From my Corner: March 1, 2024

LRA Meeting

This week, I bring you several examples of how this group (and by default, the City of Lawrence) is ‘putting the cart before the horse’ by making decisions and spending money that will be wasted.  Oh, I’m not an accountant but I do my research and understand that there are steps that MUST be followed when planning anything.

On Wednesday, February 28th, the Lawrence Redevelopment Authority held its monthly meeting and I’m still in the dark regarding some of their discussions, so I won’t get into those items until they are clarified on my mind, besides, my presence there was for other reasons.

James Carras, a consultant, and Harvard professor presented on the Urban Renewal Plan Amendment which was discussed during the January 24th meeting.  He is representing Patriot’s Hydro Lawrence Hydroelectric Project explaining the repairs that need to be made to certain areas of the Lawrence North Canal.

After a few minutes of discussion, I was pleasantly surprised when Attorney Brian Corrigan argued “I don’t see why we should pay for it since we don’t own them.”

As part of my research, I had in my possession several deeds through the history of the canals that I am willing to share with the board members if they so desire.  If Attorney Corrigan is aware of that, he doesn’t need me to.

That history states that in 1982, then-Mayor Lawrence LeFebre sold ‘all its rights and interests to Lawrence Hydroelectric Associates for $8,000.

Then, in 2006, Merrimac Paper Co., Inc., and Aquamac Corporation, sold for $1.00 to Lawrence Hydroelectric Associates ‘all and any interest they have in and to any mill powers and other rights to waters of the Merrimack River.’

Mr. Carras left the meeting without the answer he was looking for.  After all, it will cost the city almost one million dollars to do the repairs he was aiming for.

I am very grateful to Paul Iannuccillo, Registrar of Deeds for the Northern Essex District, and Virginia Perez for their assistance in gathering those documents.  Also, Dan McCarthy, who is so knowledgeable of Lawrence’s history has been a Land Use Planner for many years and today is Acting Planning Director for the city.

When the meeting ended, the board remained to go to an executive session to discuss a personnel issue.  Octavien Spanner, in his capacity as executive director, sent a letter to Attorney Brian Corrigan asking him to resign because he was not satisfied with his performance.

Corrigan sent a letter to the board members and told them the reason for his resignation.  That angered some of the members and they aired their feelings during the executive session because it is the board, not the executive director who has authority to do that.

The result was that the board asked Atty. Corrigan to stay, and he agreed to it.

I attend meetings to keep an eye on the progress of the television studio construction. Unfortunately, it remains on the ‘old business’ section of the agenda and hasn’t been discussed.

During the last meeting, Mr. Spanner ignored a member’s request to discuss points “c” and “d” together, and instead, talked about bills to be paid. I’m not trying to be difficult, but I know that what they are doing isn’t legal, and it will ultimately fall on the shoulders of Mayor DePeña.

They’ve been spending a lot of money on architects who have no experience designing television studios. Last month, the board voted unanimously for this project, but I don’t blame them. They haven’t done any research or visited a real television studio to understand what is needed. They haven’t seen a presentation from someone knowledgeable who could guide them.

I tried to arrange a visit to HC Media in Haverhill and Methuen Community Television to show them beautiful, professional facilities, but no one showed any interest. Meanwhile, elections come and go, and Lawrencians remain unaware of these important issues that could help them make better decisions.”



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