Lowell Judicial Center Opening Delayed
LOWELL -- When is a construction project not behind schedule?
The latest construction delay is at the Lowell Judicial Center, which is not expected to hit its opening date projection this year.
Because of “a number of factors,” the $200 million center overlooking the city in the Hamilton Canal Innovation District is now expected to open in 2020, City Manager Eileen Donoghue reported at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
When pressed for details on the reasons why and precisely when the center will open, Donoghue declined to comment.
The later opening date could help with parking pains, however. The city had recently gone out to bid for the $35 million parking garage in the district, but the city received higher bids than expected.
Since then, city councilors have expressed concern that the judicial center will open without a parking garage, creating a parking nightmare.
They received additional information about parking for the justice center and surrounding area on Tuesday, in a report from Diane Tradd, director of the Department of Planning and Development. In addition to the 900-space parking garage, the city is hearing from private parties that they’re interested in constructing a 500-space privately-owned and operated garage, according to the report.
This information came in response to City Councilor Vesna Nuon’s motion to establish a working group to examine judicial center parking over the short- and long-term.
“I’m encouraged that we continue to engage all partners,” Nuon said. “And that the concern with parking will be addressed by the administration and DPD staff.”
The 900-space garage near the national park is expected to be complete in 2020. Donoghue said they’re making design changes to lower the cost of the 900-space garage.
The city is going “full-speed ahead” to make sure the garage is built as quickly as possible and within the $35 million budget, she added.
Construction for the 500-space private garage next to the justice center cannot start until Jan. 1, 2020, because the state has a temporary easement for the construction through the end of the year. The city has started to solicit an appraisal for the property, and has drafted a request for proposals -- which will be advertised later this month.
In the short term, Parcels 2, 3A and 4 have a temporary parking lot for users of 110 Canal, and Parcel 5 is being used as a parking area for justice center workers. Additionally, as a part of the district’s north infrastructure project, the city is building a temporary parking lot on Parcels 11 and 12. The city is also communicating with private property owners who have expressed interest in developing temporary parking on their property.
In the meantime, before the garages are finished, the city has looked at alternative transit options, according to Tuesday’s report. The city has worked with the Middlesex 3 Coalition on options other than parking downtown, including park-and-ride lots on the city periphery.
They mentioned that employees could park at Cawley Stadium or possibly privately-owned sites, where they could then take a shuttle downtown.
The city has received a grant to prepare a Request for Qualifications to provide planning and design services for the Downtown Lowell Multimodal Complete Streets Plan, which includes: analysis of existing bus routes, development of a new bus route scenario for the Hamilton Canal Innovation District and downtown, and other multimodal improvements.
In other business Tuesday, the City Council:
* Received Fiscal 2019 year-to-date budget report.
* Accepted a report on the Paris Accord.
* Accepted a report on Energy Savings Performance Contract.
* Accepted a report on CTI presentation.
* Received a Lowell High School project update.
* Reappointed JoAnn Howell-CTI to Hunger Homeless Commission.
* Appointed Helen Littlefield to Pollard Memorial Library Board of Trustees.
* Approved out-of-state travel for the Lowell Police Department.
* Authorized city manager execute license agreement with Enterprise Bank and Trust Co., overhanging signs.
* Authorized city manager execute memorandum of understanding with Traffic Supervisors.
* Transferred funding for Department of Public Works for public building, schools and fleet.
* Approved resolution -- City Council support Massachusetts Senate Docket 101, The Education Promise Act.
* Request State Senator and State Representatives revisit the State’s Bullying Policy, Chapter 71, Section 370, to amend the section which does not allow the perpetrator’s fate to be disclosed to the victims’ parents.
* Request City Council Solicit the opinion, through a ballot question, of the voters of the City of Lowell on whether they want to maintain the City of Lowell’s present Municipal Election Representation or direct the City to develop a new Municipal Election Representation for the City.
* Request City Manager work with the LRTA to incorporate a Courtesy Button Program which will provide buttons for our elderly, disabled and pregnant riders, to allow them to have priority seating on the bus.
* Request City Manager have the proper department review the, “Age Friendly Boston Action Plan 2017” and provide a report to the City Council as to preparing an “Elderly Friendly Lowell Action Plan” for achieving a more elderly-friendly Lowell.
* Request City Manager report to City Council regarding a plan to reorganize the Department of Public Works and the Parks Department.
* Request City Manager instruct Department of Planning and Development to provide City Council with a report regarding all pending and potential economic development projects going on in the City currently.
* Request City Manager have proper department look into the installation of a bus shelter at the LRTA stop on Broadway Street near the Lowell Senior Center.
* Regarding matter of litigation, namely Huot Et Al v. City of Lowell, public discussion of which could have a detrimental effect on the city’s position.