At tonight's LDNA meeting (held at the Athenian Corner), the lead-off speaker was a Captain from the LPD who spoke about plans held by the Department to curb vehicle and property crimes downtown. For Operational Security (OPSEC) reasons, the plan couldn't be completely disclosed, but it looks like it's going to involve using younger officers getting "eyes on" some of the most targeted areas. Somebody cue up the theme music from "Stakeout..."
Several residents beat the drum about noise from the college crowd once the bars empty out around 2 a.m. on weekend nights. There was some speculation as to whether this was the typical September-October back-to-school revelry spike, or whether it had to do with the influx of new students from the Doubletree (although seeing as most downtowners are used to the SEP-OCT noise spike, and as many of the new ICC residents are presumably below drinking age, the former explanation seemed to carry the day).
Questions were put to the Captain about overserving of intoxicated patrons or serving to underage patrons. Both are serious offenses that carry hefty fines for bartenders, but the enforcement capability for general downtown evening mayhem is limited by some of the problems that go on the Highlands (and are usually of a more serious nature), as well as the noise disturbance/quality of life calls the LPD gets nearer to the campus itself.
Mark Coddaire, formerly of Marx Running on Merrimack St., dropped some science regarding the coming Bay State Marathon, scheduled for the morning and early afternoon of 18 OCT. Registration for this event has already been closed, with a whopping grand total of 2300 full marathon runners and 1700 half-marathon runners. The big *story* with this event is that it's now the premier qualifying event for the Boston Marathon, with 38% of runners qualifying on the mostly flat and straightforward 26.2. In elite running circles, Lowell's marathon is being spoken of in the same breath as that of more major cities like Chicago, Sacramento, and Los Angeles. Everything is going to get started that morning at Tsongas at 8:00 a.m. before the runners head up to the Tyngsboro Bridge and back.
Two CC challengers were present: Jose Gabriel and Ryan Berard. Because Berard had already addressed the group, Gabriel had the floor to introduce himself and his candidacy. He spoke about coming from the Azores, Portugal to the U.S. 28 years ago, mentioned that two sons of his were in law enforcement, and spoke a little about his experiences working for Pepsico in Haverhill, even highlighting his AFL-CIO and Local 513 affiliations. He is a youth leader at St. Anthony's and "heavily involved" in Portuguese-American events throughout the city and even into Boston. In Opara-esque fashion, Gabriel compared the difficulties he had seen with the voting process and lack of democracy in his home country (where Salazar's New State basically ran the show from the 1930s all the way to the 197os), with the need for all citizens here to take advantage of their opportunity to get involved, be it as voters, candidates, or supporters.
Gabriel also mentioned the problem of value assessments being made way out of proportion to actual property values as a way for the city to increase its tax coffers. Ray Weicker and other candidates have also addressed this problem in local stump speeches.
Lastly, Patricia Coffey and Allegra Williams spoke about an Economic Study team that will assess the relationship between the ICC and the downtown. They mentioned they were teaming up with UML notables Bob Forrant and Paul Marion. The four main pillars to the effort included: (1) Student Engagement Downtown; (2) Community and Business Partnership Programs; (3) High Quality-of-Life Expectations for Students & Downtown Residents; and (4) Economic and Social Impact of the ICC.
The faculty-staff committee that's doing this study was appointed by Chancellor Marty Meehan and Vice Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney.
One opportunity for downtowners to take advantage of the UML presence nearby will come in the series of lunchtime presentations going on at the ICC. The full schedule can be found towards the back of the Arts and Ideas publication published by UML.