City Council Preview: March 5, 2018

Mimi Parseghian previews tomorrow’s Lowell City Council meeting:

The Lowell City Council agenda for tomorrow night’s meeting might be the most extensive in quite a few months.  This may be due to a combination of City Manager Kevin Murphy’s ending his tenure in a month and a flurry of motions introduced by this City Council since they took office this January. My prediction about the length of the meeting assumes that the motion responses will generate some kind of discussion.  That is not always the case.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the Council will go into Executive Session to “Hear a Complaint Pursuant to Exemption (A)(1).”  I am not sure what this is about. I assume it is about real estate tax but I could be wrong.  If the City Council is going into Executive Session would this indicate it is a legal matter?  Perhaps there will be some explanation given at the meeting.

 Eminent Domain Issue:

The first order of business is to take up City Council E. Kennedy’s motion from last week “Require City Manager Instruct the Law Department to Begin Procedures and Preparation Necessary for the Eminent Domain Taking of 75 Arcand Drive.” At last week’s meeting it was decided to postpone the vote until this week; the Law Department had already begun to prepare a document outlining the procedure.

A 6-page report, prepared by Assistant City Solicitor Elliott Veloso is included in this week’s information packet.  Citing Massachusetts General Law, chapter and sections, this report outlines step-by-step what is required to undertake this eminent domain process.  If I read it correctly, it will take about 9 months to go through the process with the eminent vote taking place in June.

Motion Responses:

  1. Lowell Memorial Auditorium—CC K. Cirillo: Response prepared by CFO Conor Baldwin. The management contract is scheduled to expire this June.  The closing date for the RFP is March 13th and the City’s website contains all the bid documents for those who are interested.
  2. 2. Tanner Corridor Development/Lowell Car Wash —CC R. Mercier: Phase 1 of project will impact two properties: VFW building and the Lowell Car Wash. The City has entered into a purchase and sales agreement with the VFW. (That building had been for sale on-and-off for a while).  The City is meeting with the owners of the car wash on March 14th.  (Will I need to find a new place to get my car washed?)
  3. 3. Union Lowell, LLC Private Dormitory — CC V. Nuon: This is the proposal for the private dorm in the Acre at the location of the former offices of the Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union. The applicants submitted their revised proposal in January; had a preliminary public meeting with the Planning Board and another public hearing is scheduled for Monday the 5th. Councilor Nuon and Councilor Mercier spoke against the proposal at the February Hearing.  Councilor Cirillo’s opposing views were also read.
  4. Spring Cleaning Procedures — CC K. Cirillo: James Troup, DPW Deputy Director Administration and Finance, prepared a short but loaded with information report. Cleaning starts April 3rd. Each neighborhood receives two days of cleaning a month through November.  “Solid Waste and Recycling conducts a visual inspection of all City barrels to determine if any are in need of replacement due to damage caused by winter conditions and operations. Yard waste collections start back up each spring. The Parks and Cemeteries Division begin their spring workload as weather permits. This involves a visual inspection of all parks and cemeteries, an inventory of damage incurred over the winter, and a plan to prepare all Parks for the spring and summer seasons. Cemeteries gear up and point toward Memorial Day and Flag Day celebrations.”
  5. Cost Analysis Recycling Every Week  — CC K. Cirillo: The cost of changing the recycling schedule from every other week to every week is $823,500 annually. The budget to pick up and dispose of waste is $5.2 Million. Imagine what it would be if businesses and apartments/condominiums over 6 units had municipal waste collection?
  6. Greening Communities Program — CC R. Elliott: “The Department of Conservation and Recreation, Bureau of Forest Fire Control and Forestry Urban and Community Forestry crews, hired within local communities, plant trees in target neighborhoods to increase tree canopy cover for environmental and energy efficiency benefits. Lowell meets the criteria for participation in the Greening the Gateway Program as a Gateway City with Environmental Justice neighborhoods. Participating communities are not required to contribute matching funds to participate in the program but DCR staff indicated in-kind contributions do help strengthen the program. “At this time crews are working in several Gateway Cities, including two in close proximity to Lowell, Lawrence and Haverhill. Fiscal year 2019 budget numbers for the Greening the Gateway Program are being finalized at this time. DPD (Lowell’s Department of Planning and Development) and DCR staff have plans to reconnect once budget numbers have been finalized and there is more clarity about how many communities the program may be able to work with in the future.”
  1. Meters for Homeless — K. Cirillo: “Originally inspired by similar programs employed in the Los Angeles County area, the Use your Change for Change program envisioned a component where parking meters could be refurbished to act a donation station for local charities that deal with issues of homelessness.” The plan did not take into consideration the costs of refurbishing the meters and the process of selecting the charitable organizations that will receive the funds. Recommendation from the Administration: “have the Ad-hoc Panhandling Committee or Hunger-Homelessness Commission identify a recipient of the funds, and they draft language to solicit a corporate sponsor to receive a donation of parking meters from the City for their use and administration of a meters for homeless program: “have the Ad-hoc Panhandling Committee or Hunger-Homelessness Commission identify a recipient of the funds, and they draft language to solicit a corporate sponsor to receive a donation of parking meters from the City for their use and administration of a meters for homeless program”

Votes from the City Manager:

  1. Apply, Accept, Expend Grant from Mass. Division of Energy Resources Green Communities Division for $250,000.
  2. Vote to Authorize Manager to Execute License Agreement with Top Donut (2018 – 2021) City will allow Top Donut to use City land for limited parking.
  3. Vote to Authorize Manager to Execute License Agreement with Mark Van Der Hyde for a Public Art Project. “The City owns artistic images, Licensee desires to use the above referenced images in a public art project and donate any proceeds from their use to the City of Lowell for design education.” Here is the link to the agreement which includes the branding images; quite interesting.
  4. Vote to transfer $15,000 to fund appraisals for 75 Arcand Drive.
  5. Vote to transfer $36,000 to fund appraisals for Route 38 widening project.
  6. Vote to transfer $54,000 for additional expenses at Lowell Police Department.

Orders from the City Manager:

  1. Order for various 60 Day Trial (Temporary Traffic Regulations).
  2. Bond Sale Premium Application Order (To permit the application of sale premium received by the City in connection with the sale of its bonds or notes authorized to be issued, but not yet issued, as of the date hereof.)

Ordinances from the City Manager: Creating two positions, one in the Career Center and the other in the Police Department.

City Council Motions:  There must have been some activity this past week regarding seniors and parking rate.  There are 3 motions regarding this issue.

CC K. Cirillo – Request City Manager distribute to all condominium associations multiple copies of the parking rates to be given to residents who pay for garage parking. This is so each individual residence will be given a copy to make it clear to them what rate/senior discount rate they are responsible for. Also, direct the parking director to post the rates each parking garage in a very easily accessible viewing area.

CC K. Cirillo – Request City Manager provide a report for budgeted cost and implementation regarding these options for bicycle safety:  1. painting and upkeep of bicycle lanes throughout the City. 2. Bike lanes being segregated by a barrier for added safety.

CC K. Cirillo – Request City Manager provide a report Updating The City Council Regarding the Lowell complete streets policy enacted on August 11, 2015 and what goals for travel mode distribution, i.e. bicycle routes, have been developed and/or achieved in accordance with the policy within the stated incremental five year time period which will end on August 11, 2020.

CC R. Elliott – Request City Manager appoint a public safety personnel/security professional to the school building committee to ensure safety issues are addressed at High School.

CC R. Elliott /CC V. Nuon – Request Board of Parks consider re-naming Clemente Park to Palin Park and ensure stone is re-located to the new Roberto Clemente Field at Komanzelis Park.

CC R. Mercier – Request City Manager have proper department post parking garage fees; especially for seniors (62 and up) monthly rate of $26; and in addition if there are remaining excise tax bills to be delivered include said rate list in the billing envelope.

CC R. Mercier – Request City Manager provide an update regarding the need for a supervisor for the COOP Team.

CC V. Nuon Request City Manager have DPD Organize a business group representing entities along the Bridge and Middlesex Streets Business Corridors.

CC V. Nuon Request City Manager have Elections Department and any other department work with UML and the Lowell Plan regarding developing a plan to increase civic engagement in the City.

CC V. Nuon Request City Manager have LPD Provide a report regarding any incidents occurring at the Edge Dormitory project.

CC V. Nuon Request City Manager have proper department improve sidewalk conditions along the Bridge and Middlesex Streets Business Corridors.

M. B. Samaras Request City manager instruct the proper department make all City parking garage rates (including any senior or other applicable discounts) readily available to constituents in both digital and printed formats that can be shared.