Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Jeff Speck Responds in Writing

Gerry Nutter reached out to noted Urban Planner, Jeff Speck. He posted about it on this blog's Facebook page - Lowell Live Feed Forum (Link). I've posted the content below the hash tags.

Please comment here, or join us on Facebook.

I emailed Jeff Speck and invited him on Saturday Morning Live to try and give him the opportunity to address the items teddy can't seem to shake. He instead responded and gave me permission to post his reply in full.

Hi Gerry! Thanks for asking, and for the vote of confidence.

I have to decline, because don't work Saturdays, and also because I would make a soup of it, not having set foot in Lowell in almost four years. But here is what I want to say.

First, as the record shows and the folks at the Lowell Plan can attest, I spoke with literally hundreds of people in dozens of meetings, large and small, over a full month spent in Lowell. I challenge you to find another nationally active planner who has spent as much time in your community.

Second, I did speak to Chris Scott, but the School Superintendent's position was not enough to outweigh the vast majority who spoke in favor of keeping the High School downtown, including the High School's Principal and students.

Third, whatever public opinion, there are many compelling reasons for keeping the high school downtown. These are outlined in my report. In any of this debate, has anyone gone back to my report and read the arguments for the current site? Instead of having me on your show, can you please just read that passage?

I was about to repeat its salient points, here, but they are all in the report. If anything, the past four years have made me even more confident in them. PLEASE READ THEM!

My goal is for your city to thrive, and if you read my book Walkable City, you will understand why the city can't thrive unless the downtown thrives. If you think that those school kids are a nuisance -- and I know some shop-keepers do -- just wait and see how your downtown feels with a big hole in the middle and its sidewalks empty every morning and afternoon.

And I personally will be sure to show up when Lowell wins the National Dumb Growth Award for throwing out its centrally-located transit-served historic high school in favor of a shiny new sprawl bomb on the edge of town.

Best, JBS

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Lowell High School - Bullshit and Blather

There is a very vocal minority in Lowell, that is trying desperately to degrade public confidence in the VERY PUBLIC process that has played out for close to a decade (or more) about what Lowell should do with modernizing the Lowell High School. Unfortunately, that minority has a large presence in the Blog of Record and WCAP.

There was a time when news organizations could be trusted to help residents sort through confusing details, especially when those concerns involved large scale political decisions and expenditure of taxpayers dollars. The reality is, legacy media is desperate to survive. As such, I don't recommend putting any stock in what they bellow. To be honest, I don't recommend putting any stock in what I blurt out, here.

As Lowellians, you have a responsibility to figure out the shit from Shinola. If you can't do that, then you better be especially careful when you go vote. Because someone is going to sign off on a plan. If I was to recommend anything, it would be this - DO NOT leave big decisions to little people.

I want to address two things, in this sitting. First, did Lowell have a public process to get Lowell where we are, right now. Second, what is Corey Belanger thinking?
I've already answered to the frothy gurgling of WCAP (Link).

The internet is covered in public fingerprints:
Downtown Summit 2011 (Link)
The Speck Plan (Link)
Lowell Plan- UML: Downtown Initiative Report (Link)
Sustainable Lowell 2025 - The Master Plan (Link)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Radio Reject

For some odd reason, Teddy Panos has been on a tear, growling about downtown economic development. You're all big and ugly enough to sort through the fodder for yourselves. But, I thought I'd point out (Link):

Attention to detail is not Teddy's strong suit.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Lupoli - Belanger Connection

On WCAP, this morning, Corey Belanger asserted the South Common site was the best place for a new high school to be built.

In the same breaths, Belanger also labored to prove out that students going to and fro from school are deleterious for most of the business in the DT. If we take that as gospel, Sal Lupoli is gonna be pretty pissed about moving the LHS to South Common. Twice a day, pedestrian students will stream, from the Highlands and South Lowell, like lemmings, past the Thorndike miracle.

Or, just maybe, the student rush hours hold a promise of riches for those in the right place, selling the right stuff?

By fronting the South Common location, Belanger has tied himself to Lupoli. But, is it by a "brass ring" or an "albatross?"

Sunday, April 13, 2014

"Heavy Lies The Crown .... Sorta Thing."

So many pro's & con's associated to Kevin Murphy becoming Lowell's next City Manager have been stirring in my head. I hear those that portend a reversal of many steps forward in good governance. Others, are more optimistic, citing Murphy's sense of stewardship, efficacy and a mindfulness of his public service legacy.

As my mind works in an algorithmic trading of iconic metaphors, my imagination conjured this:


Saturday, April 12, 2014

C.Belanger: "My Mistake."

The normally cheerful Kendall Wallace opted to throw a brush back pitch (Link) at Councilor Belanger's noggin.

I’ve always felt people regarded as experts in their field are a good source to rely on when trying to make a decision. Apparently, fresh­man City Councilor Corey Belanger doesn’t share that view, as he has tried to sidetrack the effort by the Lowell School Committee to move forward with the exciting plans for the downtown Lowell High School project. He has called for “ another review of the options” that have been reviewed for the past five years.
- snip

Like every major project, it has taken nearly five years to get to the point the city is asking for approval from the state to move forward with this ambitious revitalization. In that period, tons of research and other options have been explored. The school department hired additional consultants and there was unanimous agreement that keeping the high school downtown and doing an impressive architecturally pleasing facility was the best option.

It seemed everybody was in agreement that this is the way to go, until Belanger asked his colleagues to again review the options.

One would think if you are on the council or run for public office you are aware that a great deal of research has taken place for the city to get to this point.

Ya. One would think.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tick Tock, Tick Tock

The political calendar is funny. It's barely April, but next month is May, and June brings the convention. Summer is a wash, especially among the coveted independent voters (the majority party, I remind you). Then suddenly it's two weeks until the primary.

When will this sleepy gubernatorial race wake up?

(Painting courtesy of these nice people.)

Martha Coakley is doing her Martha Coakley thing, and it's surprisingly effective this time. Steve Grossman (my candidate, I disclose) has a tepid message about growth (though he is floating a nice little run left balloon today). Juliette Kayyem needs to forge a new path, because just being an outsider isn't going to be good enough after eight years of Deval. But she doesn't have to believe me; she can ask Dr. Berwick. Joe Avellone swept the Wellesley caucuses! I hear. I'll bet Wellesley is a reliable bellwether of state elections.

You know who could shake this up? Deval Patrick, by endorsing someone. Or by announcing he's running for President. Then at least we could get a good, proper Clinton/Obama proxy battle going (Martha being Hillary's champion, and TBD being Obama's).

Seriously, though ... someone needs to kick this into gear, and soon. Even Martha Coakley, with her comfortable lead (as of the latest WBUR poll), needs a motivated Democratic base. Baker has probably learned from 2010.