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McKnight Monthly Meeting 10/14/14

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Board Meeting October 14, 2014

Approved November 12, 2014

Minutes McKnight Neighborhood Council

Meeting Called to order 6:10 p.m.


Board Members Present (9): Walter Kroll (Pres), Lloyd Creswell (Asst Sec/Clerk), Colin Kirby (Treas),  Bryan      McFarland, Damian Phillips, Elizabeth Stevens, Ben Swan, Jr, Paul Swenson, Stephen White, {Elizabeth        Lederman, Adm. Staff}.

Board Members Not Present (6): Elizabeth O’Gilvie (Vice Pres), Brandi Gamble-Lucas, (Secy/Clerk),   Jennifer Diaz                 (Asst Tres), Tawreak Eddington, Greg Gavin, Donna Jordan

Neighborhood Members: Henrietta Norflet, Alan Stearley, Sylvia Staub, Hao Wang, Bruce Arnold,

Guests: Mezlin Holmes; Michael Fenton, Ed Sabella, John Welch, Dan Ashburn (McDonalds); Jay Minkarah (Develop                 Springfield); Dave Cotter, Steve Desilets (Code Enforcement, City of Springfield)


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


  • McDonald’s proposed relocation from 782 State Street to the corner of State Street and Thompson—Representatives from the Springfield law firm of Shatz, Schwartz, and Fentin , representatives from McDonald’s corporate Boston office, Jay Minkarah from Develop Springfield , and owner/operator Dan Ashburn, presented plans and answered questions from the audience and board.
  • Property is the site of the old River Inn, and currently owned by Develop Springfield.
  • Develop Springfield has received proposals from gas stations, dollar store type businesses, and other restaurants; and feels the McDonalds proposal was a preferable proposal—would get the property back on the tax roles and provide employment to the area.
  • Engineer presented a site plan showing a building of approximately 1400 square feet with the back of the site remaining as trees as a buffer. Lot will be fenced on the back and side. Store will have a drive-through window. Building design will conform to the standard McDonald’s façade.
  • Project will require two permits from the City Council—one for rezoning part of the property which is currently residential, and one for the drive-through window; also seeking support to operate 24 hours.
  • Traffic will consist of 25% coming from Thompson Street and 75% coming from State Street.
  • Construction would begin in March 2015, and take 90 days to complete.
  • Owner/operator Dan Ashburn currently owns the McDonalds at 756 State Street, as well as restaurants on Liberty, the North End, and at the Peter Pan terminal. Has owned and operated franchises since 1991. He described himself as committed to the McDonald high standard of responsible ownership, and focuses on what he can give his employees and how he can help them grow.
  • Board questions included whether or not a “Playland” would be included—response was no; survey had determined that there were not enough children in the area; that it was a liability concern; and that the owner wanted the restaurant as close to State Street as possible for security reasons and that the play area would set the building too far back in the lot; would also eliminate the tree buffer.
  • Inquiry as to whether the building façade could be adjusted to include elements more in keeping with the abutting historic area as has been done in other communities—response was no, due to the additional cost this would incur.
  • Assurances offered that trash and litter would be regularly attended to by employees—policy is to police


    • two blocks in each direction everyday.
  • Owner very committed to being able to operate 24 hours to increase profits; realizes this is a low income/high crime area; and as with his other restaurants provides additional security when necessary. Will adjust to circumstances as they arise. He would not close just because the neighbors object to the 24 hour window of operation; but would adjust his hours if it involved the safety and security of his employees. 


  • Letter of support requested. Board to discuss and vote at the next monthly meeting in November.


  • Dave Cotter and Steve Desilets from Code Enforcement, City of Springfield. Code now works with the police department as a unified team; and they bring in the fire department, building department, animal control, and Child Welfare and Senior Services as necessary. Sweeps of problem properties are conducted where drug and gang activities are taking place
  • Code works with the City law department to handle neglected and abandoned properties to move them through court, and into the hands of receivers who repair them; or to slate them from demolition if necessary.  The process is long and involved, but the follow through is thorough. Once the City gains control of a property and a receiver brings it into code compliance, the original owner or bank can regain the property by paying any taxes due and paying for the repairs done. If this does not happen, the receiver has the option of redeeming the property.
  • For non life threatening code violations, the department process includes issuing three consecutive tickets to a property owner before a court summons is issued. Residents are encouraged to contact and stay in communication with the City even if they are unable to correct the situation immediately. The department strives to work positively with residents, but they must keep in contact and work toward corrections to avoid being drawn into court.
  • At the request of the Board, updates were provided on the following properties:
  • 21 Clarendon Street—is currently in receivership (MJA Enterprises); repairs are taking place; receivers are monitored by Land Court as to their progress. Due in court 10/17 for a review. Residents can call the law department to check on the status of properties for which they have concerns.
  • 62 Clarendon Street—has been condemned; needed heating system for which the City made arrangements for the owner to obtain through a grant program, but owner did not go forward with. Has multiple other unsafe conditions. Currently awaiting adjudication in court for back taxes. City does not yet have control of the property—but it is condemned and posted as unsafe, so no one should be on the premises. Police should be called if neighbors observe any activity is seen on the premises.
  • 71 Thompson Street—has been condemned, and building has been secured. Currently scheduled for court. Call police if any activity is observed on the property.
  • 368 St James Avenue—out of town landlord who started to illegally convert it into a two family. Property is gutted, has new roof, front door removed and sided over. Halted by a stop order from the Building department.  No contact with Building department and taxes unpaid for several years. Apparently abandoned, slated for court.
  • 28 Buckingham Street—newly opened group home. City has left several notices but has not been inside to inspect facility for fire and code issues. Seem to only have a couple of residents so far.
  • An update on 62 Bowdoin was also provided. Seriously damaged and uninhabitable from a fire several years ago, the City has condemned and pursued demolition, but this is being fought by opposing attorney for the property owner who has not repaired it. 181 Bowdoin Street is also in court, with motions to correct some serious code violations. Tentatively scheduled for review on 10/20.
  • 29 Ingersoll Grove—boarding house for Chinese students attending Cathedral and Pioneer Valley Christian School. Owner has obtained clearance for the facility under the Dover amendment; City has inspected premises and is following the situation closely. No students are permitted on the third floor due to fire code and no fire escape. Night watchperson is now employed. Sprinkler system to be installed and handicap/disability access provided.
  • The owner of 29 Ingersoll, Hao Wang, was present at meeting and responded to the concern of the Board about the safety of the students, offering assurances that parents have visited the facility, and that students have a regular schedule, tutors and plenty of supervision; and that he is in constant communication with the schools about the children’s needs, meals and study time.


  • PRESIDENT’S REPORT: (Walter Kroll)
  • Update on the recent City Council hearing for the RMV developer Michael Frisbie who has requested a revision on his 2005 special permit obligations for the gas station/Dunkin Donuts property. Walter testified and provided information to the Council about the developer’s failure to fulfil his previous permit conditions, and the potential problems and unsuitability of the location for a RMV facility. Developers request was referred to Committee for further review.
  • SECRETARY’S REPORT: (Brandi Gamble-Lucas)MOTION: (PS moved) to accept as presented; (SW seconded); (WK called); Unanimous vote.
  • Lloyd C, in Brandi’s absence, submitted the minutes for September 9, 2014. Call for corrections or additions.
  • TREASURER’S REPORT: (Colin Kirby) MOTION: (BS moved) to accept as presented; (SW seconded); (WK called); Unanimous vote.
  • Current on hand balance is $7,700. Budget summary distributed.


  • Fall/Winter Newsletter


  • Discussion as to whether to publish newsletter. Agreement to go forward. Board members agreed to contribute articles. Lloyd C and Stephen W to handle procuring ads. Deadline for articles 11/05..

NEW BUSINESS—Open to the Board

  • Residents from Thompson Street expressed concern about rubbish and overflowing dumpsters at apartment building at 1083-1089 Worthington Street. Stephen W in agreement and has also called it in to 311. Walter K advising also to report to 311 as it is a code violation and City will follow-up.


  • Rail Trail (Elizabeth Stevens)
  • Recent meeting with Mike Tully and Pat Sullivan. Draft report on feasibility study has been completed. Pat Sullivan to meet with Mayor and get project to Parks Department to ask their permission to begin locating a funding source for a planning grant.
  • Public Safety (Walter Kroll)
  • Shooting on Girard Ave, the city is dealing with a lot of gang activity lately. Some car break-ins recently.
  • Housing & Code (Colin Kirby)
  • Colin K offering the suggestion that when developers, businesses, or group homes come forward in the future with proposals that they be required to flyer within the blocks surrounding the area to inform neighborhood residents about their plans prior to the meetings at which they make their presentations.
  • Beautification Committee (Bryan McFarland)MOTION: (BS moved) to approve plan and expenditure; (LC seconded); (WK called); Unanimous vote.
  • Bryan M proposing a plan to put up wreaths, garlands, and possibly lights on the lamp posts at Thompson Triangle after Thanksgiving. Approximate cost, $100.
  • Community Center (Damian Phillips)
  • Explored the idea of a fall music festival at Thompson Triangle. Cost of portable stage and rental for Triangle prohibitive at this time.


    • Liz S reminding people that the Preservation Trust has a Cemetery Tour of Oak Grove, complete with period costuming, with Trust members portraying notable historical figures buried there—October 19.
    • Ben S announcing a haunted house fundraiser at his house on October 25 at 149 Clarendon Street, sponsored by his daughter.
  • Historical Commission hearing on Thursday—28 Buckingham on the agenda to discuss front door which was removed and replaced with contemporary door.


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