Polito Stops in Lowell to Talk Economic Development, Opioids
LOWELL -- Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito sat in the back of Owl Diner Saturday, nestled among Mayor William Samaras, City Councilor Rita Mercier and other officials. Due to the rain, what was supposed to be a review of downtown Lowell’s progress on economic development turned into a roundtable discussion between politicians on a myriad of topics.
“You are a classic example as a city that knows about all the tools that are in the toolbox. The economic development resources that we have as a state, you understand how to take advantage of those,” said Polito, her voice competing with clinking utensils and the loud chatter of nearby diner patrons. “We talked about this a while ago, that if we can get more market-rate housing in downtown Lowell, then that would be the catalyst for economic development because that’s more people downtown that want restaurants, shops, services, and things to do.”
State Rep. Dave Nangle invited Polito to visit on Saturday. The stop was also partly Nangle’s official endorsement of Polito and Gov. Charlie Baker for re-election. Samaras and City Councilors Mercier, John Leahy, and Dave Conway joined Nangle in their endorsement. City Councilor and former mayor Edward Kennedy was also present.
“Today was the day for the Lowell elected officials to show their support to the governor and the lieutenant governor’s administration, for everything that’s taken place in this city in the last 3 1/2 years,” Nangle said. “It really is a testament to the administration. Look, you can see right from here a $200 million judicial center.”
The Baker-Polito administration has supported the construction of the new Lowell Judicial Center through investments in Baker’s capital budget. Two years ago, $31.5 million was earmarked to begin work on the building in the Hamilton Canal District, according to Baker’s five-year capital investment plan.
Economic development aside, other topics the official touched on included the opioid epidemic, Lowell’s diversity, and the need for a replacement for the Rourke Bridge, a temporary structure erected more than 30 years ago.
After the roundtable discussion wrapped up, Polito said she did drive around the Judicial Center earlier. She said she was so pleased to see the progress and that it felt “very real now.”
“It really serves as a gateway to the downtown Hamilton Canal District and is an important feature that this city has long wanted for that parcel of land,” she said. “I was very pleased that our administration could play an integral role in making sure that the funds for this $200 million project would be in place for the construction to begin.”
Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.