LOWELL -- Bagshaw Mills residents suddenly found eight Dumpsters behind their condominium complex Jan. 27, so they mobilized in opposition and reached out to anyone willing to listen.
The protest reached a crescendo at Tuesday night's City Council meeting, when about a dozen residents asked councilors and City Manager Bernie Lynch for an explanation as to how the Dumpsters got there.
Mark Regan of 128 Warren St. said he first noticed the Dumpsters two weeks ago, but did not know what they were intended for until he read an article in The Sun Monday that stated the site would be used as a single-stream recycling facility.
"We were sitting there waiting to see what happens, and then came an article in yesterday's Lowell Sun, an article which clearly indicates the city's intentions here. The recycling coordinator (Gunther Wellenstein) is quoted in the article. He has some things to say about it being an ideal site for recycling, a 'wonderful opportunity' for the city of Lowell."
Lynch said the Dumpsters were placed there inadvertently by an overly enthusiastic city employee.
"Let me apologize to the people of Bagshaw Mills," Lynch said. "This was talked about as a potential site, but in actuality, no final decisions had been made."
Regan said that in the last two days, all of the Dumpsters had disappeared.
"They're all gone," he said Tuesday night. "There was a humongous front-end loader down there this morning which removed an amount of snow I've never seen moved before. That was to facilitate the movement of one last Dumpster in the far corner of the retaining wall."
Regan and city councilors said that the site's proximity to the Concord River makes usage of it for a recycling facility an ominous proposition. Any overflowing recycling or garbage that gets caught in a wind gust could end up in a river used regularly for boating and white-water rafting in the summer months.
Councilors said they want to be involved in any discussions of where a recycling facility will be located.
"I can understand that maybe people who were enthusiastic thought it was down and out of the way and not say anything about it, but it is next to Bagshaw Mills and next to the river," said Councilor Edward Kennedy. "That should have been taken into consideration. What's troubling to me is this was being done without anybody signing off on it or anybody aware of what's being done."
Lynch said the Department of Public Works and the Recycling Committee will review potential sites, adding the council will be kept apprised of those discussions.
In other action, the Council:
* Heard from real-estate developers Sal Lupoli of Chelmsford and John Power of Lowell about Lupoli's plan to transform the Comfort Bedding and Furniture mill building on Thorndike Street into a mixed-use development of retail, restaurants, offices and market-rate housing and Power's purchase of the former Wang Laboratories and M/A-Com Inc. building on Pawtucket Boulevard.
Lupoli, who turned the Riverwalk Mills site in Lawrence into one of the Merrimack Valley's greatest success stories, said it took three years of negotiations with the two families who owned the Thorndike Street mill building. He told councilors he was under a nondisclosure agreement which kept him from talking about the negotiations until they were completed.
He showed a series of illustrations that demonstrated both the Riverwalk Mills transformation as well as his plans for the Thorndike Street mill, which drew raves from councilors.
"This council and future councils have to do all we can to bring this in here," said Councilor Rita Mercier.
"Thank you, Mr. Lupoli. It's early in the process, but I think you'll find the planning process will be friendly to you," said Councilor Bill Martin. "We appreciate your confidence in the city. We appreciate your investment. We're here to help in any way possible."
Lupoli said that if all goes according to plan, the site could be fully developed within three to five years.
* Unanimously approved the creation of a new part-time, temporary position of literacy director at the Pollard Memorial Library
* Unanimously approved the position of director of elections, which combines the previous positions of director of elections and municipal hearing officer.