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AGENDA & MINUTES April 10, 2012

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McKnight Neighborhood Council, Inc.
Board of Directors Meeting
Tuesday, April 10, 2012:  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—6:25 pm:  GUEST
o   Russ Seelig from Concerned Citizens of Springfield presenting an update on the work being done to correct the undervaluation of cell towers and billboards by the city.
6:25—6:55 pm:  GUEST
o    Springfield City Council President James Ferrera here to meet with residents and learn more about the needs and concerns of the neighborhood. 
6:55—7:10  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 March 13, 2012, meeting (see attachment)
o    TREASURER’S REPORT:  (Liz Stevens)
·         Monthly financial report
7:10—7:20 pm:  Old Business
o    Update on 175 Bowdoin Street
7:20—7:30 pm:  New Business
o    Keep Springfield Beautiful site selection—scheduled for April 28
o    Open to floor
7:30—7:50 pm: COMMITTEE REPORTS – Any committee updates (5 minutes each)
o    Standing Committees
·         Rail Trail (Liz Stevens) 
·         Public Safety (Walter Kroll)                                                       
·         Housing & Code (Demetrios Panteleakis)
·         Good Neighbor (Ceil Lewonchuk)
·         Communications (vacant chair)
§  Ben S reporting on Neighborhood Councils Collaborative
o    Ad Hoc Committees
·         Community Center (Demetrios Panteleakis)
·         Block Party (Donna Jordan, Corey Singleton)
§  Block party scheduled for June 09
·          Debate (Jesse Lederman) (committee currently inactive)
7:50–8:00 pm:  Wrap Up—Final Business, Open to Floor                              
8:00 pm—Close Meeting
Next McKnight Neighborhood Council Meeting 
Tuesday, May 08, 2012               6:00-8:00 pm             Rebecca Johnson School
Minutes McKnight Neighborhood Council
Board Meeting:  April 10, 2012
Meeting Called to order 6:10 p.m.:   (WK verified quorum present)
Board Members Present (7):  Walter Kroll (Pres), Demetrios Panteleakis(Vice Pres), Ben Swan, Jr,
(Secy/Clerk), Liz Steven, (Treas), Ceil Lewonchuk  (Asst Secy),  Jesse Lederman,, Stephen Thibeau.  {Elizabeth Lederman, Adm. Staff}.
Board Members Not Present (6) Frank Buntin, Katie Foster, Arthur Jones, Donna Jordan, Ed Kelly,
 Corey Singleton
Neighborhood Members Attending:  E. Henry Twiggs, Karen Twiggs, Warren Clark, Paul Swenson,
                Karen Swenson
Guests:   Russ Seelig, Michael Wiersma, James Ferrera
Welcome by Walter K; board member introductions; audience introductions.
o   Russ Seelig from Concerned Citizens of Springfield presenting an update on the work being done to correct the undervaluation of cell towers and billboards by the city
·         Estimated  one to two million dollars lost by the City in revenue from the undervaluation of billboard and cell tower properties—affecting local residents when the City is forced to lay off city workers and raise fees and property taxes to  otherwise meet budget
·         Sponsoring 10 tax payer lawsuit to require the city assessors office  to assess billboard and cell tower properties at their true value—examples given of other cities with comparable properties and significantly higher assessments—opportunity for residents to join lawsuit
·         Inviting MNC to  join Fair Cash Value Coalition now being formed—comprised of Springfield neighborhood councils and civic associations joining together to put pressure on the City to correct the problems in the assessors office
·         Requesting MNC to send formal letters to the Mayor and State Department of Revenue asking for action on this issue
·         Motion by Jesse L to send letters, withdrawn when it was decided that more discussion needed to take place after board members had reviewed information packets that were distributed—to be discussed at future meeting, along with joining Fair Cash Coalition
o   Michael Wiersma, from Devereaux’s Therapeutic Foster Care, presented information about specialized home based foster care.  Mike talked about his experience as a foster  child which led him to becoming a foster parent and invited people to find out more about this rewarding program.   Mentioned that there is a stipend and passed out brochures explaining how to get involved.
o   Springfield City Council President James Ferrera met with the board and residents and presented an overview of the upcoming City budget process. 
·         Council has been meeting to review possible revenue sources since state funding is being cut significantly—also meeting with City departments to review their budgets and individual needs
·         June 1—Mayor will present formal budget recommendation
·         June 30deadline for City Council to approve budget
·         City Council has the power to cut the budget, but does not have the power to increase the budget amounts or change allocations to each City department
·         Mayor has the power to veto the cuts—that veto can be overridden with a 2/3 majority vote of the Council
·         Proposed budget currently includes increases in the trash fee, hotel and restaurant tax, tag sale permits, dog licenses, raffle fees, animal control fees, and building department fees—encouraged residents to contact City Councilors if they are concerned about these increases
o   Discussion—
·         Demetrios P inquiring about 5 year financial plan that the Finance Control Board mandated must be in place for the City when their tenure ended—which never happened and now the City appears to be heading into the same bind it was in before, with a lack of fiscal responsibility particularly with the School budget still not under control and a number of high paying positions having been added to the City government payroll—yet now we are being asked to raise fees.  Suggests that City Council not take a line item approach, but needs to look at the flaws in the overall planning process—we should have a game plan so we are not running deficits.  Where is the 5 year plan?
·         Ceil L inquired about recycling revenue and its impact on the general fund
·         Paul S commenting on the City cutting back on maintaining the parks and terraces as a serious mistake which negatively impacts the quality of life in the community
·         Stephen T suggesting  the City needs to crack down on unregistered vehicles parked in yards as a means to eliminate the eye sore and to collect revenue
·         Ben S reporting that the Neighborhood Collaborative is working on a city-wide anti-litter campaign that he hopes the City Council support
·         Jesse L raising the subject of the recent entrance of a SMOC group home in McKnight and urging the City Council to be vigilant about this organization’s increased presence in the City and how it unfolds, given their history in the eastern part of the state. 
·         Walter K stressing the importance of the City beginning to track group home development and locations in the City which it currently does not—and to realize that the City does have some controls and input in the process.
·         Demetrios P commenting on the importance of instituting a process to prevent oversaturation and make certain that Springfield has control of serving its own homeless population but does not become the dumping ground for homeless programs in the state
·         Jesse L inquired into Councilor Ferrera’s position going forward regarding large scale biomass incineration in the City.  Councilor Ferrera’s response: depends on the project.  MNC Council urged Councilor Ferrera to oppose large scale biomass incineration as it negatively affects our community.
·         Walter K summarizing the following MNC priorities in terms of adding value to the community, both McKnight and city-wide: Control of group home development and oversaturation; rail trail development; and strengthening business development which is directed toward local buying and selling, and utilizing local services and products.
o   MNC received thank you note from Thompson Street resident Brandi Gamble who just closed on the vacant lot next to her property which she was able to purchase through the RFP process from the City with the support from the Council
o   Announced public hearing on City Action Plan on May 11
o   Election of Chairperson for Election Commission
MOTION: (DP moved) to designate Elizabeth L as Chairperson; (JL seconded); (WK called;) Unanimous vote to accept. 
o   Appointment of Nominating Committee to develop Officer Slate for FY 2013
·         2 Board Members—Ben Swan, Jr, Elizabeth Stevens
·         District 1 Resident—Ed Zuckerman
·         District 2 Resident—Marianne Winters
·         District 3 Resident—Bokul Buya
·         Chairperson—Elizabeth Stevens
VICE-PRESIDENT’S REPORT: (Demetrios Panteleakis)
o   Demetrios P—no activity to report. 
SECRETARY’S REPORT: (Ben Swan; Elizabeth Lederman, staff)
o   Minutes of Board Meeting March 13, 2012, submitted for acceptance. Call for corrections or additions.
MOTION: (DP moved) to accept as presented; (JL seconded); (WK called;) Unanimous vote to accept. 
o   Liz S reporting that final quarter of FY 2011 reimbursement pending.  Check has been invoiced.
o   Monthly financial report submitted for acceptance.
MOTION: (DP moved) to accept as presented; ( JL seconded); WK called the question); Unanimous vote to accept. 
o   Budget amendment transferring $80 from insurance to communications.  Yearly insurance originally budgeted for $780, actual cost $700.
o   MOTION: (DP moved) to accept amendment as presented; (JL seconded); (WK called the question); Unanimous vote to accept. 
o   Walter K giving update on 175 Bowdoin Street—summarizing meeting from March when SMOC presented their group home program.  SMOC moving forward with project.  MNC followed up with HUD and City, inquiring over lead paint and asbestos issues—regarding renovation process and disclosure process to tenants.  Will continue to follow.
o   Liz S and others requesting Building Department to appear at future meeting to answer questions
o   Keep Springfield Beautiful scheduled for April 28.  Discussion of site.  City will be cleaning the Dingle.  Various suggestions offered—decision to start at Magazine Park and clean our way up the Bay Street corridor to Girard Street.
o   Rail Trail (Liz Stevens)
·         Liz S reporting that she and Walter K are now meeting regularly with Pat Sullivan from the Parks department.  An environmental consultant for the City named Lynn Rose who has experience with railroad bed conversion and rail trails will be doing a site visit. Will also have some City interns to do research on the site and legal aspects of acquiring the use of the property.  No firm commitment yet from City but moving toward that goal.
·         Mass Mutual grant for rail trail rejected.
o   Public Safety (Walter Kroll)
·         Reminder that Watch and Sector F meeting occurring on third Thursday each month.  Last month Charlie Ramos did a piece on the drugs currently in circulation.  This month there will be a video presentation by the Sheriff’s department.  Crime in McKnight down 2%, up 8% in the City. 
o   Housing & Code (Demetrios Panteleakis)
·         Demetrios P reporting that action has been initiated to focus on the needed upgrade of STCC parking lot on Armory and Worthington Streets—currently a dirt lot, needs paved along with fencing improvements.  Entranceway to McKnight, and the properties across the street have all been improved.  Time for STCC to step up to the plate.
o   Good Neighbor (Ceil Lewonchuk)   
·         Let Ceil know if you are aware of any new neighbors so she can send them a flyer
o   Ben S reporting on the April Neighborhood Collaborative meeting he attended on behalf of MNC.  Subjects discussed:  A combined neighborhood calendar for the City web site; a city wide anti-litter campaign, and some level of community service component for students in the public school system.
o   Newsletter to be distributed during the first week of June, prior to the June 9 block party.  Call for articles from anyone interested.  Email to Elizabeth L along with pictures.  Councilor Twiggs invited to contribute.
o   Block party scheduled for June 9, rain date June 15.  Peter Pan will donate the DJ stage bus.  Have a band planned, bounce house, fortune telling for kids, art activity.  Time 11 am to 4 pm.  Putting together flyer for business donations.  Park authority has promised to have Thompson Triangle cleaned and ready.  Ben S reporting he still has two iron trash can surrounds from Keep Springfield beautiful which can be installed in the park, but they need bolted down.
o   Annual Meeting scheduled for May 08 along with Community Pot Luck.  Councilor Twiggs suggesting having City budget director as guest speaker to speak to fee increases.  He will contact her.
8:00 ADJOURNMENT:    MOTION:   (JL moved) to adjourn; (BS seconded); (WK called); motion carried.
Submitted by Elizabeth Lederman, Administrative Staff, 05/08/2012


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