City Council Preview: November 19, 2018

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

This week’s Lowell City Council agenda features two votes on the Lowell High School project; an agreement with Perkins Eastman, the architects, and one with Skanska, the construction company.

The Council will also take a vote to adopt the minimum residential factor for fiscal year 2019.  According to the Administration’s memo to the Council, “This action will provide for the maximum tax relief to residential homeowners under the Massachusetts statute permitting the classification of properties. Each year, a natural shift of values occurs in the real estate market and if any one particular class- like the commercial, industrial, or personal property classes for example—grows at a slower pace than the single family or multi-family properties; the tax burden falls more heavily upon the class with the greatest amount of growth. By adopting the MRF, however, Lowell can protect residential homeowners from being unduly burdened by taxes to the maximum amount allowed by law.”


National Grid Citywide Update Motion (11/6/2018) by Councilor J.  Leahy “Request City Manager along with Engineer Department get an explanation from National Grid regarding various repairs being done throughout the City.”

The two page response prepared by Christine Clancy, City Engineer and Chief Kelly Richardson, Police Superintendent is detailed and informative.  City officials met with representatives of the utility on November 11th and November 14th 11/14/18 “to discuss ongoing work in the City and safety protocols. National Grid specifically met with the Police Department to discuss the recent reports about National Grid employees or contractors knocking on resident’s doors to either investigate a leak or take readings at a meter…National Grid has been requesting access into buildings to read meters because they are required to read meters approximately every 3 years. There are approximately 19,000 buildings in the City of Lowell with meters inside the building…National Grid discussed that they will be checking in with the police department on a weekly basis to alert them if they are in a neighborhood to read meters.”

There was no update on the National Grid lockout.

School Building Committee (SBC) Appointments Motion by Councilor 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.”

In City Manager Eileen Donoghue’s response to the motion she indicates that she has appointed Police Sergeant David Peaslee, head of the Lowell School District’s School Resource Officer program; Jeffrey Wilson, a member of the City’s  Disability Commission and community activist, Ben Opara.

Pawtucket Dam Motion by Councilor E. Kennedy “Request City Manager have Law Department draw up a resolution calling a height capacity reduction of Pawtucketville dam from 50 feet to 48 feet.  Motion by Councilor R. Elliott “Request City Manager work with appropriate State and Federal agencies to have an additional gauge installed above the Pawtucket Dam, to use as a basis for a more appropriate dam height with Enel.

According to the answer provided by City Solicitor Christine O’Connor, the City has a protocol in place that was agreed with Enel in 2014. It “mandates that when the NOAA Flood stage prediction website indicates an expected river level at or above the action stage level of 50 feet, the crest gates will be lowered to the crest of the dam and remain in that positon until such time as the USGS Gage indicates a river flow level of 50 feet or less…The City has requested Enel to install an additional gauge at the Pawtucket Dam.”

Civil Service, LPD and LFD Hiring Motion (10/2/2018) by Councilor V. Nuon “City Manager have Lowell Police Department (LPD) and Lowell Fire Department (LFD) host a community workshop regarding job opportunities in each department as well as outlining application process for those jobs.”

In his response to the motion, Kelly Richardson Superintendent of Police, writes: “The Lowell Police Department (LPD) in conjunction with the Human Relations Office will be hosting an informational session about the Civil Service process, recruiting and hiring of sworn personnel on November 28th. A flyer was disseminated to non-profit agencies and broadcasted to all city employees. The notification is also available on the City’s Website and Facebook pages. The LPD has also disseminated this information on their respective social media pages. The Civil Service exam for Municipal Police Officers is currently scheduled for March 23, 2019.”


Councilor David Conway request City Manager provide a report regarding signage and accessibility at polling locations throughout the city for people with disabilities.

Councilor Vesna Nuon request Mayor introduce a motion before the School Committee requesting the LHS Social Studies Department write a more fitting testimonial to display with the portrait of Benjamin Butler in Lowell City Hall.

Councilor Vesna Nuon request City Manager have DPW provide an update regarding upgrading of City Street lights to LED.