7 PM, LTC
Meeting called to order at: 7:03.
Approval of minutes
Approval of August 2019 minutes: Motion made by Sam and 2nd by Carolyn; approved.
$840.29 balance in account.
Capt. Kennedy – In charge of downtown “Charlie” sector.
- Car breaks involve unlocked cars — Please lock your cars!
- Disorderly conduct and unarmed robberies involve kids on bicycles. LPD is working on the problem with the Juvenile Court.
- Ongoing compliance checks at downtown bars are having success at discouraging underage drinking even though they have very good fraudulent drivers licenses.
- Positive feedback from downtown residents regarding new precinct and increased downtown patrols.
Q: Status of 60 day trial for Uber & Lyft?
A: To avoid crowding at let-out time of bars.
Q: But downtown residents aren’t able to get ride-share cars to come to their residence. This is a real problem for residents that need these services.
A: (City Manager) This shouldn’t be the case. Will look into this.
Q: Needles are an issue at South Common
A: Call x3200 police non-emergency number and the needles will be picked up right away.
Q: Actually, lots of issues at South Common.
A: LPD is aware and working on it. Lots of arrests were made recently specifically to get people help and services that they need in cooperation with the co-op program and Lowell’s new Drug Court.
City Manager Eileen Donoghue will speak on progress with various issues.
- Couldn’t be more proud of the Lowell Police Dept. The summer was relatively quiet compared to many other cities due to LPD’s hard work.
- Council has stressed financial security, partnerships with institutions, and public safety.
- Hamilton Canal District devised as an economic
development engine for the city. It got
a bit stuck due to the recession, but now its back on track.
- Streets “F” and “G” are under construction and the new signature bridge is nearing completion.
- Ground has been broken on the new garage. New construction manager at risk process and use of pre-cast concrete will bring the project in on budget and should be complete in about a year.
- New courthouse should be finished by the end of the year. Various court tenants will slowly more into the new building over a period of several months.
- Various lots are being looked at by private developers and it looks like land swap with National Park is nearing actualization.
- Lord overpass project will begin in the spring, to avoid conflict with garage construction activities.
- Tiger bridge program going well, except for the central street bridge. This project ran into difficulty because the canal couldn’t be fully drained of water. The bridge will be re-designed and then they will re-try. Project is being managed by MassDOT.
- New public art sculpture: “Hydro” was unveiled last week at Utopian Park. Park will be landscaped soon.
- Plaza in front of Leo Roy Garage has been fixed up by the city. Also, Kerouac park has had major improvements.
- Jackson Street will get new street trees.
- Middlesex & Marston Street bench has been removed and area will be improved.
- Hanging flower baskets have been replaced and expanded. A person has been hired to maintain them.
- Public Safety:
- New downtown precinct is focusing attention in the downtown area. City has seen big double-digit decreases in various crime categories.
- New police boat has made a big difference in dealing with craziness on the river.
- New police ATV allows easier access to otherwise difficult to reach locations by the rivers.
- Big problem all over the state and country as well as Lowell.
- In the spring a taskforce was formed, including police, school, hospital, CTI, many other organizations throughout city. Looked at successful Worcester program and brought in national expert to consult.
- Problem identified was not a lack of services, but that none were focused on housing, and the various programs weren’t coordinating.
- Old model required homeless people to get themselves “on track” before any help would be provided. New model is “housing first” so their situation is stabilized, and then on-site services can be provided.
- Transitional Living Center has historically kicked people out during the day. Now, in partnership with the taskforce, the shelter will stay open 24hrs and provide a platform for providing services.
- Rooming house development will be pursued to prove longer-term housing for the homeless while they get services.
- On a day and night in June, a count was taken all over the city to figure out how many homeless people there were in the city. Result was just under 200 people.
- Hospital is helping because health care costs are much lower if people are in housing instead of on the street.
Q: What about safety at the shelters.
A: Facility is under-funded so that’s a challenge. But city is working with the shelter on this problem.
Q: What about mental health?
A: Services have been provided by a facility in Lawrence. City is now working to have Lowell Community Health provide these services locally.
- High school project approved by MSBA, but its now under way for real.
- Lower Locks Status
- Mayor Samaris and Vice-Mayor Nuon have been pushing for a solution.
- Land is owned by many parties including city, park, UML, MCC, etc, which has been a challenge. Parties came away from meeting with a sense of urgency.
- All stakeholders have agreed to work on a feasibility study to figure out exactly what needs to be done. It will be a major project.
Q: Will Lord overpass project project connect with Western Ave Studios?
A: No. Train tracks are I the way.
Q: What can the city do when a developer comes in and starts and then abandons a project. (Specifically worried about a project 246.1 Market Street between Canal I and Canal III)
A: Developers have a fixed time to get things done. And they need to maintain the site. Will look into this specific property.
Q: Do properties need to maintain the area in front of their buildings?
Q: Can institutions (e.g. UML) do more to give to the city in lieu of taxes.
A: UML actually does do a lot, but a lot is behind the scenes. In fact, one project the UML decided to maintain as a private property rather than buying it as a concession to keep it on the tax roles.
Q: Comcast is a pain?
A: New company is coming in to offer fiber as an alternative.
Q: What will happen to the old courthouses?
A: They are owned by the state. Building on Gorham Street is a historic structure that will be very difficult to deal with. Another building is in very bad condition, but the city may be able to do something with it.
Mayor Samaris: The city manager has done a fantastic job. Many of the successes she mentioned are due to the Manager’s hard work and her taking the initiative to come up with good ideas to solve problems.
- October 8th panel discussion at Senior Center on the new voting system options. Will be on LTC.
Meeting Adjourns at 8:49.