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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes of Meetings in 2019


January February March
April May June
July: No Meeting August: Picnic Meeting September
October November December

The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for January 8, 2019

Next Meeting: Tuesday February 5, 2019  at 7:15

Present were Ellen Katz, Vaunita Schnell, Sheila Purdy, Robin Dexter, Evan Westrate, John Mordes, Lee Fisher, and Jean Fisher.

Brian did not attend. (It later turned out that he was unable to attend due to another commitment to an ill friend.) Perhaps because of this, discussion turned initially to the issue of the dues that had been mailed to Brian but not yet deposited because Robin has not yet received them. We also discussed keeping better records of who is supporting our work. This was done by Dr. John for about a decade, but he stopped in 2010 becuase there was no interest at the time in the reports. Sheila Purdy was also concerned about keeping track of the small number of core members who regularly or semi-regularly attend our meetings, and she has started to make the compilation. Dr. John explained that there is an Access database of active and former members that is the basis for the mailing lists and was in the past used to record dues. This is separate from the Outlook distribution list that is used for our regular email notices, now that the minutes of meetings (recorded by Hannah Sherman until her death) are no longer mailed out. Dr. John promised to provide Robin with an Excel spreadsheet with all the membership data, and she and Sheila will use this for dues recording and maintaining the core membership list. Ellen pointed out that she is on the email list but not a recipient of the annual mailing. Dr. John explained that that was likely due to not having her membership paperwork passed along. (That has now been rectified.) We all expressed concern about not getting members' checks cashed in a timely way. In addition, Robin pointed out that Brian needs to go to the bank with her to update the signature cards so that she can process expenses and reimbursements. We will have a stricter accounting of expenses going forward.

It was mentioned that concern in the past over our lack of official 501 c(3) status as a tax-exempt organization has impeded efforts to implement an online dues paying option. Jean Fisher mentioned that the Upper Falls Council has renewed its own status recently, and she, who is a member, will find out if we can normalize or 501 c(3) status using the 'umbrella' of the Council as in the past we used C.A.N.E.P.I. (the Coordinating Association of New England Parks, Inc., no longer an option for us).

As a result of this discussion, it was agreed that the Friends' would now rent a post office box for all future mail and dues receipts. We will also start discussions about having a more robust panel of officers and chain of responisbilities. Dr. John expressed again a hope that he might get some skilled help to redesign and modernize the website.

Betsy Hewitt had notified us 10 days ago that the stairway from Ellis Street up to Echo Bridge was closed. It turned out that a plank had given way, but not it has been repaired and and the stairway is open. The Upper Falls Area Council was on top of this story and sent along these pictures.

Echo Bridge Stair Repair

Councilor Andreae Down was also looking into the stairway issue after learning of it from Dr. John. She sent regrets that she could not attend our meeting due to illness.

We set the date for the Spring Cleanupup as Saturday, April 27. As usual, this is the day before the Run of the Charles.

Lee Fisher gave us an update on his initiative to replace the Echo Bridge railings with an historically appropriate replacement. (The saga of the railings can be found in the Archives on this website. You can visit the project website at www.echobridgerailings.com) Lee reported that we lost our bid to get Community Preservation funds from either Newton or Needham. That and the delay it cause led the MWRA to install the new, completed internal (to the original) railing that you see today. That project used up $250,000 that had previously been appropriated for railings and that we hoped would be used for restoration of the originals. As a result of all of this, the perceived urgency to fix the railings has diminished. The Echo Bridge committee has met to deal with this and plans to seek federal funding seed money for the restoration and then go back to the Newton and Needham for Community Preservation funding. The key to doing this is the "Save America’s Treasures Program". The the program requires that a candidate historical property  has to be deemed to be "nationally" significant. The Registry of Historic Places has local, state, and national designations. Echo Bridge at this time has "state" significance. Upping the level may be difficult, as Echo Bridge is neither the oldest nor longest bridge of its type in the US. However, Lee will be working with the MWRA to find the original plans and the central role of the bridge in creation of a stable water supply for Boston.

The last issue we discussed was a followup to a meeting that was held on the need to improve the safety and environmental quality of the section of Quinobequin Road just downstream from Hemlock Gorge. The participants in that meeting included FoHG member Bob Ellertsen who forward to us the letter that is below. Ellen Katz, who is now a member of the Newton Conservation Commission, reported that the Commission is aware of the issues described below and is actively seeking to implement the stated recommendations.

We agreed that all future meetings would start at 7:15 (as in the past) rather than 7:30.

The meeting adjourned at 21:00

Respectfully Submitted,

John Mordes, Interim Secretary


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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for February 5, 2019

Next Meeting: Tuesday March 5, 2019 at 7:15.

Present were Ellen Katz, Evan Westrate, Jean Fisher, Robin Dexter, Sheila Purdy, Vaunita Schnell, and John Mordes

Robin and Sheila both reported that they have spoken with Brian who is well, but preoccupied with caring for a very ill friend. Robin reported to us that Brian has given her all the receipts from the December appeal for dues, and we have an additional $610 to put towards our work in 2019. Robin will provide a detailed accounting at our next meeting. We all agreed to move the Friends' checking account to The Village Bank which as supported us, especially the clianups, in the past. We also agreed to move forward with obtaining a P.O. Box for the Friends to prevent any future issues with missing paperwork.

Evan and JPM reported that the fallen trees in the Reservation and across the trail along Quinobequin Road have been taken care of by Erica's teams.

The issue of cutting trees by the Newton Library for placing solar panels has been settled. (Brian had sent out a flyer about this.) No trees will be cut down.

Jean updated us on the latest concerning the Echo Bridge Railings. Barbar Kurze in the Newton Planning Departmen has interviewed two companies that are applying for a contract to do research on chaning the status of Echo Bridge from a stat historic site to a national one. This contract is being funded through a $25,000 state appropriation that was made possible by the efforts of Ruth Balser.

There has been no news on the Stone Buoilding Roof. We agreed that this is an important matter of historic preservation and that the Friends will make the necessary repairs our highest priority project for public/private funding in 2019.

Ellen reviewed plans that are in progress for the iverside Greenway in the Upper Falls.

Several people lamented the small number of historic tours and other events being held these days in the Reservation. The signage issues were also brough up. Ellen suggests that Historic Newton and the Newton Conservators should be approached to help with these issues. JPM mentioned that Councilor Andreae Downs will try to attend the March meeting and perhaps help us address these issues.

We adjourned at 8:50 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted,

John Mordes, Interim Secretary


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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for March 5, 2019

Next Meeting: Tuesday April 2, 2019 at 7:15

Present were Friends Members Vaunita Schnell, Jerry Riley, Evan Westrate, Paul Roberts, Robin Dexter, Sheila Purdy, Bob Burke, and John Mordes. In addition we were pleased to welcome Kathryn Winters, President of the Waban Area Council, Maureen Reilly-Meagher of the Friends of the Quinobequin, and City Councilor Andreae Downs.

John started the meeting with introductions and explained that at a recent meeting of the Waban Area Council, Kathryn had asked for an update on our activities and suggested that we and the Waban groups explore possible coordination and collaboration. As a result Kathryn and Maureen graciously agreed to attend this meeting.

Everyone present was aware that Friends’ President Brian Yates has been seriously ill. We all asked Bob Burke, who is in contact with Brian’s family, to convey our best wishes and to keep us all apprised of his hospital course.

Because the Friends’ mailing address has been Brian’s home for many years, we followed up on a proposal made last month to rent a P.O. Box for us and we voted unanimously to do so. We also raised again the issue of gaining official 5013c status. In February Jean had suggested that the Upper Falls CAC might all us to share their 5013c status, but we learned tonight that their status has lapsed. It was suggested that we reach out to the Newton Conservation Commission. Friends member Ellen Katz is a member of the NCC and John will reach out to explore this possibility.

We had an update on the result sf our 2019 dues appeal and we have raised a little more than $600, raising our bank balance to around $6,000. Our current bank, Citizens, has been a little hard for us to deal with as the only approved signatures are those of Brian and our former treasurer, Jim Purdy. We voted to ask Robin to set up a Friends’ account at our local Village Bank and have Jim write a closeout check to move the account.

Jean Fisher presented an update on the Echo Bridge Railings initiative, which she and her husband Lee have spearheaded. She told us that the bridge railings had been written up in the Boston Globe as on of 12 very endangered historic sites in the Commonwealth. She also reported that, thanks to the $25,000 appropriated through the efforts of Ruth Balser, consultants have been hired to initiate the process of securing the national historic status that will be necessary to secure major funding for the restoration. Jean also reviewed for the group the Hemlock Gorge Reservation signage issues that Lee has raised at previous meetings.

This being the first of our meetings that Maureen has attended, she reviewed for us some of the initiatives that that been promoted by the Friends of the Quinobequin including traffic calming, trail bridge construction, encouraging the use of the parkland for children’s activities, and clean-ups. We reviewed for her the successful large scale projects that we had worked on with Site Supervisor Erica Aubin including the windows and the new railings at the Stone Building and the Ellis Street parking lot. Vaunita reviewed the history of the restoration of the Stone Building in the late 1980s and the process by which the Friends got the parking lot constructed. We also reviewed the efforts of the DCR and Erica regarding removal of fallen trees and reconstruction of the steps on the steep part of the trail leading up from the river.

We also discussed making an effort to get the footbridge that is needed on the Quinobequin trail near to its Route 9 end. JPM was also asked if he could reach out to Emily Norton, CRWA councilor, in regard to this and some of the other issues on which we are working.

We closed with expressions of hope that the Hemlock Gorge and Waban collaboration would continue.

 

ADDENDUM

I spoke with Erica later in the week. A few things to pass along:

She is now, in fact, the Site Supervisor for the Quinobequin parkland.

She will be providing materials and support for the spring HG clean-up. Perhaps we can coordinate with the Friends of the Quinobequin. We have a lunch for volunteers at noon and it would be a good opportunity for the two groups to get together.

She will also begin the process of helping us get the Quinobequin trail footbridge project going. I asked if she could start by getting us information on what we should do.

There was no news about the Stone Building Roof.

She got my message and photo and will get to the fallen tree on the Q trail as soon as the snow is gone.

I also heard from Carol Stapleton who, it turns out, has been making sure we have access to the community center whenever we have a meeting. We owe her our thanks.

 .

Respectfully Submitted,

John Mordes, Interim Secretary


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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for April 2, 2019

Next Meeting: Tuesday May 7, 2019 at 7:15

 

Present: Jean Fisher, Rena Getz, Evan Weststrate, Bob Burke, Jay Werb, Ellen Katz, John Mordes, Maureen Meagher, Vaunita Schnell,

Paul Roberts, Nina Koch, Andreae Downs, Robin Dexter, Sheila Purdy

 The agenda for this meeting was extensive due to the recent death of  the President of the Friends and its founder, Brian Yates.

 Treasurer’s Report: Robin stated that the Friends’ account at Citizens Bank was now closed. A new account was opened at the Village Bank. John said there is now a federal ID# and the Friends can apply to the state as a charity. John and Robin are both signers on the account. A post office box is now the new mailing address for the organization: P.O. Box #62; Waban, MA 02468

Brian Yates Memorial: Plans are underway with DCR to provide granite for a memorial bench and will transport it to the engraver.

Other ideas were also offered: Little Library, Naming the stone barn for Brian, Naming a square and garden for Brian in the neighborhood.

 New Officers: In order to meet requirements to become a nonprofit charity, officers were elected to serve one year. The following were nominated and approved by the organization.

 President: John Mordes

Vice President: Evan Weststrate

Treasurer: Robin Dexter

Secretary: Sheila Purdy

A formal Board of Directors was also elected: John Mordes, Evan Weststrate, Robin Dexter, Rena Getz, Bob Burke, Vaunita Schnell, and Andreae Downs

The Board of Directors meets 1x per year in December.

A voice vote approved spending $100.00 to begin the process of becoming a 501c3  tax deductible charity. Paperwork needs to be submitted on both a state and federal level.  John Mordes is the registered agent to receive documents.

 Spring Cleanup: The Spring Cleanup has been scheduled for April 27 rain or shine. Registration will be at Hamilton Place from 9-10 am.

Jean Fisher and Bob Burke will help with publicity. Seana Gaherin will provide a lunch at the stone barn.                                                          

 Other Business: Several members of the Friends of Hemlock Gorge met with the Friends of Quinobequin to determine the most effective way of coordinating activities.

 The stone barn needs new cedar shingles. State Rep. Ruth Balser  has offered to help with this effort.

 There has been no recent progress on the signage project.

Respectfully Submitted,

Sheila Purdy, Secretary


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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for May 7, 2019

Next Meeting: Tuesday June 4, 2019 at 7:39

Present: Erica Aubin DCR, Bill Humphrey, Paul Roberts, Lee Fisher, Jean Fisher, John Mordes, Rena Getz, Evan Weststrate, Robin Dexter, Vaunita Schnell, Sheila Purdy

 This month’s agenda reflected the updated status of a number of significant issues that were being addressed by the The Friends following the death of Brian Yates.

 Treasurer’s Report: The current balance in Village Bank is $5,856.79. There were 7 donations in memory of Brian which totaling just under $1,000. The group discussed ways to acknowledge these donations with some type of formal recognition, either a card or by email. The Friends’ email box is accessible by Evan and Robin, The P.O. Box by John and Robin. The keys to the barn are held by John and Evan.

 Administrative Business:  Applications for state and federal tax exempt status have been successfully filed with the attendant fees: $100.00 for the state and $275.00 for the federal 501c3.

Brian Yeats Memorial: DCR has the granite for the bench and the group voted on the inscription. The idea for a bronze plaque was declined at this time. Placement of the bench was discussed. 17 initial sites were identified, and a subgroup of Friends will reduce the number to 5. These will be brought back at a future meeting for the final decision.

 Stone Barn Roof Project: Ruth Balser has approved an earmark of $50,000 for re-shingling the barn with cedar, and the money will flow to DCR for the entire project. Erica will facilitate the funding through Senate approval. It is expected to be a long process. Vaunita had written to Ruth Balser emphasizing the history of the barn. Artifacts from the barn were discovered during the Spring Cleanup. Erica will deliver them to the DCR archeologist.

 Spring Cleanup Report: This year’s Spring Cleanup was declared a “tremendous success” with 42 registered volunteers. These included “A huge crowd” from Wellesley College. Jean Fisher and Bob Burke helped with publicity. Seana Gaherin provided lunch.

 Signage Project: Erica will submit new sign requests to the DCR Sign Shop. This will insure that there is uniformity and coordination with Quinobequin Parkland. However, specific signage for Echo Bridge is handled by MWRA. The pathway to the Bridge is not easy to find for visitors to the area.  Rena Getz offered to be the liaison to the friends of Quinobequin. Erica will also help to coordinate efforts.

 Bridge Railing Project: Lee is still working on national recognition of the Echo Bridge and Hemlock Gorge and reminded the group that it pledged $5,000 toward restoring the original railings. National recognition could make it possible to access federal funds.

 Other Business: Lee is organizing an informal swim in the Charles River. No date specified.

 Respectfully Submitted,

Sheila Purdy, Secretary


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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for June 4 and August 6, 2019

Next Meeting: Tuesday September 20, 2019at 7:15

To be continued

Respectfully Submitted,

Sheila Purdy, Secretary 


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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for September 10, 2019

Next Meeting: Tuesday October 1, 2019at 7:15

To be continued.

Respectfully Submitted,

Sheila Purdy, Secretary


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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for October 1, 2019

Next Meeting: Tuesday November 3, 2019at 7:15

To be continued.

Respectfully Submitted,

Sheila Purdy, Secretary


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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for November 3, 2019

Next Meeting: Tuesday December 3, 2019at 7:15

To be continued.

Respectfully Submitted,

Sheila Purdy, Secretary 


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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for December 3, 2019

Next Meeting: Tuesday, January 7, 2020 at 7:15

To be continued.

Respectfully Submitted,

Sheila Purdy, Secretary


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