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McKnight Neighborhood Meeting 8/06/14

i Jul 12th No Comments by

Board Meeting August 06, 2014

Approved September 09, 2014

Minutes McKnight Neighborhood Council

Meeting Called to order 6:15 p.m.


Board Members Present (13): Walter Kroll (Pres), Elizabeth O’Gilvie (Vice Pres), Brandi Gamble-Lucas, (Secy/Clerk), Colin Kirby (Treas), Jennifer Diaz (Asst Tres), Tawreak Eddington, Greg Gavin, Damian Phillips, Elizabeth Stevens, Ben Swan, Jr, Paul Swenson, Stephen White, {Elizabeth Lederman, Adm. Staff}.

Board Members Not Present (3): Lloyd Creswell (Asst Sec/Clerk); Donna Jordan, Bryan McFarland


Neighborhood Members: Alan Stearley, Elaine Stearley, Deb Papagno, Michael Veto, Damian Pittola, David Gaby, Stephen Gray

Guests: Atu White, Rosaia Pell


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



  • Rosaia Pell, from Children’s Study Home at 44 Sherman Street, presented updates of the school’s ongoing work serving children and families. The Study Home, 150 years working in the community, is working to expand their visibility so the community can better understand and support the work and make use of their services.
  • Free summer camp program, Camp Casa, for children age 6-11 in the neighborhood and from throughout Springfield
  • Fathers in Trust Program which helps to educate and empower fathers in their parenting skills
  • Mill Pond School, located in Sixteen Acres, an alternative high school
  • Mill Pond Scholars Program which provides stable housing to at risk youth 18-22 who are entering into local and community colleges
  • Continuing residential care for children ages 6-12 at the Sherman Street cottages
  • Family outreach and support
  • Foster care program
  • Elaine Awand, owner/operator of Able House at 184 Bowdoin, presenting information on the program.
  • Program is a non-profit 501C3
  • Opened in January 2013
  • Residents must have 3-6 months of sobriety to be accepted by the program, have a job, be active in NA or AA, and maintain sobriety
  • 6 residents total, who each pay $125 week
  • House manager lives at house; residents are drug tested randomly and regularly.
  • Owner expressed her commitment to serving the needs of those who are in recovery from substance abuse; has training in recovery, and is at the facility 10-15 hours a week.


  • Discussion and questions from audience and Board brought forward the information that the owner lives in Suffield, CT and has recently purchased the property at 186 St James Avenue and plans to open a second facility. The house manager has no specialized training and is a resident in recovery as well; and any counseling or services are provided by outside agencies.
  • Concerns expressed about the impact of the over-saturation of recovery facilities and group homes filled with single men and women in recovery melding with the family structures of the basic residential neighborhood.  Owner does not feel this is a problem, and feels she is doing a good work for people in need; and does not feel a second group home will be a problem either.
  • Elizabeth O offered encouragement and support to Ms. Ewand in regard to her current program on Bowdoin but expressed serious reservations about opening the second facility.
  • Walter K informed Ms. Ewand that there are currently 35 group homes in McKnight, and that in particular 186 St James already has a cluster of facilities, and stacking people in recovery on top of each other was only going to create a lot of problems and unintended consequences. Ms. Ewand was encouraged to think about the whole neighborhood and its overall stability from the point of view of homeowners with families.
  • Ms. Ewand re-emphasized that she is only trying to do good, that people in recovery have no place to go and need these types of programs; that she is committed, that the program is well run, and invited anyone to come and visit the program who is interested in doing so.
  • Reverand Atu White of the Mt Zion Baptist Church presented their proposal to purchase the City-owned property at 380 Bay Street, currently up for RFP.
  • Church is located at the corner of Princeton and Bay and congregation has been in existence for 37 years. Congregation has 400 members.
  • Church runs a soup kitchen which served 1900 meals last year, and outreach efforts to provide food, clothing and assistance in the community.
  • 380 Bay is adjacent to the church property and their proposal includes razing the auto repair shop on the premises, initially turning the property into landscaped parking to accommodate 28 spaces, and eventually building a church community center.
  • Church has paid for an environmental assessment, and will proceed with their proposal unless environmental remediation costs are prohibitive.
    • Discussion and questions around the remediation issues, parking lot, and community center plans.
    • Request to Board for letter of support for RFP. Discussion and vote on request deferred until later in the meeting.



  • SECRETARY’S REPORT: (Brandi Gamble-Lucas)MOTION: (EO moved) to accept as presented; (TE seconded); (WK called); Unanimous vote.
  • Minutes from July 08, 2014 submitted for acceptance.Call for corrections or additions.
  • TREASURER’S REPORT: (Colin Kirby) MOTION: (BS moved) to accept as presented; (LS seconded); (WK called); Unanimous vote.
  • Documents to transfer bank account authorization from Elizabeth S to Colin are being processed. Reported a balance of approximate $4000 plus. Does not include 4th quarter reimbursement of approximately $3500.


  • 380 Bay Street—feasibility of use for McKnight Community Center—Damian Phillips. Discussion:
    • MNC does not have the legal infrastructure to acquire property. A land trust would need to be set up.
    • Need to clarify what the goal of actually having a community center means; and whether we are prepared to lay the groundwork for the future.
    • Not prepared at the present time to undertake the project
    • Environmental concerns are potentially formidable
    • Mt Zion ready to move forward and clean up a long time problem property and hazard
    • Could potentially provide parking for the rail trail if the Church was amenable since it is near the entrance to the rail trail on Clifford
    • Agreement that Community Center Committee can investigate the larger question of what it takes to set up a land trust should MNC seek to acquire property in the future
  • Elizabeth O raised the question of whether a member of the Council had been invited by the City to sit on the review committee for the 380 Bay Street RFP, which is customary procedure. No request received. Walter K to make inquiry to City about this.
  • Discussion and vote on Mt Zion Request for letter of support for 380 Bay Street RFP. Some concern expressed around the fact that the proposal was incomplete; and how it might change down the road. Agreement that Mt Zion is by its history a good steward, and the City has a lot of correctors in the process; and that even a parking lot is a great improvement to the present property.
  • MOTION: (LS moved) to support the proposal by Mt Zion Baptist Church for 380 Bay Street as presented to MNC (PS seconded); (WK called); Unanimous vote.


  • Rail Trail (Liz Stevens)
  • Feasibility study by City in progress. Representative from firm doing study to present update at September meeting
  • Public Safety (Walter Kroll)
  • National Night Out event took place last night (August 5) on State Street. Walter K thanked Jennifer D for her major contributions to making the event a success. Agreement that next year the event needs to be staged out of a more visible location.
  • Housing & Code (Colin Kirby)Walter K reporting update on the RMV proposed facility. City still not approving the site, and fining the developer for proceeding with the project, and the developer is currently suing the City.
  • Colin K to have a one-on-one meeting with Ms. Ewand from Able house to expand the conversation.
  • Good Neighbor (Elizabeth O’Gilvie)
  • Developing the idea of porch parties, and currently expanding the committee with more members.
  • Food Access (Elizabeth O’Gilvie)
  • Elizabeth O is now a member of the Massachusetts State Food Assistance Plan, serving as a project advisor.
  • Debate (Paul Swenson)
  • Five debates for Hampden County Prosecuting Attorney scheduled for August, one being hosted by WNEC law school. No need for MNC to sponsor an additional one.
  • Community Center (Damian Phillips)
  • Damian will go forward to investigate the land trust information.




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