Eminent domain showdown on Lowell High project tonight at City Council

Lowell Sun | By Todd Feathers
May 16, 2017

LOWELL — The political maneuvering between city councilors who support a downtown high school and those in favor of moving the school to Cawley Stadium is set to come to a head Tuesday night over the issue of eminent domain.

The most popular downtown plan for the new high school, known as Option Three, would require the city to acquire the adjacent medical offices building at 75 Arcand Dr. The owners of the building are adamant that they don’t want to sell, leaving an eminent domain taking as the next recourse.

Opponents of such a taking appear to have the four votes on the City Council required to block it, and two of them, councilors Rita Mercier and Dan Rourke, intend to force a vote on the issue at Tuesday’s meeting.

Mercier and Rourke, who would prefer the high school be located at Cawley Stadium and are steadfastly opposed to eminent domain in this case, have filed a motion requesting that City Manager Kevin Murphy begin preparing an order of taking, the first step in the eminent domain process. An actual taking would require a subsequent two-thirds majority vote by the council, or six votes.

“I want to hold their feet to the fire,” Mercier said of her colleagues. “What should we do, sit on our hands? I want to know if a business that put 30-plus years of their time and their money into a location is in jeopardy. We’ve got to give the manager a message. He works for the council, and I want to know what the council’s thoughts are.

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