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agenda & minutes–02/11/14

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McKnight Neighborhood Council, Inc.

Board of Directors Meeting

Tuesday, February 11, 2014; 6-8 pm

Rebecca Johnson School, Music Room

55 Catharine St., Springfield MA


6:00 – 6:15 pm:  OPEN MEETING, WELCOME

  • Introduction, Board of Directors
  • Audience Introductions
  • 6:15—6:45 pm: Guest Presentation 

  • Guest presentation from Springfield students in the  PVAHEC/ REACH Program, working on an initiative to reduce tobacco use by young people.
  • 6:45—7:00 pm: New Business—Board

    •  Faith Baptist Church
  • 7:00—7:15 pm: OFFICER EPORTS  

 PRESIDENT’S REPORT: (Walter J. Kroll)

Demetrios P presiding in Walter’s absence.

  • VICE-PRESIDENT’S REPORT: (Demetrios Panteleakis)
  • SECRETARY’S REPORT: (Brandi Gamble-Lucas)
  • Minutes of January 14, 2014 meeting (see attachment)
  • TREASURER’S REPORT: (Elizabeth Stevens)7:15—7:30 pm: New Business—Open to the Floor7:30—7:50 pm: COMMITTEE REPORTS – Any committee updates (5 minutes each) 

  • Standing Committees
  • Rail Trail (Liz Stevens)
  • Public Safety (Walter Kroll)
  • Housing & Code (Colin Kirby)
  • Good Neighbor (Elizabeth O’Gilvie)
  • Communications (Ben Swan Jr)
  • Ad Hoc Committees
  • Food Access (Elizabeth O’Gilvie)
  • 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 February 11, 2014

Approved April 08, 2014

Minutes McKnight Neighborhood Council

Meeting Called to order 6:15 p.m. 

Board Members Present (5): Demetrios Panteleakis (Vice Pres); Elizabeth Stevens, (Treas); Donna Jordan, Colin Kirby, Elizabeth O’Ogilvie; {Elizabeth Lederman, Adm. Staff}.

Board Members Not Present (7): Walter Kroll (Pres); Brandi Gamble-Lucas, (Secy/Clerk), Lloyd Creswell (Asst Sec/Clerk); Ishaq Harris (Asst Treasurer), Tawreak Eddington, Greg Gavin, Ben Swan, Jr

Neighborhood Members: Jim Boone, Jack Dubose, Lisa Gaudreau, Brian McFarland, Patty McFarland, Gayle White, Stephen White, Steve Gray

Welcome by Demetrios P; board member introductions; audience introductions.


  • Guest presentation from Springfield high school students in the  PVAHEC/ REACH Program, working on an initiative to reduce tobacco use by young people.
  • Students used a prop presentation of visual aids to demonstrate the fact that flavored cigars are packaged in “youth friendly” designs which intentionally resemble candy and gum
  • Pricing on these single flavored cigars is comparable to and even cheaper than many gums and candies
  • Group mission is to disseminate information to youth about the dangers of these tobacco products; and to obtain a City ban on the single sales of these products
  • Petition directed to the City Council was circulated to audience and board
  • Board voted to send a follow up letter to the City Council in support of the ban
  • MOTION: (LO moved) to send letter in support of a ban on the sale of single cigars and restrictions that require packaged pricing of no less than $2.50 per unit. (LS seconded); (DP called); Unanimous vote.


  • Faith Baptist Church—building is located on the corner of St James Avenue and Clarendon; purchased in September by the All Nation Church of God, a local church group currently located on Kenyon Street in the Bay Neighborhood.
  • Pastor Doyle St Louis introduced himself to the Board and described the Church’s current activities and plans and answered questions from the Board and neighborhood residents
  • Church currently has 80 members in regular attendance
  • Sunday service is from 11:30 to 1:30; and no evening services go beyond 9:30 pm
  • They run an emergency food pantry which distributes food and clothing the second Saturday of each month, and serve an average of 60 families
  • They host a women’s conference and a youth conference once a year, in early spring and June
  • Funding is provided 100% through offerings and tithes; and Pastor Doyle works a separate job to meet his own family income needs.
  • Church owns other properties in the City which it is willing to liquidate if the costs of the building renovation require; also have assurances of funding from a local bank
  • Currently working with an architect Kevin Shea of East Longmeadow on renovation plans; and are prepared to do “everything required to comply with any rules”.
  • Concerns raised over the use of the nearby vacant lot also purchased on Buckingham Street as a parking lot. Residents and Board expressed their strong reluctance to agree to such use and pointed out that it is not zoned for parking, would require a zoning variance from the ZBA and a special permit from the City Council. Pastor St Louis was polite but noncommittal about the issue.
  • Board encouraged Pastor St Louis to develop renovation plans that are as harmonious as possible with surrounding historical features.
  • Pastor St Louis also encouraged to work with the neighborhood and to be proactive in sharing plans with the Board as they are developed around the City’s requirements for remediation of the existing mold and asbestos, site plan approvals, and historical commission approvals. 


  • Request from Gardening the Community for RFP letter of support
  • Elizabeth O’Gilvie, who serves on the board of GTC, described the organization’s purpose, and its work in the inner city neighborhoods—providing training as well as stipends to young people, and growing and selling food shares to local residents. Currently have garden lots on several streets which are leased, and some that the City is letting them use.
  • GTC is bidding on two vacant lots on Walnut Street that the City has put out for RFP. GTC wants to purchase these lots to be used as permanent garden spaces.
  • GTC currently has support letters from Old Hill and Maple High Six Corners.


  • MOTION: (LS moved) to send letter in support of GTC’s proposal; (DJ seconded); (DP called); Unanimous vote.

NEW BUSINESS—Open to the Floor

  • Jim B requested an update on the group home/boarding house issues that the Board has been investigating.
  • Demetrious P outlined a set of “next step actions” developed by the Housing and Code committee. Regarding the St James Street properties and the Bowdoin Street property, a decision was made for Walter K to draft letter to be approved by the Board to address habitability, condition, and present use as not being in the public interest due to public health issues; along with licensure issues about currently operating programs at all of these properties.
  • Letter to be circulated to the City, to the local press, in an effort to begin applying pressure to these issues as they apply to the City, and the local and state Health Departments.
  • Bowdoin Street property owners initially approached by City Code with no follow through since then from the City
  • Discussions are in process with Ed Whitley, Deputy Director of Neighborhood Services, around all issues.
  • Steven Gray requesting Board address title problems with barn that straddles 65 and 69 Bowdoin which he believes he owns in full and for which he is paying property taxes; agreement by the Board that title issues are beyond the jurisdiction of the Board. Advised to consult City Solicitor to resolve problem.
  • Demetrious P reporting steps are being taken to address the serious noise and crime problems at 1083-89 Worthington Street. Police Department and the Boston landlord to be engaged until problems are resolved.


  • SECRETARY’S REPORT: (Brandi Gamble-Lucas)MOTION: (LO moved) to accept as presented; (DJ seconded); (DP called); Unanimous vote.
  • Secretary Brandi G absent. Demetrious P submitted the minutes of the Board Meeting January 10, 2014 for acceptance. Call for corrections or additions.
  • TREASURER’S REPORT: (Elizabeth Stevens)
  • Liz S reporting that she has now submitted the required paperwork to the State and will be receiving a certificate of sales tax exemption for Board members to use when purchasing supplies or services for the Council. Also giving a heads-up that this will be the last year she will be serving in the position of treasurer, and will be relinquishing the position.



  • Rail Trail (Elizabeth Stevens, Chair)


    • No new developments. Feasibility study still in RFP process; should have some bids to review in the near future.
  • Public Safety (Walter Kroll, Chair)


  • Demetrios P reporting increased traffic stops on St James.
  • Housing & Code (Colin Kirby, Chair)
  • Colin K reporting that he has met personally with Pastor St Louis prior to meeting tonight, and will continue to dialogue with him over the attendant issues of the Church renovation.


  • Patricia M reporting continuing problems with threatening behavior from one of the group home residents at the St James properties. Advised to pursue pressing charges since the group home is not following through with their promise to deal with the problem.
  • Patricia M also reporting continuing problem with drainage from the Faith Baptist Church roof onto their abutting property which she reports is destroying their basement wall, a problem which she has broached with the previous owner, and the new owner, to no avail.
  • Demetrios P advising that the planning review the property must go through as part of the renovation includes a storm water drainage review, and recommending the McFarlands write a letter to the review committee indicating there is a problem with their property.
  • Elizabeth L reminding the Board that a dialogue already began with the City over the problems at the property–since it voted last month on a letter that was sent to the Mayor, et al, requesting that the problems at the church be investigated, and received responses indicating that Mike Jachym from code would be meeting with the new owners of the church to discuss the drainage issues and other alleged problems. No follow-up report since then from City.
  • After some discussion, Demetrios P expressed the opinion that nothing substantive could really be done until the new owners submit their overall plans from the architect to the City—that it all rests on the process that is in place for permitting and review, and that the McFarland’s concerns can be addressed through that process. Unlikely that the owner will do anything to remediate the problem without the overall architectural plan in place; but that the Council has at least raised the visibility of the issues at the church in such a way that it should benefit the McFarlands as they follow the issue through the City process to a successful resolution. 


  • 8:00 ADJOURNMENT:   MOTION: (DJ moved) to adjourn; (LS seconded); (DP called); motion carried.