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McKnight Neighborhood Meeting 5/12/15

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Board Meeting May 12, 2015

Approved June 09, 2015

Minutes McKnight Neighborhood Council

Annual Meeting, Pot Luck, & Community Service Awards

Welcome from McKnight President Walter Kroll—Potluck from 6:00 to 6:30 pm

Board Members Present (8): Walter Kroll (Pres), Elizabeth O’Gilvie (Vice Pres), Brandi Gamble-Lucas

(Secy/Clerk), Tawreak Eddington , Damian Phillips, Bryan McFarland, Elizabeth Stevens,    Paul

Swenson, {Elizabeth Lederman, Adm. Staff}.

Board Members Not Present (6): Lloyd Creswell (Asst Sec/Clerk), Colin Kirby (Treas), Jack Dubose, Greg

Gavin, Donna Jordan, Ben Swan, Jr

Neighborhood Members: 15—20 approximate (see sign-in sheet)

Guests: Jesse Lederman (At large candidate, Springfield City Counci); Michaelann Bewsee (Climate

Justice Coalition)

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

2015 Community Service Awards

  • President Walter Kroll delivered kind remarks about the work and contributions made to the McKnight Neighborhood by Alonzo Kenney, Ceil Lewonchuk, and Representative Benjamin Swan. A personalized commemorative plaque was given to each recipient. Ceil was present for the ceremony, and Alonzo’s son, Julius, attended on behalf of his dad. Rep Swan was unable to attend due to a death in the family.



  • President’s Report—Walter K gave a summary of the work and activities for 2014-15.
  • Board of Director’s Election—scheduled for June 13 Block Party. Walter encouraged everyone interested to run. Nomination forms available, filing deadline, June 6.



  • Jesse Lederman—At large candidate for Springfield City Council—
    • Life-long Springfield resident, raised in McKnight, served on the McKnight Board from 2009-20013, founded the Youth Council and the debate committee.
    • Currently a student at UMass, Jesse described his experience working city wide on community initiatives, and state wide as a political organizer.
  • Key messages: Springfield used to be a leader in education, invention, and civil rights; and Springfield can lead again. With the coming economic developments around the casino and several other major projects—the benefits as well as impacts to the neighborhoods need to carefully and intelligently managed. He sees the neighborhoods as key players, emphasizing that no one knows more about a neighborhood than each neighborhood itself.



  • Michelle Norman, parent facilitator for Rebecca Johnson School, came forward to share information about the “Let’s Move Walking School Bus”. The plan involves neighborhood school children, walking together in the company of adults, along an established route with scheduled “pick up” and “drop off” times, just like a regular bus. Seeking volunteers from throughout the neighborhood to join in.

BOARD—Old Business

  • Neighborhood-wide tag sale—scheduled for Saturday May 16. Elizabeth O reporting ads to appear in the Republican and on Craig’s List. Ben S volunteering to put up signs.
  • Newsletter—final deadline for articles May 15
  • Block Party—Basketball Hall of Fame has donated 25 passes, Moe’s Dogs booked to provide hotdogs, popcorn, and snow cones, and the bounce house. Need volunteers for set up and clean-up; Peter Pan Futurliner donated for the event. Sheriff’s department participating. Permit approved for use of Thompson Triangle. Elaine Awand said that volunteers from Able House will help set up, and Able House will make a donation for the event.
  •   Climate Justice Coalition Request—tabled from April meeting. Request for a letter of support to the Mayor, asking him to fund the position for a Climate Change Coordinator, which was approved earlier this year by the Springfield City Council but has yet to be moved on by the Mayor. At the request of the Board, Michaelann Bewsee attended the meeting to provide more information.
  • Springfield is making efforts to mitigate Climate Change problem, but has no overall plan, lacks coordination and oversight. Example: Parks & Facilities replacing boilers with centralized heating equipment that can regulate heat when buildings are empty, while the School Department just built a brand new building with a flat roof—which means the heat cannot be turned down if there is a snow load on the roof.
  • Central goal to eliminate carbon emissions, #1 way to impact climate change   City banned idling cars at school facilities in the last year.
  • Discussion and debate by Board members and audience about the impacts of climate change and global warming in general. Some disagreement about whether this justifies a $100,000 position in the City budget.
  • Boston has 7 employees in their climate change department, and Worcester has 2 full time staff. Coordinator also responsible for bringing in grant monies to the City for these initiatives.
  • General agreement that lower carbon emissions do mean lower pollution; that carbon emissions do affect community health, and that a green environment is desirable and beneficial to all.
  • MOTION: (ES moved) to provide letter of support from Board to Mayor advocating for funding the Climate Change Coordinator position; (EO seconded); (WK called); Motion carried, Yea-5; Nay-3.
  • Paul S volunteered to compose the letter.

Officer Reports

  • SECRETARY’S REPORT: (Brandi Gamble)Corrections: Colin K present for meeting (listed under present and not present). Tawreak E also assisting on debate committee.
  • Minutes for April 14, 2015 submitted for review and approval
  • MOTION: (PS moved) to accept minutes as corrected; (BM seconded); (WK called); Unanimous vote.
  • WRAP-UP—Final Business
  • Damien P from Bowdoin Street came forward to discuss the fire damaged property at 62 Bowdoin, which abuts his property. Property has final hearing in housing court on June 10; City planning demolition. Damien is hoping to acquire the property by paying the back taxes and working out an agreement with the City after the house is demolished.
  • Concerns brought forward by Damien P and Steve G about the new MHA construction on Magazine Street which borders Bowdoin Street properties on the back of their lots. Originally, it was understood that it would include a privacy barrier of landscaping trees and plants as a buffer to Bowdoin Street, however inquiries made with contractor have brought this into question. Also, rumors of increased occupancy beyond that originally proposed.   Walter K to invite MHA to the June meeting to provide an update on the project and take questions from the neighborhood.
  • Alison M of Thompson Street raised concerns about speeding on Thompson, between State Street and St James, as well as loud music disturbing the street. Advised that Officer Witherspoon is the quality of life officer assigned to McKnight, and will help solve these ongoing problems.
  • Damian P of Dartmouth Terrace raised the ongoing issue of fire engines and ambulance traffic on St James and Worthington. Agreement to discuss this at next meeting.
  • 8:00 ADJOURNMENT:   MOTION: (BM moved) to adjourn; (PS seconded); (WK called); motion carried.