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McKnight Neighborhood Meeting 9/08/15

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Board Meeting: September 08, 2015
Approved October 13, 2015                                                                                                                                           
Minutes McKnight Neighborhood Council
Meeting called to order by President Lamont C at 6:05 pm.
Board Members Present (13): Lamont E Clemons, (Pres), Lloyd A Creswell, (Asst Sec/Clerk), Tawreak Eddington, (Asst Treas), Brandi Gamble, (Sec/Clerk), Art Jones, Walter Kroll, Bryan McFarland, Elizabeth O’Gilvie, Henry Payne, (Vice Pres), Synthia Scott-Mitchell, Elizabeth Stevens, Ben Swan, Jr, Paul Swenson
Board Members Not Present (2): Jack Dubose, Colin Kirby, (Treas)
Administrative Staff:   Elizabeth Lederman
Neighborhood Members:  Patricia McFarland, Alison Messier, Stephen Gray, Damien Pittola, Damian Phillips,  Carrie Russell, Dean Devency, Roberta Kilkenney, David Gaby
Guests: Laura Carr
Pres Lamont C welcomed those attending the meeting; Board and audience introductions followed.
  • Pres Lamont C reported that during the last month he has toured the district, noting problem areas that may need attention, and meeting with residents and business owners to get a sense of the community. Re-introduced the City’s Storefront loan program to some of the businesses and encouraged them to make use of the resource.
  • Noted the recent house moving event that took place on Bay Street, which will now be saved and renovated.
  • Praised Bryan M’s work on the Beautification Committee in the recent repainting of fireboxes; and offered enthusiastic support of pursuing these kinds of improvements in the neighborhood as important.
  • Praised the support he has received from the Admin Staff Elizabeth L as he acclimates himself to his role on the Council.
  • Gave summary of events he had attended and networking efforts on behalf of the Council.
  • Future meetings set up with several business owners and with City officials, including the Mayor.
  • Has ordered Council pins based on the McKnight logo for all Board members as a gift.
  • Thanked Bryan M for his work in crafting an official McKnight gavel, to be used at future meetings.
  • Delivered a tentative list of 12 Council priorities to address going forward, and asked each Board member to assess the items and provide feedback, so the Council can set goals going forward. Items include:

  • Rail Trail
  • Community Center
  • Newsletter
  • Election Process Taskforce
  • Bylaws Updating
  • Grant Participation
  • Public Safety with Measurable Results
  • Community Garden
  • 700 State Street Lot (Thompson & State)
  • Bergen Circle Apt Complex Cleanup (trash & safety)
  • Beautification Initiatives
  • Potential Revenue Stream Focus

  • Vice Pres Henry P noting agreement with the focus and positive goals outlined by Pres Lamont C in his report.
  • SECRETARY’S REPORT: (Brandi Gamble)
  • Minutes of Board meeting, August 11, and Executive Board meeting August 25, submitted for review and acceptance by Sec/Clerk Brandi G.
  •        MOTION: (BM moved) to accept as presented; (LAC seconded); (LEC call for discussion);
  • Brief discussion on who could amend minutes from executive Board meetings as distinct from regular Board meeting minutes. Clarification that those in attendance at either meeting could amend minutes; and that the overall vote to “approve” the minutes was a vote to “admit them into the record.”
  • (LEC called the question): Motion carried unanimously.
  • TREASURER’S REPORT: (Colin Kirby)
  • Treas Colin K absent—report tabled.
NEW BUSINESS—Open to the Floor 
  • Neighborhood member Stephen G raised the following concerns:
  • He owns an apartment building next Magazine Park—the park has no latrine and individuals from the park go beside and behind his building to relieve themselves. This is an ongoing problem. Many years ago the park had an outhouse of sorts and when the City removed it, a portable latrine was promised but has never materialized.

  • Board discussion on the problem resulted in decision to write Patrick Sullivan, Parks Director, and copy Mayor, ward and at-large City Councilor to procure a latrine as soon as possible; and to follow up on the dialogue as necessary.
  • MOTION: (LO moved) as stated above; (BM seconded); (LEC call fro discussion); Motion carried unanimously.
  • Second concern: Realtor signs on the tree belts.
  • Third concern: Urging the Council to investigate why some residents are leaving the neighborhood. Believes the ongoing problems at the apartment house between Florida and Thompson Street may be part of the problem.
  • Also sees loitering at Worthington and Armory intersection as a negative in the neighborhood.
  • Fourth concern: City has torn down fence on his property on Bowdoin Street and moved the property cornerstone markers.
  • Neighborhood member Patricia M discussed the following problems:
  • Roof is collapsing on church at Clarendon and St James next to her house.
  • Individuals hanging around at Thompson Triangle casing homes in surrounding area. Police not enforcing the ordinance that the parks are closed at dusk.
  • Reported squatters at 179 St James to the police numerous times and was told the police could not do anything about it.
  • Suggesting that the Council needs to develop a map of the neighborhood to identify and track problem properties and ongoing areas of concern that need addressed
  • Neighborhood member Damian P discussed the recent robbery of his home, and police behaviors and responses in the neighborhood.
  • Lengthy discussion by Board members and neighborhood members about how to most effectively pursue the remedies available to the neighborhood to solve these problems. Reps Walter K and Ben S emphasized that continuing to report and follow up on specific incidents with community quality of life officer and Code enforcement, and through Sector F Police Beat and Neighborhood Watch meetings will work over time; the key being to hold official’s feet to the fire through follow up and demanding accountability. Agreement that everyone is frustrated, but that forging ahead with firm intention will produce real results; and that much of it depends on taking individual responsibility and being willing to collaborate with neighbors and police.   Problems have been solved in the past, and can continue to be solved.
  • St Peter’s Church—Letter of Appreciation and Donation
  • Board considered donation to St Peter’s for letting Council use community space for the August 5 Special Meeting when Rebecca Johnson School was closed. Agreement that funds could be used since it was an expense for meeting space, as opposed to supporting a religious institution.
  • MOTION: (ES moved) to draft letter of appreciation and donation in the amount of $50; (BM seconded); (LEC called for discussion); (LEC called the question); Motion carried unanimously.
  • Bryan—Goals for Increasing Neighborhood Interaction and Community Involvement

  • Representative Bryan M presented information on increasing community participation in the neighborhood by increasing communication.
  • Of the 5,600 McKnight residents, the median age of residents is around 28, and this segment of the population is best reached through social networking media—74% get their news through the internet, and 71% participate on Facebook.
  • Starting with the McKnight Facebook page, he recommended giving all Board members access to posting, thereby increasing the spontaneity of information about the Neighborhood Council and its committee activities, events, and initiatives actively flowing out and reaching people.  Overtime, postings will grow about all kinds of neighborly events and happenings, and this flow of information will spark more participation.
  • Secondly, to jumpstart the project, a flyer will be created and passed out door to door in McKnight promoting the MNC Facebook page. Bryan will design a flyer to be approved by other Board members, and was willing to do the canvassing himself, though he hoped other Representatives would join in as well in canvassing their districts.
  • Rep Bryan M provided to prepared motions, as follows:
  • MOTION: (BM moved) to allow access to all Board members for posting on the main time line of the MNC Facebook page instead of as a guest. Access should be allowed as a privilege that can be revoked on an individual basis if comments are posted that are to be offensive or inappropriate. Revoking privilege for an individual would require a majority vote during a MNC Board meeting when enough Board members were present to form a quorum. In extreme instances the ability to remove offensive or inappropriate posts immediately should be given to the moderator of the page, the President of MNC, the Vice-President, the staff assistant, and/or the Chairperson of the Communications Committee and then reviewed by the Board of Directors at the next MNC monthly meeting. (BS seconded); (LEC called for discussion):

  • Some debate over whether or not a moderator should preview comments before they are allowed to be posted. Agreement reached that it would cut down considerably on the spontaneity of posts and general agreement that Board members were mutually mature and trustworthy. Can revisit if it proves to be a problem.Motion: (BM moved) to allow an allotment of $30.00 for the purpose of creating an “MNC Social Media” welcome flyer to be distributed in person by said representative and/or other representatives interested in the distribution of this initiative to increase neighborhood participation in the community. (BS seconded); (LEC called for discussion):
      • (LEC called the question); Motion carried unanimously.

  • Rep Bryan M initially was planning on canvassing at least 200 houses. Rep Walter K encouraged all representatives to participate if the Board really wants to make a splash with this. Rep Ben S agreed, and recommended increasing the number of flyers. Rep Art J recommended that the flyers be printed at Putnam High School. Elizabeth O offered the following amendment:
    • (EO moved) that the motion be amended to authorize Rep Bryan M to spend $60 to have the flyers printed at Putnam. (LEC called the question); Motion carried unanimously.

  • Neighborhood Collaborative—Office of Neighborhood Services
  • Ed Whitley, Deputy Director of Neighborhood Services, will again be holding monthly meetings for representatives from neighborhood councils to attend to network and share ideas and solutions. Pres Lamont C and Rep Henry P volunteering to attend the first meeting scheduled this month.
  • Puerto Rican Parade
  • The Board discussed an invitation to march in the Puerto Rican parade, and concluded that it was too short notice to participate, but that because of the Latino population in the neighborhood it was a potentially deserving event to support in the future. Brief deliberation given to making a small donation to the event; consensus reached that a letter of appreciation and acknowledgement for the invitation would suffice.
  • Council Finances and Income
  • Currently the Neighborhood Council has three income streams—the CDBG money which pays primarily for operating expenses, the block party and newsletter; occasional donations from individuals, and ad revenue from the newsletter. Discussion about increasing revenue, particularly from grant funding, to be used for community improvement projects.
  • Rep Ben S suggesting that a project on the scale of repainting the light poles or even replacing them with historic lighting would be a good use of grant funds. Rep Elizabeth O, who has extensive grant writing experience, noted that the current economic climate is difficult with lots of agencies lobbying a few corporate vendors. She named TD Bank as a potential donor, since it has a lot of customers in the neighborhood. Will work with Rep Bryan M to explore this avenue of funding. Also notes that some corporations like to contribute work days in partnership and come out and help.
  • Rep Walter K suggested that reaching out to the DPW and Mayor and thanking them for the recent work in the neighborhood is a good segue in continuing the discussion and moving onto the next step of needed improvements with the lighting, as well as bringing Eversource into the discussion.
  • Rep Elizabeth O emphasized that we need to keep close watch on the casino host agreement funds, and make sure that it is used in an effective way in the city and in our neighborhood; as most of the money has yet to be assigned to specific projects.
  • Newsletter Planning—Item tabled due to time constraints.
  • Lloyd—Creation of Outreach Committee—Item tabled due to time constraints.

  • Beautification—Chair, Bryan McFarland
  • Rep Bryan M submitting receipts for reimbursement of $28.62 for painting supplies used to repaint fireboxes.   Expenses were approved at August meeting.

  • Other committee reports tabled due to time constraints.
8:00 pm: Meeting adjourned.
MOTION:  (LC moved) to adjourn; (SM seconded); (LEC called); Motion unanimous.
Submitted for approval by Elizabeth Lederman, Administrative Staff, 10/13/15.