Lowell City Council Meeting: November 10, 2015

Vote authorizing City Manager to execute Massachusetts School Building Authority feasibility study agreement relative to Lowell High School.   CM Murphy explains that on November 18 at the MSBA meeting the city is expected to be “invited in” to the feasibility study process which is 3 months earlier than had been expected.

Subcommittee report from Education Partnership Subcommittee chaired by CC Samaras. Reports that earlier tonight UMass Lowell Chancellor Jackie Moloney met with the subcommittee to report on the economic impact of the University, its students, and staff on the city. $854 million annual impact on Greater Lowell by the University.

Regarding the City Auditor position, they have concluded the interviews and have decided to place on next week’s city council meeting agenda an item on the Auditor position. Councilor Leahy says he wasn’t impressed with the people who were interviewed so he’s hesitant to vote to hire someone next Tuesday. Mayor Elliott says that’s why it’s going on the meeting agenda; so the council can decide what to do (presumably hire one of those interviewed; open up the process again; or something else).

Attorney representing Verizon appears before the council for a license to put devices on telephone poles to “fill the gaps” in data coverage. He says the devices will be “no uglier than the transformers already on the poles.” CC Bill Martin says he doesn’t object to this license but he chastises Verizon for not offering Lowell residents Fios. Councilor Mercier jumps in to criticize Verizon for not offering Fios and for outsourcing the work to be done here to outside contractors rather than Verizon employees. (It seems this lawyer is representing the branch of Verizon that provides cell phone service and doesn’t know anything about the high speed internet and cable service – Fios – that the councilors are asking about). The council votes to refer this to the city manager for further information. Councilor Samaras explains to the lawyer that many of the council’s constituents want Verizon cable service but that Verizon has shunned the city’s request. Now when Verizon wants something from the city, the council is treating Verizon the way it has treated the city. Councilor Leahy criticizes Verizon for not addressing double poles.

CC Milinzazzo motion to check the placement of a no parking sign at 486 Stevens St

CC Milinazzo motion to “restripe” the Lord Overpass. Mentions our Lord Overpass Walk on October 31. He says it was clear that the cross walk striping had faded away and he’d like it redone.

CC Kennedy asks for street light near 34 Jacques St.

CC Samaras & CC Kennedy ask for report on deployment of police coverage across the city. Kennedy says some residents feel that they don’t have any coverage. Samaras says residents from Back Central called after a shooting this past week. Says police department has been very responsive to neighborhoods but he’d like residents to have an explanation of how the police are deployed throughout the city.

CC Rourke asks for pedestrian crosswalk on Varnum Ave at Elene St. Says there was one before but when sidewalks were replaced the crosswalk went away.

CC Leahy asks for update on status of Mark One company in South Lowell.

Mayor Elliott motion to begin discussion of charter change re number of candidates needed to require a preliminary election. Explains that this year the preliminary election cast $75,000 to eliminate just one candidate. Says he only wants to begin a discussion on this issue. He understands it’s a long process to change the charter. Says best route might be to send to Law Department for a report on the process of changing the charter and then have it return to the council for more discussion. Says there might be other issues like district councilors so that could be discussed too. Councilor Belanger says he’s not a fan of preliminary elections (jokingly says preliminary elections don’t like him either). Says perhaps the signature requirement should be increased. Councilor Kennedy says the first time he ran there were 34 candidates. Low voting today is not just a Lowell problem; it’s a problem in every community. Says some communities don’t even have enough candidates to fill available offices. He cautions the council that “once we go down this road you open a pandora’s box” saying there are two ways to change the charter: through home rule or a charter commission. Says once charter commission elected, it can do anything it wants. Says down the road there might be a proposal that no one likes just because we don’t like paying for a preliminary election to eliminate just one candidate. Asks that the law department give a full report on the process, a time table, options, etc. Mayor Elliott says perhaps one of the reason there is low participation is because it’s a “confusing process” especially for newcomers to the city (he’s referring to the relationship of the preliminary to the general election).

Council adjourns at 7:53pm.

One Response to Lowell City Council Meeting: November 10, 2015

  1. NancyP says:

    Thank you to Bill Martin for bringing up this issue! Verizon should take note and perhaps other communities will also hold Verizon’s feet to the fire. Thank you Councolrs Mercier, Samara’s, and Leahey.