Dense meeting last night. Mona Tyree honored, class trip to Montreal, ARPA Funds, Fire Trucks, Inflation Reduction Act and Clean Energy, Facebook, disruptive audience members, Shedd Park, cannabis delivery and 18 new motions. As per usual, I’m going to cut some massive corners. Good time to remind that these meetings are broadcast in all their glory by
Starbucks LTC 99 each and every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., with replays available on demand. There’s no substitute for the real thing.
1. We Stand on Guard for Thee, Eh
The city that destroyed Le Petit Canada and scattered the ashes is looking to establish ties with our neighbors to the north. C’est ironique, non? Mayor Chau informed the Council of an upcoming cultural exchange to Montreal. Local podcaster and Madame President of the Greater Lowell Chamber of Commerce, Danielle McFadden, was on hand to provide details on the trip – which will have no cost to taxpayers. As per Ms. McFadden, as well as a letter provided to the council, the trip is an “opportunity to explore economic development strategies and best practices in public/private partnership regarding the cultural economy.” Oh, indeed. As a much younger man, I too studied Montreal’s rich culture. From what little I can recall, the “ballets” on Rue Sainte Catherine are without rival.
In related news, the city is establishing a sister city committee. This committee would be responsible for establishing consistent policy considerations relative to the establishment of new sister city relationships and to foster and strengthen the existing partnerships. The Committee would be comprised of representatives from the Mayor’s Office, members of the City Council, and staff from the City Manager’s Office, as well as community representatives from the following disciplines: the arts community; historic preservation; urban planning; and legal.
2. Stephen Botto Field House at Shedd Park
A group spearheaded by Brian Durkin has been raising funds to construct a concession stand/bathroom facility on the grounds of Upper Shedd Park. Last night there was a vote to “accept and expend Fiscal Year 2023 earmarked State funds Grant in the amount Fifty Thousand and 00/100 ($50,000.00) Dollars of
earmarked funds from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to be focused on work related to construction of a concession building at Shedd Park.” Mr. Durkin was present to provide some background on Mr. Botto’s legacy as well as the need for the field house. To date, a group of citizens (including a handful of councilors) has raised over $37,000. The state grant will go a long way toward completing this project. Please consider donating by clicking this link. Perhaps some ARPA money could be thrown their way as well.
3. ARPA Spending Update(s)
Speaking of ARPA, the council received a nifty update on American Rescue Plan Act spending. A “dashboard” on the city website has been in the works and is expected to launch next month. In the meantime, we were provided the following graphics that illustrate what’s been spent so far and how much we have left:
4. Catching Up With 2011 [said the blogger]
The city rolled out an ambitious plan aimed at “leveraging social media as a source of community updates through which to connect constituents, voters, and supporters throughout the city around common interests, causes, issues, and events.” Further, “MIS proposes the use of Facebook Groups as the communications platform of choice for educating and engaging the public about the city’s work, services, and general community updates, while simultaneously combating disinformation.”
The content we can expect to see on the platform would include:
• Neighborhood (District #), e.g., Pawtucketville (Districts 1, 4) – Each neighborhood will
have its own group which will also indicate its district number(s). City related updates
impacting the neighborhood (e.g., construction, traffic, paving, events, etc.) will be posted
here in order to help everyone know about municipal matters related to or going on in their
• Employment Opportunities – Information about city job postings will be posted here to
further expand the reach regarding employment opportunities within the city.
• Health & Human Services – Information about health and human services issues (e.g.,
vaccination clinics, homeless/unhoused initiatives, etc.) will be posted here.
• American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) – Information about the city’s ARPA recovery plans
will be posted here.
• Waste & Recycling – Information about solid waste and recycling issues will be posted
• Public Safety & Emergency Operations – Information about police and fire related issues,
as well as matters related to preparing for and guiding the community through emergency
related matters (e.g., missing people, inclement weather, disaster planning, etc.) will be
• Economic Development – Information about the economic development efforts (e.g.,
funding opportunities, success stories, new businesses, etc.) throughout the city will be
5. The Rest
- The Department of Planning and Development provided draft amendments to the City’s
existing Marijuana Ordinance. The changes to the ordinance expand our existing ordinance language
to include delivery and courier services and identify zones in the city where new businesses are
allowed to locate. Is this just changes to delivery businesses? If so, when are we going to amend zoning for walk-in retail? Do we not have too many vacant storefronts Downtown? Are these not good businesses who contribute more than their fair share in tax revenue? Is there a good reason reason why retail operations can’t open Downtown?
- Some shots fired by Councilor Gitschier at past Councils for kicking the can on fire trucks. Nevertheless, we are getting new ones.
- As always, a detailed report and presentation by Katherine Moses, our Energy Manager, 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.” As indicated by the report and noted by Councilor Drinkwater, the City is ahead of the curve on these matters and is well positioned to take advantage of grant opportunities.
- During the “Petitions” for property damage claims an audience member or 2 started yelling about not having the opportunity to speak. Apparently they had not registered to do so, as is required. I couldn’t quite hear what they were saying. Maybe next week we’ll get the full story.