Lowell City Council Meeting: February 7, 2017

Lowell High School

City Manager Murphy introduces a presentation on the new Lowell High School. He explains that there were ten options but that the state suggests reducing it to four. That happened this morning at the city’s school building committee. He cautions that these are still preliminary and that these four are recommendations. It is entirely up to the city council to select the four options to forward to the state for further investigation.

This morning, the school building committee voted to recommend to the council the full renovation; renovation option 2; renovation option 3 on an expanded site; and the new Cawley site.

Robert Bell, an architect from Perkins Eastman begins the presentation. (Goes through them all but the bottom four are the recommendations).

Full Renovation of existing buildings would be a five year project; it would include extensive use of modular classrooms and a temporary gym. Project cost $331mil. City share $116.

Option 2 – Same footprint of existing school. Freshman academy reverts to city. New freshman academy wing constructed. New Field house. 1980 and 1922 buildings renovated. 4 years. Few modulars. Temporary gym. Project cost $344mil. City share $135mil.

Option 3 – Renovate 1980 and 1922 buildings. Revert freshman academy to city. Take dentist office by eminent domain. New freshman academy wing. New fieldhouse. 4.5 years. Few modular. No temporary gym. Project cost $334mil. City share $126mil.

Cawley – All new 4-story building. 3 year construction. No modular. Project cost $332mil. City share $148mil.

Councilor Milinazzo quickly reviews the four options recommended.  Councilor Elliott moves to refer these four choices to a committee of the whole to meet on this at a later time after councilors have had a chance to review these options and to obtain additional public input. Manager Murphy says once the council decides on four options, there can be much more detailed planning to address issues such as how to continue educating the students during construction. Councilor Leary says the cutoff date to submit the recommendations is February 24, so the committee of the whole – which he agrees with – should meet next week. Councilor Rourke, who attended today’s session, asks about how the “educational objectives of the students” will be met. Architect says all of these options address both short and longterm education objectives. Councilor Leahy asks about the Cawley site and the boundary between Tewksbury and Lowell. CM Murphy says the building would be in Lowell but the parking would be in land in Tewksbury that is owned by Lowell. Leahy then asks about downtown and eminent domain and its effect on timeline. Murphy says you take the property by eminent domain right away but the court process to determine the value happens afterwards. Motion passes.


By Sue Kim, requesting city council explore adopting a “trust ordinance” for Lowell. She goes through some of Lowell’s history helping refugees, from the underground railroad up until today. She says Police Chief Taylor has stated publicly that the police department wishes closer relations with immigrant populations and would prefer not being responsible for enforcing federal immigration law. Next speaker is Carlos Gabriel, a student at UMass Lowell, supports the petition. Next speaker is Judith Durant. She encourages the council to pass a trust act in Lowell. Kamara Kay opposes this measure. Says it is Un-American. Says he knows that because he was once a refugee. He says people in the United States should not fear police officers. Joseph Boyle says he supports community policing in Lowell which is now under threat. He recalls how several decades ago, the Lowell Police had vision to impose community policy to create greater bonds with all city residents. He says it worked. That Lowell’s crime rate plummeted. Says changes to federal immigration policy now threatens that. Says Lowell should not be bullied into abandoning its relationship with all the communities that make up the city. Urges councilors not to sell out the immigrant communities in the city and to not abandon community policing. George Koumanzelis says he hasn’t read the petition but says it is dangerous. He says he understands why “wetbacks” come here from South America and Mexico and he doesn’t have any problem with that. But he says because of his Greek Orthodox background he has a problem with Muslims coming here. He says he’s warning “every single one of you” about “these people.” He says he is not ashamed to call himself a Christian and then reads a passage from the bible.

Councilor Elliott moves to refer the petition to the city manager for a report and recommendation. Councilor Milinazzo says he has great faith that the city is already doing this, but he would not support an official sanctuary or trust city designation. He says Lowell is a welcoming city. Councilor Mercier supports the motion but wants to speak on the petition. She says her ancestors were immigrants and she has no problem with them. There’s not a flag raising ceremony that she does not support. But I have a problem with the word “illegal alien.” Says “illegal is illegal.” She says she has never received a phone call from someone who is afraid to report a crime. She said Lowell is already a sanctuary city because the police don’t ask for green cards. Says this trust ordinance is a solution in search of a problem. She criticizes the petitioner (a UMass Lowell professor) for not coming to the defense of the Perkins Park residents who were nervous and scared when UMass Lowell bought their building. Councilor Samaras says he cannot support this motion for many reasons. He supports the concept of this. But he can’t support it because it would polarize the city. It forces people to take sides. Mayor Kennedy says that the city council has a long standing policy on not taking a stance on national issues because no one really cares about the position of the council. Motion (to refer to city manager for a report) passes.

Petition to Reverse Personnel Decision on Police Officer Pender – Valdimar Saldana presents the petition asking city manager to reconsider the decision. Lisa Arnold speaks in favor of the petition. Harrison Ingram speaks next in support of the petition. Aurora Erikson says this decision makes her feel less safe and less likely to call the police.



Councilor Mercier, request city manager convene a public forum, when all the facts are in, concerning Lowell High School, so that the public can express its thoughts and concern before a vote is taken. CC Mercier says the public needs to have an opportunity to be heard. She would like it to be a special meeting of the council with that as the only issue. Would also like it to televised. Passes.


Councilors Leahy and Milinazzo, request city manager have traffic engineer explore feasibility of placing a 4-way stop sign at the intersection of Trull Lane and Trull Lane East and West. Passes.


Councilor Elliott, request city manager and city auditor provide a report on the status of “free cash” for FY17. Passes.


Councilor Elliott, request city council discuss process for permit approvals for road races, festivals, and block parties, when using city streets and facilities. Explains he’s mostly interested in sharing news of events with others in the city.


Meeting adjourns at 8:34 pm.

4 Responses to Lowell City Council Meeting: February 7, 2017

  1. Paige says:

    “Councilor Milinazzo says he has great faith that the city is already doing this, but he would not support an official sanctuary or trust city designation.”

    “She said Lowell is already a sanctuary city because the police don’t ask for green cards.”

    If Lowell is already a sanctuary city, then why not make it official?

  2. David Maine says:

    If a person is arrested for a crime in Lowell and it is found that this criminal is not in this country legally would this trust ordinance prohibit the Lowell police from contacting ICE? (federal immigration) Do we want to release criminals back onto our streets?

    Does anyone know of a person deported as a result of him or her reporting a crime?

    Do we wish to make it official that we no longer need federal funding in Lowell?

    Do we want to tell our police officers not to enforce some federal laws? Should we give them a list of which laws to enforce and which not to enforce? I think we should let them do their job.

  3. joe from Lowell says:

    David, when American citizens are arrested for crimes, are they “released back on our streets?” Or are they “released” into the Billerica House of Corrections?

    Where do people get this idea that not deporting someone means they are immune to criminal prosecution?

    Perhaps before you presume to speak for the Lowell police, you should speak to them. Chief Taylor was quite clear in his comments about the threat to community policing relationships that immigration enforcement actions provide. That’s why the Lowell police, left alone to do their jobs, have already implemented a policy under which don’t collect data about immigration status; because they have no interest in being Donald Teump’s Immigration Gestapo.

    Because, you see, they understand that doing their jobs means keeping us safe through a community policing strategy that builds trust. As opposed to the job you wish them to do instead, which is the job of federal immigration agents. Well, our police are not federal immigration agents.

    Yes, David, we want the LPD to continue not enforcing certain federal immigration laws, as they have been doing for years. Other federal laws they don’t enforce include the Clean Air Act. Tell me, shall LPD officers start taking measurements from the vents of local industrial employers to see if their NOx levels exceed EPA standards?

    Let them do their jobs, indeed. THEIR jobs.

  4. Paige says:

    Do we want to keep criminals on the streets without even being aware of them because undocumented immigrants are afraid of calling the police?

    Do most people who read this blog know a lot of undocumented immigrants? I know of a whole family that was deported because their son misbehaved at his middle school.

    Do we wish to put money before morality?

    Do we want our police officers to enforce immoral laws?