City Council Preview: Nov 21, 2017 meeting

Mimi Parseghian looks at the agenda for this coming Tuesday’s Lowell City Council meeting, which begins at 6:30 pm and will be televised live on LTC channel 99 and streamed live on LTC’s website. And if you can’t attend the meeting in person, or watch it live, check back here tomorrow night right after the meeting when I’ll post my City Council meeting notes. From Mimi . . .

This week’s City Council’s agenda is light on Council motions but heavy on Administration answers to motions.

Motion Responses from the Administration to City Council Motion:

Route 38 Improvements Along Kittredge Park: Bids for the MassDot $4.5 million project will be advertised in June 2018. So far the design plans have been finalized. They include the widening of Nesmith St. from Andover to East Merrimack Streets; and traffic signal improvement to a number of intersection on 38.  The City is responsible for the Right of Way acquisitions.

Chemical Road Treatments and Costs: The City “continues to research the latest technology to pre-treat roads as a cost savings measure. However, the utilization of liquid materials and chemicals require significant capital investment to provide questionable return on investment.” As far as costs are concerned, here are the expenses of Salt for the past few years: $1.1M in FY17; $400k in FY16; $750k in FY15, and $720k in FY14.

Snow Plow Contractors: This was a motion by CC Jim Leary which required the City Manager to Provide a Report Regarding The Number Of Contractors Used To Treat Roads Before, During And After Storms; Report Should Include Use Of GPS/GIS Technology, The Amount Of Product Each Contractor Vehicle Applies On The Roads, The Costs Associated With The Implementation And Recommendations For Saving Costs. I am not sure if the one-page reply answers all of Councilor Leary’s questions but the City’s snow/sanding contractor [nearly 100] costs over the past few years were $1.4M in FY17, $650k in FY16, $2.3M in FY15, $775k in FY14 and $1.2M in FY13.

One-way Traffic on Howe, Ouellette and Rourke Bridges During Peak Hours: This motion received a direct and complete answer: “Alternating traffic directions on the Howe, Ouellette, and Rourke Bridges would entail significant logistical and financial costs while not alleviating traffic congestion and it is therefore not recommended.”

Stop Sign at Intersection of Liberty and Smith Streets: This motion, just like the previous had a unambiguous answer: “In response to a petition in May of this year it was determined that the intersection of Powell Street and Liberty Street was a much more dangerous intersection and had a higher volume of traffic than the intersection of Liberty Street and Smith Streets… In order to resolve the traffic safety issues while maintaining traffic flow, the Transportation Engineer installed a four-way stop sign at Powell Street and Liberty Street intersection and removed them from the Smith Street intersection since it was not warranted.”

Needle Pick-up Update: The Administration is currently in discussion with the City’s laborers’ unions to “formally adopt a needle pick up program.” DPD has already “purchased the ‘response kits’ with the relevant and necessary equipment to be used for the safety pick up and dispose of needles found while performing [their] tasks… The responsive team will include representatives from Inspectional Services, Solid Waste & Recycling, and Trinity Ambulance, who currently handle needle calls.”

318 Andover Street (Status): “This past week, the Street Division of the DPW dispatched a crew to clean the lot… Costs incurred as part of the cleanup were forwarded to be attached to the lien on the property.”

Mass DOT VFW Highway Project Soil Contamination Delay: The replacement of the bridges that carry the VFW Highway over Beaver brook will be delayed for at least a year due to the discovery of contaminated soil. There is no danger to the community since the “impacted soil is not accessible and is currently protected by fences and locked gates.

Rourke Bridge Update: This response from the Administration was not for one motion but four passed by the City Council in the past few months. The City Manager provided the one-page reply from the State. The memorandum reiterated what we all knew and provided nothing new. The replacement of the bridge is considered a major infrastructure project that will require a commitment of state and federal funding.

There are two informational documents in this week information package.  One is from the Lowell Police Department.  It is the four-page August National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) report. Crime in August 2017 saw a 7% decrease compared to August 2016. Overall crime has decreased 28% since 2012.

The other report lists all of the member of Boards and Commissions and their current appointment status.

The only City Council motion is from City Councilor Rita Mercier: “Request City Manager to investigate whether UMass-Lowell would consider putting a University Police Officer at the Howe Bridge on the Pawtucket Street side to control traffic from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. while school is in session.”  As someone who gets caught once a week in that traffic, I am not sure what percentage are cars from the school and how much is caused by commuter traffic going through the City.

One Response to City Council Preview: Nov 21, 2017 meeting

  1. Brian says:

    If you look at these motions and listen to the callers who call into WCAP to talk to manager Murphy it’s apparent that 80% of our time and energy is spent on fixing congestion and parking issues.

    And if you pay attention to zoning and planning board meetings you’ll see the underlying basis for their existence is ensuring enough parking is built into every new development.

    If you build more parking more people drive. So the council and administration are against congestion but the boards are for jamming more cars in our city. A dog chasing its tail.

    The best way to stop this nonsense is twofold: 1. eliminate minimum parking requirements, starting with downtown. 2. make is easy to bike and walk downtown from the neighborhoods.

    But change is hard.