If Council Meetings are Christmas presents, last night was a water pistol that shoots jelly. Clocking-in at about an hour, last night was one of (if not the) shortest meeting(s) of the year. As the Council voted to cancel next Tuesday’s meeting, this was also the last meeting of 2022. This may be a good thing. The last few weeks have been a little thin on substance and a break to recharge batteries may be in order.
However, what the meeting may have lacked in length and substance, it more than made up for by way of style. Each member of the Council was presented with and proudly displayed some awesome scarves from the young adults at the MassHire program:
In addition, Council Yem once again set the standard for Council haute couture:
Not to say that it was all fun and games, there were three motion responses:
- An update on the on The Complete Streets Prioritization Plan;
- An update on the Greenhalge School Playground; and
- A report on how to keep crackpot speakers from hijacking council meetings (politely worded as a “Report On What Options May Be Available To Increase The Requirements To Have A Petition To Address The Council, I.E. Minimum Number Of Signatories On A Petition Or Other Options“)
In addition, there were public hearings on the creation of two new administrative positions: (1) an American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Administrative Assistant, and (2) an American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Grant Fiscal Coordinator. These temporary positions (4 years) will pay $50,771.24 – $59,522.32 and $63,365.12 – $74,342.32, respectively. Councilor Gitschier took exception with the amount being offered as these salaries are above that of current city employees in with similar job duties. In voting in opposition to both, Councilor Gitischier noted that that setting high salaries for temporary employees reflects “poor management” as it sends a bad message to our existing workforce. Councilor Rourke pushed back – pointing-out that any current employee is welcome to apply for the new higher-paying jobs. However, given their temporary nature, one wonders if anyone would actually do so. The Administrative Assistant posting passed 10-1. The Grant Fiscal Coordinator posting passed 9-2 (with Councilor Leahy joining Councilor Gitschier in opposition – though no reasoning was provided).
Finally, in the new year, we can look forward to responses to the following motions that were brought forward last night:
- C. Robinson – Req. City Mgr. Have Proper Department Provide A Detailed Plan On Maintenance And Treatment Of Pedestrian Walkways And Bridges In Inclement Weather. C.
- C. Yem – Req. City Mgr. Have The Appropriate Department Maintain Decatur Way; Including Installing Trash Receptacles, Empty Them And Police Patrol.
- C. Nuon – Req. City Mgr. Have Proper Department Provide A Report On The Citizens’ Advisory Committee; Including Members And Activity/Accomplishments To Date.
- C. Nuon – Req. City Mgr. Have Proper Department Provide A Report On 131 Middlesex Street, Formerly Occupied By Garcia Brogans, Regarding Status Of New Tenant.
- C. Jenness/C. Nuon/C. Gitschier – Req. City Mgr. Have Proper Department Prepare A Detailed Breakdown Of Parking Pass Holder And Group Agreement Quantities By Garage And By Rate Class To Inform Decision Making On The Parking Rates Going Forward.
- C. Jenness/C. Nuon – Req. City Mgr. Provide City Council With A List Of Agencies, Churches And Social Service Organizations Who Provide Homeless Individuals With Winter Outreach/Shelter/Services.
- C. Jenness/C. Nuon – Req. City Mgr. Provide City Council With A Report Detailing Response Protocols For Emergency Disaster Events; Further, Request Said Report Include Information Relative To Feedback Provided By Residents On Where Improvements Can Be Made To Said Protocols.
- C. Drinkwater/C. Gitschier – Req. City Mgr. Direct The Appropriate Department To Provide A Report On Funding Opportunities For Energy Efficiency And Solar Energy Projects On Public Buildings Through The Federal Inflation Reduction Act And The Infrastructure Investment And Jobs Act.
One last note – the process for the City’s next Master Plan, to be called “Lowell Forward” has begun. The Steering Committee (comprised of residents, stakeholders, experts, and at least one screwball blogger) has had two meetings and the website is now live. Check it out for information on upcoming events and how to participate. At a minimum, please take the survey and add the plan to your social media “follows.”
So ends my last recap for 2022. I’m looking forward to more in 2023 at the Lowell Citizen and on Inside Lowell. Speaking of, check back over the next couple of weeks as I will have some “year in review” type content to share.