City Council Preview: March 26, 2018

Mimi Parseghian previews tomorrow’s Lowell City Council meeting.

This Tuesday’s City Council meeting should be an historical one. All public information indicates that State Senator Eileen Donoghue will be elected as the 17th Lowell City Manager and the first woman to hold that position.

In addition to this most significant vote a City Councilor can make during their tenure, this will be current City Manager Kevin Murphy’s last meeting.  To add to all this, the regular agenda is quite extensive.

The first order of business is the series of votes required to appoint a temporary city manager for the transition period. City Clerk Michael Geary will be selected as Acting City Manager and Assistant City Clerk Angela Gitschier will be appointed City Clerk. This is the same procedure that took place when then City Manager Bernie Lynch left, although at that time the transition period was much longer.


Acre Improvement: (2/27/18) Motion by Councilor K. Cirillo Request City Manager provide a report regarding road and sidewalk upgrades in the Acre, in and around Mt. Washington St., Merrimack St. and Merrimack St. The response was prepared by City Engineer Nicolás Bosonetto.

The following streets in the Acre Neighborhood are scheduled for repaving this Spring:

Mt. Washington Street from Pawtucket Street to Varney Street; Mt. Hope Street from Pawtucket Street to Broadway; Butterfield Street from Mt. Hope to School Street; Walker Street from West Adams Street to Broadway.

“The Market Street Bridge over the Western Canal is currently being replaced and the Broadway Bridge over the Pawtucket Canal has just been completed. The Merrimack Street Bridge over the Western Canal is schedule for rehabilitation as part of the TIGER project also.”

Branch Middlesex Business Corridor: The second motion response on the agenda was also prepared by City Engineer Nicolás Bosonetto. (3/6/18) Councilor V. Nuon Request City Manager have proper department improve sidewalk conditions along the Branch and Middlesex Street Business Corridor. (1/30/18) Councilor Elliot Request City Manager initiate street/sidewalk/parking plan for the Branch Street business corridor to coincide with Overpass construction.


Due to the number of major construction projects, i.e., Hamilton Canal, TIGER Bridges, Route 38 widening, Thorndike Street widening and Lord Overpass Projects, the City’s engineering personnel and financial resources have been assigned to these crucial infrastructure improvement projects.  Nevertheless, for the period 2019 – 2023 the City has identified street and sidewalk improvements for the Branch – Middlesex – Chelmsford Streets Business area and planning and design work will begin shortly.

Duren Avenue and Surrey Lane: The response to these motions was also prepared by City Engineer Nicolás Bosonetto (busy man). (2/27/18) Councilor Leahy Request City Manager place Duren Avenue on paving list for 2018; (12/12/17) Councilor B. Samaras Request City Manager add Surrey lane to paving list. “Both Duren Avenue and Surrey Lane have been added to the 2018 paving list.”

Hiring Process: Motion by Councilor V. Nuon (1/09/2018) Request City Manager to provide information regarding outreach in hiring process; including breakdown of results in following categories; Race; Gender; Veteran Status; and Residency.” The 2-page report prepared by Human Relations Director Mary Callery provides an informative overview of the City’s hiring policies and procedures.  “The standard hiring outreach process consists of posting vacant positions on the City’s website and providing each department with a copy of the posting. Individuals who are subscribed to the City’s employment opportunities listserv are automatically emailed once the position becomes available online. Upon the request of the Department Head, vacant positions may also be advertised with outside agencies/organizations as they see fit. In addition, word of mouth serves as another effective means of outreach.”

The City does not maintain demographic data on its employees except for the Fire and Police Departments.  Those figures were made available in the report.

Employees of Lowell Fire and Police by ethnic group:

Total – 434
Caucasian – 320
Hispanic – 74
Black – 23
Asian – 17

Edge Dormitory Project: (3/6/2018) Councilor V. Nuon Request the City Manager have Lowell Police Department (LPD) provide a report regarding any incidents occurring at the Edge Dormitory Project. The report prepared by the LPD covers the time period from September 1, 2017 through March 6, 2018.  During that time there were 26 CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) to that location.  Unfortunately, the report lacks context.  That is compared to residences of that quantity in that area of the City, what is the number of calls. More importantly, is that address used to provide the nearest location to the incident? If the purpose of the motion was to find out what the issues may exist with private dormitories, this report will not do it.

(Update) Greening Communities Program Revised:  (1/30/18)  by Councilor R. Elliott request City Manager apply for funding from greening communities program from the state for planting of tree program.  The Assistant City Manager/Department of Planning and Development Director, Diane N. Tradd provided a report to answer the question that arose during the discussion (March 6, 2018) of the initial response on this motion. The information presented in this report on tree maintenance is quite extensive.

“The Department of Public Works (DPW) manages ongoing tree maintenance through in-house staff or through contracted vendors. The DPW Commissioner is the Tree Warden by default. DPW has one Tree Climber on staff; this staffer identifies problem trees, works with the utility companies to coordinate pruning and removals, and provides recommendations for the DPW Commissioner regarding tree removal. DPW Laborers are assigned to assist the Tree Climber as needed. When tree removal is required the average cost per tree is approximately $1,500, and is often funded through several operational budgets.”

“The Safety Task Force was established in the mid-1990s by former former Middlesex County District Attorney Tom Reilly, during a time of extreme gang related violence in the City.  The meetings were stopped in 2014 when crime dwindled.  In 2006, the City established the Gang Advisory Task Force. As crime continued to evolve and decrease, the Gang Advisory Task Force evolved into the Lowell Youth Development Collaborative (LYDC) in 2010.

“The LYDC is co-chaired by Superintendent Taylor and District Attorney Marian Ryan, addressed attendance issues in the schools and assisted the schools in the Attendance Awareness Campaign. The LYDC is currently focused on the legalization of marijuana and how that is affecting the youth in the City. In addition to the School Department, MCC and UML over a dozen local non-profits and social agencies are participants of the LYDC.”


Community Development Week Letter and Flyer

“The City of Lowell will join communities across the country to celebrate National Community Development Week from April 2nd through April 6, 2018. This annual celebration is designed to focus attention on the outstanding accomplishments over the past 44 years of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.”

Here is the list of Grant Recipient/Community Partners that will hold open house during that week: Girls Inc., International Institute, CMAA, UTEC, Ankgor Dance Troup, The Wish Project, Lowell Community Health Center, Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lowell. The above link will provide you with the time and date of their respective “open houses.”

Street Paving List: Everyone’s favorite piece of information, especially if you have been waiting for a couple of decades to make the list.  The three-page report not only provides the list of streets that will be repaved this season but also the procedure to evaluate the city streets for paving and the associated costs.

FY ’19 Preliminary Budget: The introductory paragraph to the 89-page report is City Manager Murphy’s closing statement: “In accordance with the requirements of the Massachusetts General Laws and the Charter of the City of Lowell, I herewith transmit the proposed, preliminary operating budget for the general fund and the three city enterprise funds for parking, water, and sewer utilities for fiscal year 2019 which begins on July 1, 2018. While this document and the accompanying presentation are for planning purposes only, it was of the utmost importance to me for the Lowell City Council to be left with a balanced spending plan for the next fiscal year as the body selects a new City Manager’(my emphasis).


Councilor R. Mercier – Request City Manager place Phoenix Avenue on the re-paving list.

Councilor K. Cirillo – Request City Manager have proper department include line item in city budget to supplement yearly allocation from Massachusetts Cultural Council to include an allocation for the Lowell Cultural Council.

Councilor K. Cirillo – Request City Manager provide a report regarding costs of adding three to four electric charging stations in the center of Downtown.

Councilor K. Cirillo – Request City Manager provide a report regarding how many and what type of City vehicles are up for renewal or replacement and the costs of transferring those and other city vehicles in the future from gas to electric, which would produce an all-electric fleet for City of Lowell.

Councilor V. Nuon – Request City Manager provide a report regarding Equal Opportunity Employment in the City.

Councilor V. Nuon – Request City Manager review pedestrian safety along Branch Street Business Corridor; indicating if signage will improve safety in the area.

Councilor E. Kennedy – Request City Manager provide a report to the City Council regarding MassDOT proposed changes to traffic pattern at Oakland/Eastham Square.

Councilor E. Kennedy – Request City Manager instruct Downtown Coordinator to develop a practical policy for decorating the display windows in vacant store front units in the Central Business District.

Councilor J. Milinazzo – Request City Manager and members of the Owner’s Project Management Team meet with representatives of local unions to prepare A Project Labor Agreement for the construction of the new Lowell High School.