Resolution: City of Lowell supports the National Park Service. Passes unanimously.
City Auditor: Report on FY17 budget, year-to-date. Several questions about workers comp payments which are significantly reduced. Councilors congratulate Law Department for progress in this area.
LTC Presentation: By Wendy Blom, Executive Director of Lowell Telecommunications. Says the council should be proud of the local cable organization which is one of the most-used in the state. She says technology is very important, and the entire LTC studio has hi-definition cameras (however, Comcast won’t carry hi-def on its cable). She says a big challenge is the trend away from traditional TV and towards “cable cutting.” Councilors ask questions about viewership (Comcast doesn’t share ratings) and the whereabouts of the government channel (99, not a lower number).
Opioid Epidemic response presentation: City recently received $1mil+ in federal grants. Much of the money will be used for a “co-op program” which consists of a three person team (fire fighter, police officer, and public health worker) who seek out the addicted and the homeless. This team is already in place but this money will be able to expand it. Jeanine Durkin from school department gives and update on school curriculum and other programs on opioid awareness. Under questioning by councilors on enforcement, Supt Taylor said at a recent DEA seminar he attended, he viewed a map supplied by the Mexican police that showed major heroin routes out of Mexico leading directly to Massachusetts. He called our situation a “public health and public safety crisis” and that we are “ground zero” of this.
Motion: Councilor Elliott: Request city manager meet with Roberto Clemente Little League regarding use of fields. Says the league doesn’t have its own field but has to move around from place to place. People from the league are trying to get a baseball field of their own, and then bring the Roberto Clemente name to that park. Keith Rudy from the Acre Youth Organization says he believes they have a field for them to play on and can also help them with equipment and other things. Councilor Mercier asks that this be referred to the parks subcommittee. She says the Cambodian people want Clemente Field to be renamed Pailin Park, so they might be able to negotiate a compromise that satisfies everyone.
Councilor Rourke: Request city manager have proper department install new lights at South Common. Councilor Rourke says that whole neighborhood will be transformed over the next few years, so now is the time to start working on the South Common. Five people are registered to speak. John McDonough asks councilors to drive by at night and see how dark it is at night. During the day, it becomes a “melting pot of Lowell.” After dark, “it’s a scary place.” Paul Marion says he walks his dog on the common every day; is pleased with this motion. He’s been involved in a community effort to get the South Common back to a first-class status. Thanks city and state leadership for some of the upgrades that are already in the pipeline. Says adding lights will make it more usable which is a good thing. It has great history and has even greater potential. This is the right time to bring South Common back as one of the premier parks in the city. Ted Rurak says this will be a prudent investment that will benefit the children of Lowell. Says arts and athletics are two important components to the education of young people and this will help with that. Keith Rudy says this is a good idea; we should also remove the people who sleep overnight in the park and return it to the children and the neighbors. Says lacrosse and soccer are anxious to have playing fields as are baseball and football teams. Marty Tighe is involved in Lowell Junior Football and thinks this would be a great opportunity for young people interested in sports. Councilor Belanger asks to amend the motion to send it to Parks Subcommittee to perhaps find funding for artificial turf for the field in addition to the lights.
Unfinished business: Amend zoning, north side of Industrial Ave (River Meadow Brook Trail/Gervais Auto Group issue). Manager Murphy says owners of Cross Point wants to extend the bike trail from the Freeman Trail to Industrial Ave. He says that AVCarb is now speaking with its board of directors about them granting an easement. He says there are some other possibilities, too. He says he’s “hopeful and confident” that city will be able to make the trail a reality. Zoning change passes unanimously.
Victor Cote dedication – will be done in the spring.
Diversity Council – Councilor Samaras moves that the council create a Diversity Subcommittee. Passes unanimously.
4-way stop at Oak and Fort Hill Ave – does not meet criteria for 4-way stop.
Blocking Intersections – increased enforcement at Wood and Middlesex and a couple of other intersections near river bridges where this occurs most often.
Senior Center Crosswalk – new lights have been installed
No comments on Moody Street Fence, Yard Waste Extension, Collegiate Charter, and Perry St Parking.
Minimum Residential Factor – Public hearing on December 13, 2016.
Reappoint Paul Francoeur to Cemetery Commission. Appoint Killian Minch to Sustainability Council.
Appoint James J. Gaffney III to Veterans Commission. Appoint Beth Brassel and Sheila Hegarty to Disability Commission. All approved.
Votes from City Manager – Accept gift of $7500 from Digital Federal Credit Union for Pollard Memorial Library; Transfer $48,800 for repair and maintenance of jail areas in police station. Both approved.
Councilor Leary: Request city manager discuss parking challenges with UMass Lowell regarding student parking on Livingston Ave and neighboring streets. Councilor Mercier says this is like the Perry St issue she raised a few weeks ago where a development made some assurances in order to get their projects approved, but once it’s approved and built they forget about these commitments and the neighborhood pays the price. She doesn’t think it’s fair to burden the neighbors further by requiring them to get resident parking permits. Manager Murphy suggests that the city might make Livingston St No Parking during the day and then give out tickets. He feels the students who are parking there will soon get the message.
Councilors Leary and Samaras: Request city manager review 2008 Master Plan to ascertain if portions of the plan should be brought back to the community for possible changes. Councilor Samaras says this mostly refers to the 2008 Hamilton Canal plan, so he would like it to be reviewed and updated to account for changed circumstances.
(following motions passed without discussion unless otherwise indicated) Councilor Samaras: Request city manager have proper department create a process for downtown residents to have access to parking during city festivals.
Councilor Samaras: Request city manager have proper department improve lighting at rear entrances of Leo Roy (Market St) Parking Garage and to ensure that gates on the rear walkway are closed at night. Explains this (and the next motion) were concerns expressed at the Downtown Neighborhood Association meeting).
Councilor Samaras: Request city manager update council on land swap with National Park related to Hamilton Canal District parking garage
Councilor Elliott: Request city manager provide report on results of testing of water pipes in Lowell Public Schools.
Councilor Rourke: Request city manager inform council of Lowell’s Active Shooter Response protocol including role of School, Police, Fire Departments, and EMS, Ambulance, and Lowell General Hospital.
Councilor Belanger: Request city manager have traffic engineer establish 15 minute parking at corner of Branch and Queen Streets. Explains that this is the site of the deadly Branch Street fire. It has been reconstructed without any residential units. Owner of the business is now asking for 15 minute parking.
Mayor Kennedy: Request city manager and DPD plan a special event in conjunction with the Mayor’s Office and City Council to showcase the Hamilton Canal Innovation District. Invitees should include representatives of Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, regional CEOs, trade agency CEOs, health care, life science, and higher education executives, and other appropriate life science trade groups. Mayor Kennedy says intent of this motion is to bring more attention to HCD. Says people in Lowell are aware of it but doesn’t believe people outside of Lowell are aware of it. Says we have one shot to do this, so it should be thoughtful and done right. Motion passes.
Under suspension of rules, Motion by Councilor Leahy to organize a walk-through of city schools for city councilors. Motion passes.
Meeting adjourns at 9 p.m.