Lowell City Council meeting: September 8, 2015

Motion by Councilors Mercier and Samaras for the Council to pass a resolution in favor of the state divesting from fossil fuel companies. A number of speakers urge the council to support the divestment resolution. Councilor Mercier gives and impassioned speech urging the council to support this and warning of the dangers of climate change. Council Samaras echoes her sentiments. Councilor Kennedy amends the motion so that it specifies that it supports a bill actually pending before the state legislature. He says the reason for this is that just a general resolution in support of an important but general issue will just invite people who support other such issues to come before the council. His amendment will distinguish this vote from other general resolutions. Council Bill Martin opposes this. He says it is not the business of the council. The council has done things to make the city more energy efficient. He goes on to say that he doesn’t believe that this measure will do any good and that it is more of a “feel good” measure. He opposed this before and he continues to oppose it. Motion passes.

Motion by Mayor Elliott that the Council send a resolution to Verizon urging the company to bring high speed internet service to Lowell. Motion passes.

Municipal Lien Auction report. Councilors are pleased with the process for auctioning liens for non-payment of property taxes. The city has been doing this for four years now. Not only is there money realized from the sales, the threat of the sales has significantly increased the amount of back taxes that are being paid prior to the lien auction.

Public Safety Subcommittee Report by chair Dan Rourke. They discussed regionalization of 911 dispatch and received a presentation from the Northern Middlesex Council of Governments that emphasized the cost savings of the consolidated facility. City Manager Murphy testified and had questions about the cost and the management structure. Lowell Police and Fire chiefs had questions about the possible loss of control over how the dispatch center would operate. Subcommittee voted unanimously to recommend against joining the regional 911 center. Council votes unanimously to NOT join the regional 911 session.

The Public Safety Subcommittee also was given a presentation on the Lowell Police Department’s adoption of Tasers. They learned of policies on their use, how the Tasers work, the cost of them, and how they will be gradually deployed.

Councilor Mercier has a motion on how the city deals with unruly neighbors. This is the result of a several rental properties that have consistent issues, especially large parties with heavy drinking who have trashed the place. The out of town owners refuse to take any steps to curtail the nuisances caused by the tenants. Council Mercier wants the code inspectors and other city agencies to work together to use existing ordinances and rules to target these types of situations. City Manager urges people to use the city’s E-Gov online service which the city addresses every day.

Councilor Mercier motion for a report on events at Lowell Memorial Auditorium. Shares a story of a local restaurant owner saying this is his worst year every (doesn’t name the restaurant). Says he attributes the loss to “the auditorium” because no one attending shows at the auditorium goes there to eat. Councilor Belanger says the auditorium is not holding the number of events as was done under the former management team. He wants to amend the motion to include the Tsongas Center which is also managed by the same firm. Motion passes.

Councilor Samaras moves that the police chief give a report on the use of closed circuit cameras in various sections of the city for public safety purposes.

Motion by Councilor Leahy and Mayor Elliott to redesign the intersection of Gorham and Moore Streets.

Meeting adjourns at 9 pm.