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AGENDA & MINUTES August 13, 2013

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McKnight Neighborhood Council, Inc.

Board of Directors Meeting

Tuesday, August 13, 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    Michael Jachym, from the City Housing and Code office; speaking on issues in McKnight.

o    Ed Whitley, Deputy Director of Neighborhood Services, discussing the issue of group homes city-wide.


6:45—7:00 pm:  New Business—Open to the Floor


7:00—7:15 pm:  OFFICER EPORTS  

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

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

o    SECRETARY’S REPORT: (Brandi Gamble-Lucas)

·         Minutes of July 09, 2013 meeting (see attachment)

o    TREASURER’S REPORT:  (Elizabeth Stevens)

·         Bookkeeping proposal and Budget Amendment (Liz S absent, Lloyd C presenting)


7:15—7:20 pm:  Old Business—Board

o    Vote on proposal by Craig and Chris Spagnolia to develop 886-892 State Street property—State Street Smoker, a barbeque restaurant—presented at July meeting.  (See July minutes, attached.)


7:20—7:45 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 (Ben Swan, Jr)

·         Debate (Ishaq Harris)

·         Community Center (Demetrios Panteleakis)


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

8:00—Close Meeting

Board Meeting, August 13, 2013

Minutes McKnight Neighborhood Council

Meeting Called to order 6:10 p.m.

Board Members Present (6):  Walter Kroll (Pres);  Brandi Gamble-Lucas (Secy/Clerk), Lloyd Creswell Asst Sec/Clerk);  Ishaq Harris (ClerkAsst Treasurer), Tawreak Eddington,  Ben Swan, Jr, {Elizabeth Lederman, Adm. Staff}.

Board Members Not Present (8):  Demetrios Panteleakis  (Vice Pres),Elizabeth Stevens, (Treas); April Mitchell-Edwards, ); Greg Gavin, Donna Jordan, Colin Kirby, Ceil Lewonchuk,  Elizabeth O’Ogilvie

Neighborhood Members:  Warren Clark;  E. Reyes, Carmen Ruiz, and Kaonderick White ; Jack and Donna Dubose

Guests:  Michael Jachym, Willie and Thomas Palmer; Ed Whitley; Alicia Days

Welcome by Walter K; board member introductions; audience introductions.  Walter K read a portion of the bylaws which he will be doing at the beginning of each meeting to familiarize everyone once again with the mission of the neighborhood council.


o    Michael Jachym, from the City Housing and Code office; speaking on issues in McKnight.

·         380 Baylong time “closed” garage property with a lot of activity occurring there.  Mike J noted it had become a problem several years ago with illegal car repair taking place, which the City addressed; but that it appeared to be active again. 

·         City sent a letter to the owner and has begun ticketing the property for zoning violations, unlicensed auto repair activity and junk cars on the premises.

·         Should take about two months to bring owner to court.

·         Question raised about why previous action on the part of the city did not produce a permanent change.  Mike J explained that in the past ticketing only produced a lien on the property, but did not have any impact unless the owner sold the property.  City is now attaching property taxes with ticketing fines, so the action is more effective.

·         Should take about two months to bring owner to court.   Will keep Council posted on the progress. 

·         184 Bowdoin Street—illegal lodging house.  City inspectors have not been inside house yet.  Mike J has spoken to the owner, who claims it is a group home for which his attorney is in the process of obtaining proper licenses.  Owner has been informed that as it stands he can only have three unrelated tenants. 

·         Letter has been sent to owner, he will be given one ticket, then it will proceed to court.

·         In order to operate, the property would have to qualify through the Dover amendment as a non profit, educational entity or be licensed by the State Dept of Mental Health, both of which do not apply to 184 Bowdoin Street.

·         City is currently reviewing the group home over-concentration problem in light of the Dover amendment—law department is entertaining some initiatives around requiring a “site review” by the Dept of Health, wherein the City might be able to regulate the placement and numbers of group homes in a given neighborhood.

·         New zoning ordinance for City may also provide more of heads-up to the neighborhoods because it requires more review to license or build a property with three or more units.

o    Ed Whitley, Deputy Directory of Neighborhood Services, and Alicia Days, Asst City Solicitor,answered questions about the group home issue.

·         Question raised about whether City can request to know where a group home is going to be placed before dispersing grant funds that they are handling for a program, as in the case of the SMOC property at 175 Bowdoin Street.  Ms Days said she would need to check on that; and also find out if the City can refuse to act as a receiver for HUD funds on behalf of a particular organization, or would they be in violation of the Dover amendment.

·         Ms Days reiterated that the law department was looking at the strategy of site review, from a health perspective, to address the problem of oversaturation.

·         Significant concern voiced about a process and level of accountability to the City from the various group home entities operating in the different neighborhoods.

·         Ed Whitley said that these will be ongoing issues addressed in coming meetings of the Collaborative of Neighborhood Councils and encouraged people to attend.

·         Walter K stressed the importance of information sharing—between the councils, the law department, the City Council—to keep the conversations going until some real progress is made.


·         Willie Palmer, accompanied by her husband Thomas, of 38-40 Armory Street, reported serious and ongoing noise and public disturbance problems on their street behind MJ’s pizza.  Individuals are harassing her and have ruined her daycare business because of the safety problems.  Has written Mayor, and called the police repeatedly.  Michael J told them that zoning is working on several problem properties on the street.  She was also given information about the Sector F Police Beat meetings and assured that help is forthcoming, that she just needs to stay with it.

·         Ben S directing complaint to Michael J about the intersection of Armory and Worthington—incline near MJ’s badly landscaped leading to erosion and trash from MJ’s is always strewn about. 


o    SECRETARY’S REPORT: (Brandi Gamble-Lucas)

Secretary Brandi G, submitted the minutes of the Board Meeting July 08, 2013, for acceptance. Call for corrections or additions.

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

o    TREASURER’S REPORT: (Elizabeth Stevens)

Liz S absent, budget tabled.  Lloyd C presenting request on her behalf to use Quicken Books accounting software by subscribing to the Cloud service, rather than keeping the books on anyone’s personal computer.  Advantages include automatic updates, safety of information, and ease of access.  Discussion included whether this is cost effective, since the individual software is considerably cheaper and a one time expense; and the Cloud service is an annual expense.  Request tabled until next meeting.


o    Discussion on proposal by Craig and Chris Spagnoli to develop 886-892 State Street property—State Street Smoker, a barbeque restaurant—presented at July meeting

MOTION: (BS moved) to support the petition for the restaurant; (LC seconded); (WK call for discussion) ;( WK called the question); Motion carried unanimously.



o    Rail Trail (Elizabeth Stevens, Chair)—No report.

o    Public Safety (Walter Kroll, Chair)

Walter K reporting that there has been problems with loitering and vagrancy at the corner of Armory and Worthington that the police have been addressing.  Break-ins on Clarendon Street and at a house near the Triangle. 

o    Food Access (Ben Swan, Jr, Chair)

Reminder that Farmer’s Market is now running every Saturday at the Mason Square fire station.

o    Debate  (Ishaq Harris, Chair)

Walter K reporting that there is no primary election needed for the at large candidates, so if MNC sponsors a debate it will be for the November General Election.


o    Website now up and running.  Final changes being made to format.  Suggestions welcome from board members.

o    Lloyd C announcing plans for Stone Soul Festival weekend of 8/30, and requesting volunteers to march in the parade that Saturday and hold McKnight banner.


8:00 ADJOURNMENT:    MOTION:   (LC moved) to adjourn; (BG seconded); (WK called); motion carried.