SARA Meeting Minutes - October 21, 2021
Updated: Apr 12
Held at 530 Douglas
Present: Gary Wark, presiding; Marty Anderson, Sharon Carlson, Fred Edison, Staci Gibson, Cynthia Whittingham
Guests: Dan Baisden, City of Kalamazoo; Tami Daniel, Eleanor Street; Drew Duncan, Douglas Avenue; Frank Rocco, Principal of Woodward School
Absent: Megan Campanile
Call to Order: The meeting was called to order at 6:00 by Wark. Introductions were made. Campanile is still in transition.
Agenda: A motion was made to approve the agenda as presented. (Whittingham/Carlson)
Minutes: The September meeting minutes were approved as presented. (Edison/Whittingham)
Mr. Rocco would like a better connection between Woodward School and the neighborhood association. He is interested in joining the board and is willing to host board meetings at Woodward School and is investigating. He has been at Woodward for sixteen years, including ten as principal.
They (Woodward School) used to have about 400 students but the number has dropped to between 230 and 250. The numbers started to drop about five years ago when the state wanted to close some schools and Woodward was targeted.
There is a negative perception of the school, the students, and the neighborhood. The school is 95-98% free/reduced lunch and with a high number of non-white students.
The school needs time from volunteers. Volunteers need to be vaccinated. It could be hanging out on the playground, reading them a story, or working on a certain skill set. They have a number of outreach activities that go beyond curriculum, including the food pantry on-site.
They also need school supplies, coats, and boots. They have a partnership with Fair Food Matters for the garden project. They have an after school program called Club Grub.
The clock tower doesn’t run, and estimates to repair it exceed $10,000. Nobody on KPS staff can do it. There was discussion on how to help with fundraising.
Part of the Woodward School building turns 100 this year. They would like to celebrate it. There are a number of ways kids and teachers could be involved. He would like to have an evening program that involves the teachers and the neighborhood. Baisden noted that a school in Indianapolis did a time capsule. It was very popular. It was very popular. It might be a neat activity. It could become a class activity.
They are not going back to the extended year. It worked well and they were barely two years in. After year two, there was a new superintendent and the pandemic hit. Woodward lost 15 or 20 families where there were older siblings and it was messy. They chose to go to a different school. It makes sense to go to a year round and Rocco would like to get back to it but it is a different issue.
They have an after school program with 20 to 30 kids. A few years back they had a partnership with Stone Church with Pastor Irving Armstrong, he was running New Genesis. You can come during the school day or after. A lot of people offer things. He rarely says no. The Global Reading Challenge is coming up. It is fourth and fifth grade and is coming up. They have two pre-K classes and go through grade 5. There was discussion on the buses and the cars.
Drew Duncan purchased his house on Douglas three years ago. He also indicated an interest in joining the board. He is concerned about some of the activity across the street in the summer. He asked about the lot on the corner. It is constantly full of litter and glass. It was suggested that we contact the owner and see about clean-up. There was discussion about the vacant, condemned house. It should be reported to code enforcement.
Approval of New Board Members
Wark recommended the appointments of Marty Anderson, Frank Rocco, and Drew Duncan who submitted applications. The board vote was unanimously approved. (Wark/Edison)
Purchases included $360 for supplies for improvements to the 530 Douglas property. Whittingham received letters about the domain listing. She gave them to Gibson who will verify that we are paid up.
Property Manager’s Report
Wark was able to get upstairs and really look at the unit. There are some studs that need to be moved and replaced. Some hardware also needs to be replaced.
The bathroom is in terrible condition. We are between $3,000 and $3,200 to fix the tub, surround, the hardware, and the drywall and studs. Deleeuw is available in two weeks. The consensus was that we go ahead and take a draw from funds at the Kalamazoo Community Foundation. Whittingham will ask about the yearly withdrawal. Wark has been working on one of the doors upstairs. He started working on the front door and still needs to put a coat of sealer. He is donating a snow blower and is looking into hiring snow removal.
530 Douglas Property Study – Edison Proposal (Resource Center and Small Meeting Venue): Edison provided some bullet points from his report and covered the financial challenges and some of the potential uses, including an old house resource center. Edison talked to Pete Eldridge in zoning and the building is zoned for a commercial office in the lower unit. He also talked to Steve Walsh from Vine. He has compiled a list of ideas of potential uses and distributed it. There was discussion on several of the items, including Art Hops, partnering with the Old House Network or other non-profits, and writing grants. This property was used as mixed-use. The assessor noted that it is classified as commercial use. Whittingham suggested that we have a needs assessment to find out what people need in the neighborhood. We have no shortage of ideas but we fall down on people willing to do the work. She is concerned about generating money and our capacity.
Newsletter – Carlson and Gibson will meet and send out a fall newsletter. Carlson get it out in the next week.
Imagine Kalamazoo/Neighborhood Plan/Contract with City – Dan Baisden is planning a joint meeting of West Main Hill and Stuart early next year. Douglas is out as far as planning goes for the foreseeable future. Edison asked about requirements for a funded position. Once we get our plan in place, there will be extra resources from the City of Kalamazoo. We will automatically qualify to receive up to $7500 if we fulfill additional requirements. Baisden noted that the plan would not start until next year if it gets adopted. The plan could focus on obtaining funding form the City of Kalamazoo. It would need to be in the city manager’s budget in the fall. Baisden reported that full time fully funded neighborhoods (Vine, Northside, Eastside, Edison) with a full time employee has a starting funding or about $45,000. The Oakwood neighborhood has a funded part-time position and receives about half of that amount.
Stuart House Update – All of the cars that were on Stuart seem to have shifted to South Street and may be operating out of that garage. It has been quiet.
Fall Activities – Gibson reached out to neighbors about a Halloween event and didn’t get any feedback. There was discussion on whether there could be activities at the school.
Crime – There have been discussions on social media about incidents in the neighborhood. Carlson will reach out to Public Safety and copy Baisden on the message about having an officer or representative at Stuart meetings.
Promoting Arts and Culture – There was discussion including news about neighborhood musicians and artists in newsletters.
The meeting concluded 8:05.
The next meeting is November 9.
The minutes were taken by Carlson.