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Lowell City Council Meeting: May 3, 2016

Order of taking and acceptance of Dowling Drive and Cresta Drive. Passes 8 to 0 with one present.

Order of taking and acceptance of portion of Suffolk Street. Passes 9 – 0.

Motion Responses:

Fact Finding Mission for special event marketing. Director of Providence Water Fire is willing to come visit Lowell to offer some suggestions for marketing events.

Informational: Small Business Month. Allison Lamey, economic development director, briefs the council on activities during the month. Month-long series of workshops on export rules, legal requirements, and health insurance. Also tours of business districts.

FY17 Sewer Rate – It’s time to start paying back federal loans that were used on combined sewer overflow work. City Manager Murphy recommends this be referred to the finance subcommittee for a presentation on the city’s plan to raise the money to make the payments. This will include an increase in the sewer rate that will have an impact on the FY17 budget so the sooner the council discusses it, the better.

Fire Dept overtime – $100,000 transfer to cover sick time buyback due to retirements. There’s much better management of overtime costs this year. Also 12 new firefighters graduated from the academy this week and 3 graduated a few weeks ago. (The money is from the salary account, which had surplus due to the retirements). Transfer passes.

Motion (taken out of order) By Councilor Elliott – Request city manager contact Lowell Memorial Auditorium board of trustees and Greater Lowell Veterans Council regarding Vietnam Veterans Fundraiser at Auditorium. Motion passes.

Councilor Leahy gives a report on this trip to Washington for Third District Day. He heard remarks from several members of Congress, the military, the executive branch, and others. He says the day focused on collaboration between levels of government as the best way to get things done. He said he spoke briefly with some of the members of Congress but he was unable to set up any meetings with officials in Washington.

Motions

By Councilor Mercier – request city manager have proper department create a new berm list for people whose berms were chopped by the plow. Council engages in a discussion about how to hold snow plow contractors responsible for damage they do. Doing that might cause them to be more careful while plowing.

By Councilor Elliott – Request city manager work to begin test of drinking water in all Lowell schools and apply for state funds recently designated for testing for lead. Elliott says he is not concerned about Lowell’s water quality, but since the funds are available, we should take advantage of them and do the testing.

By Councilor Elliott – Request city manager explore the costs and feasibility of installing banners in the downtown as a streetscape as well as exploring possibility of private funding for hardware and banners. Manager Murphy says there is $50,000 left in the city’s joint marketing campaign with UMass Lowell and they hope to spend them on banners. There will be a presentation for the city council at a future meeting.

By Councilors Belanger & Samaras – Request city manager provide a report regarding all contractual obligations for parking spaces in city garages. Councilor Belanger says he and Councilor Samaras surveyed businesses on Merrimack St. He said they heard many positive things, like the police working to reduce loitering by young people. But there were also complaints about parking, especially with a few businesses that have customers who stay for more than two hours (the max on a parking meter). The problem with this is that the garages are often full. Belanger would like an accounting of all agreements and contracts for use of spaces in city garages. Councilor Samaras adds the business people praised the efforts to keep the city clean. Regarding the garages, he suggests we need an assessment of how we are using the garages and how we should be using garages. Councilor Leahy says that he has noticed school department employees parking curbside and then continuously feeding the meter. City Manager Murphy says they are looking at moving school department employees from the Market Street garage to the Ayotte Garage to make spaces at Market Street available for customers of downtown businesses.

By Councilors Leary & Leahy – Request city manager examine the traffic and pedestrian patterns on Chelmsford St and develop a comprehensive plan to improve the current flow of both. Councilor Leary explains that Chelmsford Street is so long that it has several different phases, some residential, some heavily business. He would like a comprehensive study of the entire street to see how it can be best utilized.

By Councilor Leary – Request city manager work with Lowell Police to monitor and to change the pattern of speeding and aggressive driving on Lincoln Parkway. Leary explains it’s a wide road with a lot of people walking but many people drive too fast on it.

By Councilors Leary & Leahy – Request city manager provide a report regarding all repairs to be done on Andover St for the upcoming year.

By Mayor Kennedy & Councilor Leahy – Request city manager provide a report regarding deferred maintenance and general conditions at Cawley and Alumni Field and create action plan to make corrections.

Meeting adjourns at 7:58pm

New book from Mehmed Ali

Our friend Mehmed Ali has written a new book: Yousuf Karsh & John Garo – The Search for a Master’s Legacy. This Thursday, May 5, 2016, at 6:30 pm, the Whistler House Museum at 243 Worthen Street will host a book launch. Everyone is invited.

The book is the story of two Boston-area photographers who together captured amazing images during the early- and mid- portions of the twentieth century. While not directly related to Lowell, this book is important to all of us for we live in an age where images are used more than ever before to tell stories, express feelings, and in an infinite number of other ways. Today, everyone with a cell phone is a photographer. This story of two master photographers will inspire and educate picture-takers of all level of ability. It is also a compelling human story.

Here is some additional information about the subjects of this book:

In the early years of the twentieth century, Garo was a nationally acclaimed photographer, a leader in the thriving Boston photographic community. Cultured and charming, Garo also painted watercolors, wrote poetry and counted among his friends luminaries in the worlds of music and theater. It was to this humanistic atmosphere of Garo’s sky lit studio that the fledgling photographer, Yousuf Karsh, a survivor of the 1915 Armenian Massacres, was sent by his uncle George Nakash, to be Garo’s apprentice.

Garo was a nurturing and encouraging mentor. His three years with Garo transformed young Karsh’s life and influenced his original desire to portray those personalities who made a positive impact on our world. Garo died in 1939, and was a victim of the Great Depression, ill health and changing photographic taste. Karsh, then still a struggling photographer in Canada, was devastated to discover Garo’s studio ransacked, and many of his portraits missing. Thus began a forty-year odyssey by Karsh to discover his mentor’s portraits, and preserve them for posterity.

Drawing on meticulous research and on Karsh’s personal correspondence, Yousuf Karsh & John Garo – The Search for a Master’s Legacy brings to life this intensely human journey, and the little known story of Garo’s stellar role in the history of photography in New England. Full of breathtaking photographs (including portraits of Coolidge, Billie Burke, Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and other famous faces), and meaningful advice for future photographers and artists, this story illustrates how to persevere through life’s challenges, how to establish oneself as a leader in the art community, and how experiencing all life has to offer can enhance one’s ability to create meaningful art.

Lord Overpass Renewal: The Dialogue

jeff speck

Urban planner Jeff Speck is a friend of Lowell’s. He likes the city. He has praised the renaissance of the city. His advice is worth considering. His knowledge, based on working around the country and the world, is valuable. It’s a mistake for anyone to paint him as some kind of outside interference. A few years ago, Jeff took in his hand an outstretched hand from the community here and accepted a request to help us think through the next phase of improvement for downtown, especially. He came back recently to offer observations on what’s happened and encouraged everyone to keep going forward. He sees Lowell as a special American place. A special American place with its urban design, restored buildings, engaged residents, and expressive culture. He keeps up with what’s happening. Good things are in motion. The current Lord Overpass make-over plan has innovative and practical elements developed by the City Hall leadership and City planners with urgent input from residents, but there is still time to think about how it can be made even better. We should embrace thoughtful advice, wherever it comes from.

Lowell Real Estate: Week of April 25, 2016

Lowell real estate sales from last week:

April 25, 2016 – Monday
94-96 Orleans St for $110,250. Prior sale 2014 foreclosure
129 Mary Theresa Terrace for $262,000. Prior sale in 2009 for $225,000
257 Rogers St Unit 2 for $150,000. Prior sale in 2006 for $198,000
487 Wentworth Ave for $325,000. Prior sale in 2014 for $240,000
9 Perron Way for $375,000. Prior sale in 2006 for $358,000
255 Hildreth St for $281,000. Prior sale in 2015 for $194,700
132 Main St for $155,000. Prior sale in 2008 for $97,500
40 Crosby St for $325,0000. Prior sale in 2014 for $150,000

April 26, 2016 – Tuesday
6 Hildreth St for $177,000. Prior sale 2015 foreclosure
114 Sayles St for $280,500. Prior sale in 1992 for $106,500

April 27, 2016 – Wednesday
139-141 Woodward Ave for $385,000. Prior sale in 2004 for $398,000
365 Chelmsford St for $270,000. Prior sale in 1977
390 Wilder St for $250,000. Prior sale in 2015 for $238,000

April 28, 2016 – Thursday
763 Wilder St for $224,900. Prior sale in 2004 for $228,000
4 Frye St for $273,900. Prior sale in 1987 for $135,000
37 Bayberry Dr for $345,000. Prior sale in 2004 for $299,000
51 Jennifer Rd for $345,000. Prior sale in 2002 for $395,000
6-8 Dalton St for $350,000. Prior sale in 2001 for $235,000
63 Lupine Rd Unit A for $203,000. Prior sale in 2005 for $258,000
36 Burlington Ave for $1,800,000. Prior sale in 2014 for $1,575,800
1225 Pawtucket Blv Unit 112 for $142,000. Prior sale in 2003 for $145,000
20 Richardson St for $305,000. Prior sale in 2013 for $268,950
240 Princeton Blv for $289,000. Prior sale in 1995 for $85,000

April 29, 2016 – Friday
1229 Lawrence St Unit 202 for $120,000. Prior sale in 2012 for $99,900
3-5 Burrill Pl for $199,900. Prior sale in 2004 for $263,000
35 Riverwalk Way Unit R102 for $210,000. Prior sale in 2006 for $235,000
75-77 Hollis St for $340,000. Prior sale in 2001 for $210,000
18 Llewellyn St for $275,000. Prior sale in 2013 for $264,900
143 Foster St for $295,000. Prior sale in 2010 for $164,700
38 Chippewa St for $280,000. Prior sale in 1954
18 Morton St for $150,000. Prior sale 2007 foreclosure
83 Raynor St for $305,000. Prior sale in 2014 for $186,000
3 Waite St for $193,000. Prior sale in 2013 for $121,000
200 Market St Unit 310 for $200,000. Prior sale in 1999 for $93,500
237 Appleton St for $187,000. Prior sale in 1980
96 Remington St for $295,000. Prior sale in 1949
150 Barker Ave for $238,800. Prior sale in 2008 for $150,000
17 Rockdale Ave for $230,000. Prior sale in 2008 for $80,000

Foreclosure auctions advertised this week:

Lowell
15 Carter Ave on May 6
117 Durant St on May 6
63 C St on May 9
349 Hildreth St Unit 21 on May 11
1215 Pawtucket Blv Unit 30 on May 11
34 Newhall St Unit 403 on May 11
156 Starr Ave on May 12
195 Thorndike St Unit 212 for May 16
1227 Lawrence St Unit 301 on May 16
474 Douglas Rd on May 16
64 South Loring St on May 16
52 Floyd St on May 16
99 Humphrey St on May 16
54-56 Temple St on May 18
13-15 Chamberlain St Unit 13 on May 18
102 Baldwin St on May 20
23 Oak St on May 20
36 Hudson St on May 24
39 Meadowview Dr on May 24

Dracut
33 Arlington Ave on May 11

Westford
8 Maple St on May 11

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