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AGENDA & MINUTES October 12, 2010

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 AGENDA
6:00 pm – Open Meeting, Welcome
6:05- 6:35pm  GUESTS
o    Mike and John Skrabely — appearing before the Board to seek approval to open a used car lot at 556 Saint James Avenue
o    Deb Albury — a McKnight resident who is working with Gardening the Community and Partners for a Healthier Community, presenting information on the benefits of a proposed ordinance to link community garden plots, which ordinarily occupy empty lots, with each area’s local Neighborhood Council
6:35- 7:05 pm   OFFICER’S REPORTS   
o    PRESIDENT’S REPORT: (Walter J. Kroll)
§  Updates on efforts to promote city anti-litter campaign
§  Details on the upcoming McKnight Sponsored DA debate on October 19 at AIC
o    VICE-PRESIDENT’S REPORT: (Tony Anthony)
§  Clarification on the request by the Black Leadership Alliance for participation of the Board in completing a community needs assessment
o    SECRETARY’S REPORT: (Liz Stevens)
§  Minutes of September 14, 2010 meeting
o    TREASURER’S REPORT:  (Marianne Winters):
§  Monthly financial report
§  Discussion on which invitations MNC should accept from other community organizations who are seeking to partner with MNC  in their own applications for the Mason Square Health Task Force grant
7:05- 7:40 pm  COMMITTEE REPORTS – Any committee updates (5 minutes each)
o    Youth (Jesse Lederman) – Update on stopping PRE incinerator
o    Public Safety (Walter Kroll) – Highlights from Sept 19th block party co-sponsored with McKnight Neighborhood Watch; Follow-up on 175 Bowdoin Street problems
o    Housing/Code (Tony Anthony) – Results from Oct 7th Historical Commission Hearing on McKnight properties; Update on Code Enforcement Deputy Director Dave Cotter as a future guest
o    Mason Square Library (Liz Stevens) – Update on recent City Council actions and hearings
o    Rail trail/RJS playground (Liz Stevens) – Highlights of Springfield College Humanics Day activities in McKnight;  Status of the MNC application for Mason Square Health Task Force grant
o    Communications (Marianne Winters) – Status of website & fall newsletter
o    Finance & Fund Raising (Marianne Winters)
7:40 – 8:00 pm   NEW BUSINESS:  Open to the floor
8:00 pm – Close Meeting
MINUTES
Board Meeting: October 12, 2010
Called to order 6:05 p.m.:   (WK verified quorum present)
Board Members PRESENT (9):  Walter Kroll (Pres.), Tony Anthony (VicePres.), Ed Kelly, Jesse Lederman, Liz Stevens, (Clerk/Secy.), Gregory A Hession, Ceil Lewonchuk, Ben Swan, Jr, Denise Moccia, {Elizabeth Lederman, Adm. Staff}.
Board Members Not Present (6):  Frank Buntin, Chip Gorra, Katie Foster, Arthur Jones, Donna Jordan, Marianne Winters (Treas.).
Neighborhood Members Attending:  Kat Wright, Steve Gray, Archie Emmanuel, Lisa Gaudreau, Jon Skrabely, Colin Purvy
Guests:  Mike Skrabely, Joe Costentini
Special Presentation:  The Neighborhood Youth Council honored Kathryn Wright, retiring Administrative Staff, with flowers and a gift for her unwavering and extraordinary support.
PRESENTATION:  (introductions) John Skrabely, 313 St James Ave, & Mike Skrabely, Sixteen Acres, appeared to seek approval for a Special Permit for a used car dealership at 556 St James Ave, a property owned by them.  Seeking to revive a previous permit issued for that property, they reviewed the terms with the Board, which included a limit of 10 cars on the lot, no junk cars, no auto repairs, and other related stipulations. (See attachment.)
The Board expressed concern about previous poor condition of lot and code interventions, and applicants promised compliance going forward.  WK asked for details of their business plan.  They intend to start with 2-3 cars, and be open Mon-Sat, 9-5.  Frontage: new chain link fence just added.  Council encouraged installing wrought iron in future. LS can arrange for trees for the curb to be planted in the spring.  JL expressed concern about guard dogs.  None will be employed. Property includes a cell phone tower which used to have an American flag flying from it.  Applicants want to attach a flag once again but will require a letter from the Council to do so per their contract with the cell phone company. (presentation concluded)
DISCUSSION:  TA reported that the Application for Recommendation had been reviewed with no particular negatives and that property taxes are up to date.  General concern expressed about adding a third used car lot and yet another auto related business to the area, lack of a well-defined business plan, and general reliability of applicants based on previous condition of lot. SG vouched for applicants as well-known respected welders, one being a long time neighborhood resident.  BS observed that the area was really an extension of Gasoline Alley which mitigated its impact on the neighborhood proper.
MOTION:  (LS moved) to approve Application for Recommendation based on the terms of the     
       previous Special Permit .  (TA seconded); (WK called for discussion); EK, JL, DM,           
       & CL continued to express concern about desirability of car lot, and future reliability and  
       compliance by applicants.  TA commented property had been cleaned up. BS observed remedies  
       are in place if they failed to comply. (LS called the question); Motion passed: 5 yea, 4 opposed.        
       WK directed EL to send letter of recommendation to City Council and applicants.
[Second scheduled presentation by Deb Albury re: proposed community garden ordinance, cancelled.  Speaker not present.]
PRESIDENT’S REPORT: (Walter Kroll)
o   Commented on the many projects being managed at this time by Board members and offered thanks all around for the hard work.
o   Spgfld Anti-Litter Campaign; continuing to work with Keep Spgfld Beautiful chairman Melvin Edwards.  Currently developing framework to deliver program to the City.
o   DA Debate, scheduled for Oct  19, at AIC; described format and details.
VICE-PRESIDENT’S REPORT: (Tony Anthony)                                                                                                       
o   Black Leadership Alliance Survey update, re: neighborhood services in place;  Mr. Blatch wants to hold a meeting, explain survey and have each board member fill it out.  Board requested more information re: is this survey different from Aug BLA survey completed by KW; under whose aegis is this being conducted; is it appropriate for monthly meeting venue.  TA to report on details at Nov Executive Board meeting. 
SECRETARY’S REPORT: (Liz Stevens, Elizabeth Lederman, staff)
o   Minutes of Board Meeting, September 14, 2010: Minutes not available for review prior to meeting.
MOTION: (LS moved) to table acceptance of minutes until Nov meeting; (BS second);    
(WK call for discsussion); JL suggested reading them now; (call for vote); 6 yea, 2 opposed,   
1 abstained.  Motion carried.  
TREASURER’S REPORT: (Marianne Winters)
o   Monthly financial report: [MW not present, no report]
o   Discussion facilitated by WK and LS on which invitations MNC should accept from other community organizations re: partnering on Mason Square Health Task Force grant; Spgfld Partners for Action (SPA) cited as strong possibility in case MNC is not primary grantee.
MOTION:  (BS moved) to defer to LS and MW decision about collaborating on SPA primary grant application and/or others; (JL second); (WK call for discussion); WK and BS observed that MNC rail trail is a strong proposal in and of itself and MNC is a highly desirable partner; LS reminded that RFP calls for health related project addressing diabetes and cardiovascular health; WK posed question of what do we gain or lose by not signing onto another organization’s grant; (BS offered amendment to include WK in decision making);(JL second); (call for vote); 8 yea, 1 abstain; motion carried.
REPORTS:
YOUTH COUNCIL: (Jesse Lederman, Chair)
o   Reported that Palmer Renewable Energy has petitioned the State with a Notice of Project Change re the biomass incinerator proposal, requesting to burn waste wood instead of construction and demolition waste.  Discussion on the Board’s position re this new change relative to the previous opposition expressed for the incinerator.  JL to provide more information via report.
o   Report on membership drive, meeting planned for Nov 3 at Rebecca Johnson School.
PUBLIC SAFETY: (Walter Kroll, Chair)
o   Reported off on Sept 18 Block party at Thompson Triangle Park, co-sponsored with McKnight Neighborhood Watch.  Well attended, Mayor stopped by, many children; sidewalk art, bounce house, giant bubble making and hula hoops all a great hit.
o   Discussion on recent home invasions, re SG on Bowdoin Street and one on Thompson Street.  SG also reported dumpster pickup @ 6am at 175 Bowdoin as nuisance, and after hours noise at R&D towing on Worthington and Armory.
o   175 Bowdoin St update:  licensed as a nursing home, but housing young people 18-35.  Has been reported to Code Enforcement.  Mayor’s office, police closely following.
o   WK encouraged continued participation by all in the Neighborhood Watch.
HOUSING/ CODE: (Tony Anthony, Chair)
o   Reported on recent Historical Commission Hearing decisions re 245 St James, fiberglass columns, approved; 79 Buckingham, replace slate shingles with asphalt, approved.
o   Reported City had acquired control of vacant lot behind River Inn on Thompson and that there were interested developers.
o   TA raised concerns about committee members offering comments at the Board meeting, rather than following the protocol of the committee gathering information, and the chairman reporting.  Additional discussion about comportment and communication in general  re Board meetings.
MASON SQUARE LIBRARY: (Liz Stevens, Chair)
o   City Council meets November 8, and will take up decision to evict Urban League if they have not reasonably shown progress in leaving.
RAIL TRAIL/ RMJ PLAYGROUND: (Liz Stevens, Chair)
o   Mason Square Health Task Force grant application—see attached report.
o   Humanics Day—EK & LS worked with 20 students from Springfield College to clear rail trail from Bay Street to the True Vine Church.
COMMUNICATIONS: (Marianne Winters, Chair)
o   (MW absent), WK  reported that they are looking into using a professional writer who can manage the newsletter and solicit ads so it will pay for itself.
8:00 pm ADJOURNMENT:
       MOTION:   (JL moved) to adjourn;  (BA second); motion carried.
NEXT MNC MEETING: 
                Tuesday, November 9, 2010
                REBECCA JOHNSON SCHOOL, 55 Catherine St.
                6:00 – 8:00 pm
Submitted by Elizabeth Lederman, Administrative Staff, 11/6/2010.

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