1. Return of Lowell Water Festival
After a two-year hiatus due to Covid, the Lowell Southeast Asian Water Festival will be returning in 2022 for its 25-year anniversary.
As per the festival website:
The Lowell Southeast Asian Water Festival, Inc. is dedicated to the preservation, protection and sharing of cultural heritages of the Southeast Asian Americans in the Greater Lowell area of Massachusetts.
Every third Saturday in August, more than 60,000 people from around the country and the world come to Lowell to celebrate water as it is celebrated in Southeast Asia. They come for the blessings, food, crafts, performances and (of course) the races.
In 1997, the first Lowell Southeast Asian Water Festival celebrated the culture of Lowell’s many Khmer citizens. In 2002, representatives of Lowell’s Khmer, Thai, Vietnamese and Laotian communities incorporated the Lowell Southeast Asian Water Festival, Inc as a 501c3 tax exempt non-profit corporation.
Representatives were on hand to announce that the festival would return on August 20, 2022. Councilor Nuon suggested an earmark of city funds to assist with the yearly cost of the festival. Councilor Robinson added a request for thorough cleaning of the area prior to the start date.
Check in at https://www.facebook.com/LSEAWF/ for updates.
2. Transportation Subcommittee Report
Councilor Rourke reported that the focus of the meeting was a prior motion of Councilor Jenness relative to electric vehicle charging stations:
C. Jenness – Req. City Mgr. provide a report on the City’s current strategies and initiatives around the deployment of electric vehicle chargers around the City of Lowell.
It is a goal of our current Master Plan that we “[e]nsure that sufficient infrastructure exists to support a network of electric vehicles, including the establishment of electric vehicle charging stations, and home-based charging stations.”
It was reported that the city has made progress on this issue but more efforts were needed in the future. A supply of public chargers can increase the confidence of drivers to move to electric vehicles. I was surprised to learn that it’s currently free to use the charging stations. However, it was reported that this arrangement will change in the future.
3. Homeless Camps
C. Gitschier/C. Scott – Req. City Mgr. Have The Proper Department Work On Providing Services To The Homeless On Plain Street At Target Plaza And Providing A Timeframe For Removal Of The Tents.
This is a thorny issue that goes well beyond Lowell. What’s worse, the number of un-housed individuals and families in Massachusetts has been increasing since the 1990s. This trend is, in part, a consequence of a lack affordable housing. However, it’s going to take years (and better efforts) to address the local, state and national housing crisis. At present, the homeless camps throughout the city pose an ecological and humanitarian crisis. Many of the structures are located in or near protected areas. Trash accumulates and human waste can enter the water supply. Councilor Gitschier reported that trees have been removed and animals displaced.
It was agreed by all speaking on the motion that the solution must involve more than mere displacement. Services and alternative housing options must be provided before the camps are simply cleaned out. In many cities grappling with this issue, the solution has been the establishment of legal “encampments” that offer shelter, sanitation and social services. Indeed, an entire industry has emerged for these shelters and services. In November of 2021, Councilor Drinkwater suggested something along these lines:
C. Drinkwater – Req. City Mgr. Contact The Executive Office Of Health And Human Services To Explore The Feasibility Of Establishing Temporary Cottage Housing With Wraparound Services To Provide Additional Shelter Options For Unhoused Individuals In Lowell.
Though there was no resolution last night, this as an issue that deserves consistent focus and I’m pleased to see the council addressing it.
4. Where Do We Stand With Real Journalism?
Last month, I was disappointed to come across the following tweet:
I was a big fan of Jacob Vitali’s reporting and thought he covered City Hall as well as anyone I can recall. One of the reasons I started this site was to just get more out there on a consistent basis relative to Lowell politics. Clearly, this site is an amateurish hobby and doesn’t constitute reliable news. Without hard-working pros like Jacob, there simply is not enough information out there – thus leading to apathy and ignorance.
As of the publishing of this post on Wednesday the 11th at 10:00 a.m., there is no Sun coverage of last night’s meeting. There is, however, a helpful article by a psychic about “What It Means to be Seeing Angels.”