The Raytheon-UMass Lowell Research Institute (RURI)

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Mark & Elisia Saab Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center (ETIC)

On August 12, Raytheon Company and the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UML) “announced an agreement to establish a joint research facility focused on the advancement of innovative technologies in a collaborative, state-of-the-art institute.” Raytheon is committing up to $5 million over the next 10 years to establish the new research facility dubbed The Raytheon-UMass Lowell Research Institute (RURI).

The new research center will occupy the top floor of the new Mark & Elisia Saab Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center (ETIC) at UML’s North Campus. The ETIC is the $80 million, 84,000 SF, research facility which opened on October 11, 2012. Two top Raytheon officials attended the grand opening, a testament to the depth of UMass Chancellor Marty Meehan’s vision and laser focus.

“We look forward to bringing the expertise of our top-notch faculty together with researchers from Raytheon. This new partnership is just one example of how UMass Lowell is leading the way in collaborating with industry to power innovation and the economy in Massachusetts and beyond,” said Chancellor Meehan. “This institute will also provide our students with the kind of real-world experience that is one of the hallmarks of a UMass Lowell education.”

“As a co-directed, co-located research environment, the RURI signifies a unique opportunity for Raytheon’s university partnerships,” said Mark E. Russell, Raytheon vice president of Engineering, Technology and Mission Assurance. “The RURI will serve as an extension of our current research capabilities and represents a resource across the Raytheon enterprise for the study of advanced materials and flexible circuit technologies, such as printable electronics and nanotechnology.”

UML continues to roll out a credible workforce development strategy after announcing expansion plans for their M2D2 program and leasing prime additional space at 110 Canal St. The M2D2 program is incubating medical device companies, some of which expect to reach their funding goals of anywhere between $10 million and $50 million a year by 2017-2022. Middlesex Community College (MCC) is right in sync with its own STEM Career Exploration initiative. In March, MCC announced a $3 million capital grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) to build a new biotechnology facility on Middle Street.

MCC's Talbot Building on Middle Street in Lowell, MA

MCC’s Talbot Building on Middle Street in Lowell, MA

MCC’s new facility will be located on the fifth floor of the Talbot Science Building on Middle Street. The 10k SF space will include a lecture room, laboratory, clean room, gowning area, and prep room. The facility “will significantly expand the capacity of MCC to prepare its students in the best possible way to meet the workforce needs of the life-sciences industry.”

And that’s not all. The City Council approved a tax-increment financing agreement (TIF) to make way for Metigraphics move to 1001 Pawtucket Blvd. Metigraphics specializes in designing, prototyping, and mass production of micron-scale components. Sounds a little like nano-technology. As noted in an Aug. 18 Lowell Sun editorial, Metigraphics is excited to be near UMass Lowell and its innovations initiatives.

John Power, CEO of Farley-White, the company that owns 1001 Pawtucket Blvd. and, Wannalancit MIlls (the current M2D2 site), noted last October that 500,000 SF of business expansion space is needed in downtown Lowell. Hopefully, the City is listening. The dynamic synergy of these partnerships and the spirit of collaboration that continues to build signifies Lowell’s steady emergence as a Global City.

George DeLuca
ComeToLowell.com

The Future of Lowell High School AND the City of Lowell – an analysis

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Lowell Downtown Crossing Residences connect to businesses on the Arcand Drive side of the canal.

Moving Lowell High School to the Cawley Site: “This proposal … involves the construction of a complete new facility located (2 miles) from the center of the city, where land is ample and few site constraints exist. Such a facility could correct all of the perceived shortfalls of the current facility, including the need to bus students to sports practice.” Jeff Speck, Downtown Lowell Evolution Plan, October 2010

Reasons for moving Lowell High School to the Cawley site:

  1. Building a new high school at the Cawley site allows for a customized and a state-of-the-art approach to design, and, a modern campus for the students with recreational grounds onsite and at nearby parks.
  2. Lowell builds credibility in its pursuit of Global City status.
  3. The property will fuel the City’s economic development strategy.
  4. The High School site is the most valuable piece of real estate in Lowell.
  5. The property would be a tremendous boon for the tax base, perhaps paying off much of the debt service for a new high school.
  6. As Downtown Lowell begins to flourish, property values rise throughout the City.
  7. Larger businesses will not relocate to downtown Lowell because of gridlock in the morning and between 2-4pm in the afternoon.
  8. It’s extremely difficult to educate students while tearing down adjacent buildings and conducting major construction projects during school session.
  9. Designing a renovated high school to the logistics of the existing site and buildings is equivalent to trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. The costs associated with this inefficient process would be astronomical, resulting in “less bang for the buck.”
  10. The associated traffic congestion, loitering, vandalism and theft will continue for years to come unabated. The 8am and 2pm clogs continue disrupting everything else going on in downtown Lowell.

Reasons for renovating the High School

  1. Proximity to UML and MCC
  2. Tradition and history
  3. It’s the desire of the Lowell Plan.

The good news is that this issue brings the City of Lowell to a tipping point.

The future of Lowell High School is the biggest issue facing Lowell since East Chelmsford was developed into a mill town beginning in the 1820s, during the time period before Lowell was incorporated as a City.

Currently, downtown Lowell is trying to be too many things. Unfortunately, the High School’s current physical plant is not only in a period of gross functional and physical obsolescence, it also stands in the way of progress as the City of Lowell continues its quest to move forward in a constantly changing world.

The City of Lowell should take care to not squander this opportunity to assert its potential as a Global City.

Consider the impact:

  1. Move LHS to the Cawley site, and reprogram the current property as the hub of downtown Lowell. I’m using the working title Downtown Crossing in Lowell because the property literally connects Downtown Lowell as it currently exists with:
  • UMass Lowell’s North & East Campuses,
  • the UML Tsongas Center,
  • the future development adjacent to the UML Tsongas Center,
  • Middlesex Community College,
  • LNHP including Boott Cotton Mills Museum & Boarding House Park
  • The Riverwalk along the Merrimack which leads to Lelacheur Baseball Park.
  • Parking Garages at John St. & UML Tsongas Arena

Potential Uses of LHS property:

  1. UML business incubation
  2. UML business startups
  3. Next level for UML Innovations Center development and start-ups, inclusive of the M2D2, Robotics, Nano technology and Plastics Engineering divisions
  4. UML & MCC administrative offices
  5. UML Tsongas Center support
  6. UML Tsongas Center hotel/conference center support
  7. LNHP programs
  8. MCC programs
  9. Arts College (Mass. College for the Arts satellite school)
  10. UML, MCC, and Arts College community resources space
  11. Theaters (both LHS and Freshman Academy)
  12. Wegmans, Trader Joes, or simply an expanded Market Basket
  13. Residences: Market Rate units; for artists, local employees and business owners (existing Kirk Street buildings)

Study potential site amenities like:

  1. Retain the tube walks
  2. Potential for roof top gardens and common space
  3. Overhead connection to parking garage
  4. Facilitation of access to the Riverwalk
  5. Trolley drop off and pickup

Accessibility:

  1. By train from Boston (future concept from Concord NH)
  2. By Trolley from Gallagher Terminal
  3. By bicycle
  4. Pedestrians
  5. Destination to the Riverwalk
  6. On-site residents

Who will come to Lowell:

  1. Businesses will vie for space anywhere in Downtown Lowell
  2. Students & faculty
  3. Workers
  4. Residents
  5. Families
  6. More tourists

How will the City benefit:

  1. Expansion of the tax base.
  2. Establishes Lowell as a global city.
  3. Local jobs creation strategy becomes realistic.

Marketing:

  1. A marketing campaign starts once the decision is made to move forward.
  2. Global multi-media – full press with the assistance of partners like UML and MCC.
  3. Lowell becomes a  participant on the world stage drawing interest from every continent.

Lowell can become a credible participant in the global economy, while forging a reputation for true sustainability.

How will the City benefit:

  1. M2D2 companies are projecting growth to $500 million in 5-10 years.
  2. Mr. Power of Farley & White has recommended that we need 500k of space with uses similar to Wannalancit Mills in downtown.
  3. New concept, full to capacity (24/7)
  4. Expansion of the tax base.
  5. Lowell establishes itself as a global city.

Next Steps:

  1. Open discussion with educators, parents and potential partners
  2. Bring Chancellor Meehan and the delegation into the discussion.
  3. Hold community wide consensus building sessions
  4. Pursue a feasibility study of the Cawley site to study traffic and logistics
  5. Invite Jim Cook of the Lowell Plan to a City Council meeting to explain his reasoning for insisting the high school remain downtown.

TO BE CONTINUED …

“changes in the wind” in Lowell, MA …

Recently, I’ve been working on a documentary film that I plan to have finished by next spring. So, I’ve decided to take a step back from writing about Lowell politics, which sometimes presents toxic grounds for artists to wade into. Recently, much of my writing has focused on the welfare of Lowell’s future high school students and their families. My conclusion is that it’s in the best interest of the City to build a new high school at Cawley Campus.

If you click on this POST and read it all the way through, you’ll better understand my point of view last Fall from the floors of both the Lowell School Committee Facilities Subcommittee AND the Lowell School Committee.

The commitments made by Lowell School Committee members at these meetings were disregarded. To date, I’ve received no acknowledgment or explanation for why there was an about face, except that one member (in essence) said that I should have been paying better attention to changes in the wind. I guess that means, it’s my fault for giving our “leaders” the benefit of the doubt and believing in them.

I have one more piece to write, which I hope to get out by mid-week. It’ll be positive, I promise.

In the future, this blog will likely cover features more along the lines of this post or this one. Hope to see you then!

George DeLuca

Lowell not ready for a downtown hotel

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UML Inn and Conference Center

Planning for a hotel in downtown Lowell should be placed on hold until the high school “dilemma” is sorted out.

Currently, the Mass. School Building Authority (MSBA) has a Statement of Interest from the City stipulating that members of the Lowell City Council and School Committee prefer the high school to remain downtown. If the MSBA ultimately agrees to fund 80% of the renovation and expansion in place project, then the outlook is dim for a hotel to be built in the downtown area anytime soon. And expect the dominoes of anti-growth to fall from there.

The primary reason is that the high school is a major physical and perceptual obstruction separating the UML Tsongas Arena, the Lelacheur Baseball Park and the Riverwalk from the heart of Downtown Lowell. If a hotel was built on Lot B next to the Tsongas Arena, visitors to the City would find themselves virtually trapped each week during the school year from September through June.

Consider a new hotel near the Lowell Memorial Auditorium and you have the same problem. Visitors would be isolated from the downtown during the morning and mid-afternoon hours as students pour into the downtown area. The result would be very unpleasant for tourists, business people and others who come to the City. Highly reputable business leaders in Lowell have already advised city officials about this reality.

And what would happen during the summer months? UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan has stated that the UML Inn and Conference Center’s 252 rooms are only 50% full this time of year. This leaves a glut of about 126 unfilled downtown hotel rooms for most of the summer. How do you reconcile supply vs. demand with this looming reality?

If the MSBA allows the feasibility study for Lowell High School’s renovation and expansion on its current site, and the project is ultimately approved, a hotel will never be a viable option for the downtown. This has already been proven.

However, if it’s decided to design and build a new state-of-the-art high school at Cawley Campus, plans for a new hotel in downtown Lowell can then proceed immediately, along with plans for the new global enterprise zone at the high school property.

Furthermore, as M2D2 and businesses associated with other UML Innovations Programs mature and consider expansion, they could occupy the high school property. If and when this happens, businesses from all over the world will want to ComeToLowell. Having a hotel within a block of Lowell’s new global enterprise area will become a huge advantage and the current barrier to and from the heart of downtown will be gone. In fact, this very heart will shift and beat with a new vitality!

If it’s decided to build a new state-of-the-art high school to go with the recreational facilities offered at Cawley Campus, the synergy resulting from development spinning off Lowell’s new global enterprise zone would be phenomenal! Not only will a hotel be feasible, but Jeff Speck’s proposed Tsongas Arena Circle development and JFK Plaza reconstruction will suddenly make sense.

Once the decision to go forward is made, opportunities will become more evident, and ultimately, Lowell’s tax base will flourish. And if Lowell continues to play its cards right in the aftermath of the success of making such a decision, Lower Locks recreational park and other Jeff Speck proposed initiatives may not be far behind.

Editor’s Note: This post is in response to Item 9.2 on Tuesday night’s City Council Agenda: C. Mercier – Req. City Council and the administration set the goal and meet the challenge to start the process of establishing a hotel in the City of Lowell downtown area.

George DeLuca
ComeToLowell.com

Jeff Speck to Lowell: “Don’t change Father Morissette Blvd.”

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Important to UMass Lowell and Wannalancit Mills …

I’ve been asked by urban planner Jeff Speck to pass this on:

April 26, 2014

George,

As someone who advocates for alternative transportation, perhaps you will do your best to shed some light on the Morrissette bike lanes, which have been deemed by some a failure before even seeing a single summer, and also in the absence of the more comprehensive bike network that would cause them to be truly useful.

It also appears that, in eight months, the “underused” parking meters have already earned back almost a full fifth of the cost of the entire re-striping.  Last I checked, 3.5 years was not so bad a payback time for infrastructure investment!

JBS

Editor’s note: See Item 9.7 on Tuesday Night’s City Council Agenda. City Councilor Mercier and Mayor Elliott have filed a joint motion “to revert Fr. Morissette Blvd. back to a four-lane traffic through-way and remove bike lanes.”

Editor’s note: Last night the City Council voted to have the City Manager review the bike lanes and parking along Father Morissette Blvd. and forward his report to the Transportation Subcommittee.

George DeLuca
ComeToLowell.com

updated: April 30, 2014

Lowell, MA is clearly at a fork in the road.

Editor’s note: This is a reissue of Lowell2020’s March 17, 2014 post

When it comes to the big picture, the City of Lowell doesn’t realize the value of what it has. Before any major decisions are made that affect Lowell’s future, it’s time for a comprehensive professional review of its potential as a Global City.

The future of economic development in this country is no longer tied to the automobile and the country’s vast network of highways. Advancements in high technology are changing that as we speak. The political dilemmas of stagnation we’re experiencing in Washington and State government are a direct testament to the fact that we’re “doing it wrong”.

The Global Economy is here and the need for a strategy of mass connectivity can no longer be ignored. Mobility via walking, bike lanes, and local transit connecting to regional and national networks are the travel modes of the future. Yes, we’re talking 10-20 years from now. Automobiles are still important, but they’re not always the most efficient or effective choice for getting from one place to another.

A Downeaster style rail option from Concord, NH to Boston has great potential. The current Governor in NH would like to see it happen. The initiative can pick up steam with a determined push towards political unity. The resulting line would include a direct non-stop leg from Lowell to Boston and Boston to Lowell. From the Gallagher Terminal, one could head towards downtown and via trolley, ultimately branching towards UMass Lowell or Middlesex Community College and the ICC.

The Lowell political scene has always plowed ahead in old school fashion. But it’s time to stop and take a hard look at what’s going on in the world, and consider Lowell’s place in the global community. If not, the City may be on the verge of making a tremendous irreversible mistake.

Over the last 4½ years, I’ve produced a multi-media vision for Lowell’s future anchored by the website ComeToLowell.com. The mission hasn’t changed, but it has evolved. I have nothing to gain personally by this study. It’s simply a vision that I’ve been compelled to create, develop and share.

Over the weekend I attended the Hockey East Quarterfinals at the UML Tsongas Arena. Round 1 pit the UML Riverhawks against Vermont. At Game 2 on Saturday, as I entered the arena lobby area, a country style duo, Jilly Martin and Ryan Brooks Kelly were playing some tunes. They were talented, fun and upbeat, so I hung out facing the bank of windows looking outside.

I immersed my thoughts in what I saw: Lowell High School, Arcand Drive and the US Post Office. I once again considered what the Lowell High School property could offer the future of Lowell. If you look up Father Morissette Blvd., you can see UML’s Fox Hall, Wannalancit Mills which contains the UML M2D2 high-tech business incubation program, trolley tracks and bike lanes with UML signage on both sides of the causeway.

Father Morissette Blvd. offers a direct connection to the Wannalancit Mills Business Center. One can easily envision quick and easy transit options to UML East and North campuses via the planned trolley extension, by bike or by walking. Ultimately, the City could develop other options of accessibility as well.

Going in the opposite direction, French St. offers a series of options for connection with Middlesex Community College (MCC) when you consider that the planned trolley extension also forks towards MCC and the UML Inn and Conference Center (ICC).

Anyone who’s been paying attention to Lowell’s progress over the last 5 years knows about:

  • The UML Emerging Technology and Innovations Center (ETIC) at the North Campus
  • The M2D2 Innovation Hub at Wannalancit Mills (now expanding to 110 Canal St.)
  • The new Health & Social Sciences Building on the South Campus
  • The new dorms at the North and East Campus
  • The Inn and Conference Center in Downtown Lowell
  • The new business school on the North Campus (soon to break ground)
  • The new student center on Salem St. (now under construction)
  • The new gateway bridge that connects downtown with the North Campus via Merrimack St.
  • UML’s acceptance by the NCAA as a Division 1 sports school.
  • UML’s consistently increasing enrollment
  • UML’s growing recognition: locally, regionally, nationally and globally
  • MCC’s expansion to include the old Federal Building on East Merrimack St.; and a bookstore, dental school with lab, various offices and a Charter School, all on Middle Street.

Lowell National Historical Park is in the neighborhood with its Boott Mills Museum, executive offices on Kirk Street and Boarding House Park. Boott Mills apartments, condos and business center have also recently expanded. Mass. Mills is planning future growth including converting empty mills into more housing, and, plans are in progress to continue the Riverwalk to the Concord River.

While at the UML Tsongas Center looking out on Friday evening, I envisioned a future involving a relocation of the high school including the LHS Freshman Academy, as well as, the US Post Office, the police department and all offices in the Kennedy Center on Arcand Drive. The LPD is due for a transition to state-of-the-art facilities, equipment and improved logistical access.

Recently during his farewell tour around the City, the City Manager told Ted Panos on 980WCAP that someone suggested the high school complex could be a retail center. I first heard this stated by UML History Professor Robert Forrant. To whoever believes the high school property should be a retail center, this idea exemplifies Lowell’s constant wrong headed approach to urban planning. I’d rather see it remain a high school.

Listen to the business leaders of Lowell, who have unanimously recommended that the high school be moved to another location in the City, and listen to their reasoning.

My vision is for a mixed-use treatment of the property involving a comprehensive re-evaluation of the adjacent and surrounding area including downtown and the Hamilton Canal District, towards developing an easily accessible, viable, efficient and expanded concept for Downtown Lowell. Initially, this could include UML M2D2 medical devices, biotech, nano-tech, robotics and plastics incubation and support space for start-up business concepts that are getting ready to go public. It would also add market rate housing, arts facilities and yes, some retail.

An anchor store should be considered, such as a high end Market Basket, like the stores in Dracut, Chelmsford or Tewksbury. The Kirk Street buildings could accommodate market rate housing, maintaining the enclosed walkways over the Merrimack Canal. Another enclosed walkway could be created to connect the new development with the Ayotte parking garage. The theaters in the high school and Freshman Academy could remain as performing arts and film centers.

In essence, downtown Lowell would expand seamlessly and functionally from Hamilton Canal to the Riverfront; to UML East and North, and to MCC. Downtown Lowell would then become a true hub for the neighborhoods, and, a business and urban mecca in transformation. In effect, the City of Lowell would become as an esteemed regional player on its way to becoming a credible partner in the national and Global Economy.

A Citywide commitment to redevelop the properties above would signal Lowell’s official emergence into the Global Economy and firmly establish Lowell’s intent to be a Global City. Once a decision is made to move Lowell High School, the City could immediately begin a world wide social media campaign enticing businesses, residents, students, visitors & tourists to ComeToLowell.

LRTA bus lines would once again run directly downtown. The trolley would transport residents, visitors and commuters to and from Gallagher Terminal. The downtown parking “enterprise” would be restructured to be more user-friendly and less costly, especially to downtown residents and visitors.

Commercial tax base incentives or reductions could be considered, based on financial projections determined to be favorable for such actions.

An approach like this would create jobs for residents of Lowell, and opportunities for businesses that consider coming to Lowell. Lowell would become a truly walkable city that’s not only a Global City, but a modern urban phenomena on its way to World City status. The tax base it generates would pay for a new high school elsewhere in the City.

It’s important to note that the expanded trolley program must offer 2 lanes of service from the Gallagher Terminal to/from UML East & North campuses, not 1 as has been proposed. Use the entire $65 million budget towards this eventually. This service MUST have two tracks. Most important, hire a professional engineering team with strong experience in designing local transit systems to complete a planning study.

ELIMINATE the proposed leg of trolley service from UML East to Fletcher Street to Broadway, on its way to UML South. If a study validates the consideration of a future expansion from UML East to UML South, consider alternative solutions such as an above ground mono-rail system along the Merrimack River that connects UML North & East Campuses to UML South. This initiative could be a continuously running one lane service. 

Tom Moses and Sheryl Wright showed us what could be done to manage the finances in Lowell, but the City clearly needs to take those advances to a higher level, as Lowell truly seeks to operate in a more business like fashion.

The difference is that a Global City as applied to Lowell is strictly a concept of optimizing the City’s economic development strategy. Lowell as a World City exploits its amenities such as a UMass Lowell, Middlesex Community College, Lowell National Historical Park, the canals, the trolleys, Boarding House Park, LeLacheur Baseball Park, and, UML Tsongas Arena (with adjacent land that could become a site for a new hotel), the Riverwalk, and frontage property that can offer opportunities for further expansion and development.

The planned expansion of the UML Tsongas Arena Complex could become part of the overall urban development plan and programmed into the mixed use concept envisioned for the redeveloped high school property.

This doesn’t mean the City should put all its eggs in UML and MCC baskets relative to the future uses of the properties. This simply establishes a foundation for an urban planning and development concept that major businesses from anywhere in the world would seek to be part of.

Lowell is completely missing the boat with its current social media strategy. Frankly, a productive approach is non-existent. In fact, the current approach hurts the City in many ways. The City of Lowell’s official social media enterprise should be a virtual lighthouse designed to engage people, businesses, other higher education institutions, new residents, stakeholders, visitors and tourists under one banner. That was the original idea behind ComeToLowell.com.

The ComeToLowell.com program is in the 5th and final year of its phase 1 rollout. The process to decide what phase 2 will entail has begun, assuming the initiative will continue. This blog is part of ComeToLowell.com. Radio segments, TV programs, social media outlets and newspaper articles have all been part of the multi-media effort to explore Lowell’s optimum potential as a City which services and benefits current and future generations.

So what needs to be done? The City should:

  • cut ties with the Lowell Plan.
  • hire an urban planner to replace Adam Baacke
  • hire an urban planning firm to do an independent study of downtown Lowell.
  • hire a top shelf architectural firm (like Flansburgh Architects), with a solid track record in planning & designing high schools. Flansburgh Architects designed the new Lawrence High School and Lowell’s new Morey School.
  • consider forming a Lowell Redevelopment Authority, or similar quasi-public agency, that works with the City Manager and reports directly to the City Council.

Once the new City Manager is on board, he should be directed to hire an urban planner with the proper credentials to fill Adam Baacke’s open position in the Lowell Dept. of Planning and Development.

The City Council’s policy regarding its connection with the Lowell Plan also must be clarified at this juncture, and prior to any further official dealings between the two entities. The Lowell Plan is a private group that’s become obsolete and outdated, having failed to sustain qualified leadership. What worked in the 1970s no longer adds benefit to the City, and frankly, the Lowell Plan has become a significant liability to Lowell’s progress. It’s code of secrecy serves only to expose a lack of capability in most of what it sets out to accomplish.

Once the new in-house urban planner is on board and working for the City, the Lowell Planning and Development office should solicit an independent urban planning firm to study the future economic potential of the City of Lowell, especially downtown. Input from commercial firms like Farley & White, Cummings and successful business enterprises like Sal Lupoli should be recruited as part of the process to ensure an impartial and apolitical result. Lowell residents and stakeholders must also be consulted (and listened to).

The City should hire another firm, like Flansburgh Architects, to study all options for the future of Lowell High School, using the OMR Architects report to the Lowell School Committee as a starting point. The City should spare no expense in these endeavors.

Had the City done this in the 1980s, Lowell wouldn’t be suffering the adverse financial impact and embarrassment of realizing the high school buildings along Arcand Drive are functionally and conditionally obsolete. Deferred maintenance has also resulted in the Freshman Academy and Kirk Street Buildings’ need for comprehensive renovation. The path we are currently on condemns the City to repeat its mistakes of the ‘80s and beyond.

To date, only one suitable location for the high school has been discussed publicly, the Cawley site in Belvidere (zoom into google satellite map), with its stadium, softball, baseball, soccer fields and ice skating facility; offers a quiet campus style setting conducive to high level student learning. The only way to arrive at a final determination of the site’s suitability is for an Architect and Engineering planning team to do a proper study. This has not been performed by OMR Architects. You need land availability, footprint evaluation, traffic impact and environmental studies to take place before a proper analysis can start.

Last election, it was made clear by currently sitting City Councilor’s (then candidates) that consideration of the Cawley site would be volatile if not dangerous politically. There are currently 7 City Councilors from Belvidere. If the Cawley site is indeed given to professional study; and it’s determined to be the best setting for a high school education, would such an outcome continue to be considered a political liability by City Councilors who are Belvidere residents? As the future of Lowell High School is considered, this City Council may be facing the most important decisions in the history of the City.

The City of Lowell may be at the most crucial juncture in its history since Nathan Appleton, Patrick Tracy Jackson, and Paul Moody looked out at the thunderous, cascading water from the banks of the Merrimack River; an experience so powerful it filled all of their senses. Jack Kerouac compared the sensation of the river to 1,000 thundering horses.

Before the ComeToLowell.com initiative continues on to Phase 2, the City of Lowell must declare which path the City will take as we arrive at this “fork in the road”.

George DeLuca
ComeToLowell.com

updated March 20, 2014, 1:03pm

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A Redevelopment Concept for Lowell High School