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McKnight Neighborhood Meeting 04/12/16

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Board Meeting:  April 12, 2016

Approved May 10, 2016

Minutes McKnight Neighborhood Council

Meeting called to order by President Lamont C at 6:00 pm

Board Members Present (11): Lamont E Clemons, (Pres), Lloyd A Creswell, (Asst Sec/Clerk), Tawreak Eddington,

(Asst Treas), Brandi Gamble, (Sec/Clerk), Art Jones, Walter Kroll, Elizabeth O’Gilvie, Synthia Scott-

Mitchell, Elizabeth Stevens, Ben Swan, Jr, Paul Swenson

Board Members Not Present (4): Jack Dubose, Colin Kirby, Henry Payne, (Vice Pres), Bryan McFarland

Administrative Staff:   Elizabeth Lederman

Neighborhood Members:  Susan Roche, Elliott Stratton, Jesse Lederman, Damien Pittola, Waren Clark, Todd

Ostrowski,  Stephen Gray, Giselle Vizcarrondo, Mattie Jenkins, David Gaby, Roberta Kilkenny

Guests:  Kamran Ali, Ron Smith, Tina Quagliato, Lisa de Sousa, Caitlin Castillo, Steve Desilets

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

 

GUEST PRESENTATIONS

  • Tina Quagliato, Director of Disaster Recovery & Compliance, City attorney Lisa DeSousa and Steve Desilets from Code Enforcement discussing the current practices in the City about which houses are selected for demolition and how the process works.
  • There are two different processes involved—one for properties owned by the City, which have been taken for taxes; and the second for privately owned properties.
  • Once a property is taken for taxes, the Building department does a thorough evaluation of the property. The City first tries to sell the property if it is at all salvageable, the last resort is demolition.  The City’s goal is to save properties and get them back on the tax rolls.  Properties are sold through one of two processes:  a Request for Proposal (RFP) or through auction.
  • RFP’s are issued when a property is historic, or has some other special circumstance attached to it wherein the City wants to assure that the new owners have the capacity to properly develop the property. A committee judges RFP’s received, not on the basis of the highest bidder, choosing instead the developer whose proposal is most desirable and realistic in the long term.
  • All other properties taken for taxes go to auction, and are sold to the highest bidder.
  • If a property does not sell through the initial RFP, the City may re-issue the RFP with money attached as an incentive for development.  In the case of historic properties, there is money available in the Historic Preservation Program which is funded by CDBG money.  This is used when a property is so far gone, that without a public subsidy, no one would be able to reasonably restore the property to bring it back.  These properties are then sent out to RFP again, typically for sale with a $1000 commitment and X number of dollars provided for the restoration.   A committee chooses the successful bidder from the proposals that are submitted, according to an established set of criteria.
  • The decision to demolish a given property is only made once all of these avenues have been pursued, with no one coming forward; or when a property is so far gone it cannot be reasonably saved.
  • The City becomes involved in the demolition of privately owned properties in three ways: a disaster event such as fire or tornado, where all or part of a property must be demolished on an emergency basis.  This is determined by the Building department, and involves an immediate “knock-down” by the City for safety purposes.  The owner is still responsible for the final clean-up and removal of debris.
  • The second set of circumstances is when a building has deteriorated over time and become a safety hazard. The owner will be cited and given a period of 30 days to correct the situation.  If the owner fails to respond initially the matter is pursued further through housing court.  The City has very limited funds for demolition, so recalcitrant property owners are vigorously pursued to either bring the property “up to code, or down to the ground”.  Failing that, properties may be put into a receiver process, whereby a third private party takes on the property to repair.  If none of these remedies are successful, and the City determines the property has become such a safety hazard that it must be demolished, the City will eventually demolish the property, when funds permit.
  • The third situation in which the City becomes involved is when a property has been condemned and is vacant, but is not structurally unsafe; for instance, the plumbing or heating system is broken and unrepaired. If the owner is noncompliant, the City puts the house into the receivership program.  If this does not remedy the situation, the City can legally have the property demolished after one year.  Typically the City waits longer, because it prefers rehabilitation over demolition, and its chief goal is to return properties to the tax rolls.
  • Privately-owned properties come to the City’s attention through Code Enforcement. City-owned properties are evaluated in the Housing department, and Code Enforcement is brought into the process from there.  When demolition is determined as the course of action appropriate to any given property, it is handled by Tina Quagliato’s deparment,  Disaster Recovery and Compliance.
  • When a property is condemned the owner and any lien-holders are notified. With the foreclosure of properties, it is sometimes difficult to identify and find all of the lien-holders.
  • Any properties in local historic districts must go before the Springfield Historic Commission for review before they can be demolished. The Commission can halt a demolition, and under rare circumstances the Building Commissioner can override this.
  • The City’s Historic Preservation fund is allocated $100,000 to $250,000 yearly. Demolition funds range from $100,000 to $250,000 also—and are spent primarily on city-owned properties, not privately owned properties.
  • Historic Preservation funds are used to restore significant properties that cannot otherwise be saved and become available in the RFP process. These funds are not available for use on private properties.  Those properties are handled through the receivership process.
  • Current McKnight properties slated for demolition by the City are 62 Bowdoin and 74 Yale. A request was made to Tina Quagliato to notify Neighborhood Council of any pending demolitions of city-owned properties.
  • Ultimately, two committees decide the disposition of city-owned properties—one committee consists of representatives from the Housing Dept, Planning, and the Treasurer’s Dept, who determine whether it is an RFP property, an auction property, etc. If it is an historic property, a second committee evaluates the property to whether or not it needs an RFP, historic funding, etc.

 

NEW BUSINESS—Open to the Floor

  • Neighborhood member Mattie J of Monmouth Street requesting assistance with traffic safety problems in the area from cross traffic from Bay St through to St James Avenue. Motion for Public Safety to begin working toward a permanent solution since this is a long time problem that comes up repeatedly at various safety meetings.

MOTION: (BS moved) that Public Safety Chair Walter K write letter to SPD Traffic department to initiate dialogue  (LAC seconded); (LEC call for discussion); (LEC called the question):  Motion carried unanimously.

  • Neighborhood member Giselle V expressing concern about unkempt houses in her area along Bay Street. Requesting Council intervention.  Advised that the first line of pursuit is to call 311 to report issues.  Code Enforcement will interact with the owners and follow through on issues of rubbish, overgrowth, etc.
  • Neighborhood member Stephen Gray suggesting that the City should go in and temporarily patch roofs on historic barns and other structures to prevent further deterioration, and then place a lien on the property owner. General agreement by Board that the City would probably reject this idea.

 

OFFICER REPORTS

  • SECRETARY’S REPORT: (Brandi Gamble)
  • Sec Brandi G submitted minutes of March 08, 2016 monthly meeting and minutes of March 22, 2016 executive Board meeting for review.

MOTION: (EO moved) to accept as presented; (SM seconded); (LEC call for discussion); (LEC called the question):  Motion carried unanimously.

  • TREASURER’S REPORT: (Treasurer’s position vacant)
  • Rep Elizabeth S reported on the Council’s finances which she has taken under review and handled in the absence of a current treasurer. Asst Treasurer Tawreak E assisting in reviewing and handling finances going forward.

MOTION: (AJ moved) to accept report as presented; (BG seconded); (LEC call for discussion); (LEC called the question):  Motion carried unanimously.

MOTION: (EO moved) to elect Rep Elizabeth S as interim treasurer for the remainder of the year; (LAC seconded); (LEC call for discussion); (LEC called the question):  Motion carried unanimously.

 

OLD BUSINESS—Board  

  • May Annual Meeting—Reps Elizabeth O, Synthia M, and Tawreak E
  • Committee to review Community Service Award nominations. Board voted to authorize committee to make final decision on recipients.

MOTION:   (BS moved) as above; (LAC seconded); (LEC call for discussion); (LEC called the question):  Motion carried unanimously.

  • Block Party Planning—Rep Walter K
  • Block party scheduled for June 11. Sherriff’s department liaison Charlie Ramos has two groups who have committed to providing music.  Moe’s Dogs will be providing vendor hotdogs, cotton candy, and snow cones.  Parks application to use Thompson Triangle in process.  Invites for table spaces to be sent out by Admin Asst Elizabeth L.  Will not be able to use Peter Pan Futurliner stage bus this year because it is in the shop; will need to provide a tent for musicians.  Porta-potty would cost $150.  Council still needs to approve budget for the event to see if we can afford this.  Typically costs around $1100 to stage event.

MOTION:   (BS moved) to approve $150 expenditure for Porta-potty; (ES seconded); (LEC call for discussion); (LEC called the question):  Motion carried unanimously.

  • Board Attendance

MOTION:   (EO moved) that Board authorize the President to seek the resignation of members who have missed more than five meetings to date; (TE seconded); (LEC call for discussion); Reps Ben S and Paul S suggested putting off the decision since the Bylaws committee is working on the issue.  Rep Elizabeth O emphasized the negative impact of current Board members absences on the ability of the Board to do business and felt it needed addressed currently; Ben S volunteered a friendly amendment to increase it to six absences;  Elizabeth O rejected the amendment. Pres Lamont S identified three board members who would be affected—Jack D, Colin K, and Henry P—and that Henry P had already expressed the intention of resigning. (LEC called the question):  Yea—7; Nay—2; Abstention—1; Motion carried.

 

NEW BUSINESS—Board

  • Board Elections
  • Approval of Election Plan for Current Year—Rep Ben S presented election plan developed by the current bylaws committee, which incorporate the current bylaws, but offer more specificity than the current bylaws provide. Included approval of Thompson Triangle as election site.

Motion:  (BS) moved to adopt election plan as presented; (ES seconded); (LEC called for discussion); Rep Brandi G asking if write-in votes will still be considered; Bylaws committee has agreement that write-in votes should remain, however ongoing discussion about whether a write-in candidate should have at least the same number of votes, ten, that is required of ballot candidates who take out papers.  (LEC called the question); Yea—9; Nay 1; Motion carried.

  • Additional motion proposed by Rep Ben S on behalf of the Bylaws Committee to require internal Board officer candidates to have at least one year of service on the Board. This requirement is not currently required by the bylaws.  Neighborhood members Roberta K, David G, Todd O, and Rep Art J offered persuasive arguments that a change of this magnitude should only be made by the body as a whole rather than Board members only.  Motion was subsequently withdrawn by Rep Ben S; and an amendment to previously approved election plan was brought forward:

Motion:  (BS) to amend previous motion to include non-board members from the neighborhood on the Election Commission; (PS seconded); (LEC called the question); Motion carried unanimously.

  • Internal Officer Elections for FY17—Appointment of Nominating Committee—Pres Lamont C
  • Board members Lamont C and Brandi G, and neighborhood members Todd O, Roberta K, and Giselle V volunteered to serve on committee.
  • Keep Springfield BeautifulApril 30—planning and site selection
  • Rep Elizabeth S proposing site on the rail trail—from the Dingle running along behind Cornell Street.

Has been in contact with KSB to coordinate; FL Roberts will permit staging the clean-up from their lot.

 

8:00 pm:  Meeting adjourned.   MOTION:   (BG moved) to adjourn into executive session; (PS seconded); (LEC called); Motion unanimous.

Submitted for approval by Elizabeth Lederman, Administrative Staff, 05/10/16

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