City Council Preview: April 30, 2018
Mimi Parseghian previews tomorrow’s Lowell City Council meeting which has several significant agenda items:
EV Charging Stations: Motion by Councilor K. Cirillo (3/22/18) Request City Manager provide a report regarding costs of adding three to four electric charging stations in the center of downtown. The response, prepared by Nicholas Navin, Parking Director stated that the City has a total of 6 charging ports located in 3 garages. It would cost about $30,000 to install 3 charging station at a central location, such as the Market Street garage. Due to the budget issues facing the Parking Department, it is suggested that we consider a phased approach of one station per fiscal year as our budget allows, starting in FY19.
Bike Sharing: Motion by Councilor K. Cirillo and E. Kennedy(1/30/18) Request City Manager meet with representatives from the Ofo bike sharing program and provide City Council with a report regarding the feasibility of establishing a bike sharing program in Lowell. This response was also prepared by Parking Director, Nicholas Navin. Plans are well under way to come up with a bike sharing program. Mr. Navin wrote in his memo that the City has “solicited proposals to review in an effort to establish a pilot program of dock-less bike share for the City of Lowell. To aid in this effort, UMass Lowell has generously agreed to lend their resources and expertise. “In the coming months, we should have in place a working committee comprised of City and University officials, as well as stakeholders to include LRTA, to develop the specifics on a year-long pilot program for dock-less bike share. Once the details of such a program become clear, we would like to present this information to the City Council.”
Emergency Management Plans: Motion by Councilor V. Nuon (2/13/18) Request City Manager Provide a report to City Council regarding Emergency Management Plans (i.e. Flooding, Natural Disasters, etc..) for the City. The 4-page response was written by Fire Chief, Jeffrey J. Winward. It provides a detailed set of actions and activities the City will undertake depending upon the nature of the emergency. The report does mention that “When important decisions need to be made regarding a major emergency, the Tier I Emergency Management Team collectively makes those decisions.” The City Manager, the Fire Chief and the Police Superintendent comprise the Tier 1 group. There is a Tier 2 group also that is made up of a representative of each City Department, usually the department head.
Condition of Fire Stations 2018: Motion by Councilor V. Nuon (4/3/18) Request City Manager Provide a report regarding condition of Fire Stations in the City. The report was prepared by Fire Chief, Jeffrey J. Winward. In the first paragraph he writes “We have eight fire stations in Lowell. We also have a Fire Prevention office, which is in an old fire station, and a Training Center, which is in an old fire station. The stations are in poor condition.”
He then details all the structural problems impacting the fire stations. It is an eye-opening report; for example at the Gorham St. Station, “The basement needs a hazard abatement to remove asbestos, coal, leaking oil tanks, and general debris”; Old Ferry Road: “The roof leaks and needs to be replaced. Over the last several years, water has leaked through the roof and caused extensive damage in several different areas of the building.” There has been a lot of conversation on the state of our schools, we should add the fire stations to that discussion.
Civic Engagement: Motion by Councilor V. Nuon (3/6/18) 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. The response was prepared by Eda Matchak, Director of Elections. The three-page report details the various activities undertaken by the election office to increase civic participation, thus increase the number of voters. “In total, the Election and Census Division has participated in over eighty outreach events including radio and television appearances, neighborhood meetings and presentations, has hosted thirty-seven trainings for thirteen elections, held forty-seven Election Commission meetings and interacted with countless members of the public.”
Arts Funding: Motion by Councilor K. Cirillo (12/12/17) 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. CFO Conor Baldwin reported the following: In FY 18 the Folk Festival in-kind donation was increased by $10,000 to $60,000. Additionally the Festival Account was increased by $20,00 the first Arts Festival ($10,000) organized by the Cultural Organization of Lowell (COOL), Lowell Kinetics Sculpture Race ($5,000) and Lowell Celebrates Kerouac festival ($5,000).
The Marketing/Special Events fund was increased in FY 18 by $55,000 to $165,000. In closing the CFO writes: “The Administration’s strategy in formulating the budget proposal has been to maintain—as best possible—the level of services that the residents of Lowell expect without overly burdening the average residential taxpayer. Any additional appropriations at this time would necessitate an increase to the tax levy.”
VOTES FROM THE CITY MANAGER
First vote is to Approve a Preferred Site for Lowell High School. As Dick had mentioned in his the week in review post, the Lowell School Building Committee is meeting in a public session Monday night. Their report will be submitted to the City Council on Tuesday and they, in turn, will take the final vote.
The City Council will also take 3 additional votes. The first one is to transfer $45,000 from the Lands & Building Permanent Salaries to DPW to fund School Priority Projects. The second vote is to transfer $50,000 from the Manager’s Contingency Fund to the LHS Capital Project fund. The $50,000 is to provide design engineering services.
The last vote is to allow a transfer within the Police Department in the amount of $53,525 for the purchase of new police vehicle.
There are also a number of petitions from the utilities.
Councilor R. Elliott – Request City Manager have proper department explore repair of Constance Drive and placing same on paving list.
Councilor R. Elliott – Request City Manager report on status regarding training and procedures in the Lowell Police Department.
Councilor V. Nuon – Request City Manager and Human Resource Department work with Superintendent of Schools and School H/R Department to explore means to attract a diverse pool of candidates for future employment openings.
Councilor V. Nuon – Request City Manager and Human Resource Department develop a Recruitment Policy and Procedure for hiring purposes.
Councilor V. Nuon – Request City Manager take necessary means to repair potholes on Marlborough Street.
Councilor V. Nuon – Request City Manager work with various department (ie. elections dept.) to begin listening sessions through the Ad Hoc Election Laws Sub-committee regarding voting rights litigation.
Councilor J. Leahy – Request City Manager have proper department review the work being done regarding gas repairs throughout Belvidere.
Councilor R. Mercier – Request City Manager honor the commitment by the City to replace sidewalks on Humphrey Street.
Councilor J. Milinazzo – Request City Manager provide a report regarding the 2016 incident in the Police Detention Center as well as all training received by civilian employees since 2013.
One Response to City Council Preview: April 30, 2018
The response to Councilor Cirillo’s motion for a line item to support the work of the Lowell Cultural Council misses the mark in that it fails to recognize that the city is supporting major weekend and one day events that occur primarily in the downtown but does not support the many day to day and week to week cultural events initiated by residents in the neighborhoods of Lowell. Cultural Council funds support after school programs that introduce the arts and teach cultural traditions, we support programs in the schools that should, in a perfect world, be funded in the school budget . . . bringing artists into the schools to supplement decimated arts programming. 51% of the 2018 awards were for programs for children, teens and their families . . . because the Lowell Cultural Council recognizes that introducing children to the arts and to creative problem solving on a regular basis is an important part of nurturing the development of an engaged populace. We fund events in the neighborhoods like Salsa in the Park and the Points of Light. We fund public art in the neighborhoods. We provide seed money for ideas that often grow into major events. Our allocation from the state allows us to fund about 45% of the requests that we get. We asked for 30 cents per resident of Lowell per year in support of the Lowell Cultural Council, which works out to two hundredths of one percent of the tax levy for the entire city, both residential and commercial. Which would work out to a tax increase of approximately 75 cents per year for an average residental tax payer if, as suggested in the motion response, this was the only way to support our proposal.