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Registry of Motor Vehicles to reopen in Lowell on Aug 2

State responds to concerns raised by City Council, state delegation

March 24, 2020 File photo — Registry of Motor Vehicles security officers from Internal Security Association keep social distancing in effect in the line outside the Lawrence RMV, one of eight RMV offices open, and only by appointment. Andy of Medford, left (who didn’t want to give his last name), checks in with an RMV employee who was checking people’s appointments. (SUN/Julia Malakie)
March 24, 2020 File photo — Registry of Motor Vehicles security officers from Internal Security Association keep social distancing in effect in the line outside the Lawrence RMV, one of eight RMV offices open, and only by appointment. Andy of Medford, left (who didn’t want to give his last name), checks in with an RMV employee who was checking people’s appointments. (SUN/Julia Malakie)
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LOWELL — The Registry of Motor Vehicles will reopen its Lowell Service Center for all transactions on Aug. 2, the state told city leaders Wednesday, just over a week after the Lowell City Council and State House delegation pressed the issue.

State Rep. Vanna Howard announced Wednesday afternoon that she received a letter from Acting Registrar Colleen Ogilvie.

“In the letter, Acting Registrar Ogilvie mentioned that the Lowell RMV Service Center will reopen for all transaction types beginning Aug. 2, and will be working to prepare the office for customer visits, retrofitting counters with Lexan glass, and making other safety adjustments to serve the residents of Lowell and surrounding towns,” a Howard aide said in an email providing specifics.

In a letter sent last week, Howard, along with fellow Reps. Tom Golden and Rady Mom, state Sen. Edward Kennedy and Mayor John Leahy urged Gov. Charlie Baker and the state Department of Transportation to “immediately implement a safe reopening plan” in light of the June 15 lifting of the state of emergency and other restrictions related to COVID-19 and the significant decline in transmission of the virus.

City officials, state delegation lobby for full reopening of Lowell Registry of Motor Vehicles

The Lowell City Council passed a motion introduced by Councilor Dan Rourke on June 8 to press the issue with the state, and City Manager Eileen Donoghue wrote to state officials as a result.

Donoghue said she spoke with Ogilvie via Zoom Wednesday and was “delighted” by the news.

“It will still be appointment-only, which is how they’re doing it everywhere. We expect to have appointment information a couple weeks before the Aug. 2 date, so we’ll share that when we know it,” Donoghue said. “This is much needed and the City Council had raised this by motion because of concerns about constituents not being able to access the Registry… this is very good news.”

The branch office is located on Middlesex Street on the ground level of the Edward Early Garage.

The officials who wrote to Baker last week said the closure to the public “is simply unacceptable to our community” and has resulted in a significant loss of revenue to local businesses. They said a full reopening is “critical to the long-term recovery of our local governments,” rebuilding local economies and helping residents “return to a state of normalcy.”

Howard noted the impact on businesses and communities all around Lowell as she welcomed the news.

“This should bring revenue back to Lowell, especially for small businesses. I’m so happy to hear it,” Howard said.

On June 15, MassDOT announced it would continue to serve customers by appointment only at already open service centers, along with extending a number of other pandemic-related policies, including holding suspension hearings by phone and allowing learner’s permit tests online.

According to MassDOT spokesperson Judith Riley, the Lowell RMV was last open for “full service” March 13, 2020. Since Nov. 2, it has been used as an internal fulfillment center, completing orders processed at open service centers, including such functions as mailing license plates, registrations and decals. Road tests became available in Lowell again March 1, but it is otherwise closed to the public.

“It probably should have been done a long time ago, but it’s been a major inconvenience for people who live in the city of Lowell so the sooner it reopens the better,” Rourke said.

Rourke said he was still “thrilled” by the news, and glad to see results from the teamwork shown by city officials to press the matter.

“With phone calls, emails and letters — at the end of the day — teamwork got it done and I am happy to have been a part of it,” Golden said Wednesday.

To read the letter from Acting Registrar Colleen Ogilvie, click here.