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AGENDA & MINUTES October 11, 2011

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McKnight Neighborhood Council, Inc.
Board of Directors Meeting
Tuesday, October 11, 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   Ed Whitley form Neighborhood Services and Tina Quagliato from Housing discussing the topic of how the City handles the sale of vacant lots in the neighborhood.
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 September 20, 2011 meeting (see attachment)
o    TREASURER’S REPORT:  (Liz Stevens)
·          Monthly financial report
6:45—7:00  pm:  New Business
o    Liz Stevens reporting on the planning of the EPA CARE meeting which will discuss Brownfields in the neighborhood. (see attachment)
o    Open to the Floor
7:00 – 7:30 pm:  COMMITTEE REPORTS – Any committee updates (5 minutes each)
o    Standing Committees
·         Rail Trail (Liz Stevens)  (see attachment)
·         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)
7:30—7:50 pm:  GUEST    
o    Russ Seelig from Concerned Citizens of Springfield speaking on the undervaluation of bill board and telecommunication properties in the city, and the potential for revenue that is being lost.  (see attachment)
7:50–8:00 pm:  Wrap Up—Final Business, Open to Floor                                        8:00 pm—Close Meeting
Next McKnight Neighborhood Council Meeting 
Tuesday, November 08, 2011               6:00-8:00 pm             Rebecca Johnson School
Approved November 08, 2011
Minutes McKnight Neighborhood Council
Board Meeting:  October 11, 2011
Meeting Called to order 6:05 p.m.:   (WK verified quorum present)
Board Members Present (8):  Walter Kroll (Pres), Ben Swan, Jr, (Secy/Clerk), Liz Steven, (Treas), Ceil Lewonchuk  (Asst Secy),  Gregory Hession, Ed Kelly,  Jesse Lederman, Stephen Thibeau, {Elizabeth Lederman, Adm. Staff}.
Board Members Not Present (5):  Demetrios Panteleakis (Vice Pres), Frank Buntin, Katie Foster, Arthur Jones, Donna Jordan
Neighborhood Members Attending:   Ed Whitley, Jean Carter, E. Henry Twiggs, Stephen Gray, Susan Bernardy, Brandi Gamble-Eddington, Valerie Carman
Guests:   Tina Qualiato, Russ Seelig, James Ferrera
Welcome by WK; board member introductions; audience introductions.
·         Ed Whitley from Neighborhood Services and Tina Quagliato from Housing presented information and discussed the topic of how the sales of city-owned vacant lots in the neighborhood are handled.
·         Sales generally handled in one of two ways—buildable lots are put into RFP process (request for proposal), and non-buildable lots are put into abutter auctions.  The advantage of the RFP process is that the sale goes to the best proposal, not the highest bidder.  At abutter auction, sale goes to the highest bidder.   
·         Non-buildable lots could be put out for RFP rather than auctioned—it is currently an internal City decision with no consistent policy in place to guide the process. 
·         RFP’s must be noticed in the newspaper; public auctions of lots not required to be noticed.
·         No current requirement to notify abutters or to involve the neighborhood council in the decision about whether to auction a property or send it to RFP.  Neighborhood council can participate in RFP process once it is initiated, but is not involved in auction process.
·         Discussion centered on the need for consistent, codified procedure for handling these vacant lots.   WK indicating the desire of MNC to be involved in the overall process and decision making, with the intention that abutters be given preference in acquiring these properties—and citing the need for a process to be codified by ordinance..
·         Councilor Henry Twiggs present and supporting MNC viewpoint—willing to advance appropriate legislation in the City Council.  Agreement by TK and EW to gather information and begin conversations with appropriate city departments, i.e. housing, planning and legal toward that goal.
·         TQ and EW to provide MNC with list of all city-owned lots in McKnight.
·         MNC to follow up with committee work to assist in developing policy and ordinance.
o   WK thanked city officials in attendance; and offered the Board and neighborhood residents present praise and support for the work in the neighborhood which is taking place—pointing out that this is the true public service that makes the neighborhood a cohesive, safer, and increasingly desirable place to live.
VICE-PRESIDENT’S REPORT: (Demetrios Panteleakis)
o   DP absent—no report.
SECRETARY’S REPORT: (Ben Swan; Elizabeth Lederman, staff)
o   Minutes of Board Meeting, September 20, 2011, submitted for acceptance. BS called for corrections or additions.  HT observed error in Housing & Code committee report identifying 78 Westminster which should be 78 Bowdoin.
MOTION:  (BS moved) to amend minutes changing Westminster to Bowdoin; (LS seconded); (WK called the question); Unanimous vote to amend.
MOTION: (GH moved) to accept as amended; (EK seconded); (WK called the question); Unanimous vote to accept. 
o   LS reported that she is still working on simplified finance report format.  WK observed that details will be worked out in executive committee with bookkeeper.  In general, MNC has $2500 on hand, and is waiting for $6,000 to $7,000 in reimbursement CCBG funds from last year. 
o   EPA CARE grant for community education and action meeting on neighborhood environmental contaminants—LS reporting that meeting was originally planned for November 1, but is now on hold.  Grant coordinator is looking for something different than was originally proposed—will go forward with project if mutually acceptable goals can be established for meeting content.
o   SG requesting that MNC officially recognize neighborhood resident Colonel White who has recently retired from the military for his service.
MOTION: (BS moved) to send a letter of recognition to Colonel White; (LS seconded); (WK called the question); Unanimous vote.
o   Rail Trail (Liz Stevens)
·         LS reporting that rail trail report is airing on PBS local station WGBY Channel 57 on October 18 including footage and interview from her about the McKnight rail trail.
·         WMECO and Mass Mutual grants still in the offing.
·         $53, 000 required for the remaining work to be done on the title search, the engineering survey, and environmental assessment. 
o   Public Safety (Walter Kroll)
·         Neighborhood Watch and Sector F Police Beat meeting now meeting at the same time and place—third Thursday of the month at the Mason Square Library at 530 pm. 
·         Noise and traffic from the Cozy Tavern on State and Thompson is being followed up on—still essential that neighbors and residents call complaints in to 311 and police.
o   Housing & Code (Demetrios Panteleakis)
·         No report.   
o   Communications  (Marianne Winters)
·         MW absent; WK passed around a request list for articles and suggestions for the newsletter.  List will be given to MW to work with.
o   Good Neighbor (Ceil Lewonchuk)
·         No report.
o   Community Center (Demetrios Panteleakis)
·         No report.
o   Debate (Jesse Lederman)
·         JL absent; WK reporting that final mayoral debate tentative—waiting for answer from Sarno campaign.
·          At large City Council debate tentative—with ten candidates would need to be forum—will undertake if possible. 
·         Russ Seelig from Concerned Citizens of Springfield, and a DOR certified assessor, speaking on the undervaluation of bill boards, cell towers, and cell antennas by the City of Springfield.
·         Wide range of information presented comparing how other municipalities are assessing for similar telecommunications properties, and the wide disparity with Springfield assessments.    Reported that most cities use income producing based assessment to assess tax—but Springfield uses arbitrarily fixed values for these properties.  Estimated loss in revenue to the City at least $2 million per year.
·         Power to assess belongs to the Assessor who serves at the Mayor’s pleasure. 
·         Recent non-binding resolution passed by the City Council to use the income producing approach for these valuations.
·         Lengthy discussion on the reasons that may be behind the failure of the City to capture this revenue.  Ten-taxpayer lawsuit being developed to compel the City to use the income producing approach in these assessments.  Opportunity to find out more about this effort and to participate in the lawsuit offered to those in attendance.
o   Rebecca Johnson Playground ribbon cutting ceremony scheduled for October 14.  Board and residents invited to attend.
o   Basketball monument lights not being put on at night.  Question about whether the permanent statues which were supposed to replace temporary replicas have been installed.  Need to contact Patrick Sullivan from Parks and the Mayor’s office to investigate problems.
MOTION: (BS moved) that MNC formally contact Sullivan and the Mayor to resolve; (GH seconded); (WK called the question); Unanimous vote for action.
8:00 ADJOURNMENT:    MOTION:   (BS moved) to adjourn; (JL seconded); (WK called); motion carried.
NEXT MNC MEETING:                    Tuesday, November 08, 2011
6:00 – 8:00 pm
Submitted by Elizabeth Lederman, Administrative Staff, 11/08/2011.


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