Meeting Minutes: June 4, 2024

Attendees: Amy Kahn, Robin Dexter, Benjamin Kahn, John Mordes, Donald Ross, Rena Getz, Paul Roberts, Katherine Howard

Item 1: Treasury Report

No changes since last time we checked in. Current balance: approximately $7200.

Item 2: Changes to Website Administration

After 29 years, John is stepping down as our website administrator. New administrator: Benjamin Kahn. FoHG is a WordPress website, which allows us to change themes and make updates easily. We can also look up previous dates for events, and streamlined the styling. It’s time to transfer the debit card so that the hosting/administration bills can continue to be paid.

John sent email to Ben about posting the History of Newton Upper Falls handout on the website. We will figure out how to get it up there.

Item 3: Date for August Picnic

August picnic is now posted. No July meeting unless there is an emergency.

Tuesday, August 6 by the Stone Building. John will be there at 4:30 to set up. He will also send an email requesting volunteers to help out.

Maybe there is some way to mitigate the noise. In the future, we may be able to host the picnic in the back of the building when the benches are set up.

It used to be held at Hamilton Place. Moved to the Stone Building for a few reasons:

  1. Weather – we have a place to go if it suddenly rains
  2. Remind the community that there is a real possibility for gathering there
  3. The grill, table, chairs and our supplies are all there

Karen Osborn used to have the Hemlock Gorge Boys play for our picnics in the past. She is coming this year and has offered to provide music! She offered a string quartet, but having a DJ may be preferable due to the noise and the coordination of live music. Maybe the Hemlock Gorge Boys or Black Rose could play.

If we are going to have live music, we should invite Ruth personally so she can see the result of the work she has put in over the years.

Amy, Robin, and John will meet up after the walk is over at the Stone Building to prep for the picnic.

Item 4: Date for Fall Cleanup

Last Fall cleanup was October 28 2023. Possible date: October 26, 2024. Once the date is committed, we will let the Boy Scouts and the Buddhist Temple know and post on the website.

Item 5: Next Regular meeting is on September 3 – should we change it?

John is away Labor Day weekend (and the first 2 weeks of September!). Ben will coordinate with Evan about the new date. Proposal: move to the second Tuesday in September. (just for a one off).

Item 6: Upcoming Walk in Hemlock Gorge – June 9

Katherine Howard and John Mordes will be hosting the walk – John on history, Katherine on fauna and flora. John will consider handing out the brochure he recently sent to Ben.

John and Katherine will likely talk on the phone ahead of the event.

Item 7: Recent Tree Complaint

This has been settled. There was a recent complaint about a tree that was cut down in the park on Ellis Street. It was discovered that the tree was dead inside and was a safety hazard, and thus needed to come down. Thank you to John for reaching out to the DCR and to the complainant to clarify the issue.

Rena will circle back with Melissa to invite her to join the Friends.

Item 8: Complaints about Graffiti on the Mill Dam Building

No updates as of this moment. John followed up with DCR and the head of the Mills Falls building to solicit help during our next cleanup.

Item 9: New Liaison at the DCR, Mr. Zach Crowley

News about the DCR and its partnership with the Friends that he shared with John (e.g. the rustic benches)

At the last meeting we were discussing difficulty with getting in touch with our representative at the DCR. Kevin Hollenbeck was promoted at the DCR, but is now located in central Mass. Zachary Crowley has moved into the position as our primary contact. He is acclimating to the new position. Most recently, while discussing the rustic benches project he laid out the process for getting major projects approved. There is a backlog right now of requests, but he assured John that for more specific projects, like the benches and the box steps, that he would make a specific effort to help us out.

Though Erica continues to work at the DCR, Zachary will be filling in to help Erica move projects forward.

Item 10: Update on the Friends of Hemlock Gorge Banner

Beautiful new banners. Thank you Paul!

Item 11: Update on Scouting Projects

  1. Box steps repairs are progressing. There’s a bit more to go. Zach Crowley will try to make things like this faster.
  2. Thanks to Paul for continuing to coordinate all of the scouting efforts.

Item 12: Update on the Stone Building

No updates right now. Renovations are due to start in July. John will follow up with Jeffrey Harris and Ruth Balser to make sure that the renovation efforts don’t interfere with the picnic.

Item 13: Update on the Quinobequin Trail

John talked to Zach Crowley about the QB trail. Recommended to Rena to contact him and get him in the loop with the work with that organization to continue to support Erica.

John runs along the QB trail in the morning. Noticed a rotted bridge. He let Samoukh know, and though he had not yet heard back, he noticed that the bridge had been fixed. Thanks to the friends of the QB trail for making the repair. Please let him know that we are available to help, give feedback.

Matters Arising

Invasives are being worked on by Newton Conservators. There’s an active group that lives near Varick Road taking care of garlic mustard, and Maureen Riley will be working on cutting knotweed monthly. Considering a chemical treatment that would be faster. Katherine is a licensed herbicide applicator and is looking for permission to apply herbicide on the knotweed. She has contacted Erica to move the process forward. Katherine has been invited to report back to this group in the Fall. We can send out an announcement for the next invasives pull.

There is a long list of invasives in Hemlock Gorge. Success story – the field at the base of Hemlock Gorge on Ellis Street had an invasion of black swallowwort, which is dangerous for butterflies. it’s managed now.

No meeting in July. See you all at the picnic.