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McKnight Neighborhood Meeting 10/13/15

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Board Meeting: October 13, 2015

Approved November 10, 2015                                                                                                                                        

Minutes McKnight Neighborhood Council

Meeting called to order by President Lamont C at 6:10 pm.

Board Members Present (10): Lamont E Clemons, (Pres), Tawreak Eddington, (Asst Treas), Colin Kirby, (Treas)  Brandi Gamble, (Sec/Clerk), Art Jones, Walter Kroll, Bryan McFarland, Elizabeth O’Gilvie, Ben Swan, Jr, Paul Swenson

Board Members Not Present (5): Lloyd A Creswell, (Asst Sec/Clerk), Jack Dubose, Henry Payne, (Vice Pres), Synthia Scott-Mitchell, Elizabeth Stevens

Administrative Staff:   Elizabeth Lederman

Neighborhood Members: Susan Roche, Warren Clark, Deb Papagno, Damian Phillips

Guests: Mike King, Salvatore Circosta, Jonathen Neris, Beverly Savage

Pres Lamont C welcomed those attending the meeting; Board and audience introductions followed.


  • Sal Circosta, Candidate for Mayor—Life-long resident of Springfield, immigrant grandparents, grew up in Forest Park near the X. Attended seminary and college, receiving a degree in philosophy. Served as a 2nd lieutenant in the National Guard. Owned and operated Sal’s Bakery on Sumner Avenue, now works in the family roofing business. Currently serves on the Community Policing Board. He believes residents want accountability and a new approach; hopes to provide a new approach and new energy. Questions from the Board and neighborhood included:
  • Question on proposal for police kiosks—achieves goal of using police most effectively and serving the public most broadly. Lots of city properties available—libraries, fire stations, community centers, etc that a kiosk could be built off of; out of which police can be dispatched and which have open hours that residents can stop by. Believes C-3 policing, which engages the local population in a military style collaboration has had limited success and inherent drawbacks, whereas a permanent substation approach is more broadly engaging to the neighborhoods. Would be staffed by officers who neighbors and business owners come to know and develop relationships with; and place to go other than Pearl Street or knocking on a police cruiser window, to interact with the Police.
  • Question on where Mr Circosta differs significantly from Mayor Sarno—main areas are accountability and leadership style. Sarno defends his staff regardless of their poor performance. Example offered of extending the contract of the Superintendent even though public schools are generally failing in Springfield. Fire department, same problems—lowered requirements for fire chief rather than raising them.
  • Seeks return to a civilian police commission to oversee the police department—rather than having a single police commissioner, as is currently in place. Members of the commission would be appointed by the Mayor, City Council, and Police Union. Commission would be responsible for hiring, firing, discipline, budgetary oversight, etc. Police chief would report to commission and be responsible for strategy.
  • Question on MGM downsizing—believes Mayor and City Council are being too submissive, should not be rolling over but should be requiring MGM to go through due process to make any changes. Changes will result in loss of revenue. The people should have a voice in this as well, because there will be consequences to the taxpayers.
  • Question on CNNR last minute tax break for $10 million dollars—believes it was unnecessary since the business was already secured and that small local businesses are the ones who deserve consideration for tax breaks.


  • Pres Lamont C reported that he had attended multiple events in the last month, and is always striving to bring positive attention to the Council.
  • Parks Commission meeting will take place in early November and the Rail Trail will be on the agenda—encouraged everyone to attend in support of the project.
  • At large City Council Debate sponsored by McKnight and AIC was taped and will be playing on Channel 17 public access throughout the month. Also available on You Tube and the link is on the Facebook page. Great work on the part of the debate committee.
  • Attended the Neighborhood Council President’s Dinner—sponsored by Health and Human Services and Mass in Motion. Speakers included Helen Caulton Harris, HHS Director, and Mayor Sarno. Broad discussions on health in the neighborhoods. Mayor offered appreciation for the work the Councils do.
  • Attended city-wide Neighborhood Collaborative Meeting sponsored by Ed Whitley of Neighborhood Services. Meetings will occur quarterly going forward. Provided an overview of the different activities and practices of neighborhood councils and civic associations throughout the City. McKnight was definitely top tier in performance provided website, Facebook, newsletter and other access to community residents. Excellent networking with other groups. Was able to share a lot of information.
  • Vice Pres Henry P absent, no report.
  • SECRETARY’S REPORT: (Brandi Gamble)
  • Minutes of Board meeting, Sept 09, and Executive Board meeting Sept 22, submitted for review and acceptance by Sec/Clerk Brandi G.
  •        MOTION: (EO moved) to accept as presented; (BS 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.” Initial motion amended to accept both sets of minutes. Agreement to do each set of minutes separately in the future.
  • (LEC called the question): Motion carried unanimously.
  • TREASURER’S REPORT: (Colin Kirby)
  • Treas Colin K submitted treasurer’s reports for June, July, August, and September. Individual reports were reviewed with Board, and copies of Freedom Credit Union bank statements were provided. Total cash currently on hand of $4,581.03.
  • MOTION: (TE moved) to accept treasurer’s reports as presented with correction of July header on August report to be corrected; (EO seconded); (LEC call for discussion);
  • Rep Bryan M offered correction to the spelling of his name and Admin Asst Elizabeth L contained in the reports.
  • (LEC called the question): Motion carried unanimously.

NEW BUSINESS—Open to the Floor

  • Community Center Chairperson Damian P opened up a discussion on whether the Council needed to establish a land trust in order to pursue a property for an eventual community center and what that would require.
    • Rep Elizabeth O observed that land trusts are a lot of work to put together, but that Michaelann Bewsee and Arise had established a land trust.   A land trust consists of a 501(c)3 non-profit who holds the property and it cannot be used for other than the purpose for which it was intended. It would be a lot simpler for McKnight to find an established land trust to receive the property on behalf of the neighborhood, rather than establishing a trust of our own. There are several in Springfield, and MNC would need to find one with a city-wide charter. Rep Elizabeth O agreed to work with Damian to explore the options available.
    • Rep Walter K and Rep Ben S raised the related question of how to go about managing and maintaining the property, and the associated costs; which will also need to be explored. Will need to be approached carefully.
    • Chair Damian P suggested strategies such as having it staffed by retired volunteers, or having a coffee shop there.
  • Pres Lamont C encouraged Damian to check in with other Councils who own their own centers to see how they were acquired and how operating and maintenance costs are handled. Rep Elizabeth O agreed to help Damian explore the process and bring the research back to the Board.
  • Damian P also reporting that funding for additional trees to be planted in Thompson Triangle has been approved, and that the choice of trees available is Frasier firs or Blue spruce. Board agreed that Damian could choose since it was his project. He choose Frasier firs. Trees are coming from the Parks Department, and are 8 to 10 feet tall. Board agreed that they would help plant the trees, but Parks needed to be present. Damian will confirm a delivery date and communicate it to everyone.


  • MOTION: (TE moved) to accept Damian’s plan as discussed; (BS seconded); (LEC call for discussion); (LEC called the question): Motion carried unanimously.
  • Damian P also reporting problem with truck traffic on St James Avenue exceeding weight limit of 50,000 lbs. Rep Ben S volunteered to check with the DOT to see how to remedy this problem. Will report back.


  • Church at Clarendon & St James
  • Rep Bryan M reporting he has taken some aerial photos of the collapsed roof and that there appears to be old, possibly asbestos insulation exposed. Will be forwarding photos to Code and perhaps the Department of Health.
  • Rep Colin Kirby reporting that the Church has run out of renovation money and that the project is bigger than the current owners can manage. He suggests that the Council needs to contact the historical commission and withdraw support for the project, and also contact City Code.
  • Rep Walter K reporting that he has already communicated with Dave Cotter, who noticed the City legal dept, the Mayor’s office, and Steve Desilets. Desilets reported that he had met with the Church officials on Sept 23 and they had determined that the cost of renovation was too much for them to handle, and were planning on either demolishing and selling the lots; or demolishing and building something new.
  • Rep Walter K observed further that though it is in process, it does not really address the immediate question of whether it is posing an immediate health threat.
  • Agreement by Board that Rep Colin K draft a letter to be sent to Lamont C for approval to stress the urgent and immediate health threats related to the disrepair of the property and the collapsed roof, the need for immediate remedy to the appropriate City departments.
  • MOTION: (TE moved) to send letter as described above; (BS seconded); (LEC call for discussion); (LEC called the question): Motion carried unanimously.


  • Newsletter Planning
  • Discussion about whether the Council wants a winter newsletter, when it should be sent out, who will edit, and advertising outreach. Rep Ben S agreed to edit.
  • Outreach to neighborhood for articles. Agreement to make the newsletter available online as well as sending out paper copies. Article deadline by next meeting, November 13. Send out in time to promote holiday meeting December 08.
  • Decision to solicit ads. Board members encouraged to go out to individual businesses.


  • MOTION: (EO moved) to mail ad requests to business mailing list and Board members to follow up by calling on businesses in their districts; (BM seconded); (LEC call for discussion);
  • Rep Tawreak E suggested sending requests to some of the bigger corporate concerns, as well as neighborhood businesses.


  • (LEC called the question): Motion carried unanimously.
  • Tourism Committee
  • Rep Bryan M discussed the creation of a new ad hoc committee on tourism which he volunteered to chair. Committee would help promote tourism in the neighborhood through various media and advertising outlets,


  • MOTION: (BM moved) to create ad hoc committee on tourism as described above; (TE seconded); (LEC call for discussion); (LEC called the question): Motion carried unanimously.
  • Lloyd—Creation of Outreach Committee


  • Rep Lloyd C absent. Tabled.


  • Public Safety Committee—Chair, Walter Kroll
  • Crime is down overall 8% in the city and 3% in McKnight. Petty theft of tools and equipment is still rampant. Quality of life officer Witherspoon is actively engaged in the neighborhood and accessible. Sherriff’s appreciation dinner took place on September 28 and was attended by Reps Walter K, Ben S, Paul S, and neighborhood members Ed K and Jesse L. Special recognition extended to Rep Ben S for his many years of working with the Sector F police beat meeting.
  • Housing & Code—Chair, Colin Kirby
  • Following the recent acquisition of the Kibbe mansion on Worthington St by David Gaby. Will be meeting with him to find out his plans for the property. Potentially wants to turn it into a rooming house for veterans.


  • Communications—Chair, Ben Swan, Jr
  • Facebook account is more active, thanks to Rep Bryan M.
  • Food Access—Chair, Elizabeth O’Gilvie
  • Encouraged Board to attend celebration of National Food Day on Oct 22 at 530 at the Bishop Marshall Center on Elliott Street. Dinner will be served. Will be presenting a timeline of food justice in Springfield.
  • Beautification—Chair, Bryan McFarland
  • Report submitted for review—outlines recent activities.
  • Bylaws—Chair, Ben Swan, Jr
  • Will begin scheduling meetings after the newsletter is out.


7:45 pm: Meeting adjourned.

MOTION: (EO moved) to adjourn; (BS seconded); (LEC called); Motion unanimous.

Submitted for approval by Elizabeth Lederman, Administrative Staff, 11/10/15.