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McKnight Neighborhood Meeting 05/10/16

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Board Meeting:  May 10, 2016    

Approved June 14, 2016

Minutes McKnight Neighborhood Council


Board Members Present (12): 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, Damian Phillips,

Elizabeth Stevens, Ben Swan, Jr

Board Members Not Present (1) : Synthia Scott-Mitchell

Administrative Staff:  Elizabeth Lederman

Neighborhood Members & Guests:  Approximately 40 neighborhood members in attendance.  See sign-in sheets.


The meeting convened at 6:30 pm following the community potluck and social.


Annual McKnight Community Service Award Presentation


  • Rep Elizabeth O’Gilvie, chair of the awards committee, presented a plaque to Kathleen Brown, SPD Liaison for Community Policing; and to Marjorie Guess and Robert McCarroll, for their work in historic preservation on the Springfield Historic Commission. (Ralph Slate, not present, also received an award for his work on the Commission.)  President Lamont C and Ward 4 Councilor E. Henry Twiggs offered congratulations.




  • Pres Lamont C gave a summary of the work that the various Council committees, and offered generous praise the work of Committee Chairs throughout the year. He also reviewed the various guest presentations at Council meetings, and the value of the information that they brought to the neighborhood.
  • The upcoming Board election was discussed. President Lamont C identified the Election Commission as being composed of himself, Rep Bryan McFarland, Chair, and Rep Elizabeth O’Gilvie.  Neighborhood member David Gaby pointed out that a non-Board person had not been added to the commission, as was discussed at the last meeting, and after a brief discussion, agreed to serve in that capacity.  No other volunteers came forward.
  • Nomination papers must be submitted by May 17 to be placed on the ballot, and voting will take place on June 11 at the annual block party.
  • The names of the nominating committee for next month’s officer elections were announced—Reps Lamont C and Brandi G, and neighborhood members Roberta Kilkenny, Todd Ostroswski, and Giselle Vizcarrondo. Their duties were described as contacting the Board members to find out who was interested in serving as an officer.  After a brief discussion, it was agreed that although the bylaws do not stipulate that Board members seeking an office cannot serve on the nominating committee, that it was best that only those Board members who were not seeking an office should serve.  Pres Lamont C withdrew from the nominating committee.  Reps Art Jones and Elizabeth O’Gilvie volunteered to serve on the committee.


Guest Presentations


  • Jesse Lederman, Community Organizer for Arise for Social Justice, presented an overview of the problem of gas leaks in the city, and requested that the Board join other community groups in signing on to a letter requesting action from Columbia Gas to remedy this situation.
  • Currently there are 500 ongoing gas leaks in the city, some of which Columbia Gas go back as far as 1992. He distributed a map of where these gas leaks are.
  • The most dangerous components released are methane, which pose a threat to public health, as well as small animals and trees.
  • The cost of this escaping gas is 2.3 million dollars a year, the cost of which are passed on unfairly to consumers.
  • Arise for Social Justice and the Springfield Climate Coalition are currently in conversation with Columbia Gas around these issues—first, what is their long-term plan for their infrastructure and repairing these leaks; and second, when do they plan to stop charging rate-payers for the lost gas. There is also some state-wide legislation which relates to this that Arise and the Climate Coalition are working on moving forward.
  • Neighborhood Council and Associations are being asked to sign on to a formal letter supporting these initiatives, a copy of which was distributed to Board members for their review. The letter, which has been sent, requests a formal meeting with representatives from Columbia Gas.  Many community groups have already signed it, and MNC and others are being solicited to join in the action, and will be invited to participate in meeting and kept updated on the progress of the initiatives.
  • MOTION: (AJ moved) that the MNC Board sign on to the letter as presented and go on record as supporting the initiatives; (LAC seconded); (LEC call for discussion);  Rep Damian Phillips asked what was causing the leaks, the answer to which was aging pipes, and asked if all of Springfield would need to be dug up to fix these.  The answer was no, but that Columbia Gas currently only fixes the ones that they grade as the most dangerous in that they might explode, but does not grade them by how much gas is escaping.  The initiative seeks to compel the company to identify the biggest leaks and fix those, and a long-term plan for upkeep and maintenance.  (LEC called the question):  Motion carried unanimously.
  • Jack Olier, of the local Fraternal Order of the Eagles, gave a presentation on the history of the Eagles, which was founded in 1898. Since the days of FDR, The Eagles have been responsible for promoting socially conscious legislation including Social Security benefits for the elderly, mother’s pensions, workman’s compensation, Medicaid and Medicare.
  • There are 1600 locations, called aeries, throughout the United States and Canada. The organization contributes $10 million dollars yearly to national and international organizations to aid in patient care, prevention, and research for a variety of causes including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, spinal cord injury, and more; and to provide services to the elderly and handicapped children.  Local chapters also raise money for the local community, and the local order has contributed thousands of dollars to the local soup kitchens, wildlife refuges, the Aids foundation, Toys for Tots, and many more through the years.
  • Local order FOE #148 located at 538 St James Avenue was founded in 1902 and is one of oldest chapters in the country. New faces are always welcome to join the Order.
  • Arlene Smith, of the Eagles Auxiliary, also spoke and encouraged others to join, and expressed their desire to continue to be a vibrant part of the community.




  • Zuma Rivera, whose family owns property on Bay Street but no longer lives in the neighborhood, discussed problems on Bay Street; and apologized for some recent problems at the property; and expressed her concerns and willingness to help solve problems in the area.
  • Neighborhood member Deb Pagano thanked the Board for help with the City in solving some problems that had occurred earlier in the year.
  • Neighborhood member David Gaby was asked for a status report on the housed that had been moved to Bay Street earlier in the year; and also the Kibbe mansion on Worthington; he gave updates on both; and offered the opinion that the properties up for demolition and on Yale and Bowdoin Street could still be salvaged.





  • 145 Armory Street—Request for Business Recommendation/Patrick Asselin
  • Mr Asselin is from Holyoke, he is 23, and works for his father’s insurance agency. He has not owned a business before but has a lot of experience in the insurance and registering cars.
  • He wants to open a used car lot at 145 Armory Street—and wants to be involved in the community become a valuable business asset.
  • Pres Lamont C and Rep Lloyd Creswell reported on their visit to the property. Lamont said that due to the layout of the property, only a couple of cars would be visible at street level, and the others would be parked down-site.  Lloyd felt it was an appropriate site overall, and that it would be a positive development for that particular piece of property.
  • Both Lamont and Lloyd agreed that due to the layout of the property, they did not think it would negatively interfere with the proposed rail trail which would abut the property, which was a concern that had been raised.
  • Mr Asselin agreed that he would build a privacy fence if necessary to help protect the bike path.
  • Rep Damian P asked raised the question of the over-saturation of small car dealerships in Springfield. Mr Asselin said he felt he would be competitive, offering good service and an honest business.
  • Rep Walter K asked about his business plan. He will be selling used cars, he plans to ask for a license approving 24 vehicles on the lot.  He is in the process of meeting with the Planning Department.  He has a small budget, and has been saving since 2011, and his brother will help him with funding.  He will be renting the property, and the owner is will to improve landscaping and preparing the lot.  He will only be selling cars, not servicing them.  Wants to partner with local mechanics for repair.
  • He will be getting his cars from auctions and online. Has bought and sold seven cars so far, and really loves the work.  He is working on getting his license so he can buy at auction.
  • Rep Elizabeth O expressed concern about business owners who come to Springfield to make their money, but choose to live elsewhere.
  • Recommendation will be voted on at June 14 meeting.
  • SECRETARY’S REPORT: (Brandi Gamble)

Approval of Minutes from April 12, 2016 Board meeting, & April 26, 2016 Executive Board meeting

MOTION:  (AJ moved) to accept as presented; (TE seconded;) (LEC called):  Motion passed unanimously.

  • TREASURER’S REPORT: (Elizabeth Stevens)
  • Financial report distributed and explained. Year to date, Council has spent $8,992.70 of our CDBG grant funds.  Awaiting reimbursement from third quarter.  Has submitted also submitted additional receipts from the first two quarters which will be reimbursed.
  • Requested approval for budget amendment in the amount of $171.84 for bookkeeping services to be moved to communications, because online subscription to Quick Books ended in August 2016.

MOTION:  (AJ moved) to accept as financial report and recommended budget amendment as presented; (BG seconded;) (LEC called for discussion):  Community member Todd O asked the amount of the overall annual budget, and was told that the CDBG budget was $11, 250.  (LEC called the question); Motion passed unanimously.

  • Preservation Trust Award for Historical District Signs—Confirm details
  • All Board members asked to review invitation and consider attending presentation on May 18 at Tower Square. Neighborhood members are also invited.
  • Pres Lamont C and Rep Walter K to collaborate on acceptance remarks.
  • City Census List—Election—Tabled.

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


Submitted for approval by Elizabeth Lederman, Administrative Staff, 06/14/16