City Council Preview: January 23, 2018

Mimi Parseghian previews tomorrow night’s Lowell City Council meeting:

This week’s City Council Agenda is extensive as City Councilors are introducing motions in reaction to current situations and others which reflect issues that individual Councilors want to advance.

First item of major interest is a General Public Hearing for a “Loan Order-Additional Bridge Repairs.”  The City is taking control of the bridges that span the canals in Lowell.  The City received a TIGER Grant (Transportation Department discretionary grant to improve infrastructure) in the amount of $13,389,750.  The City will need to appropriate $3,600,000 towards funds needed to complete the project.

There are six responses under the City Manager’s Motion Response item.

Motion Responses

A) LHS Feasibility Cost : Motion (1/2/17) by C. Rodney Elliott “Request City Manager provide a report on the expenditures to date regarding the feasibility study on Lowell High School and the amount reimbursed to the City from the MSBA.” Response: About $97,735 remains of the $2,000,000 budget for this expense; the City has received $684,892 refund from the State with a potential $399,731 reimbursement.

B) LTC : Motion (10/17/17) by M. Ed Kennedy “Request City Manager to secure the current LTC policy on coverage of forums and candidates nights for municipal elections.” I distinctly remember this motion. The former Mayor was upset that a candidate forum took place and LTC was not there to cover it.

I have an issue with the Administration’s response to this motion. The contract between the Lowell Communications Corporation and the City requires coverage of all municipal meetings (City Council, School Committee, Boards and Commissions) which all take place in Council chambers where the cameras and production studio are located. The response goes on to explain that the city may also request up to 20 hours of “ancillary programming“ from LTC for a charge of $145,000.  “It is the city’s position that candidate nights would fall within the category of ancillary programing under the contract and should have been covered by LTC, upon request (my emphasis).” In the City’s response, I cannot find the request.  Did LTC receive it?  Did they ignore it?  Did they respond?

This past fall, LTC had quite a few programs that pertained to the election, including debates and candidate speeches.

C) Laotian Monument : Motion (1/2/18) by C. Rita Mercier “Request City Manager Allow People of Laotian Descent to acquire a site at the JFK Plaza to construct their monument.” Staff members of the Department of Planning and Development met with members of the community and selected the area where the monument will be built. The community will start the fund raising and design process.  The Laotian monument will join other monuments erected in by some of Lowell’s various ethnic groups.

D) High Water Costs: Motion by C. John Leahy “Request City Manager Have Water Department Review Bills Regarding High Water Costs.” The Response was drafted by Mark Young, Executive Director of Lowell Regional Water Utility and its focus was on the Water Meter Replacement project and the accuracy of reading the amount of water being used.

E) Process of Appealing Unusually High Water and Sewer Bills : Motion by M. Ed Kennedy Requests the City Manager provide the City Council with a report regarding the process for appealing unusually high water and sewer bills.” If you receive a Water/Sewer invoice from the City which appears to be a bit off, if you do not like the initial response, there is a process that allows you to appeal and if you do not like that answer, you can appeal to another body.

F) Canal Bridge Update: Motion ( 1/16/18) by Councilor K. Cirillo Request City Manager direct the Department of Planning and Development to give the city an update regarding where we are in the process of the Canal Bridge’s bids which are due to be received on January 30th.” The lengthy response, prepared by the Department of Planning and Development reviewed the detailed history of the reconstruction/refurbishment of the canal bridges.

According to the information provided by the DPD, “…once the project has been awarded and the schedule of construction activities is finalized, the Department of Planning and Development will regularly maintain and update the project website with project schedules, details, and updates. “

There are a number of Board appointments as well as resignations. Also, the Administration is providing the City Council information on the Rourke Bridge, the Warming Centers set up during the cold spell, and notifying the Council that the City has received a SolSmart Gold Designation.

There are 9 Council motions this week:

  1. City Councilor Rita Mercier: “Request City Manager Review And Explore Other Parcels Of Land In The Downtown That May Be Available For The Extension Of Lowell High School.”
  2. City Councilor Rita Mercier: “Request City Council Name The Basketball Court At The Butler/Shaughnessy School On Gorham Street In Honor Of Lawrence M. Cavanaugh, Sr.”
  3. City Council Dave Conway : “Request City Manager Meet With Supt. Of Police, Supt. Of Schools And Other Interested Parties To Re-Establish The “Safety Task Force”.
  4. City Council Dave Conway : “Request City Manager Update The Council Regarding The Status Of The ‘Crime Stoppers Hotline’.”
  5. City Councilor Vesna Nuon: “Request City Manager Have City Solicitor Meet In An Executive Session With Council To Discuss All Current Or Potential Legal Action To Be Taken Against The City And Any Legal Challenges Anticipated By The Administration Against Any Entity.”
  6. City Councilor Vesna Nuon: “Request City Manager Have Appropriate Subcommittee Hold Meeting To Determine Methods On How To Best Protect Senior Residents From Being Victims Of Fraud; Said Meeting Should Include Interested Entities Such As Elderly Commission And The Massachusetts Attorney General Office.”
  7. City Councilor Ed Kennedy: “Request City Manager Consider Installing Water Detection Devices At Strategic Locations In All Municipal Buildings Throughout The City.”
  8. City Council Rodney Elliott “Request City Manager And Building Department Provide A Report Regarding All Abandoned Homes In The City.”
  9. Mayor Bill Samaras “Request City Council Establish Subcommittees To Address Any Issues Regarding Senior Citizens And Non-Profit Organizations In The City.”

I am particularly interested in number 5, number 8 and 9.

One Response to City Council Preview: January 23, 2018

  1. JoAnn says:

    There are a number of City Board and Commission meetings that LCC does not cover, including the Board of Health. I am not sure of the reason, perhaps it relates to staffing coverage.