New Life at O’Donnell Park

O'Donnell 359The pool has sat empty and unused for a long time. Next summer the sounds of splashing will return to O’Donnell Park on Gorham Street, in the form of a splash pad, similar to the popular one at Shedd Park. The project was kicked into gear by a June 2012 motion by City Councilor Marty Lorrey. The park’s basketball and tennis courts will also be renovated.

City Manager Bernie Lynch, Mayor Patrick Murphy, City Councilor Bill Martin, Scared Heart Neighborhood Group President, City Councilor Rita Mercier and City councilor Marty Lorrey

City Manager Bernie Lynch, Mayor Patrick Murphy, City Councilor Bill Martin, Scared Heart Neighborhood Group President Carol McCarthy, City Councilor Rita Mercier and City Councilor Marty Lorrey

Wednesday afternoon, city officials and Sacred Heart Neighborhood Group President Carol McCarthy gathered at the site for an official “ground breaking.”

O'Donnell 342O'Donnell 341“It’s not everyone who can go to the beach for a week in the summer,” said City Councilor Rita Mercier, adding that amenities like the splash pad are an important part of making sure all of the kids in the city have a fun summer and a place to cool off.

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Sacred Heart Neighborhood Group President Carol McCarthy said the neighborhood has been waiting a long time for a revitalization at O’Donnell Park and she cannot wait to spend time there next summer.

The soon-to-be filled-in O'Donnell pool.

The soon-to-be filled-in O’Donnell pool.

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Department of Planning and Development Deputy Director Diane Tradd explains the project to some young ladies to stopped by to find out what was going on after school. They were excited about the renovations.

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Lowell Makes Begins Making on Friday!

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By Jennifer Myers

Lowell is a city that was born on innovation and creation. Making stuff . . . that’s how Nathan Appleton and Kirk Boott rolled.

That industrious spirit lives on nearly 200 years after the canals were dug and the mills erected on what had been East Chelmsford farmland.

It’s about 3D printing, metal and wood work, software and robotics and whatever else your imagination and drive pushes you to make.

Lowell Makes, a non-profit organization, is a “makerspace,” a place for people to gather, collaborate, work on projects and learn from each other. It also gives people the opportunity to use tools and machinery they could not afford to have in their own homes. A variety of membership levels are available, as well as day passes. They space will also host classes in a variety of trades.

It’s proprietors are Kamal Jain, John Noto and Eric Sack: an IT and network operations specialist; a physicist; and an AV/computer technologist.

They will celebrate their grand-opening on Friday Nov. 1 at 10 a.m. and all are invited to come check the place out. They are located at 47 Lee Street downtown.

The festivities continue the next day with a 24-hour Grand opening Hackathon.

Participants have 24 hours (12 p.m. on Nov. 2 to 12 p.m. on Nov. 3) to “make something that does anything, or anything that does something, from scratch”

“It could be an artistic piece which moves or interacts with its surrounding in some way, it could be a robot or automated pet feeder, some electronic gadget built around an Arduino, it could be software, or it could be any combination of any of those things or whatever else you imagine. The one thing your creation is not allowed to do, however, is…do nothing,” the website states.

For more information about Lowell Makes and the Hackathon visit: www.lowellmakes.com.

Kidnapping! Libel! Recount! Lowell Election Season 1926 . . .

By Jennifer Myers

They say Lowell politics is a blood sport. That has never been truer than in the 1926 mayoral race (back in the strong mayor days).

kidnappedIn the early morning hours of Monday November 15, 1926, May Mahan, wife of Lowell Police officer and mayoral candidate John W. Mahan, reported her husband had been kidnapped; snatched from their apartment at 466 Merrimack St. by four masked men.

kidnapped02Mrs. Mahan said she heard her husband return home at 12:30 a.m. and 15 minutes later heard a crash followed by a gruff voice saying “Come along. We want you. Come with us – -hurry up. No fooling now.”

Mrs. Mahan ran from her bedroom and looking out the window witnessed the men push her husband into a car across the street and drive away.

It appeared the thugs had broken into the apartment by ripping an iron screen off a window accessible from a flat roof one story off the ground.

Candidate Mahan was not seen or heard from that entire day – until it was time for the candidates’ forum for Mayoral, City Council and School Committee candidates at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium.

And oh what a forum it was! Let’s pause for a moment and let this sink in – 5,000 audience members filled the LMA, while another 6,000 were outside “clamoring for admission.” ELEVEN THOUSAND people turned out for a candidates forum!

In the last six years, I cannot recall a forum that has drawn more than 100 gawkers.

Anyway, back to Mahan. He was one of 10 candidates in the mayoral primary. He reemerged from his kidnapping ordeal just in time for the forum, sporting a lump under one eye.

mahanportraitHe told the crowd four men, one who jammed a gun into his side, had nabbed him, bound and gagged him, then stole $137 and his gold watch.

“He asked for a cigarette and they blew smoke in his face,” the Sun reported. “They kicked him in the face.”  

Mahan said the outlaws drove him around for several hours and then left him in an abandoned house near Providence, Rhode Island. At noon he managed to untie himself, hitch a ride on a truck to Milton, then one to Boston and finally one to Lowell.

“His clothes were torn to shreds,” the Sun reported.

Being kidnapped by bandits wasn’t the only trouble candidate Mahan got himself into that day. During his speech at the candidates’ forum, Mahan referred to LPD Officer Alfred J. Cooney of the Vice Squad as having been the “ticket taker at a camp in Tyngsboro where booze was being sold and a hula hula dancer was entertaining.”

mahanchargesCooney said the comments were libelous and filed an internal complaint against Mahan, who was suspended without pay for six months by LPD Superintendent Hugh Downey. When the six months was up, the state’s Civil Service Commission refused his reinstatement, extending the suspension by an additional six weeks.  

And in case you were wondering, Mahan was not successful in his mayoral bid. In fact, he only received 40 votes. The two candidates who survived the primary were Thomas Corbett (7,054 votes) and Thomas Braden (6,045 votes).

corbettadbradenadCorbett claimed victory in the December 7 general election, following a week-long  recount, with a vote tally of 15,395 to 15,303.

Light Up Your Library!

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Want to save energy and money AND have fun?! I’ve got the event for you.

On Saturday November 2 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. National Grid’s “Light up Your Library” tour is coming to the Pollard Memorial Library (401 Merrimack St.)

The “Light Up Your Library Community Tour” is open to the public and offers a fun-filled experience featuring interactive energy-efficiency-themed activities, exciting games, prizes and entertainment from Radio Disney.

Visitors can purchase energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs for just $1.00 each.

Patrons will also have the option to order energy efficient items at the event and throughout the month of November at the library’s second floor reference desk. The last opportunity to order will be at the Friends of the Pollard Memorial Library’s November 30th Children’s Shopping Day event.

All proceeds to benefit the Friends of the Pollard Library, including the museum pass program. This is a great opportunity for families to have fun, be green, save money, and help their local library!

Participating in this event also gives the Pollard Library a chance to win a valuable ENERGY STAR Lighting Makeover from National Grid, which will save many thousands of dollars. Starting November 1, 2013, residents can vote for participating libraries to win an ENERGY STAR Lighting Makeover from National Grid valued at more than $15,000. The winning libraries will also receive a thrilling celebratory party with Radio Disney and Disney Junior Entertainment.

Online voting will be open until November 30, 2013 and will take place through National Grid’s Facebook pages. Massachusetts residents can cast their votes at Facebook.com/NationalGridMA.

For more information about the “Light Up Your Library Community Tour” event, visit National Grid or  www.pollardml.org.

 

Sammy Hagar Day!

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By Jennifer Myers

Friday was Sammy Hagar Day in Lowell.

The rocker, best known for the years he spent as the lead singer of Van Halen (“Right Now,” “Why Can’t This Be Love”), came to Lowell to play the WAAF Halloween Thrillogy show with Sick Puppies and Buckcherry.

Backstage prior to the show, Sammy presented Amy Pessia and Debbie Callery from the Merrimack Valley Food Bank with a $5,000 donation. Raised by a single mother who relied on hunger relief programs to feed Sammy and his three siblings, Sammy gives back by donating to a hunger relief agency in every city in which he tours. His usual donation is $2,500, but in honor of Food Day, which was last Thursday, he doubled the donation to the Merrimack Valley Food Bank.

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Left to right: Debbie Callery, Amy Pessia, Sammy Hagar

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Debbie and Amy with Sammy and his wife Kari.

In recognition of his generous donation, Sammy was presented with a mayoral citation and a Lowell City Hall pin. He remarked that, other than his hometown, no other city or town had recognized him.

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Sammy and Kari with City Councilor Marty Lorrey who presented the citation.

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CITATION

 Be it hereby known to all that

the City of Lowell in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

hereby honors

 SAMMY HAGAR and THE HAGAR FAMILY FOUNDATION

 In recognition of this generous donation to the Merrimack Valley Food Bank, an organization that supplies 3 million pounds of food annually to 80 shelters, pantries and meal programs throughout the region.

 Raised by a single mother who relied on hunger relief programs to feed her family, Sammy understands that no one can rock n’ roll on an empty stomach.

 The City of Lowell commends Sammy for not forgetting his roots and for giving back in such a big way, a quality that is even more impressive than his stellar four-decade long career as a rock star.

Today, October 25, 2013 we enthusiastically celebrate “Sammy Hagar Day” in the City of Lowell and encourage all residents “Right Now”
to rock out and follow Sammy’s example. 

Patrick Ó. Murphy

Mayor

 Joseph Mendonca

Vice Chair

Rodney M. Elliott

Edward J. Kennedy, Jr.

John J. Leahy

Martin E. Lorrey

William F. Martin, Jr.

Rita M. Mercier

Vesna E. Nuon

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The Residences @ Perkins Park

Perkins 055On March 23, 1987 a 9-alarm blaze ripped through the Lawrence Mills Complex adjacent to the Ouellette (Aiken St.) Bridge.   

Two-hundred firefighters from 17 communities fought the inferno, fueled by fuel tanks and old textiles. Five firefighters were hospitalized.

When the smoke cleared, 300,000 of the site’s 800,000 square feet of mill space was gone, amounting to nearly $10 million in damages.

What had been, in its heyday of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s a complex that had employed 5,000 people, had become a blight.

Perkins 026State Rep. Tom Golden recalls there being a movement afoot following the fire to “just level it, clear it and knock it all down,” a movement halted by historic preservationists, like Peter Aucella, who had a larger vision.

Before . . .

Before . . .

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After . . .

Tuesday afternoon, city and state officials gathered at the site to cut the ribbon on the latest restoration – the Residences @ Perkins Park, 47 market-rate one and two bedroom luxury apartments.

The project, developed by Mira Development and Charter Environmental, joins their initial development the 183-unit Lofts at Perkins  Park in the former Hub Hoisery and McQuade buildings (opened in 2009), as well as a 370-space parking garage, in bringing life back to that section of the neighborhood.

In addition to the Residences @ Perkins Park, the mill complex’s iconic administration building is currently being renovated and will be leased to UMass Lowell’s Office of Advancement.

“We thank you for never giving up on this project,” Golden said to Bob Delhome, of Mira, and his team, adding that not even he, the most optimistic guy in town could have imagined what the site would become.

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Mayor Patrick Murphy, who recently returned from the Mayors Institute on City design conference in Charleston, South Carolina said “Any mayor who attended would find themselves lucky to find a project like this in their downtown and close to the waterfront.”

While it was a day of celebration, there was an aura of sadness as well, because one of the keys to the redevelopment, Ed Walsh Jr. of  Walsh Construction was not there to see the project through. Walsh, 52, died unexpectedly in January.

“Ed loved the city and would have loved this today,” said Delhome. “He was passionate about the city on many levels.”

Walsh’s wife Mary and father Ed Walsh Sr. were in attendance and participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony.

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Bob Delhome

Delhome praised the city’s government including City Manager Bernie Lynch. Assistant City Manager and Director of the Department of Planning and Development Adam Baacke, the Historic Board, the Development Services Department, and the Department of Public Works, as well as the Lowell National Historical Park in making the project a reality and making the process as easy and enjoyable as possible.

Lynch returned the compliment, saying Delhome, Walsh Jr., their team were a pleasure to work with.

Perkins 019“Lowell is really a city on the move, you can see that here today,” Lynch said, adding his only regret about the project is that the administration building is being leased to UMass Lowell.

“I was hoping it would be made available as a City Manager residence,” quipped Lynch, who is planning to move into the city’s downtown.

Mary and Ed Walsh Sr. cut the ribbon.

Mary and Ed Walsh Sr. cut the ribbon.

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