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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes of Meetings in 2020


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

The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for January 7, 2020

Next Meeting: Tuesday February 4, 2020  at 7:15

Present: Don Ross, Jean Fisher, Robin Dexter, Evan Weststrate, John Mordes, Emily Gelbert, Vaunita Schnell, Lauren Commando, Paul Roberts, Sheila Purdy

The January meeting focused on long and short term goals for the year ahead as well as recognition of the past year’s accomplishments and challenges.

Treasurer Report: Robin stated that the account balance was $5,603. 35. This included the donations from the holiday yearly report and mailing. A fee of$25.00 will be due to pay the state for a change in status to 501c3  non profit.The paperwork has finally gone through.

April 25 was picked as the tentative Spring cleanup day.

Outreach: In an effort to increase volunteer efforts and possible new Friends members, John, Andreae, and Robin attended the Newton Volunteer Day. A request was made for materials to use for future visibility events such as poster boards, flyers, and business cards.  3 people had expressed interest in participating in future cleanups. Although 80-90 people are on the mailing list, very few attend the monthly Friends’ meetings. Sheila suggested networking with local non-profits such as churches and schools to increase awareness of the park and possible attendance at meetings.

Suggestions were made about events which could be advertised and bring new people to learn about the park. These included: scheduled tours, concerts, art shows, exhibitions, other events that could be publicized in the Tab or Upper Falls newsletter. Emily suggested linking up with  Newton Serves, a city-wide volunteer day. Also, to reach out to people at Village Day, Earth Day, and the local Soup Social.  Other suggestions included outreach to local Scout troops for projects and birding expeditions.

“The Hemlock Gorge Project”: Wellesley College student, Laura Prebble, sent John a copy of her school paper. She had met with the Friends last year as part of her background research for the project. John summarized some of the points raised by the paper and encouraged members to read it. He tried to email the paper but it was too large a data file to reach everyone and it is protected by a password.  Laura made a number of suggestions and points including the fact that the park is a “neglected” asset because of it’s perceived inaccessibility. 

She made a number of suggestions for landscaping and upgrades to increase the ease with which people could use the park and find it more user friendly. These included trail markers which indicated dead end trails, a crosswalk to the echo platform, cleaning out the vistas and invasive plants, public art, rebuilding the Friends Bridge, placing boxes of maps at the entrance, making trash cans and picnic tables available.  She included a significant number of  thoughtful  observations and suggestions for improvement. Some of these suggestions were more workable than others, especially if they involved private property.

She is currently open to suggestions and reactions from Friends who have read the paper.

Old Business: Other ongoing business was tabled until Erica could attend a future meeting.

Respectfully Submitted,

Sheila Purdy, Secretary


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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for February 4, 2020

Next Meeting: Tuesday March 10, 2020 at 7:15

Present: Evan Weststrate, Jean Fisher, Emily Gelbert, Rena Getz, Lee Fisher, Robin Dexter, Sheila Purdy

Administrative Business: As John Mordes could not be present, Evan Weststrate chaired the meeting in his absence. The meeting for March will be rescheduled for 3/10 because of the local election. Carol Stapleton will need to be notified of the change. Robin presented an update on dues and tax filings. The IRS filings are currently up to date. The response to the method of collecting dues and donations gave a mixed result. Some Friends wanted to continue the mailings, while others preferred an online option. There was no overriding consensus. The issue of changing the regular meeting day was raised as the city council met at the same time, and councilors were not available to attend Friends’ meetings as well. It was decided to leave the current schedule unchanged for the present.

Recruiting New Members: The group discussed the materials to be used for outreach events. Evan is helping with this effort to redesign business cards and posters. Rena has used a graphic designer who might be able to assist the Friends to prepare for outreach events. Proposed events included the March Soup Social and Village Day in the Fall. Emily volunteered to help with outreach at these events. Lee suggested a free tour of the Gorge to be scheduled after Village Day to familiarized residents with its attractions, history, and charm. The tour will be restricted to Friends and potential new members. Non-members would be charged a fee. Visibility materials need to be ready for distribution at f the March Soup Social. Sheila is helping to coordinate with Tzu Chi. No one is currently connected with Mary Immaculate to act as liaison. A revised map could be printed including some newly designated sites such as Reservoir Hill. This map could show new trails and be ready for distribution soon.

Projects: Rena said that there are 3 boxes of documents from Brian’s estate that need to be stored. Evan offered to digitize them. Erica was not present, so the roof project could not be updated. Rena pointed out that Wellesley was building an extensive housing and office project on Route 9 that may affect the park indirectly.  

A list of projects -summarized by John in the agenda-was addressed by the group. There were a large number of small and large projects. Some of these were more long term and extensive.

 

Current concerns discussed included:

1.    Invasive plants, especially poison ivy. Evan had been investigating goatscaping as a solution. This could also be used to clear vista sightlines . 

2.    The Friends Bridge could be made more rustic to recreate the ambience of the earlier bridge. Replacing the bridge would be too large a project at this time.

3.     According to Lara Prebble, the Echo Platform is not safe and needs to be more readily visible. The stairway to the platform is also unsafe. An organization, the Student Conservation Association, has been used in the past to help with projects. Erica needs to be consulted about the downed tree and resulting safety hazards.

4.    4. Lee suggested that some volunteers spruce up the painted signs before spring cleanup day scheduled for the last Saturday in April.

Wheelchair accessibility and working with private property owners were not addressed at this time.

Respectfully Submitted,

Sheila Purdy, Secretary ry


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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for March 10, 2020

Next Meeting: Tuesday April 7, 2020 at 7:15. This will be a distance Zoom meeting.

Present: Bill Humphrey, Maureen Riley-Meagher, John Mordes, Besty Hewitt, Erica Aubin, Emily Gelbart, Tom O’Connor, Robin Dexter, Evan Weststrate, Vaunita Schnell, Don Ross, Sheila Purdy

 Spring Cleanup: The spring cleanup is scheduled for 4/25. Maureen said that Newton Serves is helping with invasive plant removal for their group. John is maintaining the mailing list and trying to keep it free of spam. Evan has been looking into “Goats to Go” as a method of controlling invasives. They were used successfully in Middlesex Fells.

 Stone Barn: Ruth Balser is wondering if we need more than the allotted $50,000 for the barn roof. Estimates have come in for $70,000-$80,000 for a roof of cedar shingles. Friends discussed possibly contributing funds to the roofing project. Friends are restricted to DCR contractors and cannot compare to outside providers.  Erica stated that the state needs to vet all contractors that provide service to DCR parks. Andreae and Ruth are working on the sidewalk project. Betsy stated that there has been considerable progress. Erica is optimistic that the project will be completed soon. A $50,000 grant has also been provide to the Friends of Quinobequin. Because these grants have time limits, Erica is monitoring the process.

 Artifacts: Vaunita is in touch with Brian’s cousin to retrieve any relevant historical material from Brian’s House. Rena, and Bob Burke are also helping with this. Vaunita was trying to trace some of the artifacts from the barn that were stored with Rob McArthur from DCR during the earlier renovation. These may be at Elm Bank or elsewhere. She has identified some stencils that were part of the industrial history of the barn.  The archivist from DCR has written a letter to John.

Outreach: A soup social has been scheduled for 3/21 at the Emerson. Emily has offered to provide the outreach connection at the event. Evan has prepared business cards and a display to be set up. Sheila is maintaining contact with Tzu Chi, and John has connected with Upper Falls Newsletter.

 Administrative Business: Robin said there were no changes to the finances at present. Pertinent website links could be provided in upcoming minutes to connect Friends to relevant organizations and projects.

 Bridge Railings: Lee was not present. An update on this project will be available at a future time.

 Other Business: Sheila suggested that Lara Prebble be invited to a future meeting to follow up on the suggestion in her paper. It would be convenient if Friends could access the report prior to the meeting since it was not available to everyone online.

Respectfully Submitted,

Sheila Purdy, Secretary 


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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for April 7, 2020

Next Meeting: Tuesday May 5, 2020 at 7:15

Present online: John Mordes, Rena Getz, Bob Burke, Robin Dexter, Betsy Hewitt, Lee Fisher, Jean Fisher, Evan Weststrate, Sheila Purdy

Administrative Business: The New P.O. Box has been renewed for a year. John, Robin, and Evan are working on establishing a working Paypal link on the website, and John is working on updating the website. The corona virus pandemic has necessitated more online activity including the monthly meetings. This was the first online meeting. John is looking into getting password protection for future meetings to avoid unwelcome interference. There are now two informal members lists: one for general members and the other for people only interested in organized cleanups.

Outreach: Business cards have been printed but not picked up yet due to the lockdown. Poster boards are being constructed but potential visibility events have been cancelled because of the pandemic. This includes the soup social and possible future events. The park is more heavily used because of the quarantine restrictions. Outdoor activities are more popular. Evan is posting maps to let people know more about the park and to reference The Friends.

Historical Activities: Rena is continuing to follow artifacts in Brian’s estate which is getting more difficult over time. Bob Burke is researching articles in the former Newton Graphic newspaper for background information useful for research. John is trying to establish a connection between the Friends and the Mass State Archives. Formal arrangements for storage of materials is still being planned for 2020-2031. The Massachusetts Historical Society and Historic Newton are also available to store archival materials. Locating artifacts that have been previously stored and be very challenging.  Sean Fisher at DCR has written about archiving but was “not encouraging”.

Ongoing Projects: Lee updated the group on the bridge railings. That project was refused National Landmark status which was a roadblock to that avenue of funding. The group offered suggestions for other avenues or possible appeal of the decision. Betsy has been following the Friends Bridge project and the Barn roof and reported on progress. Vince McKay wrote an email to the group about unfinished work at Hamilton Place following the reconstruction of the historic bridge there. Should DPW be notified? Graffiti continues to be a problem on Echo Bridge and MWRA needs to be notified. Lara Prebble was unable to attend the April meeting but may be present for the meeting in May to discuss the findings in her paper.

Footnote: John has included Mark Bridger’s bluegrass performance of “Echo Bridge” on the website. He played it for the group.

Respectfully Submitted,

Sheila Purdy, Secretary


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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for May 5, 2020

Next Meeting: Tuesday June 2, 2020 at 7:15

To be continued

Respectfully Submitted,

Sheila Purdy, Secretary 


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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for June and August, 2020

Next Meeting: Tuesday September 1, 2020 at 7:15

To be continued

Respectfully Submitted,

Sheila Purdy, Secretary


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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for September 1, 2020

Next Meeting: Tuesday October 6, 2020 at 7:15

To be continued.

Respectfully Submitted,

Sheila Purdy, Secretary 


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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for October 6, 2020

Next Meeting: Tuesday November 10, 2020 at 7:15

To be continued.

Respectfully Submitted,

Sheila Purdy, Secretary


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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for November 10, 2020

Next Meeting: Tuesday December x, 2020 at 7:15

To be continued.

Respectfully Submitted,

Sheila Purdy, Secretary


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The Friends of Hemlock Gorge

Minutes for December x, 2020

Next Meeting: Tuesday, January 8, 2021 at 7:15

To be continued.

Respectfully Submitted,

Sheila Purdy, Secretary 


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