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					                  WEST SIDE STEERING COMMITTEE MINUTES
                            Conte Community School
                                March 23, 2009

                               VISION STATEMENT
       Enriching the West Side: safe, clean, healthy and strong. It takes all of us.


Members Present (11)
     Churchill Cotton- Second Congregational Church
     Bob Cornwell- Community Development
     Irene Frazier- Neighborhood Representative
     Dan Bianchi- City Councilor
     Stan Wojtkowski- Westside Neighborhood Resource Center
     Lindsay Errichetto- Housatonic River Museum
     Brian Niles- Sabic Innovative Plastics
     Roopak Kandasamy- Sabic Innovative Plastics
     Judy Gitelson- Concerned Citizen
     John Pariseau- Habitat for Humanity
     Stephanie Bergman- Housatonic River Museum

Guests Present (8)
      Deanna Ruffer- Community Development
      Donna Leep- Conte Community School
      Shawn Rumery- AmeriCorps VISTA
      Amy Skubel- Conte Community School
      Arthur Jemison- GLC Development Resources
      Duncan McQueen- Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association
      Carol Maynard- Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association
      Barbara Seddon- Neighborhood Representative

Meeting Called to Order
      Churchill Cotton called the meeting to order at 6:37 pm at Conte Community
      School. Shawn Rumery was asked to keep the meeting minutes.

       Introductions were made by everybody present.

Meeting Minutes
      There was a motion to accept the minutes. The motion was seconded. The
      minutes were unanimously accepted.

Comments from the Public and/or Guest Presentation
    Carol Maynard and Duncan McQueen from the Western Massachusetts Master
    Gardener Association were present to conduct the drawing for free landscaping
    services that they are offering to a new homeowner in the neighborhood. Before
    they did so, they gave an overview of WMMGA’s work, including past work on a
       handicapped accessible garden in the Westside and ongoing work at Springside
       Park. They passed out flyers advertising a symposium they are hosting at Lee
       High School on Saturday, April 18th. With the help of Judy Gitelson, 5 names
       were selected at random. Judy and Carol committed to calling the selected names
       in order, until they find someone willing and able to accept the landscaping
       services.

       James Arthur Jamison from GLC Development Resources LLC was present to
       discuss the housing study his company and their partner, Dietz and Co Architects,
       will be undertaking in the Westside and Morningside neighborhoods. The study
       will consist of two distinct parts: 1. A Housing Needs Study, through which
       demographic trends, current housing stock, and anticipated housing needs are
       analyzed, and 2.an Action Plan that provides a framework through which the city
       and its agents can address the issues uncovered through the housing needs study.
       Work on the project has already begun and will continue through August. James
       said that the partners would be back to present to the Westside Steering
       Committee at least twice more to give updates and present conclusions.

       Donna Leep gave the Conte School Update. She began by thanking all the
       volunteers who participated in Community Reading Day and announced that the
       event continues to be successful for students and volunteers alike. Donna handed
       out copies of the Conte School Newsletter and calendar and stated that MCAS
       will be administered shortly. She also announced the arrival of a Dental Van,
       which will be at Conte Tuesday and Thursday to administer free dental care to
       students without dental insurance. Amy Skubel mentioned that the next NAC
       meeting will be held Thursday, April 2nd at 9:15. Other upcoming events include
       Family Fun Night, scheduled for March 29th at 7:30, and the Community
       Resource Fair, scheduled for May 2nd from 11-1. Churchill Cotton announced his
       intention to ensure that the Westside Initiative was represented there. Amy
       concluded the report by reminding everyone about the ongoing Box tops for
       Education and Cartridges for Kids fundraiser programs administered through the
       school.

Community Gardens Report
    The Community Gardens Report was moved forward on the agenda to
    accommodate participants who had to leave early. Shawn Rumery began the
    report by discussing the recent growth in membership of the committee. He
    announced the creation of a Pittsfield Urban Gardens Webpage
    (http://www.pittsfield.com/subpage.asp?ID=678) and Facebook group, which
    have helped bring some press interest to the local gardens: Berkshire Living is
    interested in writing an article about the gardens for their harvest issue. Shawn
    also discussed the groups intention to begin readying Westside Farm Project
    (WSF) soil for planting and the possible addition of a Morningside garden. He
    concluded by announcing the WSF’s kickoff event, tentatively scheduled for May
    9th.
       Stephanie Bergman continued the report by discussing the progress at the Conte
       School Garden. Hibbard School students will be helping to break ground at the
       garden.. Once ready for planting, Conte students will assist in the planting and
       maintenance through the school’s Connected For Success program. Stephanie is
       still waiting to hear about grant funding they’ve applied for. She concluded by
       informing the group that Berkshire Eagle Reporter Jenn Smith is interested in
       covering local environmental and community issues, and that we should be sure
       to send any future press releases regarding the Initiative to her.

Vacant Lots and Buildings Committee Report
      Stan Wojtkowski began the Vacant Lots and Buildings Committee Report by
      presenting the boundary change proposal the committee approved at their last
      meeting. The new boundary would extend to include upper West Union Street
      back to Conte School, then run north along the edge of Coolidge Playground until
      Woodbine Ave, before running east down Martin Street to King Street and back
      south to Linden Street. Stan indicated that this particular boundary was chosen
      because it added additional in-need properties to the Initiative footprint (according
      to HUD-eligible criteria), increased the potential for adding new volunteers, and
      assured that Conte School was part of the footprint. Irene Frazier voiced her
      concern that Conte School was not part of the proposed footprint, as indicated by
      the draft boundary map. Stan and Dan Bianchi ensured Irene that the intention
      was to include Conte in the footprint, and that it would clearly be included in the
      official boundary map. After some additional discussion, Dan Bianchi motioned
      to accept the proposed boundary change (including Conte School). Stan
      Wojtkowski seconded the motion. In a vote, the motion was accepted
      unanimously.

Beautification, Safety and Infrastructure Report
       Judy Gitelson began the report by asking Shawn Rumery to provide an update on
       the Onota/West Union streetlight situation. Shawn said that city engineer Matt
       Billeter was unable to attend tonight’s meeting, but that he would try to get Matt
       to the April meeting. Shawn was able to speak with the Onota Street crossing
       guard, who has served for 8 years and shares many of the same concerns as the
       Steering Committee. Shawn said that the crossing guard was directing traffic at
       the intersection, in addition to his crossing duties. Dan Bianchi mentioned the
       city’s plans to install new school zone signs at the intersection. The group
       decided to wait until they are able to meet with a city engineer before bringing the
       issue before the traffic commission.

       Judy continued the report by announcing Berkshire Bank’s intention to undertake
       a service project at the Sioga Club on Linden Street. She also talked about plans
       to continue the beautification of the Linden/Dewey parking lot and passed around
       a sign-up sheet for volunteers. Judy discussed the committee’s recommendations
       to the city for tree planting, including King Street, Orchard Street (near New
       Amsterdam) and the damaged trees on Robbins Avenue. Judy concluded by
       discussing the lighting issue on Columbus Ave outside the Westside
       Neighborhood Resource Center. She mentioned the existence of a telephone pole
       without a light almost directly in front of the building, and asked what could be
       done to get the city to put a light on the pole. Bob Cornwell suggested bringing
       up the idea to a city engineer when they are present at the next meeting. He also
       said he would learn more about the process of adding a streetlight and forward
       that information to the group.

       Amy Skubel brought up the recent shooting on Columbus Ave and discussed her
       concern that the school was not notified or locked down while the incident was
       occurring. She asked if there is anything the Steering Committee has done in the
       past to address neighborhood violence. Judy Gitelson mentioned her committees’
       efforts to try to get a beat officer at subcommittee meetings. Irene Frazier
       discussed the crime watch meetings that take place at the Christian Center.
       Lindsey Errichetto echoed Amy’s concerns and said she would be willing to take
       a more active role in addressing crime concerns in the neighborhood. Churchill
       Cotton said he would contact Chief Wynn to see if he could come to an Initiative
       meeting to discuss neighborhood policing and other recent incidents.

      In a related discussion, Stan Wojtkowski asked when elections would occur again.
      Churchill thought elections were scheduled to occur in the fall, and mentioned
      that he believed they have been delayed due to a lack of quorum requirements.
      Bob Cornwell said he would review the by-laws and get back to the committee on
      the elections issue.
      .
Youth Organization Report
      No Report

Community Development Report
    Shawn Rumery began the report by announcing his plan to organize a
    Neighborhood 5k road race that would bring runners and spectators into the
    neighborhoods and also raise money for the Initiatives. He announced a tentative
    date of June 18th and promised more information going forward. Shawn also
    mentioned the success of the Press Release and suggested utilizing this method of
    communication more in the future. Shawn concluded by announcing a Berkshire
    Young Professionals event at the New Amsterdam Apartments scheduled for
    Thursday, March 26th.

       Bob Cornwell continued the report by giving an update on the parking study that
       will be undertaken in the neighborhood over the next four months. A consultant
       hired by the city will be performing an analysis of parking needs and then
       providing recommendations to the city on how to address those needs. The
       consultant will address the Steering Committee twice, with the first meeting
       coming in May or June. Bob also discussed potential demolition sites at 157
       Francis, 44 Daniels, and 166 Dewey. The properties will be boarded up until a
       demolition order is issued.
Old Business
      No Old Business

New Business
     No New Business

Next Meeting
      The next meeting will be held Monday, April 27th, at 6:30 PM at Conte
      Community School.

Adjournment
      A motion to adjourn was made by Irene Frazier and seconded by Stan
      Wojtkowski. The meeting was adjourned at 8:45 PM

				
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