brian Martin, headmaster of Lowell High, speaks in favor. Says this will be the largest public project in Lowell’s history. Says LHS is the anchor of the community. It links K-8 education to higher ed. High School students are great; they deserve the best facilities. LHS is a great school but it can be better. No one speaks in opposition. Councilor Mercier moves approval. Councilor Samaras says he echoes remarks of Gendron and Martin. Councilor Belanger asks about a “best use of land study.” City Manager says he has asked two entities to submit proposals to do that. Mayor reminds everyone that 80% of the cost of this study will be reimbursed by the state if we are successful. Passes unanimously.

Extended discussion of double (telephone) poles (check out the LTC replay if it’s a topic of interest to you).

Motion Responses – Regarding cable service, several councilors commend City Manager for attempting to bring in another cable company (Verizon) to compete with Comcast. The effort was nevertheless unsuccessful. Councilor Martin urges his colleagues to revisit the idea of the city establishing its own wireless service within the city.

Subcommittees – October 6, 2015 at 5:30 am there will be a meeting of the Transportation Subcommittee for a presentation on the Lord Overpass renovations.

Motion by Councilor Samaras that City Manager meet with state house delegation to pursue a replacement for the Rourke Bridge.

Motion by Councilor Belanger for an update on hiring of a new Health Department Director. Manager Murphy says city advertised and received resumes and has now convened an interview panel which includes people with background in public health and in abuse treatment. Says the interim director is doing a fine job in the meantime.

Motion by Councilor Belanger to explore possibility of including a hotel as part of the Hamilton Canal RFQ. Says this slipped through the cracks when this was last discussed. Says “we all know that Lowell needs a hotel.” Says studies have found that a hotel would have a difficult time making it in Lowell but says things are improving and sometimes you have to take a gamble.

Motion by Councilor Belanger that a recent opiate related death report be referred to the opiate abuse subcommittee of the council.

Council adjourns at 9:09pm.