City Council Preview: Oct 17, 2017

Mimi Parseghian shares a detailed look at what’s on the agenda for this Tuesday’s Lowell City Council meeting:

This week’s Lowell City Council Agenda posted on the City website.  It is usually posted on the Friday prior to the Tuesday evening meeting.  It not only contains the agenda but the background documents and reports.

The Council Motions: This week we have 7 motions.  They fall into the constituent assistance, request for update on an infrastructure project, and voting/election process explanation        and clarification.

“Councilor Jim Leahy – Request City Manager Have Proper Department Provide An Update Regarding Property At 29 Frothingham Street”. After searching the City’s web pages that carry minutes of all public meetings, I was not able to find reference to this property. So we will need to wait until Tuesday for an explanation of this request.

“Councilor Jim Leahy – Request City Manager Have The Traffic Engineer Address Safety Concerns Of Pedestrians Crossing In Front Of City Hall.” I drive by City Hall every day on my way home. I would suggest that pedestrians wait for the light to change in their favor prior to starting to cross the street.

“Councilor Jim Leahy and C. John Leary Request City Manager Have DPW Paint and Update Crosswalks in Front of Father Martin E. Norton Manor at 117 – 137 High Street.” This is the large elderly housing complex operated by LHA and located on High Street between East Merrimack and Chestnut Street in the Lower Belvedere section of the City.

“Councilor Rodney Elliott – Request City Manager Have Provide Update Regarding Progress at the Rourke Bridge.”  Timely motion since there has been some new activities regarding the time table for this temporary bridge to be replaced by a permanent one.

“Councilor Dan Rourke – Request City Manager Have Proper Department Install a Stop Sign at the Corner of Stromquist Avenue and Bowden Street.” These streets are located in the South Lowell area.

“Mayor Ed Kennedy – Request City Manager Provide a Report on Polling Locations and Discuss Confusion Regarding Polling Locations Prior to the Preliminary Election.” I am interested to understand the nature of the confusion.  I do not know if this was created by the Election Office or the voters did not know where to find information.  The Election and Census webpage on the City’s website is detailed and comprehensive.

Mayor Ed Kennedy – Request City Manager Secure the Current LTC Policy on Coverage of Forums and Candidates Nights for Municipal Elections.”  A timely motion.  Most voters cannot attend many of these public forms, so they rely on the programs that broadcasted on our local access television station. So it is essential that we understand the current policy.  Which forums are available taped and shown? Which ones are provided live? Who are the sponsors and more importantly who are the moderators.

City Manager (Administration) Responses:  This week, these reports are the heart of the agenda.

Drive for Puerto Rico: Answer to 10/3 motion by Councilor D. Rourke. Answered by Fire Chief Jeffrey J. Winward. Employees from the Fire Department, Police Department, Emergency Management, and Senior Center organized a donation drive which was held on October 10 – 12. The drive extended another week throughout the fire stations in the City.

Abandoned Steel Pole on Corner Campbell Dr. & Wedge St.: Answer motion of 9/26 by Councilor J. Leary. Answered by Public Works Commissioner, Thomas R. Belgrade. Determined that it was used by National Grid.  It was no longer needed and National Grid was contacted and they removed it.

Update Regarding 392 Princeton Blvd: Answer motion of 9/26 by Councilor R. Mercier. Answered by Public Works Commissioner, Thomas R. Belgrade. The Lands and Buildings Division of DPW has scheduled the construction of the wall.  Additionally, the Public Works Department has coordinating the grading and hydro-seeding of the property.

Speed Radar: Answer to 10/3 motion by Councilor B. Samaras. Answered by Superintendent of Police, William Taylor. The LPD has 2 speed display that are continuously utilized. The LPD has “incorporated partial payment of a message board into one of their recent traffic grant applications.”  In the near future, the LPD will review latest technology and products for speed display.

Turnout Gear: Answer motion of 10/10 by Councilor J. Leahey, answered by CFO Connor Baldwin. I would suggest that you read the one page report that is accessible through the link. The City has attempted to identify funds to bring the LFD gear to acceptable status.  FY 2016, $110,000 ; FY 2017, $20,00 and FY 2018, $50,000.  The $128,000 authorized by City Council for the matching grant that was not received was used to procure more gear. “While we will continue to aggressively pursue grant opportunities, the most effective way to consistently maintain suitable turnout gear remains for it to be built into the operating budget. By doing so, the City can budget sufficiently so that old gear is being rotated out and replaced with new gear on an annual basis. The previous investments made by the Council should put the City in a position to begin funding this rotation moving forward in subsequent fiscal years.”

Senior Transportation: Answer motion of Councilor R. Mercier, answered by CFO Connor Baldwin. The Senior Center needed assistance in providing seniors with vital transportation services. The Finance Team is working with the Senior Center to coordinate receipt of an LRTA Roadrunner bus and begin the process with DPW and HR of filling/relocating a full time custodian at the center so that the current staff can focus on transportation.

High School Fire Safety Concerns: Answer to 8/22 motion by Councilor B. Samaras. Answered by Fire Chief Jeffrey Winward. The Fire Chief reviewed the preliminary plans of the proposed new high school and gives a detailed (3 page report) on the various fire safety equipment that will be located in the new building.

Infrastructure Improvements and Field Replication: Answer to 10/10 motion by Councilors B. Samaras and J. Leahy which requested that “the City Manager provide an update regarding costs of all infrastructure improvements (ie. Water/Sewer upgrades); include the costs associated with the replication of all the open space areas pursuant to Article 97.“ The City Administration provided a 3 page report. In its cover letter to the City Council, City Manager Murphy writes “Attached, please find a motion response from Mark Young, LRWWU Executive Director and Nicolás H. Bosonetto, P.E., City Engineer (Interim) in regards to the above council motion request. This is a very complex issue and Mr. Young and Mr. Bosonetto will be present at the Council meeting to answer questions in more detail. Also, attached is a copy of a response by Tom Bellegarde, Assistant City Manager/DPW Commissioner outlining Article 97 replication costs.”

Both Dick and Gerry have provided detailed information on this response. Please check out their comments. I am looking forward to the Q & A and the instant analysis.

School Busing Study: Answer to 9/26 motion by Councilor R. Elliott, answered by City Manager Kevin Murphy. A meeting has been set up involving the Administration, the University and the School Department to discuss the possibility of conducting a study similar to the one MIT did for the Boston public schools.

Regulatory and Zoning Approval Answer to motions by Councilor J. Milinazzo to provide a comprehensive list of all regulatory and zoning approvals need to construct the high school at the Cawley site. The 1 ½ page response was written by Eric Slagle, Director of Development Services. The answer indicates every regulatory board and commission in the City of Lowell would be involved as some in Tewksbury and Chelmsford.

One Response to City Council Preview: Oct 17, 2017

  1. Paul Early says:

    When discussing busing costs to Cawley, has there been any discussion about the costs of busing students to Lowell Catholic High School and the charter schools? It is my understanding that the city will be on the hook for busing students to the charter and public schools for 9-12 grades if we bus 9-12 grades to Cawley. Title XII, Chapter 76 section 1 of the Massachusetts General Laws contains the following text:

    “Except as herein provided, pupils who attend approved private schools of elementary and high school grades shall be entitled to the same rights and privileges as to transportation to and from school as are provided by law for pupils of public schools and shall not be denied such transportation because their attendance is in a school which is conducted under religious auspices or includes religious instruction in its curriculum.”

    I am sure that once Collegiate and LCCPS add 9-12 students they will want them to be bused. I would also think that Lowell would need to bus to Middlesex Academy an to the Alternative school.

    Has this come up in any discussions?