Lowell City Council Meeting: March 1, 2016

Report on relocation of Dog Park referred to Parks Subcommittee

Petition for an easement on Fairview St. [This has been before the council several times before with the council voting against it last year]. The homeowner/petitioner explains that his lot fronts Mansur Street on one side (where it has access) and also on Fairview St. Claims that back in the 1970s, the city was issuing easements on that street but he didn’t receive notice at that time. Says he wants to subdivide his property and needs the easement access over city owned land (the sidewalk?) to give egress to Mansur Street. A neighbor speaks in opposition, saying the neighborhood doesn’t need another house shoe-horned into that neighborhood. This and other neighbors cite water runoff problems in the neighborhood that would be exacerbated by a new house. Councilor Elliott asks some questions about the water problem. Council votes to place the communication on file. No further action on it.
Ordinance requiring any school – not just a public school – to have sidewalks that service the school.

Chris Roux appointed to Board of Parks.

Technology Subcommittee report. Chair person Jim Leary says the subcommittee met with Verizon. Regarding Fios cable service, Verizon says it is getting out of that business and has no plans to expand anywhere. Councilor Belanger says that the city is stuck with one cable provider (he doesn’t say it, but it’s Comcast). He says the customers are being gouged. He believes if there was a second provider, competition would make cable service more affordable and better.

Councilor Rita Mercier takes a point of personal privilege and apologizes to Councilor Elliott for failing to second his motion last week to explore district councilors. She said she felt very badly about not doing it after it had happened and wanted to publicly apologize.

Public hearing on ordinance amendment to give planning board the authority to mandate sidewalks around new schools. Passes unanimously.

Public hearing for bridge repair bonds. One residents speaks about his preference to hire local residents to city-funded jobs.

Petition by Patrick Hamilton to address the council on the improved use of social media by city government. Says he had difficulty finding information about city council meetings on social media. Councilor Rourke says there is plenty of information online about city business; he commends Councilor Elliott when he was mayor for his use of social media. He says the city does an excellent job with its website. Manager Murphy says he’s just retained an outside firm to review and improve the city’s website. Mayor Kennedy treats Rourke’s comments as a motion to refer it to the manager’s office for a report.

Living Waters Center for Hope (next to St. Anne’s on Kirk St) addresses the council. She shares some information about the people who visit the center. She explains their new program, called the Bridge Program, that is intended to help those who are just barely hanging on to their housing to keep the housing and not become homeless. One part of that program is a new street paper called The Catalyst. They see it as a “micro-enterprise” that allow their clients to make some money by selling street newspapers. They see it as an alternative to panhandling. Council Milinazzo criticizes this as “panhandling with a newspaper.” Says when Living Waters first came here, they made all kind of promises but none of them were followed through with. Referred to the city manager for a report.

Motion by Councilor Leahy to convene a meeting of Lowell and UMass Lowell police to improve collaboration. Would like the meeting to occur at a public safety subcommittee meeting.

Motion by Councilor Leahy to develop a plan to restore Andover Street. Asks for a report that shares the strategy for the long-term repair and maintenance of the street. Councilor Mercier says the sidewalks on Andover St are also in tough shape and should be repaired because many people walk on them.

Motion by Councilor Leahy to examine intersection of Princeton Blvd and Baldwin Street for possible upgrades to traffic lights and sidewalks. He says he’s spoken with the city manager about this. A couple of people have brought it up. He thinks it’s a state intersection and wants to be sure it stays on schedule. Maybe if we make some noise we will move up on the list. People in the neighborhood have asked for a sidewalk that runs along Hadley Field. Motion passes.

Motion by Councilor Rourke that access road at LeBlanc Park be named for Robert and Pauline Vivier. Leaders of Pawtucket Youth Organization speak in favor of this.

Motion by Councilor Belanger that the Substance Abuse subcommittee review the First Watch Program and COOP Program which both combat opioid addiction. There was a task force meeting last week that was very well attended. At the meeting, Trinity EMS shared info about First Watch, which is a software program that shares information about opioid incidents. COOP is the Lowell Police Department’s new program that will more closely track what’s happening with addicts.

Motion by Councilor Samaras that the city remove tents, needles, and trash from the area underneath the Lord Overpass. He says it poses a danger to people in the area and that the people living there should be helped into shelters and other living arrangements.

Council adjourns at 8:05 pm.

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