Lowell City Council meeting: May 31, 2016

Moment of silence for M. Brendan Fleming, former mayor and city councilor, who passed away this week.

Vote to authorize City Manager to enter into a Master Development Agreement with WinnDevelopment Co LP of Boston for the Hamilton Canal District. City Manager Murphy explains that a critical element of the HCD is the construction of a 900 space parking garage behind Market Mills, however, until there’s a bridge over the Pawtucket Canal, you can’t reach Jackson Street from there. The proposed bridge will cost $2+ plus but the city is seeking a federal grant for the full amount. But, one of the requirements of that grant is that a Master Developer be in place. Murphy said that this agreement “isn’t as aggressive as I first wanted it to be” but says that is not a concern because of the effective job the city has done in marketing the various parcels. He says this is a good agreement for the city. The city retains approval authority of any construction. Parcel 1, which is next to the judicial center, has been removed from the Master Developer agreement (because a local developer has already expressed interest in building a mixed use building on that parcel. Councilor Belanger asks about past projects by Winn. City Manager Murphy explains Winn has mostly done residential developments in Lowell but also has done business development. He also reminds the council that the city has veto authority over any proposed buildings in the HCD. Belanger says he doesn’t think this is the ideal proposal but he understands that concessions need to be made to make some progress so he’s going to support this. Councilor Milinazzo commends the city manager for using this development to leverage the federal money for the bridge. He also reminds everyone that Winn has a long track record in Lowell and has been very supportive of the community in many ways. Councilors Samaras and Leary also express measured support for this. Councilor Elliott says ‘this is a good day for economic development in the city.” Praises the city manager for being patient and methodical on this. Council votes unanimously for the agreement.

Motion by Councilor Mercier to investigate mosquito control measures. Passes.

Public Hearings

Loan order to borrow $7mil for various capital improvements. Passes 9 to 0

Amend Ordinance to create a Finance Department, create a new position of Deputy Chief Financial Officer. Manager Murphy explains that it simply changes the title of an existing employee with no change in salary so it’s a revenue neutral move.

Rescind Enterprise Fund for the Lowell Memorial Auditorium. Passes 9 to 0

Amend Ordinance on “annual sewer use charge.” Council Elliott discloses that since he works for a related agency he will be voting present on this. Passes 8 to 0 with 1 “present”

Approval of FY17 City Budget. Councilors mention that a number of departments have had their appropriations cut. Councilors take turns questioning the city manager on various line items in the budget. There are concerns about cuts but they are addressed by the manager’s team or by relevant department heads. Council adopts budget as proposed by City Manager, 9 to 0.

Meeting adjourns at 8:45 pm.