Meeting Minutes: January 9, 2024

Attendees: Amy Kahn, Ben Kahn, Donald Ross, Evan Weststrate, Jean Fisher, John Mordes, Lara Prebble, Rena Getz, Paul Roberts, Robin Dexter

Congratulations, Rena, on starting your new position!

Debate: 7 v. 7:15. The mystery is solved! We start at 7:15, but John starts the Zoom at 7.

Item 1: Banners for Cleanups

Paul: Need a design from Evan for the posters.

John: I’ll do the banner design and will support Evan in designing the poster.

Item 2: Scout Projects

John received sponsorship agreement for Cub Scouts, no Boy Scouts yet. Paul signed both agreements. Still waiting on Erica on progress on the box steps. No progress on graffiti cleanup yet.

Item 3: Financial Report

Robin: Due to snowstorm, didn’t get to PO box to see any mail just yet. Right now we have $7,771.04. Took in $160 in donations in December.

John: in 2023, we didn’t spend much. But we didn’t receive much either. It’s been a difficult year. Don’t want to press people for donations when we don’t have a plan.

Rena: If there is something that comes up, maybe a specific fundraising appeal, we could do that.

John: For example, if we wanted to put down a nice floor in the stone building, we could do a fundraiser for that. We got the benches, railings, windows done. Nothing to do until the state finishes their projects. No immediate needs for our treasury, don’t want to press people on it. Especially since many gave a lot in 2022. Pretty content.

Ben: What were the major expenses in the past? > 300?

John: Public/private partnership for windows, replacing pipes next to stone building. Procuring supplies for repair of the railings, supplies for repainting the echo platform. Reimbursements to Emily Gelbert. Spent money for Brian Yates’s and Lysach’s benches.

Robin: Network Solutions.

John: I paid us up through 2025. Where are we now?

Ben: saw two different dates. 2025 and July 2024.

John: separate expenses: nameservice and hosting.

Amy: how much do we spend on supplies for cleanups?

John: It’s free! DCR provides them for us.

Robin: We pay for the lunch.

John: Time for a Costco run for water/napkins. A small expense coming up: $30 to renew our NGO status for the State of Massachusetts. We were set up as a 5013c 5 years ago. Federal is free and just a postcard. I would like to show someone how to file with the federal government. Form to the state more difficult. State is transitioning to online. Have to enter ending balance from last year/starting balance this year. Any volunteers?

Evan: We did it 2 years ago. Happy to volunteer.

Conclusion: Evan is going to take this on.

John: Ben and Evan have access to the Dropbox with all the information. There are some issues with connectivity online federally. Would like to transition to filing electronically online.

Evan: As long as I have all the information.

Item 4: Thanks to Karen and Chris Osborne for hosting our December meeting

John: It was one of the most successful holiday events we ever had. Wanted to say thanks on record.

Item 5: Welcome to new Board Members

Welcome to Robin, Bill, Paul, Robert, Chris , Amy, Rena, Evan, and John as our board for 2024. Welcome Lara to the Friends, and congratulations on your Master’s. We have a place for a bench, per Lara’s suggestion, but don’t know of a way to get it up there.

While we’ve mentioned that, has anyone heard from Erica? We’re still waiting for her to sign off on the box steps.

Evan: Not since this summer. Is she waiting on the Scouts?

John: the Scouts are reaching out her. They said it was fine to go ahead. They’re all set to go in the Spring. We may have some expenses with pressure treated lumber coming up.

John: Can you make it clear on the website who the officers are in 2024?

Ben: I’ll take care of it.

Item 6: Updates on the Stone Building

No updates since the last time we spoke to Ruth Balser. Rena was on the call with DCR. What did you hear?

Rena: It seems as if there were steps to the process. Hard to get a sense of their timeline. Lots of unknowns right now. To be honest, I feel disconnected.

John: 3 phases. First phase is drainage. It cracked the foundation, which needs to be fixed.

Rena: Any direct connections with them? I was able to get up content for public comment, but you know more than I do.

John: Everything they have said is in the proposal that’s on the website. Lara – take a look! It has all the historical documents. They did an in-depth history that gave me some real confidence that they will preserve the building. The only way to move things along is for me to meet with Ruth Balser. That’s how we got the Ellis Street stairs fixed.

Amy: Would it be helpful to pull Rena into the conversation with Ruth?

John: I mostly converse with her via email. I could see Rena taking Brian Yates’s place in conversing with Ruth.

Action Item for John: Send a message to Ruth and CC Rena. 

Action item for Rena: Update the group at the next meeting on this agenda item.

Item 7: Quenobequin Trail

John: Thanks to Ruth, we got the sidewalk from the stone building to Ellis Street paved. New crosswalks, new sidewalks connecting Route 9 to Quinobequin Road. Opened the pathway to the QB Trail. Went a long way to uniting the two parks. Right now the QB trail needs attention. Lots of mud, trees down. Waban Area Council owns it. Wrote to Chris about the state of the trail. Met up with Mitch, Samson the dog’s owner. He volunteered to bring out the chainsaw and get through the branches. Mentioned that the Waban Area Council should take care of it DCR should open up the trail or they should hire a crew.

We should unite the Friends and the Waban Area Council to join the efforts on the trails. Not sure how to make headway.

Rena: There’s more history here. Friends of Quenobequn is an outbranching of the area council. Samuk, on the area council, a resident in the immediate area of the park, will mention it Thursday at their meeting. They need to reinvigorate the community there. Then do the outreach to Ruth for funds. DCR has a major plan for that area but smaller projects can happen in the meantime. Best way to handle it is through the area council and have the Friends of the Quenobequin trail oversee it.

John: Friends of QB need to own this. No mission creep for Friends of Hemlock Gorge.

Jean: I agree with you on this. Lee did some chainsaw work in the Gorge, and was told by Erica not to ever do that again on DCR property. Has to be sorted out.

John: Lots of comprehensive plans for QB Road and trail, making QB trail ADA compliant. Still needs to be sorted out in the meantime. We should be able to better than that in the meantime.

Ben: There used to be two DCR representatives in this meeting. Why? Do we want them back?

John: Erica Aubin is our DCR representative. She had a predecessor who was promoted. It would be good to encourage her to join us again once she is available again.

Jean: We should see if she can come at least once or twice a year to maintain that connection

Action item for John: Contact Erica to specifically invite her to these meetings.

Item 8: Big branch blocking the path by Hamilton Place.

Action item for Amy and Ben: Take a picture of the newly downed tree and add to the list of downed trees in the park.

Item 9: The trash from the last cleanup is still there.

Action item for Rena: Reach out to Erica

Ben: Maybe we should move it to the garbage can in the Ellis Street Parking Lot.

John: That’s property of the City of Newton. That would be punting responsibility to the City of Newton. The DCR should take care of it.

Rena will reach out first.

Agenda Item 10: Restaurant Depot Membership

Ben: Restaurant Depot requires a Nonprofit status to get a membership. Cheaper than Costco. Near Needham Coca Cola bottling plant.

Item 11: Lara Prebble’s Bench

John: Lara’s thesis is on the website. Everyone should check it out so we can decide how to put in the new bench she recommended as part of her Master’s thesis.