Left In Lowell

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December 6, 2012

Last Chance to Gripe!

by at 12:21 pm.

Well, if you’re inclined to griping, at least.

The city is asking for feedback on its draft version of the Comprehensive Master Plan: Sustainable Lowell 2025. There will be two public meetings in the new year for the public to bring their feedback:
Monday, January 7th at Alumni Hall, 84 University Ave, UMass Lowell North Campus, 6:00 - 8:00 PM
Wednesday, January 9th at Lowell Senior Center, 276 Broadway Street, 6:00 - 8:00 PM

And…”Comments can also be submitted by phone or online to Allegra Williams, Neighborhood Planner at (978) 674-4252 or awilliams@lowellma.gov between December 3rd - January 15th, 2013. Comments will be incorporated into a final plan, which will be presented for adoption and endorsement in the Winter of 2013.”

You can download the draft plan here.

19 Responses to “Last Chance to Gripe!”

  1. George DeLuca Says:

    Actually, many comments that were made at the previous forums haven’t been incorporated in the current draft. Questions that were asked weren’t answered as promised. Major issues are not addressed and there are gaping holes. And we shouldn’t be trying to plan beyond 10 years.

    Lowell2020 is ramping up for its first meeting in January. To get involved or stay abreast, like the Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/Lowell2020 . Also, I’ll be posting an update on the Lowell2020 blog soon to cover the issues more specifically. Stay tuned.

    In the meantime, please read the document posted by Lynne above and comment. Thanks Lynne!

  2. Jack Says:

    Lynne,
    Should we start charging for add space or keep giving it away?

  3. tryin' Says:

    It is so reassuring to see my department leadership was clearly not involved in any way in this “master plan” project. Also there is apparently no vision going forward by anyone else for some aspects of public safety, short of possibly trying to consolidate with other communities. I suppose an optimist should conclude we must be the perfect organization already?

  4. George DeLuca Says:

    …”Comments can also be submitted by phone or online to Allegra Williams, Neighborhood Planner at (978) 674-4252 or awilliams@lowellma.gov between December 3rd - January 15th, 2013. Comments will be incorporated into a final plan, which will be presented for adoption and endorsement in the Winter of 2013.”

    Just awful!

    Pretty arrogant to put this out during the holiday season knowing that people are focused on the holidays and aftermath.

    First thing we need to do is to move the date soliciting input to March. What’s the rush?

    It’s also glaring that the report highlights the names the DPD staff and friends, but not those who attended the meetings and provided the input contained in the draft.

    The message I’m hearing is “We know what we’re doing. No need to comment.” Nothing is further from the truth.

    Its time for the City Council and School Committee to wake up and lead this effort. Don’t be taken in by this crap.

  5. Jack Says:

    I was wondering what flew up DeLuca’s skirt, it gets so tedious keeping track, but anyways; here it is:

    (4-9)- Because High School students are an important market for downtown businesses and the urban National Park environment in Lowell contributes to a holistic education experience, work to retain the High School in Downtown and plan for future facility improvements consistent with recommendations of the Downtown Evolution Plan.

    (bold mine)

    Look, I’m not convinced, to the same degree of certitude as The Lowell Plan, that the kids are keeping the downtown alive. The paragraph incorporated in the Draft pushes a certitude that does grate my inquisitiveness.

    Geographic proximity to UML and MCC seem to make a better argument to me, as we seek our upperclass highschoolers to make seemless transitions to these two schools.

    I think a bigger problem to a thriving downtown is the proximity of too much subsidized housing and the small medicated army of wards of the state doing the thorazine shuffle during the daylight hours. Move the outpatient ward of the various rehab hospitals away by a mile, and we won’t need teenagers to keep the chashiers busy.

  6. Lynne Says:

    I have to disagree with you a bit, Jack…on the dollars spent downtown by high school students. I’ve been down there a few afternoons here and there, and I do see them in the stores, but particularly in the restaurants. There’d be a lot of dollars lost if the school were moved.

    Also, the taxpayer dollars involved in moving a school of such size…for both reworking the old site to new use (and what use, exactly, would that be?? Maybe UML would be interested…but otherwise?) and for building a new school for that many students.

    I’m really tired of the old “you kids get off my lawn!” argument. It was tired and expended long ago.

  7. Kim Says:

    It concerns me more that they make the statement as a statement of fact, but then provide no data or citations. Was there a survey or a report that said that students were a valuable market segment in the downtown? If so, then cite the sources in the report. If not, do not include it.

  8. Jack Says:

    I’m saying the kids offset the dollars lost because the downtown is depressed. Now, we get into the “chicken or the egg” thing. Is the dowtown depressed because “poverty is big business in Lowell?” Or, is “poverty” the best plausible industry because Lowell hasn’t designed itself to attract retail gentrification?

    If the businesses were not subsistant on the kids, then we could have a conversation about where the best location for the HS, based on the kids. I think being within walking distant to both UML and/or MCC is a benefit to the kids. The linearity of the 3 campuses would be broken, if the HS moved to the Tewksbury line.

  9. joe from Lowell Says:

    The downtown is depressed? The downtown has been depressed for a middle-aged lifetime. The issue is, what’s the trend?

    To the extent that Lowell “hasn’t designed itself to attract retail gentrification,” it’s a lack of housing in and around the downtown, and that is a problem that will, at this point, solve itself. The Bush Recession is over, the housing market is heating up again, and there are going to be hundreds, into the four-figures, of additional market-rate units built in, or within walking distance of, the downtown over the next few years. It’s just a matter of how long that takes. We’ve certainly made great progress already.

    Long view, Jack. Turnarounds don’t happen overnight, and the whole country just took a body blow.

  10. Jack Says:

    Subsidized housing is just market rate housing laying fallow, unless the deeds are restricted.

    If the Real Estate market improves, the downtown hobblers will be run out on a rail by the greed of the building owners.

    Dracut could take them?

  11. George DeLuca Says:

    You’re on the right track, Jack.

  12. joe from Lowell Says:

    Most of the subsidized housing does have deed restrictions. With 40B in place, what community wouldn’t get deed restrictions over its subsidized housing?

    But what’s the rush to throw the poor people out of their homes, anyway? “The downtown hobblers?” What are you, Mitt Romney?

    There’s no shortage of opportunities for new market rate housing in the area. We don’t need to start driving anyone out in order to ramp up the number of market-rate housing units pretty considerably.

  13. George DeLuca Says:

    Joe, its not just the “greed of the building owners”, there’s a subtle movement to displace senior citizens and people with disabilities from downtown.

    Of course, no one’s going to lobby for it. We’re talking about the self described “Blowellians”. Those who go out of their way to differentiate themselves from “Lowellians”. Since they’ve been called out, the term “Blowellian” seems to have all but disappeared from bloggerview.

    Lowell has its own version of NIMBY.

  14. Jack Says:

    JfL,
    For decades, the cities Brahmin lived along the rim of the bowl, descending to work or chase a deal. The bowl was filled with whatever it took to serve the purpose, provide sustenance to the Brahmin.

    The “Mills to Martini’s” escapade, plopped a fiesty hoard of creators, who will eat, drink and make merry within a 4 block distance of their beds.

    There is a clash.

    Poverty is big business in Lowell. If I’m Mitt Romney, you must run CTI.

  15. George DeLuca Says:

    Ah Jack,
    I’m tempted to wax historical with you here but will save it for another time. But what you say is certainly relevant.

    I will say that Kirk Boott built his mansion where the Boott Mills now sit. You know Kirk, the guy who was entrusted to build Lowell?

    Subsequently, his manse was moved to the site that became St. Joseph’s Hospital, now being demolished (credit my friend Bill Walsh on this). I’m wondering if any thought was given to identifying the exact location of the site so that artifacts from the transferred Boott Mansion could be located as part of the demolition project.

    Perhaps Richard Howe knows the answer as he’s currently writing a book about Lowell’s origin as a Mill Town and its transformation to modern day, due out in March 2013.

    Ironically, not long after his mansion was moved, Mr. Boott died on April 11, 1837 at the corner of Dutton and Market St. while in his carriage. It’s been recorded that he had a stroke or anuerism, and its been said that he may have fell onto the street dead as he may have been standing at the time.

    History is indeed relevant to planning Lowell’s future. But “Art is the Handmaid of Human Good” is not as much about visual “Art” as it is about artisanship, craftmanship or the ability to create and develop something to its fullest purpose and hightest value for the “Brahmins”. A modern example would be UML’s endeavors in and support of nano technology, plastics and bio-medicine. Hopefully, we learn from history here and the outcome is different.

    Focusing on safety in such initiatives is paramount so we don’t inadvertantly create a “black hole” that swallows us all up. Just kidding … maybe.

    As for the High School question, my blog post will be uploaded by day’s end tomorrow.

    Have a good Sunday.

  16. joe from Lowell Says:

    If I’m Mitt Romney, you must run CTI.

    Um…ok. Call me a liberal, but I think I come out very much ahead on that exchange. God bless CTI, and everything they’ve done to make Lowell a better and more humane place.

    There is a clash.

    Every urban center has a significant population of poor people, and people receiving services. Poverty is “big business” in San Francisco, Boston, and every other successfully-revitalized city in this country, too. The difference between successful cities and failing ones is not the presence or absence of the poor, but the presence of absence of others. You tell me there’s a clash, but I didn’t notice the high number of subsidized units scaring off the developers, artists, and city-lovers in the decade before the Great Recession.

  17. joe from Lowell Says:

    If there is a clash, Jack, then why did the artists, and the developers who cater to them, turn their sights on the JAM area and the Acre - the ACRE fer chrissakes, the industrial section of the city’s poorest area! - when downtown prices crept up too high?

  18. Jack Says:

    JfL,
    As you know, the developers use the subsidized housing to get access to certain loan programs. They have to lay away a precentage of the units to even get in the game.

    It’s a money game that Gateway Cities are stuck in.

    From henceforth, shall you be called Saint Joe from Lowell?

    My sin is serving the full spectrum of Lowellians, with a bias towards the middle class? I’ll take that charge, glady.

  19. joe from Lowell Says:

    Lowellians, including middle-class Lowellians, in 1978 would have given their left arms to be “stuck” in a money game that involves the successful revitalization of buildings for housing, including some affordable housing. You use this vague language about “clashes,” but you won’t come out and say it: what’s the problem? Why do imagine that anything that has happened in Lowell, including the provision of affordable housing, has been bad for the city’s middle class?

    When two things have been happening side-by-side for decades, and they’ve both been successful, I have a very hard time believing that they are incompatible.

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