Lowell City Council Meeting: October 24, 2017
Mayor’s Business: Letter from School Superintendent that the public schools would have multiple uses for the existing LHS 1922 building and would not deem it to be surplus should the high school move to the Cawley site. Communication placed on file.
Motion taken out of order:
Samaras – Req. City Council send letter of support to the Lowell Community Health Center regarding their request to Congress to pass the “Community Health Investment, Modernization and Excellence Act 2017” (CHIME). Registered speaker: Sue Levine, CEO of Lowell Community Health Center. After giving some background on the center and all the ways that it serves the residents of Lowell, she urges the council to send letters to Congress to support the renewal of CHIME which accounts for 10 percent of the health center’s entire funding.
Communications from City Manager
Lord Overpass Update: Thorndike St widening from Connector to Gallagher Terminal. Design done, construction will start soon. Work to be done by next summer. Lord Overpass itself is 25% designed. Will go out to bid next summer, then 2.5 years of construction. There will be a public meeting on November 13, 2017 at 6pm at the Pollard Memorial Library for public input.
Lowell High School Ancillary Costs: Councilor Milinazzo says these amount to $11 million beyond the cost of construction. Councilor Leary doubts the need for sidewalks; urges colleagues to visit Lawrence and Brockton to see their high schools and how they sit in neighborhoods. Councilor Belanger asks Mark Young of Sewer Treatment if the $5million expense for sewerage upgrades need to be done regardless of the high school. Ask the manager where the funding for this will come from? Conor Baldwin says it would have to be bonded and the repayment will come from the sewer and water enterprise funds. He urges the city manager to get moving on getting it done. Councilor Leahy asks how long this has been an issue? Mark Young said about 20 years.
Related motion taken out of order:
Milinazzo – Req. City Mgr. prepare a detail list of all estimated costs associated with both high school locations and the direct impact to the taxpayer including soft costs, construction costs, and ancillary or related costs i.e. Article 97, water and sewer upgrades, transportation and pedestrian improvements, potential eminent domain costs, and busing costs, etc.
There is some discussion about the timeline of this process. The city is still in the site selection process. Once that is approved by the MSBA, the city would move into the design phase. The MEPA (state environmental review) would only begin once you’ve entered the design phase. The MEPA study will take about a year. However, if the high school stays downtown, there would be no need to do the MEPA study. After some back and forth between councilors, Mayor Kennedy observes that one of the biggest problems with this matter is the large amount of misinformation that has been repeatedly put forward.
A number of public hearings on poles, reappointments to city boards, licenses and easements were all rapidly allowed with the necessary roll call votes by the council. (See agenda for particulars of each).
One notable vote involved entering into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Boston Surface Railroad Company, Inc. to participate in the extension of rail service into Nashua. A representative of the railroad is present to answer any questions. Council approves.
Proposed zoning changes referred to Planning Board for report and recommendation. Also scheduled for a public hearing on December 5, 2017.
Report of Economic Development Subcommittee. Report by Chair Councilor Samaras. Says at the meeting City Manager briefed the committee on Hamilton Canal District. Said the judicial center is on track to open in September 2019. He feels the Lupoli/Heller high rise building concept is progressing. Covered plans for other projects in Hamilton Canal. Continued with a sweeping review of past and ongoing projects in downtown and in some neighborhoods. Then talked about a new state program, the Transformative District Initiative, which will give the city access to expert planners who would work for the city for a three year period but who would be paid by the state.
Samaras – Req. City Mgr. initiate an application to the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund through the Mass Cultural Council and Mass Development to enhance the presence of public art and lighting in the City and to expand these efforts into the City’s neighborhoods for the coming year.
Leary – Req. City Mgr. provide a report regarding DPW usage of chemical application when treating the road before, during and after storms; report should include the costs associated with implementation and recommendations for saving costs. Manager Murphy says he will have DPW Director appear at a future meeting to brief the councilors on plans for handling the upcoming winter.
Leary – Req. City Mgr. provide a report regarding the number of contractors used to treat roads before, during and after storms; report to include use of GPS/GIS technology, the amount of product each contractor vehicle applies on the roads, the costs associated with the implementation recommendations for saving costs.
Leary – Req. City Mgr. provide an update regarding the discussions with Circle Health (“Lowell General Hospital”) as it relates to reaching a PILOT agreement with the City of Lowell.
Leary – Req. City Mgr. review the feasibility of changing the direction of traffic over the Howe, Ouellette and Rourke Bridges; one-way during peak driving periods, in an effort to determine if this could improve traffic congestion.
Councilors cancel next week’s City Council meeting because of light agenda (and because of Halloween).
Councilor Elliott asks that roles be suspended so he can speak on the matter of the 7-year old boy who was killed by two dogs this weekend. Asks City Manager to inform public what’s been done. City Manager says he’s reached out to the family, that the city is making a burial lot available to the family, and Morse-Bayliss Funeral Home is providing the funeral service at no cost. Councilor Elliott then makes a motion asking what tools the city has to address dangerous dogs in light of the state legislature’s action in prohibiting local ordinances that banned specific breeds of dogs. Referred to the City Manager.
Meeting adjourns at 8:35 pm.
One Response to Lowell City Council Meeting: October 24, 2017
Thank you for posting the meeting synopsis. Especially the November 13 meeting on the Lord Overpass at the library.