Boston and Lowell are in this together. But it takes a collective vision.
That was the message delivered at the Annual Lowell Plan Breakfast by keynote speaker, The 54th Mayor of the City of Boston, Marty Walsh.
Walsh was the headliner at the annual fundraising event which helps raise the funds to support the Lowell Plan’s nearly 40 years of contributions to the city.
Walsh spoke about what he viewed as common issues tying both Boston and other cities and communities in the region, while praising the importance of a collaborative organization like The Lowell Plan. Indeed, the theme of the 2018 Breakfast was “A Collective Vision.” Mayor Walsh was uniquely prepared to speak on that theme as the City of Boston had recently completed its first major citywide planning process in half a century with Imagine Boston 2030, which has been described as a blueprint for the city’s future.
Lowell most recently updated its master plan in 2013 with Sustainable Lowell 2025. The original Room 50 blog described the community input driven planning process overseen by then-neighborhood planner Allegra Williams in January 2013.
Other speakers at the Breakfast included Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, City Manager Eileen Donoghue, Lowell Plan director Jim Cook, Lowell Plan board members, representatives of the Public Matters Class of 2018, and Mayor William Samaras.
Mayor Samaras’s remarks are copied below:
Good morning. I am honored to welcome you all this morning as Mayor of the City of Lowell. The theme of this year’s breakfast is A Collective Vision. If there is any one constant throughout Lowell’s history—the city is at its strongest when it has a vision for what it wants to be.
As you know, Lowell is a city that was founded out of a vision. As the first planned industrial community in the United States it was the innovation of waterpower and the textile mills that powered Lowell’s rise during the 19th century. It was the type of development that had never been done before in the United States.
Another pivotal moment in Lowell’s history took place a little over 40 years ago—and it too required a vision. Lowell, as a city, faced the problems that many midsized cities in our country had to deal with—and that was the loss of its manufacturing base. The textile mills had closed, and Lowell was facing a crossroads — There was a need to create a new vision. — And it was then that I was able to observe and work with leaders like Paul Tsongas and Pat Mogan, who recognized that we had to go in a completely new direction—such as the concept of an urban national park—the innovative reuse of factory space for living and work spaces.
Leaders in the community focused on a new path, a new direction. They knew same old, same old wouldn’t work. It had to be a completely new direction. The creation of entities like the Lowell Plan, LDFC, and Lowell National Historical Park each represented visionary developments that really represented something completely new for Lowell and in many ways, the country.
Which brings us to today. I want to present you with several beliefs that I have.
I truly believe that the role of the Lowell City Council is to help create an atmosphere for success. To make sure that our many partners are supported. That we share in this role with the nonprofits — the private sector, — the community— the neighborhoods, — the political leadership such as the state delegation and the federal delegation — and the media.
I strongly believe that with a collective vision that is inclusive of all of our community, we can take the City of Lowell to the next level.
Obviously, as the former headmaster of Lowell High School I see education as a key part of the city’s future. The new Lowell High School will be part of that inclusive vision—a state of the art learning environment in the heart of the city.
Another initiative that I have worked on as the mayor is Lowell as a City of Learning. Working with Professor John Wooding, and other collaborators, as the mayor, I have applied to UNESCO for Lowell to be recognized as the very first Learning City in the United States.
A learning city utilizes many of our assets and stakeholders—such as the university and community college, the hospital, the museums, our own public school educational system, in promoting lifelong learning for all. It follows the mission of the Parker Lecture Series in engaging all citizens. This effort will allow Lowell to be recognized for what I feel it already is and can be—a true focal point of education and opportunity.
In speaking for the city, I can strongly attest that for the past 40 years, the Lowell Plan has been at the forefront of making sure that Lowell has a vision for the future. To you, the members of the Lowell Plan, I feel that I can say that you are an essential partner in all the things we do here in the City of Lowell.
It is my hope that we leave this meeting with one thought in mind. That collectively, whether we are someone of power and wealth or of humble means, whether you are a newcomer to our country or a member of a fifth generation Lowell family– we will come together to bring Lowell to the next level.
A City of Learning.
A City of Innovation.
A True City of Opportunity.