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McKnight Neighborhood Meeting 01/10/17

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Board Meeting: January 10, 2017                                                                                                                               

Approved February 14, 2017

Minutes McKnight Neighborhood Council

Meeting called to order by Vice-President Bryan M at 6:00 pm.

Board Members Present (10): Lamont E Clemons; Tawreak Eddington, Asst Treas; Lorenzo Gaines; Damian Phillips, Asst

Secy/Clerk; Bryan McFarland, Vice-President; Elizabeth O’Gilvie; Elizabeth Stevens, Treasurer; Ben Swan, Jr,

Paul Swenson, Giselle Vizcarrondo

Board Members Not Present (5): Lloyd A Creswell; Art Jones; Walter Kroll, President; Nick Panteleakis; Synthia Scott-

Mitchell, Secy/Clerk

Administrative Staff:   Elizabeth Lederman

Neighborhood Members & Guests who signed in: Ed Zuckerman, Patricia McFarland, Rev Michael Devine, Jim Boone,

Jesse Lederman, Roberta Kilkenny, Stephen Gray, Jarred Awand, Christopher Dign, David Debarge, Nathan

Church, Stephen Nelson, Dan Decaro, Ken Giletins, Elaine Awand, Jeremy Jackson, Milton Pleasant, Alan Stearley

Guest Presentations: Michael Jachym, City Housing & Code

Vice-Pres Bryan M welcomed those attending the meeting; Board and audience introductions followed.


  • Michael Jachym, Housing & Code, City of Springfield, addressing current code issues in McKnight
  • Bridge Home, Inc, 1090 Worthington St
    • Facility has been granted the necessary permits from Zoning. Parking issues have been resolved. Initially approved in the fall for eight occupants requiring non internal alterations to the house. Issue was to be revisited after January 1st.   Mr Jachym did not know if the facility had requested an increase in occupancy, but noted that might trigger the need for internal renovations for approval. Will check with Planning and let Council know what the status is regarding approved number of occupants.
  • Able Place, Inc, Bowdoin St & St James Ave
    • The organization is in the process of providing the paperwork necessary for the Dover exemption to the Planning Department, which will forward it to the Law Department for a determination. Currently it is not approved for a zoning exemption.
    • Inspections were conducted at the two properties on December 23. Currently both properties are in Housing Court for violations found during the inspections. Each property had ten residents, and the number permitted by the Court for the time being is five residents per house.
    • The owner of the properties was present and stated that the problems which were cited have been corrected.
  • Former Laragione properties, now owned by JJS properties, on Westminster & St James Ave
    • Parcel owned by JJS Properties Includes four separate houses, one legally zoned two-family house, and three single family houses which were all formerly run as group homes. Mr Jachym said he contacted the owner, Atty Patty Glenn, who has long standing relationships with the City, and has in his experience been highly responsible in handling other properties.
    • Concerns had been raised that these houses were being rented out as lodging houses, and that they were being marketed as potential group homes.
    • Mr Jachym said that Ms Glenn told him that the houses were not being rented out as single occupancy rooming houses. She was renting out two apartments in the two-family house, and would be selling the others as single family homes.
  • General questions and discussion about the process by which the City identifies programs and/or properties that need to be reviewed for Dover Amendment status and/or inspected for building and zoning requirements under City ordinances. There is no mechanism in place whereby these properties can be identified by the City, and unless a program comes forward voluntarily, as did the Bridge Home, the City investigates only when a program and/or property is brought to their attention. The City does not maintain a centralized list of Dover-exempted properties.
  • PRESIDENT’S REPORT: (Walter Kroll, absent)
  • Tabled.
  • VICE PRESIDENT’S REPORT: (Bryan McFarland) 
  • Tabled.
  • SECRETARY’S REPORT: (Synthia Scott-Mitchell, absent) MOTION: (EO moved) to accept as presented; (BS seconded); (BM call for discussion):
  • Asst Sec Damian P presented the minutes from the 12/13/16 Neighborhood Meeting and the 12/27/16 Executive Board Meeting for review and approval.
  • Rep Elizabeth S asked for a correction in the Rail Trail committee report. Funds to be used for continuation of feasibility study and environmental studies, not for the acquisition of surface rights.
  • (EO moved) to accept minutes as presented with amendment above; (TE seconded); (BM called the question); Motion unanimous.
  • TREASURER’S REPORT: (Elizabeth Stevens)
  • Treas Elizabeth S distributed copies of financial report. Noted the addition of the 1st quarter CDBG funds reimbursement received from the City after the report was put together. December balance was $444. Reimbursement amount received 1/9/17 is $2766.45.
  • Asked Board members to note that the December balance is the lowest that Council has ever had and stressed the need to raise funds and continue to cut expenses.
  • Rep Elizabeth O asked about the Vonage phone expense. Discussion about the plan to transition from the Vonage phone service to the Google voice service which was supposedly in process. Has not been completed. Rep Lamont C will assist in completing. 
  • MOTION: (EO moved) to accept as presented; (BS seconded); (BM call for discussion); Motion unanimous.
NEW BUSINESS—Open to the Floor
  • Ed Z—brought forward a letter he had written to the City questioning the tax-exempt status of 29 Ingersoll Grove. Property is now vacant, was previously a Dover exempted property which housed foreign students.  
  • Board agreed to support the inquiry.Rep Paul S volunteered to write the letter on behalf of the Council.
  • MOTION: (ES moved) that the Council send a letter to the City asking to clarify the current tax status of 29 Ingersoll Grove; (EO seconded); (BM called call for discussion); Motion unanimous.
  • Stephen G—offered his opinion that the large number of group homes in the neighborhood was destabilizing the character of the historic district housing stock, and expressed the hope that something be done to limit the number of group homes in the area.
  • Rev Mike D—asked how many of the large Victorians had been sold to families in the last few years. Jim B gave examples of recent sales, and said there is still a market for them.
  • Roberta K—suggested that the Council invite to a future meeting various organizations who have programs that may benefit neighborhood home owners in maintaining their properties. She also offered appreciation for the work Rep Bryan M has been doing on the Beautification Committee and in his video documentaries of the neighborhood that have been posted on the McKnight Facebook page which promote the unique and special character of McKnight.
  • Ed Z—asked about the whether the Council was still pursuing the issue of working on reforming the Dover Amendment which had been discussed at earlier meetings.
  • Council sent a letter in September to Springfield State representatives, senators, and the City Council requesting that they work cooperatively on Dover reform. The letter also asked the City Council to establish a subcommittee to work on the issue. Thus far, only Rep Carlos Gonzalez has responded.
  • Rep Ben S, Chair of the Dover Reform ad hoc committee, is following up on this.
  • Communications Committee (Ben Swan, Jr, Chair)
  • Committee will be meeting in next few weeks. Discussion about renaming the Facebook page, and the need for an overall discussion about “branding” and how the neighborhood and Council should be consistently identified.
  • Funding & Fundraising (Synthia Scott-Mitchell, Chair)
  • Committee member Bryan M reported discussion at the Executive Committee meeting about participating in a fundraising event at a local restaurant chain, such as Uno’s, where the business donates a percentage of its day’s profits to the non-profit. Possibility of partnering with the Eagle’s club for an event.
  • Communications Committee will be setting up a dedicated donation page on the website with the PayPal link. The page can then be linked to the Facebook page for direct and easy access. 
  • Community Center, Traffic, & Streets—(Damian Phillips, Chair)
  • Rep Damian P presented a letter for review to be sent to elected representatives which describes an initiative for street redesign, bike lanes, and safety measures for the overall improvement of the neighborhood.
  • Rep Elizabeth S advised that before sending such a letter that the DPW should be contacted to find out where the neighborhood plans stand now relative to the Complete Streets Project which is meant to address many of the street issues being raised in the letter. She also volunteered to help work on the letter.
  • General agreement that the letter needs to include specific “asks” for action and be clear about what exactly is being advocated for.
  • Letter is tabled to be worked on and will be tentatively reviewed at the next monthly meeting.
  • Beautification Committee—(Bryan McFarland, Chair)
  • Third annual holiday lighting at Thompson Triangle had the most participants ever. “A Sleigh Ride Through McKnight”—documentary video of holiday lighting featuring houses in the neighborhood posted on Facebook.
  • Bylaws Committee—(Paul Swenson, Chair)
  • Rep Paul S reporting that the bylaws revisions have been completed on the first three articles. Meetings are scheduled on Saturday from 11 am to 1 pm at the Mason Square Library during Jan, Feb, and March.
  • Good Neighbor/Community Engagement—(Giselle Vizcarrando, Chair)
  • Rep Giselle V reporting that she attended a C-3 meeting and discussed the issues at Bergen Circle. Agreement to conduct community walks in the area in the spring to engage more residents on issues of public safety. Also reported that the owners of the apartment building have been identified, and will be engaged in discussions in the future.
  • Dover Reform Committee—(Ben Swan, Jr, Chair)
  • Rep Ben S reporting that he will be following up with elected officials on the letter they were sent by the Council.

  • Stephen G—referring to the discussion on streets and sidewalk improvements, suggests that there are alternatives to cobblestone which are concrete bases with brick adhered to the surface which can be used for both safety and cost effectiveness to maintain the historic character of such improvements. 
  • Submitted for approval by Elizabeth Lederman, Administrative Staff, 2/14/17
  • Adjournment: MOTION: (PS moved) to adjourn; (BS seconded); (BM called the question); Motion unanimous.