City and Unity School developers reach agreement
Lowell city council had their first regular meeting of 2020 at city hall on Monday, Jan. 6. The council finally put the Unity School/Riverview Flats condo development issue to rest and discussed the ceilings on the new Showboat, selling the “line shack,” a new city attorney and more. The meeting lasted a little under an hour and was attended by 13 local residents.
The council passed a resolution “approving and authorizing execution of [a] settlement agreement with Unity School Investors, LLC related to property located at 238 and 219 High St.”
“This agreement is the result of months of working through multiple issues,” Riverview Flats co-owner Todd Schaal said in a press release. “The city's purchase of 238 High St. will improve access to the boat launch and greatly increase parking for important events like the concert series and the Lowell Riverwalk. We will also be installing, at no cost to the city, public kayak holders at the ramp.”
“Since there will be a transfer of property between the city and Unity, a resolution pertaining to the transfer of property must sit at council and be available for public review for 20 days after it has been presented,” said Lowell city manager Michael Burns.
Burns also updated the council about the situation with the Lowell Showboat. It was revealed at the last city council meeting that the plans for eight foot ceilings did not account for any “mechanicals” such as heating and cooling that would allow for year-round use of the structure. It will cost about $10,000 to fix the issue. Funds gathered for the Showboat project by the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce and the Lowell Rotary will be used to pay for half, the other half will come from Chris Chamberlain, who will not charge the city for $5,000 worth of his consulting work on the project. Chamberlain was hired to be the city's Showboat consultant in December 2017.
“I spent about 50 hours during the first part of December trying to figure out what happened regarding the second and third floor height,” Burns said. “After reviewing a number of documents, I was able to basically conclude that there was some communication that didn't happen between the [Rebuild the Showboat] committee and the engineering firm. Really, I couldn't pinpoint anything on the engineering firm, that they made an error. [...] We wanted an eight foot clearance of ceiling. However, when C-Fly builds their boats, they build deck to deck. They don't take into account finished ceilings and that nature. In the nautical world, that's how they build boats.”
At the very beginning of the meeting, since it was the first one of the year, the council appointed the city's mayor and mayor pro-tem. Michael DeVore will continue as mayor, but Greg Canfield declined the position of mayor pro-tem so councilor Jim Salzwedel was nominated instead. Canfield has been Lowell's mayor pro-tem since September 2017 but said he no longer has the amount of extra time required to completely fulfill the duties of the position.
The council decided to sell the “line shack” building at 115 Riverside for an amount no less than $100,000. Burns said the building should hit the market “in a few weeks.”
City attorney Dick Wendt is going part time at his law firm Dickinson Wright and will no longer be availabile to be Lowell's city attorney. He will be replaced by Jessica Wood from the same firm.
Burns said that MDOT recently informed him there will be repairs that will close the Jackson St. bridge for some amount of time, but they provided no information about what is being done, when it will happen or how long it will take.
Councilor Marty Chambers suggested that anybody interested in the recreational marijuana store that is going into the old Family Video location should attend the planning commission meeting at city hall at 7 pm on Monday, Jan. 13.
Councilor Salzwedel pointed out that the deadline for LCTV grant applications is Friday, Feb. 7.
Lowell city council's next regular meeting will be at 7 pm on Tuesday, Jan. 21. The council will also meet with the public during a "Coffee with the Council" at the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce building from 8 am until 10 am on Saturday, Feb. 1.
To watch city council, board and commission meetings from the past few years, look for the "City of Lowell" or "Lowell Light and Power" channels on YouTube or visit archive.org.