Revitalizing Lower Locks

Revitalizing Lower Locks Virtual Community Workshops!

We’re inviting you to help us revitalize Lower Locks. This is a two-workshop series free and open to the public to provide direct input into a new vision for the public spaces between the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center, Middlesex Community College, and the businesses on Prescott Street. It’s your chance to help shape the heart of downtown! You can come to one or both workshops on Wed, 10/28, 2020 and Thu, 11/12. Both workshops start at 6 pm.

Zoom link, call-in number, and information for Workshop 2

On Thursday, November 12, 2020, 6:00 pm Eastern Time, use the following information to join Workshop 2:


If you don't have a microphone or the above link doesn't work, use phone number: (651) 372 8299
Or use one-tap mobile: +16513728299,,98789175012#

If you are prompted, use the following ID and Passcode:
Meeting ID: 987 8917 5012
Passcode: 374243

Presentation and results from Workshop 1

We had a tremendous turnout of more than 40 residents and community leaders at Workshop 1. The design team heard a lot of great ideas and they’re working diligently to prepare for next week’s meeting on Thursday, November 12, 2020, 6:00 pm (Click here to RSVP and we’ll email you the Zoom link when we have it). The designer will show off concepts and ideas they’ve developed in response to your input and ask you to evaluate those ideas before they turn it into a final product.

What was some of that input? In summary,

  • The bones of a great place are already at Lower Locks, it just needs some “TLC”
  • We need to balance quieter areas with opportunities for food, music, and events
  • Wildlife along the Concord River Greenway and in the river and canals are important to the area
  • There are some prime long-term opportunities for historic restoration that will also open up the area
  • Wayfinding and identification to make it clear it’s a public space are necessary
  • Folks who live or work near Lower Locks feel a strong affinity for this special place
  • We recently lost great establishments like 50 Warren and the Back Page, how can we bring that energy back?
  • We should work with partners to find opportunities for greener, more flexible spaces where possible

To view the full "whiteboard" presentation with comments, visit:

To see the presentation and comments as an easy-to-print PDF, click here.

Any questions? Contact Chris Hayes, Neighborhood Planner, at or (978) 674-1405.

See our great flyer below!


More about "Revitalizing Lower Locks"

Lower Locks is a historic lock chamber and gatehouse that is part of the Lowell Locks and Canals National Historical Landmark District, also designated a National Civil and Mechanical Engineering Landmark and within the boundary of the Lowell National Historical State Park and Lowell Heritage State Park. All canals in the system converge and travel through Lower Locks before emptying into the nearby Concord River. It is not only the heart of the Lowell Canal System, but also in many ways the heart of downtown Lowell. Several notable historic events took place in the area, and now it is the site of Middlesex Community College (MCC)’s Carol Cowan Building and University of Massachusetts Lowell (UML)’s Inn and Conference Center.

The massive complex of gates, locks, and spillways offer a visually dramatic gathering point. Prodigious granite walls rise up from the base of the locks within site of the confluence of the Concord River. An elegant gatehouse perches atop the locks, masking the serene mill pond above the sheets of water pouring down to the canal bed. The Pawtucket Canal was originally built as a transportation canal in 1796 to route goods around the Pawtucket Falls on the Merrimack River. With the construction of the Lower Locks in 1823, the canal was incorporated into a water control system to power mills.

Today, the spectacular setting is framed by the downtown campus of MCC and the UML Inn and Conference Center. The presence of two institutions of higher education offers a wealth of opportunities for active use as well as options for regular and special events.

Despite its centrality and historical significance, this area is in severe disrepair, not universally accessible, and underutilized. The ownership of the assets is fragmented. Major landowners and/or easement holders include the City of Lowell, UML Building Authority, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), MCC, Lowell National Historical Park (NPS), Boott Hydro d/b/a Central Rivers Power, and Proprietors of Locks and Canals (PLC). Therefore, the City has convened a working group of these stakeholders and additional community partners. The working group has developed a scope to assess the area, create a work plan of repairs and cost estimates, and create a compelling vision for a redesign of the public plazas and walkways.

Check out Lowell Waterways Vitality Initiative's Lower Locks webpage.