Board Meeting: December 08, 2015
Approved January 12, 2016
Minutes McKnight Neighborhood Council
Annual Community Potluck—6:00 to 6:45 pm.
Meeting called to order at 6:45 pm by Pres Lamont C.
Board Members Present (9): Lamont E Clemons, (Pres) Lloyd A Creswell, (Asst Sec/Clerk),Tawreak Eddington, (Asst Treas), Brandi Gamble, (Sec/Clerk), Walter Kroll, Henry Payne, (Vice Pres), Elizabeth Stevens, Ben Swan, Jr, Paul Swenson
Board Members Not Present (6): Jack Dubose, Art Jones, Colin Kirby, (Treas), Bryan McFarland, Elizabeth O’Gilvie, Synthia Scott-Mitchell
Administrative Staff: Elizabeth Lederman
Neighborhood Members: Approximately 25 neighborhood members in attendance—see sign-in sheets.
Pres Lamont C welcomed those attending the meeting; Board and audience introductions followed.
Ward 4 Springfield City Councilor—E. Henry Twiggs
Councilor Twiggs invited everyone to come to the Ward 4 Egg Nog Party on Dec 17 at the Eagles club on St James, sponsored by the Ward 4 Democratic Party. Event includes raffles and door prizes and includes dinner.
Councilor Twiggs praised McKnight as one of the most organized, politically active and effective neighborhood councils.
Overview of what the Council will be doing in the coming year. Most issues that will be upcoming are already in committee at various stages—chief among them being the casino development. Some others include:
The landlord registration ordinance, introduced last year by Ward 8 Councilor Orlando Ramos, would require the registration and regular inspection of all rental properties to insure that they are always up to code. Councilor Twiggs sits on the committee which is reviewing this. The proposed ordinance is meeting a lot of opposition from landlords—in part because the new ordinance would require that landlords pay for these routine inspections, which currently they do not have to; and because obviously many do not want the City routinely looking into their properties. These are issues that are being worked out in committee.
CRRC is a company out of China, which will be setting up a factory on Page Blvd to manufacture train cars. Last year they came to the Council requesting a TIF (tax incentive financing) agreement which would reduce their taxes for a ten year period, yet they only wanted to commit to hiring 10% of their workers from Springfield. Negotiations went back and forth and they were eventually granted a TIF, but are now committed to hiring a significantly higher percentage of their workers from Springfield.
Noted that Waymon Lee, City clerk, will be retiring in December and replaced by Anthony Wilson, who has been the City Solicitor to the Council, and will be an able replacement.
City has acquired a property located on East Street which will house a new police and fire training facility.
A new senior center is to be built in Blunt Park, tentatively to be named after Ray Jordan. This center is the result of work on the part of several Councilors including Councilor Twiggs who lobbied for this facility until money was set aside for this.
Addressing casino development—whether you are for it or against, we now have it, so the Council’s job is to make certain it works for the benefit of the City. The host agreement is in place, the Council is now working toward insuring they meet their commitments in the original agreement, especially in light of the proposed changes they want to make.
The property site runs between Main Street and Columbus Ave, and State Street to Union Street. This is the casino overlay district. There are a couple of properties inside the district which do not belong to the casino, such as Red Rose, an attorney’s office, and the Colvest Group’s building. The Council has the responsibility of ensuring that the casino property within the overlay district meets all the standards and agreements originally negotiated and to approve any changes—including the change in the structure from 25 stories to 6 stories, which will include the same number of hotel rooms but in a horizontal layout instead of a vertical.
Rep Lloyd C asked if there was any progress on making jobs available for individuals who previously could not be hired because of CORI records that contained years’ old information. Councilor Twiggs said this was still be looked into on a State level and hoped it would have a positive outcome.
Neighborhood member Damian P expressed concerns about the snowplowing practices in the neighborhood, citing problems with cars being plowed in and snow plow operators who might be drinking. Agreement that the DPW was the appropriate City department to which these concerns should be addressed rather than this evening’s forum with Councilor Twiggs; and that the issue could also be better explored at the January meeting.
Damian also asked what the City Council is specifically doing to make McKnight better. Councilor Twiggs said that the City Council’s work as a whole was to make the best decisions that benefit the entire City, and the neighborhood as part of the City; and that he is always specifically vigilant about issues that affect McKnight and Ward 4, and the requests brought to him by our neighborhood council.
Councilor Twiggs concluded by expressing his thanks to the neighborhood for their continued support, and urged the Council as always to contact him with any concerns.
Rail Trail—Chair, Elizabeth Stevens
Meeting on December 07 with the Parks Department, Pat Sullivan and Mike Tulley, with Reps Elizabeth S and Walter K. Parks Dept is moving forward to apply for a grant that would be used to do an environmental evaluation to assess any environmental concerns on the trail. Parks will also be meeting the City law department to see how the City would go about purchasing the surface rights to the trail property. Rep Walter K explained that the planning groundwork for the project is solid, and going forward it is a matter of acquiring funding and being ready to move forward at each step of the way.
Public Safety--Chair, Walter Kroll
Rep Walter S reporting that going forward into the new year, the process is to continue to tie together the forums we have in place, the Sector F/Neighborhood Watch meetings, the C-3 policing initiative—and continuing to educate people on how and where to report, and how to get results. Block party, which is a collaborative effort of the Watch and the Council, is scheduled for June 11. Will be scheduling safety walks in the neighborhood this spring, to target hot spots and encourage neighborhood involvement. Walks included SPD and Sherriff department officers walking with us. Also planning to invite the City police Dispatch manager to present at an upcoming meeting to explain calls are handled and to answer questions from residents about the service—how to hold dispatchers accountable and how to improve interactions with callers.
Rep Ben S, neighborhood liaison to the Sector F meeting, talked about issues handled at these meetings which include public safety, traffic, and housing and code issues as they relate to safety and quality of life. Ben has also been representing McKnight in meetings with representatives from Bay, Old Hill, and Upper Hill councils to help plan National Night Out event scheduled for August 2. Tentatively scheduled for DeBarry Park. Group is hoping to make it a bigger and better event for our neighborhoods than it previously has been.
Communications—Chair, Ben Swan, Jr
Rep Ben S reporting that the fall newsletter went out successfully to everyone in the neighborhood, which he edited for the first time with help of admin asst Elizabeth L. Website is up to date; and Facebook account is more active.
Community Center--Chair, Damian Phillips
Chair Damian P reporting no further progress on Community Center research, however the two new evergreen trees from Parks have been planted in Thompson Triangle.
SECRETARY’S REPORT: (Brandi Gamble)
Minutes of Board meeting, Nov 10, 2015 and Executive Board meeting Nov 24, submitted for review and acceptance by Sec/Clerk Brandi G.(LEC called the question): Motion carried unanimously.
MOTION: (ES moved) to accept as presented; (BS seconded); (LEC call for discussion); Motion carried unanimously.
TREASURER’S REPORT: (Colin Kirby)
Treasurer no present. Tabled.
FINAL BUSINESS/WRAP UP—Open to Floor
7:45 pm: Meeting adjourned.
MOTION: (LAC moved) to adjourn; (TE seconded); (LEC called); Motion unanimous.
Submitted for approval by Elizabeth Lederman, Administrative Staff, 01/12/16.