Meeting Minutes: May 7, 2024

Attendees: Amy Kahn, Benjamin Kahn, Evan Weststrate John Mordes, Lara Preble, Paul Roberts, Robin Dexter, Sheila Purdy

1. Treasury Report

$7057 in treasury. Spent $45 on pizza and waters for the last event.

Evan needs a key to the USGS room. John will get it to him.

Some new expenses coming re: the website. John and Ben need to meet to discuss organizing billing. Discussion on how to handle paying for items/sharing debit card information for expenses that the rest of the group pays for the organization. Need to declare people authorized to pay expenses. Robin may need to become the custodian of the debit card. Ben will follow up with John to schedule a meeting.

2. Review of April Cleanup

The April Cleanup was a success! A very thorough cleanup job was done, thanks to our volunteers. Thank you to the Buddhist Temple, the Boy Scouts, and the Cub Scouts for coming out, as well as to our wonderful volunteers for making this event possible.

Most bags got picked up. Some left next to the road under the arch.

Need more information up on the kiosk next to Hamilton Place. We should put up one of the nice new posters and a map. It’s been recently repaired.

Some things that might be nice:

  • a map
  • the qr code to let people know where the online maps are
  • one of the new posters 🙂

Our next cleanup will be Saturday, October 26, 2024. Amy and Ben will add the event to the upcoming events.

3. Review of May 5 DCR Community event with Jeffrey Harris at the Stone Building

Community event was happening just as John was getting ready to leave the country. Friends worked with Rep. Ruth Balser to update the stone building. Noticed the foundation was giving way. Rep. Balser got an appropriation from the state that was originally earmarked for beautification to assess the building. Contracting company created a beautiful document reporting the historical importance, accuracy, and structural integrity of the building. Would be good to make that document available. $200,000 appropriation earmarked in state budget to do restoration of the Stone Building.

Phase 1: restore the structural integrity of the building, repoint brickwork, update foundation, modernize drainage to protect the foundation, and to restore with historical accuracy many aspects of the building, including more of the windows, protect from vandalism, and place shutters. No outdoor staircase for security reasons. Phase 2/3: further amendments to the building to make it more attractive, like landscaping. Not intended to be a meeting venue. No running water, heat, bathroom facilities. Intended to be a storage facility for FoHG and DCR.

As a part of the DCR’s project to restore the structural integrity of the building, they are required to have a community input/discussion meeting. Attended by 14 people, including John, Robin, Rep. Balser, Bill Humphrey, and Jeffrey Harris, who is overseeing the project. John sent pictures and they will go up on the website.

Important notes on this event:

  • Ruth Balser has been working overtime with DCR to make sure this gets done. Thank you Ruth!
  • This may be the oldest building for the DCR in the Commonwealth.
  • This is the last building of its kind from its era along the river.
  • Restoration will begin during the next fiscal year, which begins in July. Including the restoration of the second floor.
  • It’s clear that the DCR has been present in the Stone Building, and they have begun working. Flags are hanging inside. Tools are present. Cinderblock closet will soon be taken down.

4. Updates

  1. The Friends of Hemlock Gorge Banner
    • Paul got the banners. He can drop them off next week, or wait until June where he can wave the at the meeting. Vertical banner too big, so we’re getting smaller ones too. Scouts will be paying for additional posters. The banners are grommeted, so they can be hung. Joe will try to come up with a stand or something to hang them from to use at cleanups and at the picnic. Thank you Scouts! Thank you Evan and Paul!
  2. The FoHG Website
    • Ben interested in adding an email communication system to change the way that those get sent out. Maybe something similar to Constant Contact, allow for subscribing, unsubscribing, etc.
    • We have a Friends email box. Everyone who is an officer can send from their own accounts, but it requires a shared password right now. We could also hook into a donation system. Automates a lot of the tasks around communication and donations.
    • Ben and John to meet to transfer ownership of the website to Ben and set up email boxes. Timing is pretty flexible. Afternoons/evenings better.
    • Need access to content from the old website and make historical documents easier to find. Old documents aren’t migrated to the new site yet. Dropbox has all the content. We may be able to get a certain college student who is home for a few weeks before going off to work who could lend a hand. He can send an invoice. Rate: $20/hr.
  3. Scouting Projects
    • Box Steps are approved and have begun. Retaining walls need to be completed. Progress made during cleanup.
    • Benches – a future Eagle Scout project – could be placed near the Stone Building. We will take into account Lara Preble’s Wellesley Master’s thesis, written previous to her current employment, ideal spots for benches. Inspiration for benches also from the Children’s Garden. Paul will send pictures to the group.
      • John will connect with DCR to move the plan forward quickly. Benches will not impinge upon water quality. Simplest bench choice appropriate, especially when in the context of a meeting space. Should also be easy for the Scouts to build. Consider a table in the middle of the gathering space. May have to dig to place the benches. View from the thin platform (#2) is actively maintained by one of our members.
      • Any benches installed should acknowledge those responsible.
      • Need an engineering type drawing of the bench itself to get approval for the design, as well as a recommendation for the final spots.
      • John can follow up with Jeffrey Harris while they are on site. Will also contact Eric Hollenbeck. Would be helpful to get the spots for the benches drilled.
  4. Echo Platform Graffiti
    • Can’t get a hold of Erica or anyone in the DCR about the graffiti on the building to raise/lower the dam by Mills Falls. Some complaints received. No response yet from DCR. DCR should have the heavy equipment needed to clean it up. There is also graffiti on the echo platform. Maybe put up security cameras? Tower Hill has them. (check out Tower Hill – beautiful flowers around July 4, and now with tulips/daffodils.)
    • Debris upstream has been removed.

5. Summer Picnic Plans

Tuesday, August 6 from 5pm-dusk. In the past we’ve had a DJ or live music, supplied by Karen Osborn in the past. John will get in touch with Karen.

Evan/Amy both have big speakers. Ben will put up on the website as an upcoming event.