Written by  ,     October 6, 2017     Posted in Announcements, Background, Business, In real life, News, Restaurant


I love you Lowell–my wife’s hometown for generations and mine for the past three decades, but you’re killin’ me with this high school debacle.

I don’t know whether our tendency to undue progress is a historic trait for this historic “hard-scrabble” city, or what?   But we seem to take a step backwards each time forward steps have been made.  Its a damned bad habit.  Stop regressing.  Stop compromising.  It’s painful.

On the national level, the park service has flourished despite the economic challenges that plague us all–representing trolley whistles and proud vibrancy while The Summer Music series has only improved, like, forever! An economic engine that produce vibrancy, visits, pride, spending and financial health for Lowell.  The Folk Festival creates positive energy and vibes that last all year long.  Tours and uniformed, gracious leaders and ambassadors shine on.

On the State level, what UMASS has done for Lowell is an obvious beacon.  Look around.  New vibrancy, beautiful buildings, great lighting, opportunity for future leaders, fresh pavement and sidewalks, Division 1 wins and positive publicity abounds on all of our behalves.  Another economic engine that produces visits, pride, spending, financial health for Lowell. Long term vision with short term results.

Now it’s time for the City to step up again–to play better than .500 ball.  We can be so much better. The Spinners happened almost 20 years ago. The Tsongas Arena before that. The JAM plan and the courthouse continue to evolve, as the city councilors reversed their earlier “head-scratcher” decision to prevent more residential units to be built downtown.  Because… have you looked around downtown lately or taken a walk down Central onto Merrimack at 10PM?  It can be scary.  

Newsflash; Although numerous good restaurants are finally representing recent success, they all have replaced ones that didn’t make it. Ramen Bar replaced Mambo Grill.  Lowell Burger Company is new but not.  It replaced that Legacy place that didn’t create legacy, who replaced La Boniche, who did.  Warp and Weft was Wicked Irish was Majors was Dubliner.  On and on.  Mandarin, Holly Crab, Smokehouse, the other crab place.  All retreads. Meanwhile Living waters thrives downtown, helping those in need while at the same time increasing the percentage and visibility of the indigent and the addicted wandering downtown streets pan handling, sleeping in doorways and on benches in Lucy Larcom park.  How does that jive with our economic stimulus plans? We are most certainly an impassioned and compassionate city, and that’s a beautiful thing.   However, we seem to fall short on initiatives that improve our overall health, sporting about the lowest average household income in the Merrimack Valley with one of the highest tax rates. 

And now, as the push grows to overturn the political process, and again (and eventually again) rehab the very old Lowell High School, rather than create a new vibrant economic opportunity downtown–filled with people who have disposable income–the talk of an eminent domain taking of the Professional Building has begun anew.  That resultant removal would eliminate professionals, employees and clients from the downtown–those who represent success, and taxes, and an upside ratio to the “economically challenged” community.  In addition, taking the parking lot that goes with The Professional Building, hurts Cobblestones as we have leased that lot for nearly two decades to the benefit of our guests and business.  Cobblestones is the largest downtown restaurant and one of the most successful in the city’s history.  Has Lowell ever had such a large, quality driven restaurant like Cobblestones sustain success? Since 1994, we have attracted over two million locals and visitors alike, high tech company dinners, pharmaceutical companies, holiday celebrations, graduations, rehearsal dinners, showers, weddings, theater and hockey fans alike, department heads, enumerable celebrities and on and on. What have YOU celebrated at Cobblestones?  We have provided thousands of jobs to residents, two annual scholarships, a nauseating amount of tax revenue, and donations to every single social cause that has ever knocked on our door.  The homeless, the hungry, the sick.  We have provided a tremendous source of  pride and success for this community and have heard people talk about Cobblestones, relative to Lowell, all around the world.  In Aruba, Puerto Rico, the White Mountains, in Western Mass, in New York City–true story as a customer in a famous NY deli raved about our “best Reuben ever.”

Why would you hurt us Lowell?  How does that help the city, the community, the future?

To be completely honest, I am not smart enough to know whether Cawley Stadium is the place is to secure the best possible scenario for our students and city.  But what I do know is taking land by eminent domain, and hurting two successful downtown business, in a city that struggles to produce commercial success, is lame.  I also don’t believe for one moment that this needs to be the binary argument that it has become.  Where is the creativity?  Where are the leaders and visionaries in this dialogue?  Where are the REAL numbers?  When we hear of the cost of rehabbing an old building, we hear about some of the hard costs, but not the potential millions in overruns and paying off the dentists?  And that’s before considering the soft costs of hurting two successful downtown businesses.  Before people lose their jobs, before the ripple effect that no one takes into account while they fight their bitter Facebook war and promote Pro-Cawley or Pro-Downtown candidates; as though the most lawn signs equates to creative solutions.  When the Cawley option is discussed, we don’t hear of the additional costs of busing, or re routing traffic to protect the home values of Belvidere residents.  

I often ask myself what we would decide if the state was offering a blank check rather than “just” $140 million in contribution?   If all potential costs were covered, would we still rehab old buildings or would we reward future generations with a state of the art facility, with computer labs, great lighting, improved air flow and efficient systems, and buses to keep them safe and warm in rain and snow?  Would we represent bigger long term vision?  Would we calculate the probability of better education with improved resources and heightened morale?  Has anyone calculated what redeveloping the downtown site into commercial and residential successes would create in taxes and economic impact?  Again, I’m truly not smart enough to know what “the best” answer is.

But here’s what I DO know.

If Lowell leadership fails to produce a higher level of long term strategy while making the decision to rehab old buildings, in the process  hurting or relocating TWO successful downtown businesses by taking The Professional Building by eminent domain is not progress. It’s playing the short, easy game. Seeing the big picture might have been grabbing the Lowell Five building while it was available and vacant.  Caught looking.  Seeing the big picture might be relocating the post office, or the “outreach center” off of Lowell’s main business district street.  It’s possible to be humane and strategic at the same time.

Creating economic vitality is the future of upside Lowell.  It’s future jobs for those high school students.  It’s a new police station, fresh sidewalks, and better help for those in need while uplifting the community at large.  It’s pride and vitality.  Hurting two downtown businesses, because you can’t figure out a better way?  That’s just lame.

See the big picture Lowell leadership.  Less speeches, more vision. Play the long game.  We did.  Plan for the future, without tanking what is already working.  Get together, rise above all the “noise,” and maybe someday, an Amazon will actually consider Lowell to bring millions in opportunity to our community.  Maybe the next Boston Globe article will rave about how strong leadership and harmony led to great vision and outstanding results for Lowell’s continued march towards long term economic health.  Be better than good Lowell.  Aspire to greatness.


75 Responses

  1. Fred says:

    I could not agree more. Downtown Lowell right now is a shell of what it used to be. It could be so much better with better city leadership.

  2. JoAnn Gitschier says:

    There has not been leadership in the City of Lowell for a good many years. People run for office and they use their positions for medical insurance and retirement purposes. The first couple of years they are in office, they try! Then they become comfortable and everything becomes same old stuff! Look at the people opposed to a new school at Cawley! The over sixty crowd! The vast majority don’t have kids even thinking about going to high school. Their mentality is NIMBY! Unfortunately, the residents of the City of Lowell believe their City is controlled and for the most part, operated by the Belvidere residents, so why does anyone think they would go out and vote? The City has been overtaken by the Belvidere residents for years, no one can change that unless the City decides to have districts and that would take an act of God in the City of Lowell. Mr. Plath, your letter is dead on, but believe me NOTHING will change as the City Officials do not care about-taxpayers, businesses or anything else. The talk the talk, but they don’t walk the walk!

  3. Alex says:

    Thanks for sharing Scott. I could not agree with you more !!

  4. Shelby Boisvert says:

    Excellently written. Does anyone realize that when we build a beautiful state of the Art campus at Cawley it actually may ATTRACT more business ! Mellinels dying for walkable cities with a place to bring their businesses and families will see us as a city on the verge of greatness and want their families and businessss to move in. Let’s keep moving forward instead of being stuck in the past !

    • admin says:

      Agreed. Thank you Shelby. I too have visions–realistic or not–of Assembly Square. What brilliant engineering of a former waste land. Lowell has access, a commuter rail, trolleys, a National Park, a major university campus, MCC, theater…so many resources to create the big win!

  5. Deena says:

    I wouldn’t call Living Waters new. Diane’s been running that for more than 15 years now.

    • admin says:

      Thanks Deena. And thank you Diane for helping those in need. But something has changed. I was asked (3) times last week for money on my one block walk from car to building. Uncomfortable, sad and scary all at once.

  6. Corey Robinson says:

    Thank You! Finally a successful downtown business leader speaking unbiased and truthful. Thank you for providing such a service to the community and thank you for your Yahoo burger and truffle fries.

    • admin says:

      Yahoo Corey! Thank you very much. I love this community–generous, tenacious, supportive. It’s been a 23 year struggle but worth every penny.

  7. Kathleen Marcin says:

    Thank you for sharing a reasonable forward thinking opinion.
    p.s. I had the Reuben Tuesday night; excellent!

  8. Gary Frascarelli says:

    Scott, You have summed up the issue better than any of the supposed “experts” or politicians. As a former businessman who had two downtown Lowell locations I can tell you that you are spot on. Using prime first floor retail space for “outreach offices” is the one of the dumbest things a city could do. Throwing out one business with dozens of employees and hundreds (or more) patients or customers is stupid. Taking away your parking lot (and taking the property off the tax rolls) which would probably force you to close is a major negative. “But there is a parking garage not far away”, the politicians say… response, “I’m older and have health issues, I can’t walk 2 or 3 blocks to get to a restaurant”. Let us hope the upcoming election brings people on board who have the vision to move Lowell forward and not backwards.

    • admin says:

      Thank you Gary. Agreed, parking garages are rarely the answer in our neck of the woods. Sort of like BBQ. Both are a tough sell to half the passengers! 🙂

  9. Kara says:

    As a former Lowellian and teacher I think they should move toward progress and build the new school! I hear many families talking about moving to town X or Y because of a new school. There is a sense of hope it brings. New schools=younger families….who take their kids out to dinner, enjoy local services, have young parents needing jobs, etc. Everyone wins. It is hard for me to say that, because my grandfather’s name is on the side of LHS but the Cawley location is the right move! Lowell has so much potential if the leadership would just get out of its own way!

  10. Craig says:

    Very, very well said Scott! I couldn’t agree with you more! I have actually talked to a lot of the kids at the High School, and a large majority of them want a brand new school with fields for sports, gym, and other athletic activities. When I was running the Tsongas from 2000 – 2010, I used to let them use the triangle green space behind the marquise for gym classes, and Parking Lot B for Marching Band Practice. Otherwise these kids would have to be bused out to Cawley after school every day for practice. Giving the students more space to spread out and have nice new facilities that will last for a longer period than a renovated, outdated building downtown, seems like a no brainer to me. But, I don’t live in Belvidere, and I don’t have any kids of High School age, so I’m not sure that my opinion matters. I just want what is best for the Students first, and then utilizing the former location to help spur more development downtown. Again, my congrats to you for putting it into words so well, and for your passion for your adopted City!

    • admin says:

      Thank you Craig. I actually can see the many great points on all sides of the argument. The point you make with regard to a new school is one that I embrace although good luck finding hard data to support it. Conceptually, I believe that a new facility will create greater morale and pride in both faculty and students, and ultimately serve to provide a more enriching education for the kids. But, at what cost to others? I’m not smart enough to answer that one either! My original, and overarching point is, find the “best” answer for the students and future, without hurting successful downtown businesses–of which there are already far too few of.

  11. Wally Armstrong says:

    Great article Scott and your comments are spot on. The City has K-8 schools already in each of the neighborhoods with busses running though them two times a day. Belvedere is no exclusion and or works each and every day. Residence of the Highlands, Pawtucketville and downtown have UML and MCC in their neighborhoods and make it work as well. All part of being a leading city in the State and Country as we like to boast. The negative attitudes regarding why Cawley will not work is backwards thinking for sure and against the grain of what Lowell represents. I’ve yet to turely see good reasons why Cawley will not work, simply excuses.
    As so well stated, Downtown has an opportunity to advance in business developments and partnerships with the anchors of the universities and court house driving the change. New business partners will come to the City and be sold on the opportunities of change and existing buisness will see the Cities commitment to them for their years of service. Strategic minds neeed to come together and build a plan for success. I remember when Wang towers was sold and the discussions where “this will never work”… take a look at the Cross Point complex now and what’s the increased tax role the City benefits from? Remember this was first the Dog Pond and some didn’t want to change it for Wang. Some of the same City Counselors were on the council back then and take credit for their advanced thinking. Challenge yourself again to do what is BEST for Lowell and for the new Counselors, take a lesson in history. Forward thinkers advance and prosper, negative ones wither and loose in the end. Embrace the opportunity.

  12. Smug Parigian says:

    I agree with you Scott that no one knows the true cost of either proposal. I would say that those businesses on Douglas Road that may have parking taken away would have the same concern as you. Both sides of this issue are guilty of providing false information and I agree we need real answers and real dollar amounts to weigh the options of a location.

    • admin says:

      Amen brother! That’s how business is best done, that’s how the future of Lowell and Lowell students could be much better managed. Opinions based on fact will better serve us all, than opinions based on emotion.

  13. Ellen donohoe says:

    I am so sick of listening to the Cawley people. High school students have been a part of the downtown landscape for one hundred years. The current placement of the school allows them to use the facilities at Middlesex Community College including the Library and being able to take courses there. It also allows them to use the Pollard Library as well.

    I am really tired of listening about what is going to happen to the medical building. They got that land originally when the city made an eminent domain claim and took down historical brick row houses to build the medical building. No one is kicking them out of the city or downtown. They just want to use the land parcel for the school and to find them another space for the medical practice.

    I passionately believe that the school needs to stay where it is now. Cawley was an unfortunate site and brings a lot of problems with it. Route 38 is badly congested and the city does not need to have to fund the expansion of Route 38 and Douglas Road and Clark Road and also the potential eminent domain issues that will be part of it. This is ill considered and and does not fit our city. We cannot support continuing building luxury condos all over downtown when most of the city residents cannot afford to live in them and we need to have more than condos and restaurants in the center of Lowell.

    • patricia Donahue says:

      Thank you for your comment Ellen, I am a business owner in the down town area and feel the same about the high school staying where it is, from a parents perspective, yes i would want my kids to attend a nice new school, fact is that comes with a hefty price tag. My experience living in a near by town having gone through the growing pains of the 90’s we rushed to borrow and build new schools, now have one of the highest tax burdens in Middlesex county and ended up driving middle class families out many are buying homes in Lowell. So I see it from both sides and just want to say if the city goes for a new high school, get ready, your taxes are going up, yes I know they are already but more than you can imagine and gentrification will happen faster than you think. I wonder if thats what people really want.

    • admin says:

      Excellent points. Thank you for sharing. I am not “sold” on Cawley. I have seen very little in the way of true economic analysis. I simply think that we can come up with better alternatives than hurting two existing businesses downtown, including mine. I believe expanding the tax base is crucial to Lowell’s future, and that includes the students. I love the axiom, “A rising tide raises all boats.”

  14. Tom says:

    Well said! You should submit your letter to the Lowell Sun to be printed in the editorial section of the paper. Thank you for your dedication to the community. I love both of your restaurants, although I’m partial to Cobblestones bar side.

  15. Thurston says:

    I’m new to Lowell and somewhat torn over the issue. What I’ve come to understand is that students and parents really love the school right where it is. There is something special going on there that apparently doesn’t require that latest in technology. There is a human element here that gets lost in the discussion somehow. I live in a condo downtown and my only regret about the high school downtown is that when the students are not there at night it’s just an empty dark space right in the heart of the city. In that way I’d rather see it filled with people and families so the area would be more vibrant and safe after hours. Again being new to Lowell and an educator I’m shocked that a city the size of Lowell only has one public high school. All over the country these huge high schools have been broken up into smaller more manageable Learning Communities. So for all the talk of wanting to be state of the art there is still a lot missing when it comes to connecting what’s happening in Lowell to best practice.

    • patricia Donahue says:

      very good point

    • admin says:

      Excellent points Thurston. I too am torn and I agree with all of your points. Downtown is very special and I have ALWAYS loved and embraced the urban nature of Lowell, and the great diversity. It brings me back to where I grew up in NY on a near daily basis. I also often experience the darkness at night and lack of economic vibrancy that could do so much for the downtown. Such a hard issue! Thank you for sharing your perspective–and welcome to a great city!!

  16. Jamr says:

    Don’t take the buildings of professional, take the homes of people who have lived here in Beliverdere for 30+ years. That msked ore sense. I proposed we find another area in the city where no one loses, and everyone wins.

  17. Jane says:

    Don’t take the buildings of professional, take the homes of people who have lived here in Beliverdere for 30+ years. That makes more sense. I proposed we find another area in the city where no one loses, and everyone wins.

  18. Lowell leadership sorely lacking says:

    As a former Lowell city employee- none of this stupidity surprises me. The council are imbeciles for the most part. They have been voted into positions that they have no clue how to perform. Proof positive- they have been voicing opinions and voting on the schools location without the benefit of the actual numbers or dollars needed to make an educated decision. They are mostly self serving jerks without enough brain cells to run a lemonade stand never mind a city. I feel for everyone that suffers at their hands.

    • admin says:

      Although you make a good point about the importance of responsible representation and making tough decisions with proper information, I think you could have done so in a nicer way. Some of those imbeciles are my friends! That said, I appreciate your passion.

  19. Molly says:

    I think it is very brave of you to stick your neck out as a business owner with your opinion. The way things have been so heated it could effect your business if people with an opposing view choose not to patronize your places any longer. I happen to love both of your restaurants, but I also happen to be on the Downtown team. I think that common sense discussion has gone out the window on this issue and we have lost the ability to really hear one another.
    I appreciate your perspective as a downtown business owner I appreciate the improvements made to UMASS Lowell. I anticipate the potential the courthouse will bring. I also believe firmly that students belong downtown because of all of the resources. I have a Belvidere address now, but I didn’t always, and my child was one who utilized those resources.
    Lowell has almost 70% of its students who live at or below poverty level. Bringing in new condos or businesses is not going to help out that enormous percentage of our population. The kids who don’t have computers at home would have to get back downtown to access the library. Students who depend on breakfast before school would have to add a much longer bus commute and plan to get there even earlier each day. Parents who don’t drive or have transportation would have difficulty attending events and meetings at the school. The dropout rate would be at risk of increasing with these resources decreasing.
    In my view, the move to help powerful business owners downtown is at the expense of a significant number of residents. You suggest the concerns about cost increases are short sighted, but the busing increase will never go away, even after the school is paid for in taxes. Busing the athletes all over the city to different fields hasn’t even been priced out yet. Business owners on Rogers street were an afterthought while the downtown businesses are being promoted. This entire process has been a debacle from the start. It is too bad the entire situation cannot be restarted with some thorough research and Xoom sense from our city representatives.

    • admin says:

      Excellent points Molly and thank you for your kind words.

      Maybe most prescient, and one of the points I was trying to convey, but you did it better;

      “I think that common sense discussion has gone out the window on this issue and we have lost the ability to really hear one another.”

      Sadly, I’m afraid that is becoming a societal norm.

      In fact, you are correct– there are people who have now threatened to not visit my restaurants because I shared my point of view. But they won’t just be hurting me–they will also hurt my staff and their families who depend on business to support themselves. The irony is, my objection to taking the dentist’s land and lot is meant to protect those same families, my staff and my own family, as much as my own interests. They are my responsibility too.

      • Molly McCarthy says:

        I will still come to your restaurants because I think you have some great menus and staff, and I know you are passionate about the community I live in. Common sense dictates that just because we disagree on one issue does not mean we cannot support one another or come together about so many other things we have in common. I feel the same way about the medical building. My dentist is great, but I would visit him anywhere. It would cause the same harm to the business owners on route 38, but those are somehow valued less and the discussions are dismissed as speculative. Loyal people would follow a business to a new location, but there is no such compensation for the students who would be removed from the resources I mentioned previously.

  20. Noreen MacDonald says:

    Clearly, this business is looking to increase business by having MORE condos being built at the current Lowell HIgh site.

    Scott – you purchased your restaurant when the high school was where it has been forever. And, I’m guessing when you did – there was no talk of converting the current high school into condos.

    I am a product of a poor family whose family didn’t have a car. I had huge successes at the high school by being able to walk to everything – stay after for whatever I needed to.

    So, I respect that the idea of more condos would increase your business, but, at what expense.

    • admin says:


      I am sorry if I misled you somehow. Although I am absolutely for greater economic development, more residents and businesses downtown, my point about this specific location is, if we as a city choose to keep the high school downtown, do so without hurting the professionals or my staff, or me and my family. I have never had any issue with the high school being next door. I LOVE the vibrancy of the student population by day, and the business support we receive from parents, teachers, coaches, tournaments and visitors all! I have great memories of sitting in that steamy pool house cheering for my eldest daughter, a captain of the swim team, many years ago.

      Thank you for sharing.

  21. Essie says:

    Who doesn’t want a beautiful brand new school for the high school students of Lowell? No-one! How long will it take a student from Pawtucketville to be transported to the Cawley site at rush hour? I’m guessing at least 40 minutes. We all know how traffic picks up when school gets out. Is spending an hour a day transporting a student to and from school a good use of time?

    And yes, the residents of Belvidere will be greatly affected by this change. Increased traffic from folks taking shortcuts through the side streets. Is the city going to reimburse the residents of Belvidere for their lowered housing values?

    I graduated from Lowell High School, but I no longer live in Lowell. I enjoyed the urban campus. I appreciated it’s central location. The thing that makes Lowell so special is it’s diversity. Look harder, for a better site without trying to grab it from a long standing business.

  22. John Casey says:

    I think you’re being extraordinarily shortsighted. I don’t think an enormous derelict empty high school next door is going to help Cobblestones — or the downtown. And there are no buyers for that property. Parking is a perennial problem in downtown Lowell, as it is in most sizeable cities. You must know that the Cawley site is going to have unavoidable eminent domain takings, and businesses will close because of that site too.

    i understand. I really do. The construction at the downtown site will cost you business any way you want to look at it.

    The dealbreaker for me is that the downtown has a lot of services the high school kids need, within easy walking distance, starting with the public library where I volunteer to help ESL kids with their homework.

    Yes, Lowell needs some strategy for business growth, and although there are people pulling down salaries for “economic development” in city hall, the city is losing more businesses than it gains every year. That includes parking, which the City Council pretends isn’t an issue at all.

    It’s your right to scoff at the people on the lower rungs on society and wish for more upscale clients living downtown. That’s your right. But closing the Living Waters Outreach Center isn’t going to make all the homeless get on a bus to Boston.

    There’s no easy solutions to any of this. But you seem to be flipping the “NIMBY Card”.

    • admin says:

      Excellent point about downtown services John.

      We don’t have to agree on everything, but I have to correct your misrepresentation of my position. First, I believe my position is the opposite of short sighted. I see a more grand, long term vision for Lowell. Second, you are wrong. There are buyers and developers for that property, should the high school be moved.

      And finally, “scoff”, and “NIMBY”? Unfair sir. I scoff at no one and we embrace Lowell’s diversity and agonize over economic disparities and the harsh realities that plague our community. But only through economic strength, can WE all be more helpful to those who need the help, in so many ways–taxes, jobs, better prepared students…. Your contribution included. That’s a beautiful thing you do. Thanks for sharing.

  23. Brian says:

    The high school belongs downtown. And I’ve spent thousands at Cobblestones over the years. Whether or not option 2 or 3 is chosen the city should install parking meters on Arcand Dr bordering the backside of Cobblestones and the Masonic building. Ultimately the whole intersection needs a redesign to connect upper and lower Merrimack St at a human scale so pedestrian traffic is more fluid and businesses don’t need to rely on off-street parking so much.

    • admin says:

      Thank you so much Brian. Say hi next time you are in!

      • Brian says:

        Will do. I’ll add that people come to that end of Merrimack St because of Cobblestones, not because of a great public realm. Make a great public realm and you won’t be reliant on off-street parking, much like Tremonte, Fuse, and future Athenian Corner.

        A thriving Cobblestones and downtown LHS are not mutually exclusive but the city needs to stop prioritizing quick traffic flow and easy off-street parking and start prioritizing a human scaled, proximity based, public realm. It sounds sappy but the places we love to visit are getting this right. Lowell should too.

  24. Renee Aste says:

    Your blog, your rant. Read it a second time with comments. A bit calmer, because your personal concerns are legitimate the tone is well off when end up complaining about needed social services.

    The problem

    People will not park in garages.

    The majority of people want an urban layout, but don’t want to walk more than 100 feet for parking. I am in a minority here, the type who takes the stairs over an elevator. People will not park in a garage, apparently. It you want my personal rant for over a decade, Lowell residents with cars pay excise taxes, we should get a few free parking vouchers either for ourselves or to share on selected days. Never would happen, but that’s my rant.

  25. William says:

    Refreshingly blunt and honest Scott but I take it you don’t live near Cawley…..but I do respect that you are straight enough to openly support what’s in it for you. Sorry but I can’t cry for a bunch of doctors, they will do just fine wherever they go and their tax $$ are irrelevant in a city of this size and a project this scale. As you do point out, the problems in DTL are much greater than a high school but why so much vision for all parts of Lowell but nothing for a substantially brand new HS building in the center of our city for all those visitors to see? Seems like it could be quite the statement of a fully engaged community with education a top priority? Why just shove those many millions out in Tewksbury on a piece of land it clearly will not fit but most certainly will not be seen. We are in fact a city so let’s act that way and stop raping our neighborhoods and green spaces pretending we are one of the towns.

    • admin says:

      It’s scary to consider that our tax dollars are irrelevant! It doesn’t feel that way… And “what’s in it” for me, is in it for my managers, my staff, my family, mu guests. Tough issue for all, to be sure! Thank you for sharing William.

      • William says:

        Scott….you can do better than this rant or pulling my reference to tax dollars out of context for a a quick easy quip? Thats partly how the “where to put the high school thing” got so ridiculously out of control….it’s part of the new fake news cycle we are all living. You’re a creative guy with something at stake and you have great ideas and youre not afraid to put yourself out there! Lowell isn’t “killing” you. It’s the stupid trap of just two limited choices, Cawley or DTL that’s killing everyone. In the end we all know that it’s not the building….it’s what’s on the plate! Imagine we built a first ever state of the art HS campus in DTL capable of dual use purposes with UMass and MCC night classes and extended community education opportunities. A multi million complex that runs around the clock…..but I don’t need to feed you creative ideas…you’ve be feeding me for years!

  26. gary says:

    Lowell native, I believe this is all politically driven. What about the old Raytheon site in South Lowell. It was able to handle plenty of traffic when it was under 3 full shift production. Better access than Cawley, Plenty of land and it is for sale. Sell Lowell High and buy and build a high school, could even probably get a station on the commuter rail if needed. The Concord river would be good for a high school rowing crew.

  27. Peter Krowchun says:

    Great comments and very well said. Keep up the good work at both restaurants!

  28. Jerry Bisantz says:

    This is one of the finest articles I have read on the importance of leadership. NIMBY and Nostalgia are leading people down the wrong path. Destroying healthy downtown businesses so we can keep High School kids OUT of Belvidere is the reason for the pro-downtown stance, don’t kid yourselves. Any other reasons being given is just window dressing, and they … and you… know it. Why oh, why would ANYONE want to put kids (AND Teachers!) through 4 to 6 years of jackhammers, dust, possible asbestos poisoning, etc…? Why? it’s insane. GIVE THE KIDS A NEW SCHOOL. and renovate the old building to commercial, residential and retail space and CREATE new tax dollars for our city , MORE customers for Cobblestones, etc… a brave article by a real entrepreneur !!

  29. Jerry Bisantz says:

    I will revise my statement with an apology … not ALL people wanting downtown are thinking NIMBY… many of them have reasons other than that! I have a habit of writing before thinking…
    and for that, I apologize…
    I just happen to believe that new is better than “re-vamped”, that’s all.

    • admin says:

      Thank you for your compliments and your opinions. Most of all, thank you for the bit of humility and the apology, while helping me keep this blog respectful and intelligent. I was at a friend’s house in Belvedere a few nights ago and she is very much against Cawley. Though she did not realize that Cobblestones would be hurt by the eminent domain proposal, her hors d’oeuvres are always delicious, she is (almost) always gracious and we will always be friends. MANY folks want the high school to stay downtown for valid reasons. As friends and neighbors, I hope that respect is afforded all as we seek resolution.

      • Jerry Bisantz says:

        I hear you… and my wife and I dined at Cobblestones this weekend and it was excellent (as always) you also have a great jukebox. I DO think that people are over reacting to busing. If the LRTA could re -route, high school students can learn to take buses. I took a bus 7 miles to school everyday, ran track, cross country, did the school plays and always found my way home. I think it’s ridiculous to believe that kids in the acre cannot take a bus every day. Change is difficult. Look, if Cawley site is bad, find another one. I just don’t want kids going to school for 4 to 6 years in a construction zone.

  30. Kathleen says:

    I agree, but I have a couple of points:
    1. When in this country did we collectively decide that a loss, was simply a “temporary setback”. The Cawley site was chosen by the legal methods in place by which the city of Lowell makes these decisions.

    2: Why is the city so damn incompetent that it picked two sites, neither of which it has the rights on which to build? You didn’t even mention that the Cawley site is a protected wetland and needs permission from the state to build,in addition that site has a plot which permission from the City of Chelmsford to use. What is wrong with Lowell.?!? Seriously? They couldn’t find one site in the entire city to improve by building a school? THAT is a lack of leadership.

    BTW, they’re going to have a hard time suggesting imminent domain is required as they already have multiple proposed plans downtown that do not include the Arcand Dr property.

    What we really need is two schools, but I suppose that’s a different discussion.

    • admin says:


      1. I tend to agree with you here. All the way from the White house to Lowell Massachusetts. 🙂
      2. Great points.

      And I agree again–there are multiple options–none perfect. Somehow this became a binary discussion. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  31. Derek says:

    Why do folks think Cawley will change the business situation down town? (I couldn’t care less either way no kids) But downtown still has quite a few empty storefronts with landlords that don’t care or are disengaged completely. Pull the school or don’t, the fact of the matter is without the property owners buy in we are still going to have half baked storefronts (come on guys wash a window) selling junk or empty ones. How do you solve that.. Look at the Wells Emporium, Barnes and nobles changes to a meeting space and tiny HS goods store (What a waste) Hypertext empty again. High turnovers due to half assed business plans and rent higher than it should be. Middle street, Found (Closed for the most part) Bombay Mahal gone and replaced with a school (More retail space gone). Yes the city council are a bunch of bloody vampires who suck the life and $$ out of this city but some of the property owners (don’t be a slumlord or absentee landlord) and residents (Shop local Folks and pick up after your dogs) have to step-up too.

    • admin says:

      Thanks for your perspective. Here’s MY opinion. Even in great cities, filled with people who have purchasing power, businesses fail. For many reasons. Poor management, a miscalculation on demand, under capitalization, Amazon launches and online shopping, etc. I agree, Lowell has focused too heavily on filling available space with non tax paying entities, however, that is better than empty space. People work in those buildings, walk the streets, buy lunch, etc. Lowell has also done a terrific job rehabbing and filling almost all the old mills that were empty when Cobblestones opened in 1994. That’s real progress, and many more people living and working downtown. The essence of my blog was to keep that momentum going forward, WITHOUT taking a step back–and hurting two healthy, contributing businesses.

      More residents, and more businesses downtown, can only grow that momentum, and the tax base, and would ultimately help keep businesses viable.

      **I too miss Bombay Mahal my friend. Downtown NEEDS an Indian Restaurant! 🙂

  32. Diane says:

    Thank you Scott! You are spot on! City leaders stop your sophomoric behavior before you drive out the business that create our much needed quality of life & Tax Dollars! #FocusontheFuture!# (please)

  33. Bob Gagnon says:

    I don’t believe that the High School being downtown hurts the businesses there, we need to get more people downtown, willing to spend money. We are sitting on a gold mine but nothing is being done, wr have nearly 6 miles of canals, if we open them up to hundreds, perhaps thousands of kayakers, the downtown would flourish and become a huge draw for tourists. Imagine paddling your kayak past Maack Plaza, pulling up to the dock at Cobblestones for drinks and appetizers, then paddling down to catch some live entertainment or a meal at any of Lowell’s fine canalside establishment’s, opening up the canals would be like a mini Folk Festival every weekend, we have to do this!

    • admin says:

      A visionary joins the fray! Thanks Bob. Kayakers on the Lowell canals? Now, THAT is a hoot! Fun idea. So many ideas, yet so little funds. How do we overcome that? A greater tax base.

      For the record, Lowell High School downtown doesn’t hurt us, in my opinion. Although students are not (yet!) customers, the teachers, parents, coaches and visitors have been GREAT supporters of Cobblestones. We love them. And if the high school was able to stay downtown, and provide the best educational opportunity for the students, without hurting my neighbors business, or my own, we would be glad to keep on loving them for years to come!

  34. Scott Klee says:

    I’m a young professional downtown resident who wasn’t born in the area living in a mill.

    I’m sick of Lowellians wanting my “disposable income” –but what Lowell really considers disposible are my opinions. They say, “Give me your money, but keep your opinions about keeping LHS downtown, helping the homeless people instead of chasing them away, managing our existing parking stock instead of parking cars everywhere… keep that to yourself.”

    Maybe it’s because I rent, and my landlords are the ones who can pocket tax savings while hiking my rent because Lowell’s “Too affordable” already?

    I’m not saying my opinion is more important than someone who has lived here for generations or an emerging immigrant family that is so central to Lowell’s vibrancy. I don’t even know my opinions are AS important as theirs. There are good arguments for and against either site, for and against the way we distribute social services, and for against different parking and traffic management strategies. I’m just saying, if you’re going to spit all over my preferences, don’t do it in the same breath you’re asking me for money.

    • admin says:

      I am very sorry you feel that way. Although I imagine some Lowellians are interested in your opinion. You may be simply “talking” to the wrong ones! I am grateful that you joined the conversation, and I agree; There are generally good arguments on all sides of an argument. We ALL could be better at listening to each other, and seeking compromise and consensus. Let that be our goal! 🙂

  35. Crystal Janine says:

    Tell urban Waddie. So very proud of my dear friend and brother.

  36. Crystal Janine says:

    I meant. Tell it Waddie. Dumb phone

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