Lowell City Council held their first meeting of the month last night at city hall. Normally held on a Monday, the meeting was moved to Tuesday as a result of the Fourth of July holiday.
With only three items on the agenda, the meeting ran for a relatively brief 40 minutes. All councilmembers were present except Mayor Mike DeVore, who was excused. In his absence, the meeting was run by Mayor Pro Tem Jim Salzwedel.
Citizen Comments on Marijuana Businesses, Water Bill Access
Before beginning discussion on agenda items, the floor was opened for citizen comments. Two city residents addressed the council during this time.
Denice Barker spoke about the number of marijuana business applications that have been approved. “I don’t think even the people who voted for the marijuana sales in Lowell expected this many businesses in this concentration,” she said. “I don’t believe the voters of Lowell anticipated an unlimited number of pot shops with no cap.”
She did not feel using tax money from marijuana businesses for an additional police officer was a good idea since it gave the impression the city needed more law enforcement as a result of the establishments. Instead, Barker suggested using the money for other needs such as a new air conditioner for the library, insurance for the Showboat or the future development of the fairgrounds.
Next, Perry Beachum shared his concern that the city’s online water bill payment system is set up in such a way that anyone can access the details of any resident’s account. City Manager Mike Burns said he would talk with the software vendor to see how to limit people’s access so they can only view their own account.
Unanimous Votes on All Agenda Items
The three items on the agenda were passed with minimal discussion.
- New Union Brewery requested that the city vacate an alleyway behind its property to help pave the way for its future expansion plans. Before approving the request, Salzwedel asked if vacating that section of alleyway would limit access for any other property owner, but Burns said the alleyway ended just past the railroad tracks.
- Dan Czarnecki, director of the Department of Public Works, presented plans to update the water treatment facility’s SCADA system as well as complete enhancements to the northeast pump booster station on Shepherd Drive. The SCADA system provides a centralized way to monitor all aspects of the water treatment facility. Last year’s budget included $90,000 for this work, and RS Technical, which has served as the city’s longtime SCADA contractor, quoted $96,817.36 for the job. The quote was approved by Lowell City Council and work will be completed during the winter months.
- Two sections of the sewer main on Bowes Road have deteriorated, presumably as a result of shifting rocks in the ground. A 12.5-foot section is cracked and another 17.5-foot section is broken. Plummer’s Environmental quoted $9,900 to complete a cure-in-place repair in which a resin sleeve is placed in the pipe and hardened with exposure to hot water. Salzwedel asked about the lifespan of the sleeve, and Czanecki replied, “Typically, cure-in-place lasts a good long while.”
All three agenda items were approved with unanimous votes.
City Manager Report: Road Repairs, Showboat Damage
In his city manager’s report, Burns shared that work on Foreman Street was just about complete while road repairs on Jane Ellen start this week. At the county level, the Kent County Road Commission will begin work on July 12 for the section of Alden Nash Ave from Fulton to Foreman Streets.
In trail news, the Lowell Area Trailway received $250,000 from the Meijer Foundation for a connector trail through town. The project now needs approximately $250,000 more to reach its fundraising goal.
The heavy rainfall from last week caused damage to the Showboat as water rose on a stairwell and entered the boat from a door on the second floor. As a result, carpeting was damaged and had to be removed.
“We’re still in the process of piecing together what was at fault [and] caused it,” Burns said. He added that since the boat’s insurance has a $50,000 deductible, the policy would not pay for repairs. However, he added that there “may be some fault with some people involved” and the city was looking into that further.
Salzwedel said there should be an easy fix for the problem, and Burns replied, “Yes, there may be.”
Councilmember Cliff Yankovich said people had asked him if the boat would open during summer concerts so people could sit on the deck. That would be up to the Showboat VI committee, according to Burns. Salzwedel noted that any time the boat was open, paid staff would need to be on hand to supervise.
The next regular meeting of Lowell City Council will take place on Monday, July 19, at 7pm on the second floor of City Hall.