Editorial Watch ~ the swift boats are coming!

For some unknown reason our copy of the Sun Sunday “Focus – Opinion & Commentary” continues to hit the driveway on Fridays in a early arrival. So here’s a heads-up! The Lowell Sun joins the GOP with an editorial “swift-boating” of U. N.  Ambassador Susan Rice this coming Sunday. She is - the editorial declares – “damaged goods.”  It’s no surprise that the President gets his share of rough shodding as well. While no mention is made of  Senator John Kerry and his prospects for Secretary of State, the editorial jaws must be salivating over the possibility of having Scott Brown to laud over for another electoral outing! No links yet available.

Tanner Street Community Meeting

Urban planner Carole Schlessinger explaining Tanner Street plan

Last evening I joined more than 30 others at the LRTA Maintenance Facility conference room at 100 Hale Street to hear the latest thinking from the city’s Planning Department and the various urban planners (Crosby, Schlessinger & Smallridge) and EPA officials who have been working on a master plan for the redevelopment of Tanner Street. That part of Lowell is perhaps best known for its scrap yards and used car dealerships as well as the location of the city’s most infamous hazardous waste site, Silresim. But the cleanup of Silresim has been underway for decades and as bad as the site was, it is also the impetus for this redevelopment and it gives the city access to a variety of programs and funds, both state and federal, that would not be available under normal circumstances.

Given the “maturity” and density of much of the rest of Lowell, the Tanner Street area presents the potential for a lot of new development in the city. The planners and consultants have judged that the northern part of the site (that closest to Thorndike Street) would be best suited to heavy industry while the southern part (closest to Plain Street) could accommodate new retail uses. One of the big challenges of that end of the street is the intersection of Tanner and Plain which, because of its proximity to the Lowell Connector off ramps, presents a real bottle neck, especially when considering the large trucks that would be accessing the site. The hoped-for resolution of that problem is to bend Tanner Street to the other side of Lowell Car Wash so that it meets Plain Street at the traffic lights at the entrance to the Target shopping complex across the street. To complement that, a new off ramp from the in-bound Connector at about Cambridge Street, which though a long-shot to be built, would ease the traffic flow into the area from Plain Street. Regarding the Connector, it is a major asset to the district but it is also a safety issue. To make it less dangerous, the proposal calls from transforming the Connector from a super highway into a boulevard, reducing it from three lanes down to two and lining it with trees. The speed limit would then taper down from 55 to 45 to 35.

River Meadow Brook, which runs along the Tanner Street side of the Connector, is also a major asset to the area which is totally unused. The redevelopment plan calls for a multi-use path to be constructed that would tie into the Bruce Freeman bike trail (which begins at Cross Point) to add to the regional recreational trail layout in this part of the Commonwealth. Complementary to this pathway, the plan would make the walking/bicycling route from the Tanner Street area to the Gallagher Terminal easier for pedestrians to traverse.

A map of the Tanner Street area is here and the Planning Department’s Tanner Street page is here. While it’s impossible to predict the timetable or the end result of this project, the city is definitely moving in the right direction, taking an underutilized area which many would say is an overall detriment, and seeking to transform it into a vibrant, useful hub of industrial activity, not in some fanciful way that looks great in theory but that would be unlikely to succeed, but in a realistic way that embraces the historical use of the area while improving its trafficability and livability for residents and businesses.

Part of the audience at the Tanner Street community meeting

Union Station – Worcester

If you’ve ever driven through Worcester while heading west on Rte 290, you may have noticed the two white towers of the city’s train station just to the right of the highway. Union Station was constructed in 1911 and abandoned in 1975. In 2000, however, the city poured $32 million into the facility which emerged as a beautiful civic landmark. Since then, millions more have been invested on a bus terminal and a 500 car parking garage. Yesterday I visited Union Station for the first time to attend a luncheon for the five registers of deeds around the state who will be ending their elected terms this coming January (there are 21 registries of deeds in Massachusetts). Traffic was light so I arrived early and sat in the train station waiting room. While there, the MBTA commuter train from Boston arrived, discharging a dozen or so passengers. Others arrived with large suitcases which they checked at the Amtrak window. Destination? Chicago, on the Lakeshore Limited. For all its grandeur, however, the volume of activity at Union Station never came close to what I regularly see at Lowell’s Gallagher Terminal. While that facility could use some retail beyond the micro-Dunkin Donuts it now houses, it is highly functional and probably was a lot cheaper to build and maintain. Still, when you look at the below photo of the interior of Worcester’s Union Station, you can’t help but be a little envious.

Campaign Residue

Thanks to Judy Davidson of the East Pawtucketville Neighborhood Group for sending along the above 2012 Presidential campaign relic photograph which she captured during a downtown walk. (By the way, reader photographs are always welcome so please send them along). Then early this morning during a neighborhood walk, I noticed a “Jon Golnik” sign in a curbside recycling bin (Thursday is trash day in the Highlands). When it comes to recycling of campaign signs, putting one in a curbside recycling bin is more “disposing” than recycling. Recycling a campaign sign means leaving it in your garage until the next campaign for that candidate. That’s probably why I haven’t seen many “Scott Brown for Senate” signs in the trash. His supporters are, for the first time in their lives I suspect, pulling for John Kerry, hoping that he gets appointed Secretary of State so their man Scott can run and win a resulting special election and return to the Senate. Charlie Pierce, the sports writing Worcester native who is now the chief political writer for Esquire and whose several times per day blog posts are on my must-read list, is not all that excited about Scott Brown’s chances in such an election.

Brandon Lloyd visits Lowell High School

New England Patriots wide receiver Brandon Lloyd visited Lowell High School to speak with students about the importance of financial planning. His visit was sponsored by National Financial Educators Council, Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union and Yahoo, which sent a camera crew to film his visit (it should be on the web in a couple of weeks). By all accounts, Lloyd was a wonderful guest, totally focused on the students, especially those who gave him a tour of the school. Jen Myers has an account of the visit plus an excellent slide show on her Room 50 blog (below I’ve linked to one of her photos):

Brandon Lloyd at Lowell High. Photo by Jen Myers

Lloyd’s visit created a buzz on the local Twitter universe. Here’s a sampling of the Tweets that were made during his visit:

@mrblloyd welcome to Lowell!

Lowell High students excited about visit of Pats wide receiver Brandon Lloyd.

Brandon Lloyd from the patriots is chilling at Lowell High


Uhh why is Brandon Lloyd at Lowell High? This would happen after I graduate.

Buzz for Lowell High School: http://schmap.it/oVfsFM?a – RT @thatboyTBron Brandon Llyod is at Lowell High School for the day

Brandon Llyod is at Lowell High School for the day and everyones trying to get his autograph

Chillin with Pats WR Brandon Lloyd at Lowell High

Just shook Brandon Lloyd’s hand. Only time LHS has done something for me

Jealous of everyone at LHS meeting Brandon Lloyd!

Before Brandon Lloyd was about to speak ☺

Me and Brandon Lloyd Me and Brandon Lloyd

The Butler Bust

Tony Sampas sent along this image, the accompanying story and the following background information: This rendering of General Butler was originally located in Memorial Hall (now the Reference Hall of the Pollard Memorial Library). Its present location is unknown as it may have been destroyed or lost following the disastrous fire that swept through the hall in 1915. It should not be confused with the bust of Butler that is located in the Hall of Flags in Lowell Memorial Auditorium.

The following text is from “The Story of the City Hall Commission : Including the Exercises at the Laying of the corner stones and the dedication of the City Hall and Memorial Hall,” edited by Prentiss Webster, Publisher in Lowell, MA, Citizen Newspaper Co., printers, 1894.



Mr. Mayor, Ladies and Gentlemen: -In September, 1891, a number of colored gentlemen of Boston decided to present to the City of Lowell, or some one of its public institutions, a bust of Gen. Benj. F. Butler. By such a testimonial they wished to express their love and admiration for one of the very few men -who, in all the political changes so characteristic of our American life, has ever been loyal and true to their interests.
We are not unmindful of the courage it took to denounce, in a convention of slaveholders, of which he was a member, the iniquity of slavery and the slave trade. By the expedient of a definition – “contraband of war” -he solved the vexed question of the negro’s right to don the uniform of an American soldier and fight bravely, as he did, for his own freedom and the life of the Union.

At New Orleans he found regiments of colored troop that had been organized by the Confederates to take up arms against the Union. With him it was fair warfare to turn the enemy’s guns against him, and the Corp d’Afrique was mustered into the Union army and never disgraced the flag, but fought their former masters on many a blood-stained battle field and gallantly earned their right to freedom.

We fully believe he did not favor us because we were colored, but being so conditioned as to be unable to help ourselves, his mind was strong enough, his heart was large enough, to take us in as members of the great human family.

Mr. Mayor, the colored citizens of Boston are happy in presenting this bust of Gen. Butler to the City of Lowell, believing there could be no more appropriate place for it than in this hall, dedicated to the memory of those who gave their lives that the Union might be preserved, and all men made free and equal under the law.


Mayor Pickman accepted it on behalf of the city in the following words:

It is most fitting that this Memorial Building should contain within its walls the life like representation in durable form of the features of Lowell’s most illustrious son. From the city’s earliest history the name of General Butler has been closely connected and identified with its growth and prosperity. Early in the history of rebellion he responded to the call of the government; he left his home and profession, and gave what he possessed of capacity and energy in aid of the suppression of the rebellion. He was a potent force in those early days before the North had awakened to an appreciation of the mighty struggle before it. The names of Ladd and Whitney inscribed on the monument in yonder burial lot and the name of General Butler will always be associated with the notable events at the beginning of the Civil War, and with the historic share of Lowell and of Middlesex county in them.

My hope and expectation is that this hall will be made use of, in part, for the care and preservation of appropriate reminders of men from Lowell who participated in the Civil War, and for the safe keeping of flags relics and records of battles and other historic events associated therewith.
On behalf of the city I accept this beautiful gift, and tender to you and your associates the thanks of the city.

Happy Birthday Caroline Kennedy ~ November 27, 1957

From history.com:

Caroline Kennedy (1957-), the eldest child of President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy (1929-1994), is a lawyer and author. At age 3 she moved into the White House with her parents and younger brother John Kennedy Jr. (1960-1999). Following her father’s 1963 assassination, she and her brother were raised in Manhattan by their mother. Kennedy graduated from Radcliffe College and Columbia Law School. In 1986 she married Edwin Schlossberg (1945-); they have three children. Kennedy has written books about civil liberties, among other topics, and published a series of literary anthologies. In 2008 the famously private Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama (1961-) for president and joined him on the campaign trail. She has never held public office, although in late 2008 she announced her interest in the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Hillary Clinton (1947-). Kennedy later withdrew her name from consideration for the job.

A few images from the life of Caroline Kennedy:

1959:  Caroline Kennedy kisses her father, John, as mother, Jacqueline, looks on.  Photograph: AFP

1962: John F Kennedy claps while Caroline and John Jr dance in the Oval Office.  Photograph:  Rex Features

1986: Caroline Kennedy chats with her cousin and matron of honour, Maria Shriver, while Ted Kennedy looks on during Kennedy’s wedding to Edwin Schlossberg. Photograph: AP
2008:  Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, center, with her children, Rose, left, Tatiana and Jack Schlossberg, in August, on the podium before the opening ceremony of the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Paul J. Richards/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images