Deering Center Neighborhood Center
September 14, 2009
Naomi Mermin – President
Harold Crabill – Vice President
Elizabeth Tarasevich – Treasurer
Amy Segal – Secretary
David Grant –Board Member
Pete Dufour – Board Member
Anne Haskell – State Representative
John Coyne – District 5 rep
Dan Scolnick – District 3 rep
(Dory Waxman unable to attend)
Penny Littell – Director of Portland Planning Dept
Neighbors: Carol Jean,Becky McKinnon, Anne Weigel, John Kwoka, John Lggkg, Ray Swenton, Mikki Little, Eric Reburn, Allison Kenway, Kim Kenway, Lise Wagner, Jean Rank, Katie Small, Denis Noonan
Naomi gave a brief introduction and history of the association. Each person in attendance introduced themselves. Naomi stated that the association was now registered with the state as a non-profit as of May 09 and that we had submitted our 501(c)(3) application to IRS and expected receiving official non-profit status by the end of the year. She outlined the dues structure and asked each person to fill out the form if they wanted to be a voting member. The Bylaws will be posted on the web site. She explained that there are currently 7 members of the Board but the Bylaws allow up to 12. We would like to have 3 more members in 2010. Harold explained the benefits of having a larger Board with staggered terms so the Board could be sustained.
Central Square Church
Naomi read a letter addressed to her from Michael Johnson, Chairperson of the Church Council regarding the current status of the Central Square Church. It is likely that the church will close soon after the end of the year. Anne Haskell explained the process the church is now going through to wind down and accepted the collective condolences from the group. The church may be sold, the future of the structure is uncertain but the hope is that it will remain a corner stone of the Deering Center community as it has been for 100 years.
Traffic and Safety
Naomi informed the group of the successful grant awarded to the City of Portland from the Safe Routes to School program, administered by Maine DOT. The application was submitted by DCNA to MDOT three years ago. The City Council will vote whether to accept the funds at their next September Council Meeting. If accepted, the funds will be used to build a new sidewalk on Leland Street from West Concord Street to Pleasant Street – where there is no sidewalk now and to extend/build a sidewalk along the Deering Center parking lot to a new crosswalk across from the Longfellow playground access path. Construction will probably begin in spring 2010.
Katie Small spoke about her efforts a year ago to collect signatures regarding traffic issues on Ludlow Street. She will follow up with the Public Services. The process will include en engineering and traffic review of the street and an assessment of the issues. Naomi added that Mike Bobinsky, the Director of Public Services has the street ‘on his radar’ and said it may need a combination of traffic calming and greater enforcement. He suggested having a neighborhood meeting on site to discuss the issues. Naomi spoke about the requested a 4 way stop at the Jeanne/Fuller/Ludlow intersection which appears to still be on Public Works screen. Harold suggested the neighbors on Ludlow organize a calling campaign to report speeders. He proposed that the City would respond if enough calls were made. Councilor Coyne responded to questions and suggested we continue with the process and arrange for a meeting with Mike Bobinsky and the police traffic enforcement people. Councilor Skolnick added that the process to review changes to roads is more complicated than it may seem between MDOT and the City and that it takes time.
Anne Haskell informed the group that the new Police Chief would like to have a neighborhood potluck to hear from the Deering Center residents and establish a relationship with the neighborhood. The Dept approached the church and Anne asked if DCNA would help organize the event. The members present agreed to help and Harold Crabill volunteered to be the contact with Anne Haskell. The Potluck date is Saturday, October 17th. The Police Dept will help advertise in the paper (need to verify with Dept secretary), the church will put a message on the reader board, flyers will be posted in the neighborhood stores, and hopefully in the ‘Neighbors’ newspaper.
It was suggested that there be an assigned greeter at the police chief potluck event to get additional neighbor’s contact information and hopefully expand the association membership and awareness. The web site information was discussed.
Lise Wagner discussed the recent burglaries in the neighborhood and made a pitch for really knowing your neighbors and for speaking up when strangers are seen walking around someone’s property. She was able to provide information about a suspect after a Brentwood break-in that eventually lead to the arrest of the individual responsible.
Elizabeth gave an overview of grant applications submitted and spoke briefly about the ability to apply for more with the 501(c) (3) application submitted. (Thank you to Elizabeth and Pete Dufour for preparing the application!)
Carol and Dennis have expressed an interest in having a plant exchange on site which could coincide with a thank BBQ for Roccy Risbara. Columbus Day weekend was proposed.
Amy Segal gave a brief overview of the work being done to prepare the Site Plan application. The City is working on a boundary and topographic survey to be used by DCNA for the application. Penny Littell reviewed the costs for permitting including the noticing fee of approximately $200, the Stormwater Permit review of $250 and the Historic Preservation review of $50. The City policy is to waive the $400 application fee for neighborhood organizations. She said that the more complete the application is, the lower the review costs will be. The City engineering staff will review the application instead of sending it out for peer review.
Anne Weigel, an abutter to the garden, asked about the review process and how abutters concerns would be conveyed to the Planning Staff. This application will be reviewed by Planning staff not the Planning Board. Penny said that the application will be available to be reviewed at the Planning office and that anyone could make an appt with planning staff to review. Comments in the forms of letters (and emails) can be sent to City Planning staff.
Ray Swenton, a garden abutter, expressed a concern that the drainage issues be dealt with properly and that a buffer be reestablished.
Jean Rank asked if DCNA knew about the amount of work that was to be done. Naomi explained that a description of the proposed work was submitted to the City prior to receiving the lease for the parcel.
Several abutters felt that they were not properly notified about the extent of the work already completed and/or didn’t fully understand the work proposed as shown on the flyers they received.
There were questions about the process and why a Site Plan hadn’t been submitted prior. Penny explained that there were miscommunications and or misunderstandings about the level of reviewed required for the garden. None of the City’s community gardens have been developed by associations, none of the other gardens required site plan review. DCNA met with all the groups they were asked to meet with in the past two years prior to obtaining their lease in June. The Planning Dept put a ‘stop-work’ order on the project in late June and has instructed DCNA to obtain a site plan permit before any additional work can continue. DCNA is preparing the application.
There was further discussion about the existing drainage issues along Hamblet and Ludlow and how the best solutions would come from a comprehensive review of the area with cooperation from all the lot owners.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:38pm.
Meeting minutes submitted by Amy Segal on 9/14/09