The Blog

AGENDA & MINUTES September 20, 2011

i Oct 22nd No Comments by

McKnight Neighborhood Council, Inc.
Board of Directors Meeting
Tuesday, September 20, 2011:  6-8 pm
Rebecca Johnson School, Music Room
55 Catharine St., Springfield MA
6:00 – 6:15 pm:  OPEN MEETING, WELCOME
o   Introduction, Board of Directors
o   Audience Introductions
6:15—6:30 pm:  GUEST
o   Laurie Williams from the Mason Square Health Task Force speaking on plans to develop a substance abuse recovery center in the Mason Square area and seeking input from neighborhood residents about its location and how it would operate in the community.
6:30 – 6:45 pm:  OFFICERS’ REPORTS  
o    PRESIDENT’S REPORT: (Walter J. Kroll)
o    VICE-PRESIDENT’S REPORT: (Demetrios Panteleakis)
o    SECRETARY’S REPORT: (Ben Swan, Jr & Elizabeth Lederman, admin staff)
·         Minutes of August 16, 2011 meeting (see attachment)
o    TREASURER’S REPORT:  (Liz Stevens)
·         Monthly financial report
6:45—7:15  pm:  New Business
o    MNC liability insurance—discussion about the need and cost of Directors & Officers insurance which the Council does not currently have in place
o    Open to the Floor
7:15 – 8:00 pm:  COMMITTEE REPORTS – Any committee updates (5 minutes each)
o    Standing Committees
·         Rail Trail (Liz Stevens)
·         Public Safety (Walter Kroll)                                                       
·         Housing &Code (Demetrios Panteleakis)
·         Communications (Marianne Winters)
·         Good Neighbor (Ceil Lewonchuk)
o    Ad Hoc Committees
·         Community Center (Demetrios Panteleakis)
·         Debate (Jesse Lederman)
8:00 pm – Close Meeting
Next McKnight Neighborhood Council Meeting 
Tuesday, October 11, 2011               6:00-8:00 pm             Rebecca Johnson School

Approved October 11, 2011
Minutes McKnight Neighborhood Council
Board Meeting:  September 20, 2011
Meeting Called to order 6:05 p.m.:   (WK verified quorum present)
Board Members Present (7):  Walter Kroll (Pres), Ben Swan, Jr, (Secy/Clerk), Liz Steven, (Treas), Ceil Lewonchuk  (Asst Secy),  Gregory Hession, Ed Kelly, Stephen Thibeau, {Elizabeth Lederman, Adm. Staff}.
Board Members Not Present (6):  Demetrios Panteleakis (Vice Pres), Frank Buntin, Katie Foster, Arthur Jones, Donna Jordan, Jesse Lederman
Neighborhood Members Attending:   W. Clark, Stephen Gray, Madeline Kroll, Kat Wright, Victoria Lewis, Brandi Gamble, D. Lucas
Guests:   Zaida Govan
Welcome by WK; board member introductions; audience introductions.
o   WK reporting on the MNC sponsored debate for the mayoral candidates on September 13 at AIC—debate format was strong and candidates were well engaged.  Lack of media support for the event, but covered by Republican and Reminder with good write-ups.  Plans in progress for final mayoral debate and possible debate for at-large city council race.
VICE-PRESIDENT’S REPORT: (Demetrios Panteleakis)
o   DP absent—no report.
SECRETARY’S REPORT: (Ben Swan; Elizabeth Lederman, staff)
o   Minutes of Board Meeting, August 16, 2011, submitted for acceptance. BS absent during this portion of meeting; Asst Secy/Clerk, CL called for corrections or additions.  None offered.
MOTION: (CL moved) to accept as presented; (EK  seconded); (WK call for discussion) ;(WK called the question);  carried unanimously.
o   LS  reported that she is working with the new bookkeeper Amy Grabowski to understand the books and how the expenses are handled and reported.  She asked for suggestions about what board members wanted to see in the monthly financial report.  GH observed that the reserve needs to show in the report, and that any grant monies we are handling for other organizations should be distinguished as a separate account, as is done with escrow accounts.  Further discussion led to motion as follows:
MOTION: (BS moved) that MNC executive board committee take up discussion on financial report format and finalize details; (EK  seconded); (WK call for discussion) ;(WK called the question);  carried unanimously.
o   WK reported that MNC liability insurance does not include Directors’ & Officers’ insurance.  Discussion about whether the Board wants this coverage and what situations could arise which would warrant it.  General consensus reached that because MNC is so small, and the scope of its activities is modest and generally covered by the liability policy, that there is little risk involved.  Agreement that the current liability insurance is sufficient for any litigious situations which might arise.  
o   Kat Wright reported that the AARP is sponsoring a project on “walkable communities”.  A workshop is taking place on Tuesday October 18 which involves a site survey which rates sidewalks and streets in various areas of the city as to their walkability.  They will be surveying five sites.    Suggests possible participation by MNC.
o   Zaida Govan (standing in for Laurie Williams, who was originally scheduled) speaking on plans by the Mason Square Health Task Force to develop a substance abuse recovery center in the Mason Square area and seeking input from neighborhood residents about its location and how it would operate in the community. 
·         Project is called the Mason Square Recovery Initiative
·         Mission—to provide aftercare services to clients who are coming out of substance abuse treatment who live in the community—as stated “to be a resource for the recovering community”.
·         Organization has a $25,000 implementation grant with plans to supplement with monies from Ludlow correctional facility and other potential community partners.
·         Planning to locate the facility in a house (as opposed to a storefront) in a residential section of Mason Square; site as yet undetermined; will have offices and community space; two paid staff supplemented with volunteers.
Discussion revealed that this project is still in early planning stages.  Concerns voiced around the preponderance of group homes and similar services already located in the residential McKnight area, particularly on St James Avenue.  ZG stressed the uniqueness of this project as an integrated aftercare facility, and pointed to a similar model that operates successfully in Hartford.  Agreed to provide more information in later planning stages.  Board indicated willingness to hear more about the proposal as it develops.
o   Rail Trail (Liz Stevens)
·         LS reporting that land appraisal is almost completed.
·         Participated in a rail trails report that is airing on PBS local station WGBY channel  57 in October.  Spent two hours on McKnight trail with camera man shooting footage.
·         Participating in 1st Annual Rail Conference on November 12.
·         Mass Mutual grant—they have indicated they want MNC  to proceed with application
·         Springfield College declined MNC request to provide AmeriCorps volunteer to assist in organizing volunteers for rail trail work
·         Humanics Day scheduled for September 27 with 4-5 student volunteers from Springfield College.  Plan is to access rail trail from Albany Street and clean out a dumping area that has developed because of a breach in the fence that surrounds the abutting lot.  City has been contacted about repairing fence.
o   Public Safety (Walter Kroll)
o   Reported on the closing of the River Inn property by the City for code violations.  Owners have one year to bring it up to code or lose the property.
o   Watch officer Charlie Ramos reporting an overall increase in armed assaults and gang activity. 
o   Urged continuing vigilance re radiator, pipe, and metal theft in abandoned and vacant houses.  Police have been able to successfully intervene when immediately alerted.
o   Housing & Code (Demetrios Panteleakis)
·         DP absent, GH reporting—committee continues to develop resident’s letter alerting to code violations.  Letters will be submitted to Board to sign off on before sending.  Housing stock list to be developed for serious offenders requiring City interventions as in abandoned and/or bank owned properties not being properly administered.
·         EK raised problem developing in neighborhood regarding unscrupulous realtors possibly taking advantage of first time home buyers and what measures could be taken to assist these individuals.  Consensus that victims themselves need to contact the Attorney General in these matters.
·         78 Bowdoin Street being illegally advertised for sale as a three-family in a single family zoning area.  Zoning commission is now involved and following the issue.
·         380 Bay—LS reporting that this property with serious environmental issues will be part of the focus of the EPA CARE grant meeting in which MNC is sponsoring later this fall.
o   Communications  (Marianne Winters)
o   MW absent, LS reporting—LS reporting that fall newsletter is now in planning stages.
o   Good Neighbor (Ceil Lewonchuk)
o   CL reporting she will now be visiting new residents to welcome them, give them official Council flyer, and inviting them to come to the monthly meeting.
o   Debate (Jesse Lederman)
·         JL absent—WK reiterated that a mayoral debate, and possibly an at-large city council debate will be undertaken before the general election in November.
o   Brandi Gamble-Eddington, requesting memorandum of support in her efforts to acquire ownership of the vacant lot abutting her property at 42 Thompson Street, which is in the process of being sold by the City. 
·         Background—lot previously owned by HAP as a preferred developer.  HAP returned property to the City after BG made inquiries about it.  It is now available for purchase; either by auction or RFP (not clear which).  BG has been caring for the property since building her home on abutting lot in 2005.  Buddhist Temple and also bar on State Street interested in acquiring lot for parking. 
·         Discussion—Request in accord with MNC policy of supporting residents who have invested time and expense in caring for vacant lots which abut their properties.  Also of importance, lot is a boundary property abutting the commercial district on State Street—residential boundaries of the neighborhood need to be kept intact. 
MOTION: (LS moved) that MNC issue a memorandum of support to Brandi-Gamble Eddington in her efforts to acquire vacant lot parcel #11525-0007 on Thompson Street; (BS  seconded); (WK call for discussion) ;(WK called the question);  carried unanimously.
·         EL directed to issue memorandum
8:00  ADJOURNMENT:    MOTION:   (LS moved) to adjourn; (EK seconded); (WK called); motion carried.
NEXT MNC MEETING:                    Tuesday, October 11, 2011
6:00 – 8:00 pm
Submitted by Elizabeth Lederman, Administrative Staff, 10/11/2011.


Leave a reply