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McKnight Neighborhood Meeting 10/11/16

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Board Meeting: October 11, 2016                                                                                                            

Approved November 09, 2016

Minutes McKnight Neighborhood Council

Meeting called to order by President Walter K at 6:10 pm.

Board Members Present (11): Tawreak Eddington, Asst Treas; Lorenzo Gaines; Walter Kroll, President;

Art Jones; Bryan McFarland, Vice-President; Elizabeth O’Gilvie; Damian Phillips, Asst Secy/Clerk; Elizabeth Stevens, Treasurer; Ben Swan, Jr; Paul Swenson, Giselle Vizcarrondo

Board Members Not Present (4): Lloyd A Creswell; Lamont E Clemons; Nick Panteleakis; Synthia Scott-Mitchell,


Administrative Staff:   Elizabeth Lederman

Neighborhood Members & Guests: Rev Michael Devine, Brandi Gamble, Bruce Arnold, Todd Ostrowski, Jesse Lederman,

David Gaby, Derrick Woods, Arlene Smith, Ellen Wade, Keith Davis, Betsy Johnson, Elaine Awand, Alan Stearley

Guest Presentations: James Gill, Catherine Ratte, Paul Nikolai

Pres Walter K welcomed those attending the meeting; Board and audience introductions followed.

  • Catharine Ratte, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, presenting information on the Complete Streets Project 
  • The project is funded by grant money from the CDC which was obtained by the PVPC on behalf of the City. It consists of $400,000 which is disbursed over a five-year period.
  • A “complete street” accommodates all of its users—cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrian traffic including wheelchairs.
  • Springfield’s approved plan provides for implementation as each area in the city goes through regular repair cycles, with improvements being incorporated where it is feasible.
  • Walk audits were done in different areas of the City, and include recommendations for bike lanes, crosswalks, and other improvements, particularly as they relate to different school areas. Eight audits have been done; six more are planned. They are prioritized by the City, and will be approved by the State to qualify for the funding.
  • PVPC is going to each of the neighborhood councils to make them aware of the project and the City’s commitment, so that neighborhoods can advocate for their area when the DPW holds meetings for public input relative to planned street projects.
  • PVPC will let the councils know when these public meetings are taking place.

  • James Gill, Candidate for Hampden County Sheriff
  • Is running as an independent candidate, has been employed at the Hampden County Sheriff’s department for twenty-five years, and has a flawless service record. He holds a Master’s degree in criminal justice.
  • He is the only candidate who creates curriculum for inmates, and has a 97.6% student retention rate. He creates and supervises programs—and has served over 80,000 inmates to date.
  • Has a three-point plan. The first point concerns improvements that address the correctional staff and the inmate population. The second point has methods and operational efficiencies to improve relationships with the courts and other law enforcement agencies. The third point focuses on our communities. Under each point of the plan are five different actions steps ready for immediate implementation.
  • There will be no early releases for serious, dangerous, and violent repeat offenders. In contrast, 70% of the inmate populations last year were non-violent offenders. Priorities need to be set about where to focus resources.
  • He will eliminate wasteful spending by consolidating the most effective programs that have proven results, and eliminating those that are repetitive or non-effective. He will strengthen the programs that lead to the rehabilitation of offenders.
  • The goal is to change attitudes, because if the individual changes, his actions will change. Individuals need to be made conscious of their behaviors and accountable for them. His plan includes bringing families to the table, with one family member being designated as a liaison. Family unification is an important key to rehabilitation.
  • Will address changing the current offender matrix, which currently allows for an offender who is sentenced to one year to under some circumstances serve as little as two weeks.
  • Also has a plan to utilize members of the Honorary Deputy Sheriff’s Association as mentors to help supervise early release inmates, or for individuals on house arrest, to help assist in their rehabilitation and re-entry into the community.
  • Plans to be a visible Sheriff with officers out in the neighborhoods, following up and interacting with youth.
  • Paul Nikolai, presenting on the Community Preservation Act, Ballot Question # 5
  • CPA sounds great but in context he believes it is not all it is promised to be.
  • Springfield is the second poorest town in the state, in terms of per capita income, but has the highest tax rate. How does what we get from the CPA compare with what we actually need?
  • What does the CPA get us?
  • One component is affordable housing.   Springfield has affordable housing. The per capita housing cost is the second lowest in the state. Adding money for affordable housing is not needed.
  • The second component is parks. Springfield has many parks and good equipment in his opinion, but the real problem with our parks is that we lack staff. CPA does not allow the use of funds for staffing costs.
  • The third component is historical funding. Mr Nikolai believes this current push behind getting the CPA passed by the individuals who are promoting it—is the City bell tower project, which will cost $19 million dollars. A committee was assembled in 2014 to raise half of the cost through donations, with the caveat that the City would match half the amount. So far only $14,000 has been raised. He believes that these individuals see the CPA as the source of funding for the City to use for the bell tower.
  • Mr Nikolai believes that Springfield needs things that are far more critical, and that in the context of 2016 Springfield this is not an appropriate tax for the citizens of Springfield to take on.
  • PRESIDENT’S REPORT (Walter Kroll)
  • Pres Walter K praised the work done by the Beautification Committee with the Springfield College volunteers and others in painting the dry bridge on St James Avenue.
  • Reported on the Neighborhood President’s Dinner sponsored by the City, which he and Vice Pres Bryan M attended. City departments gave an overview of projects going on in the city, including the progress on the casino, Union Station, Stearns Square, and the railroad car manufacturing company
  • Vice-Pres Bryan reported on downtown plans that were shared at the President’s dinner which include bicycle rental kiosks integrated with points of interest and maps---visitors can cycle from point to point. Also discussed were call boxes that visitors can utilize to get information or assistance.
  • SECRETARY’S REPORT: (Synthia Scott-Mitchell/absent; Damian Phillips, Asst Sec/Clerk presenting)

  • Asst Sec/Clerk Damian P submitted the minutes of the 9/13/16 neighborhood meeting for review and acceptance.
  • Rep Elizabeth O corrected the motion to accept the minutes in the Secretary’s report—should be ES seconded the motion, not EO.
  • MOTION: (BM moved) to accept as presented; (ES seconded); (WK call for discussion);
  • Rep Lorenzo G said that he believed the motion made by Rep Art Jones during the discussion of whether to audit the books was for a discussion to take place in executive session—not by the executive board as stated in the minutes. A discussion about what the motion was for resulted in the following motion:(WK call for discussion); [vote not completed]
  • MOTION: (BS moved) to table the secretary’s report until such time as we have Mr Jones present;(EO seconded);
  • Rep Damian P asked about whether the executive board meeting minutes from 9/27/16 were also being tabled. Agreement to go ahead and accept them.Motion unanimous.
  • MOTION: (BS moved) to accept the executive board meeting minutes; (EO seconded); (WK called the question)l
  • TREASURER’S REPORT: (Elizabeth Stevens)
  • Treas Elizabeth S distributed a financial report for September. The beginning balance for the month was MOTION: (EO moved) to accept the treasurer’s report as presented. (BS seconded); (WK called the question)l
  • (WK called for discussion);
  • $ 3,044.79, with a current balance of $2,386.72. She will be submitting a first quarter reimbursement request to the City for CDBG funds next week. Todd O asked what the insurance cost listed in the report covered, and was told that it was for liability insurance.
  • Rep Giselle V asked if any grant funds received could be included on the budget report in the future. She was told that those amounts are included when they are received.
  • (WK called the question); Motion unanimous.
NEW BUSINESS—Open to the Floor
  • Rep Lorenzo G brought forward the subject of public safety in the Bergen Circle area, and recounted problems occurring there. Reported that a “shot spotter” in the area had malfunctioned and sent police to the wrong area during a recent incident where multiple shots were fired. He thought this malfunction needed to be looked into. He also felt that the police response was weak and unacceptable, and that that they appeared to be disinterested in pursuing the incident.
  • Rep Ben S agreed that there has been a perceivable increase in shootings in the area, and engaged the rest of the Board in a discussion about what can and should be done in order to raise the visibility of the problems which have been going on for years. Discussion resulted in agreement that any successful efforts need to cooperatively engage the residents of Bergen Circle apartments, building owners, management and security, C-3 policing initiatives, the City and Police.
  • MOTION: (BS moved) that the subject of Bergen Circle and the violence in the area be put on the next agenda for discussion and we invite all potential and impactful parties; (GV seconded); (WK called for discussion):
  • Rep Damian P asked who that would be. Agreement that it should include the property manager and the owner, the Mayor’s department, the police department, and C-3 policing; the City department of housing, which would include code enforcement. Also HUD as it relates to the section 8 components of managing the property, and/or any low interest loans that may be subsidizing the property. 
  • (WK called the question); Motion unanimous.
  • Community Preservation Act—Vote on EndorsementMOTION: (EO moved) that we vote to endorse the CPA and send a letter to whomever appropriate to demonstrate our support; (ES seconded); (WK called for discussion); (WK called the question); Motion unanimous.
  • The Springfield Committee Advocating for the CPA requested an endorsement at the September meeting. Pres Walter K presented the options as follows: Board may vote to endorse, not to vote on the question, or to vote against it.
  • Dover Reform Request to City Council—Follow-upMOTION: (EO moved) that we form an ad hoc committee to reform the Dover amendment, to be co-chaired by Ben and Walter, and that they will solicit other committee members including offering an invitation to Ed and Roberta; (BM seconded); (WK called for discussion); (WK called the question); Motion unanimous.
  • Pres Walter K reporting that letter composed by him and Ben S was sent to state legislators, mayor, and city councilors. So far, only State Rep Carlos Gonzalez has responded to the Council. Walter observed that In order to push this forward, the Board needs to do more than send a letter. For instance, the next step may be to go to City Council speak-out, which Walter said he was willing to do. He recommended forming an ad hoc committee to follow it through until the local and state representatives are actually working on it. Rep Ben S was asked to chair the committee. David G
  • Decision on revising Good Neighbor Committee
  • Previous proposal to create a combined Good Neighbor/Community Engagement Committee, with Reps Elizabeth O and Giselle V co-chairing must be voted on by the Board in order to be formed.
  • MOTION: (BS moved) that the Good Neighbor/Community Engagement committee be created; (BM seconded); (WK called for discussion); (WK called the question); Motion unanimous.
  • Elizabeth O declined co-chairing the committee.
  • MOTION: (BS moved) to recommend Rep Giselle V be appointed by Walter to chair the committee; (BM seconded); [No vote on motion]
  • Walter agreed to the appointment.

MOTION: (BM moved) to adjourn; (TE seconded); (WK called the question); Motion unanimous.


Submitted for approval by Elizabeth Lederman, Administrative Staff, 11/09/16