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AGENDA & MINUTES April 09, 2013

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McKnight Neighborhood Council, Inc.

Board of Directors Meeting

Tuesday, April 09, 2013; 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



o    Nancy Urbschat of Pro Springfield Media, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the perceptions of the City, presenting information about what her group is all about.

o    Joan Ingersoll, from MHA, the Mental Health Association, presenting an update about plans for proposed supported living apartments on Magazine Street.


6:45—7:00pm:  BOARD—OLD BUSINESS

o    Casino Endorsement

7:00—7:10:  OFFICERS’ REPORTS  

o    PRESIDENT’S REPORT: (Walter J. Kroll)

o    VICE-PRESIDENT’S REPORT: (Demetrios Panteleakis)

o    SECRETARY’S REPORT: (Jesse Lederman)  Minutes of March 12, 2013, meeting (see attachment)

o    TREASURER’S REPORT:  (Elizabeth Stevens) Monthly financial report

7:10—7:30 pm:  BOARD—NEW BUSINESS

o   Annual Meeting Planning—next regular meeting, Tuesday, May 14

·         Format & guest selection

o   Election and Spring Block Party—Saturday, June 22

·         Appointment of Nominating Committee by Walter K

·         Board—Vote to approve election site

·         Board—Vote to designate an election commission chairperson

·         Establish ad hoc Block Party committee

o   Synthia Scott-Mitchell—call for endorsement of Act Fresh Campaign (see attachment)

o   Walter K—establish ad hoc Roadway Improvement committee

o   Keep Springfield BeautifulSaturday,  April 27

7:30—750 pm:  COMMITTEE REPORTS – Any committee updates

o    Standing Committees

·         Rail Trail (Liz Stevens) 

·         Public Safety (Walter Kroll) 

·         Housing & Code (Demetrios Panteleakis)

·         Good Neighbor (Ceil Lewonchuk)

·         Communications (Ben Swan Jr)

o    Ad Hoc Committees

·         Food Access (Synthia Scott-Mitchell)

7:50—8:00 pm:   Wrap Up—Final Business, Open to Floor                     

8:00—Close Meeting

Minutes McKnight Neighborhood Council

Board Meeting:  April 09, 2013

Meeting Called to order 6:10 p.m.:   (WK verified quorum present)

Board Members Present (11):  Walter Kroll (Pres),  Demetrios Panteleakis  (Vice Pres), Elizabeth Stevens (Treas.),  Jesse Lederman (Secy/Clerk), Brandi Gamble-Lucas (Asst Sec/Clerk); Lloyd Creswell,  Ed Kelly, Ceil Lewonchuk,  Synthia Scott-Mitchell , Ben Swan, Jr, Stephen Thibeau , {Elizabeth Lederman, Adm. Staff}.

Board Members Not Present (2) Corey Singleton (Asst Treasurer), Donna Jordan

Neighborhood Members:  Alan Stearley, Elaine Awand, James Johnson, Bokul Bulya, Mark Healy, Susan Roche, Steven Gray

 Guests:  Joan Ingersoll, Liz Sullivan, Samalid Hogan, Linda Chasman, Nancy Urbschat

Welcome by Walter K; board member introductions; audience introductions. 


o   Nancy Urbschat of Pro Springfield Media, a nonprofit group dedicated to improving the perceptions of the City, presented the history and mission of the organization.

·         Goal is to change the conversation about Springfield from the mass mind perception of a dangerous, crime ridden city to a more realistic perception of the good and the bad.

·         Initial outreach in public venues with a bullhorn and a podium at sites around the city, inviting residents to “say something nice about Springfield”.

·         Group launched an online publication, Speaking of Springfield which tells good stories about good things happening in the city, and presents positive images, and highlights the contributions of active community members.

·         The concept of the group has been well-received, and the foundation has been laid, but neither the City nor corporate Springfield entities have come forth with any real support in the form of funding. 

·         The business of marketing Springfield should be a polished professional endeavor, and is worth it.  Group is persevering and hopes the public will step up in support.

o   Joan Ingersoll, from MHA, the Mental Health Association, presenting an update about plans for proposed supported living apartments on Magazine Street.

·         Small supervised apartment complex to replace housing for 14 MHA clients who lost housing on Union Street in the wake of the tornado in 2011.

·         Architects presented drawings and visual renderings of completed project, detailing efforts to harmonize architectural details and design to fit the scale and historical period in the surrounding neighborhood; also attention to preserving green space.

·         HUD commitment of funds in place to clean up the environmental hazards at the site.

·         Site is adjacent to MHA offices on Worthington, and will have an office in the complex and a live-in staff person.

·         Project timeline—June start date with shovels in the ground by August, and a year to complete.

·         3.2 million dollar project, including $250,000 for clean-up.  MHA is solvent to complete.

·         Requesting letter of support from MNC to the City supporting RFP as presented.

·         Liz S reminded board of a previous agreement to not vote on recommendations until the meeting following a presentation; however MHA needed letter by May 6 for City Council appearance.  Walter K took a straw poll, and agreement was reached to set aside precedent because of time constraints.

MOTION: (DP moved) that MNC support RFP; (LC seconded); (WK called ) Yea, 9; Nay, 1; Abstained, 1.


o   Casino Endorsement—Walter K summarized discussion and decision reached at March meeting to endorse Penn National as the preferred casino developer.  Revisiting decision at the request of several board members absent from that meeting.  Options according to bylaws—endorsement can stand, or be rescinded by a 2/3 vote of board members present.  Discussion:

·         Demetrios P explained that host agreement is site specific, so it does make a difference which developer is chosen, i.e. Penn is more likely to support the rail trail project since it connects with the Union Station project.

·         Steven G and Ben S raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest of board members relative to business interests with casino developers

·         Lloyd C felt MGM proposal opened more doors; did not think Penn brought more to the table.

·         Synthia S voicing that board members needed to consider the wishes of the neighborhood districts they were representing

·         Stephen T expressing concern that the board had not taken an initial up/down vote on whether to endorse any casino developer

·         Brandi G raising question of whether board needed to endorse either developer

·         Ed K not in favor of a casino, but since it will happen the board should make a decision

·         Jesse L expressing that he did not think it was smart from a business or political standpoint to endorse one developer over the other

·         Mark H pointing out that other neighborhoods have put forth endorsements, and that picking a side may have some value because McKnight has developed some stature in the city

·         Walter K reported that the research he had done indicated that MGM Detroit did not feature the big name venue promised in Springfield, so it was doubtful that some of their claims would materialize; and that the historical preservation groups were  unsupportive of MGM’s plans

·         MOTION: (LC moved) that the previous vote to endorse Penn National be rescinded;  (JL seconded); (WK called) Demetrios P recused himself from voting; Tally—Yea 7;   Nay,2; Abstained, 1.  Motion carried.


o   SECRETARY’S REPORT: (Jesse Lederman)

Secretary Jesse L, submitted the minutes of the Board Meeting March 12, 2013, for acceptance. Call for corrections or additions.

MOTION: (LS moved) to accept as presented; (EK seconded); (WK called)  Unanimous vote.  

o   TREASURER’S REPORT: (Elizabeth Stevens)

Liz S reporting that she recommends moving MNC account from Freedom Credit Union to United Bank due to many service difficulties she is experiencing.

 MOTION: (BS moved) to give Treasurer Liz S authority to investigate banking options; (BG seconded); (WK called) Unanimous vote.

 MOTION: (BS moved) to accept treasurer’s report as presented;  (SS seconded); (WK called) Unanimous vote.

NEW BUSINESS—Open to the Floor

o   Steven G  brought forward several complaints—the first regarding the carriage house he owns on Bowdoin Street which was the subject of a recent historical commission hearing.  He reports he was not supported by a member of the MNC board also present at the hearing.  Additionally, he reports intense opposition to the MHA proposal for the property on Magazine Street; that the site is physically unsuitable, and the ground itself is unstable; that more group housing in the neighborhood is undesirable; and indicates that he feels he still has some legal interest in the property despite the fact that it was taken by the City several years ago.


o   Synthia S presented a handout on the Act Fresh Campaign, the concept of which is that healthy communities depend on accessible and affordable transportation choices.  Requested a resolution to support passing the Transportation Investment Act, sponsored by Sen Clark and Reps. Farley-Bouvier and Sciortino.

MOTION: (LS moved) to authorize Walter K to submit endorsement of bill on behalf of MNC; (EK seconded); (WK called) Unanimous vote.

o   Annual Meeting Planning—next regular meeting, Tuesday, May 14

·         Guest—Develop Springfield to present progress on Mason Square area grocery store, will invite other neighborhoods to event; Synthia S to help coordinate

·         Community pot luck

o   Election and Spring Block Party—Saturday, June 22

·         Appointment of Nominating Committee by Walter K—Liz S to chair

·         Board—Vote to approve election site, block party at Thompson Triangle

MOTION: (JL moved) to approve Thompson Triangle site; (SS seconded); (WK called) Unanimous vote.

·         Board—Vote to designate an election commission chairperson

MOTION: (JL moved) to designate staff assistant Elizabeth L as election commission chairperson; (SS seconded); (WK called)  Unanimous vote.

·         Establish ad hoc Block Party committee—Walter K volunteered to chair

o   Establish ad hoc Roadway Improvement committee to submit requests to City for projects in the McKnight neighborhood–Ben S volunteered to chair

o   Keep Springfield Beautiful—annual event planned for Saturday, April 27.  Volunteers to report to staging area at Rebecca Johnson School at 8:30 am.


o   Committee Reports tabled due to time constraints.


o   8:25 pm ADJOURNMENT:   

MOTION:   (JL  moved) to adjourn; (SS seconded); (WK called); motion carried.