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We can all dream right? Unfortunately, New England is infamous for the amount of potholes that appear on our streets and sidewalks.

The City of Lowell’s Department of Public Works has been out managing the potholes that are forming on the streets and sidewalks.  On Friday, March 21 we were able to watch the workers fill the potholes with asphalt and address some questions such as, what it took to fill them and why they appear to happen overnight.

Hot patch asphalt being loaded onto pothole next to Mahoney's Gas Station on Plain St. in Lowell

Hot patch asphalt being loaded onto pothole next to Mahoney’s Gas Station on Plain St. in Lowell

How do potholes form?

Potholes are formed from water, whether it is from rain or snow, which seeps into the cracks of the pavement.  Over time this water pools beneath the pavement and causes erosion, the erosion leads to the breaking and sinking of the pavement, and you have a pothole.

A major reason why potholes form during the winter months can be thanked in large to the New England weather and constant changes in temperature.  This winter in particular was difficult due to not only the amount of snow we received but the constant flux in temperature.  This week alone we are looking at 2-4” of snow, and then 50-60 degree days later on in the week.

During these winter months, once the water has developed beneath the pavement, there is a contracting and expanding cycle.  The contracting is the water freezing, and the expanding is due to the melting of water on warmer days. Constant contracting and expanding makes the pavement crack, cracked pavement, along with constant traffic causes potholes.

Lowell DPW workers, Surprenant, Ladebauche and Riley hot patch a pothole

Lowell DPW workers, Surprenant, Ladebauche and Riley hot patch a pothole

Why does it seem like they just filled a pothole and it has already reappeared?

Once again you can largely thank the weather for the reappearance of potholes especially during the months of November through January.  There is a plant where the asphalt is made and during these months the asphalt will freeze before it even gets to the site. Due to this there are two different types of pothole repairs.  There is the cold patch and during cold weather months this patch is used as a temporary fix.  Once it gets warmer and the asphalt won’t freeze in between trips there is a hot patch fix. The hot patch is a long term fix for potholes.

Want to report a pothole?

In the City of Lowell, there are many ways you can report potholes so they get fixed as quickly as possible. On the city website there is the E-Gov application. You can place your request and receive a ticket number to track the issue.  This way you can check the status of your request and submit your email to receive a confirmation.

SeeClickFix (direct link here) is another way you can report a pothole completely online.  SeeClickFix allows you report an issue regarding anything throughout the city, you simply tell us the location and we direct it to the correct department.  The great thing about this is that you can also download it as an app onto your smart phone.

Finished! DPW workers fill pothole with hot patch for a long term repair

Finished! DPW workers fill pothole with hot patch for a long term repair

  Once you download the app you can directly upload pictures of the issue onto the website.

As always you are more than welcome to also call the Public Works department directly at 978-674-4111.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Sean Thibodeau, Coordinator of Community Planning

978-674-1542

sthibodeau@mvlc.org

Re: First Friday Forum at the Pollard Library

Date: Friday, April 4, 2014 Coffee with the Library Director 10AM – 11 AM

          Feature Film 11 AM – 1PM

Title: Library to Host First Friday Forums Starting In April

Place: Pollard Memorial Library, 401 Merrimack Street, Lowell, MA 01852

Do you have any questions or suggestions for your local library? Now’s your chance to be heard—and to enjoy some coffee and a movie. Pollard Library Director, Victoria Woodley, will be hosting an open forum conversation with patrons over coffee on the first Friday of the month beginning in April. “We’re trying to find ways to better connect with our patrons,” Woodley said, “to communicate with them about the materials, programs and services we offer and to learn from them how we can better serve their needs. What better way to do this than by having a chat over coffee.” The open forum coffee with the director will run from 10AM to 11AM and patrons can stick around for a feature film beginning at 11AM. For more information about this first Friday form please contact Sean Thibodeau, Coordinator of Community Planning at sthibodeau@mvlc.org or 978-674-1542

For more information about this and other Pollard Library events visit our website: www.pollardml.org or our Pollard Library Blog: www.blog.pollardml.org. We’re also on Facebook: www.facebook.com/pollardml and Twitter www.twitter.com/pollardml

 

The City of Lowell has been recently learned that it failed to meet a state established level of school spending The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) completed their annual review for the FY13 and it was noted the net school spending (NSS) was missed by $3.8M.  To address this issue an action plan for FY14 and FY15 was released during the February 25, 2014 City Council meeting.

From the FY96 to FY08 Lowell had failed to meet its’ NSS requirement by as much of -4.9% (FY00) and often times came very close to exceeding the 5% deficiency allowed under law.  It was not until FY09 that Lowell had met the requirements in place and from FY09-FY11, Lowell spent $9,798,817 over the NSS requirement. In actuality the City exceeded DESE projected spending each fiscal year from FY07-FY12. 

The 2013 deficiency can be attributed to a number of factors that took place in the City that were difficult to fully project.  The change in employee and retiree health insurance, which resulted in several million dollars which directly benefitted the students, and dramatic savings in utility costs for all facilities, contributed to the deficiency.

In order to address the net school spending deficiency the following actions were prepared:

• A transfer of $2M from the City’s Chapter 17 account to the Lowell School Department.  These funds need to be repaid into the Chapter 17 account during FY15.  At this point it is expected that there will be available Free Cash to transfer into the Chapter 17 account as there is an expected reduction in the FY14 Charter school assessment and an increase in the FY14 Charter School reimbursement

• Amended filing with the state for non-direct City spending for education for FY13 and full accounting of spending for FY14 based upon full capture of school maintenance costs and the health insurance costs of school nurses.

• An increase of $800K in direct spending on education spending for FY15 along with increased in direct spending for pensions and refined health insurance. 

This action plan is intended to address the issue of the underfunding of our schools in a timely manner.  If all recommendations are implemented, the accrued shortfall amount is projected to be $0 by the end of FY15.

 

Below is the powerpoint presentation from City Council meeting February 25, 2014. The following powerpoint was composed by former City Manager, Bernie Lynch in response to the state failing to meet a state established level of school spending. Addressed is also the action plan implemented.

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_MG_5929

On Wednesday March 5, 2014, a public farewell reception was held at City Hall in honor of City Manager Bernard Lynch, for his outstanding service for the city of Lowell for the past 7 ½ years.

Upon entering the Mayor’s Reception room, there was a welcoming atmosphere and over the course of the evening about 300 city employees and local residents came together to recognize Mr. Lynch’s accomplishments and to thank him for his service.  A cake with the words “Happy 19th Hole Bernie!” representing his love of golf adorned the table with an array of refreshments for the crowd.  The room echoed with laughs and well wishes, and Bernie was the recipient of many ‘thanks’ for his dedication to the city.

_MG_5965Among those expressions of thanks were comical and thoughtful gestures given to the retiring City Manager.

A graphic of the retiree walking into the sunset towards the 19th green was a recurring theme that carried throughout the reception. _MG_5980 Bernie will now have time to improve his already stellar golf game. Lowell Fire Chief, Edward Pitta, presented a Lowell Firefighter’s helmet emblem, joking that initially it was going to be put on a helmet, but he didn’t want Bernie thinking he could start working fires and giving orders!

The Manager also received the most sought after ID card you can have once you retire, an official Lowell Senior Center ID!  Given by Michelle Ramalho, executive director of the Lowell Senior Center, this card now allows him entrance to all city events enjoyed by our seniors to join in on the bus excursions!

_MG_6002The public reception was a wonderful end to the 7 ½ years Bernie Lynch has given to the city of Lowell.  It was a reminder not that he was leaving, but of all he has accomplished during his tenure. 

Bernie Lynch will undeniably be missed by his colleagues and we wish him the best of luck with his future endeavors. 

By future endeavors we mean perfecting his golf swing!

Enjoy your retirement Bernie!

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For immediate release                                                            

Local Contact: 
Lowell, MA
Thursday, March 6th                                                                             

Phone: 978-674-1001

MEN COMBAT VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN WITH WHITE RIBBON International Campaign Takes Hold in City of Lowell-City Hall, on Thursday, March 6th @ 12 noon. City Hall Lobby-375 Merrimack Street, Lowell, MA

As a local affiliate of the Massachusetts White Ribbon Day Campaign, City of Lowell is recruiting men from Lowell, MA to demonstrate their commitment to being part of the campaign to end violence against women.  Men can take the White Ribbon Day pledge themselves as well as serve as an Ambassador who recruits male colleagues and friends to join in taking the pledge and wearing a white ribbon on March 6, 2014.

“By wearing a white ribbon, men and boys will show they do not tolerate or condone men’s violence towards women, men, or children,” stated Manager Bernard Lynch, head of the local White Ribbon Day Affiliate about the significance of the white ribbon.

City of Lowell community leaders, State Representatives, community volunteers, domestic violence task force members, UMass Lowell students, YouthBuild and more will be in attendance.  “This is the seventh annual White Ribbon Day campaign.  We appreciate the chance to join the conversation about men’s roles in decreasing domestic violence and sexual assault and to be a role model for other men and boys in our lives.” 

The seventh annual White Ribbon Day is a statewide campaign sponsored by Jane Doe Inc.  Throughout the month, men across the state will show their support by encouraging others in their organizations, families and workplaces to wear a white ribbon, place a poster up at their workplaces, spread the word about the campaign, organize local events to speak out against violence towards women, and challenge attitudes and behaviors which condone or tolerate violence.

White Ribbon Day began in Canada in 1991, two years after the Montreal Massacre in which 14 female students at the University of Montreal were killed and 13 other students wounded by a single gunman.  Canadians organized a response to show their support to victims of violence everywhere.  The White Ribbon Day Campaign has grown internationally in the past twenty years. 

For more information, please contact: The City Manager’s Office @ 978-674-1001.

Cirus Salt System controls.

Cirus Salt System controls.

Over the 2011/12 winter season, the City had snowfall of 23.9 inches and used 6,571 tons of road salt to keep roads clear; this past season (as of February 24) the City has had 72.9 inches of snow and used 9,605 tons of salt. On a tons per inch basis, the drop in usage is significant and has resulted in a savings of $994,842 over the last three seasons.

These dramatic savings have been made possible through the acquisition of new vehicles and the installation of electronic salt control systems that monitor road temperature and other factors and adjust the spread rate accordingly.  It also reduces the amount of salt spread when a truck slows down or shuts off the spreader completely when a truck comes to a stop, eliminating uneven distribution and over salting.  In total, 24 trucks have been equipped with this system, each at a cost of about $8,300 per truck for a total investment of about $200,000. These purchases were part of the City’s capital plan.

Based on the cost of salt of $50.88 per ton, this investment has resulted in a five-fold savings of $1 million.  In FY 13 the City saved $463,692; so far in FY 14, another $531,150 compared to FY 12.  More savings are expected as additional vehicles are outfitted over the next few years.

Plow/salter clearing snow February 13.

Plow/salter clearing snow February 13.

Over the last three seasons, salt usage dropped by 46% when measured in tons per inch of snow.  This drop is especially significant given the tripling of snowfall during the same period.  This year, salt usage per inch of snow is down another 11%.

The following summarizes year-to-year numbers:

FY 12: 6,571.3 tons of salt; 23.9 inches of snow; 275 tons per inch
FY 13: 10,713.1 tons of salt; 72.1 inches of snow; 148.6 tons per inch
FY 14: 9,605.55 tons of salt; 72.9 inches of snow; 131.8 tons per inch (as of 2/24/14)

“Our capital plan is clearly paying dividends,” said City Manager Bernie Lynch.  “With the City Council’s support, we’ve been able to continue to replace our aging public works fleet and to include the latest technology for monitoring winter storm conditions and salt distribution.  Our return on this investment is dramatic and has the added benefit of reducing the amount of salt runoff into rivers, streams and residents’ yards.”

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