SARA Meeting Minutes - November 9, 2021
Held at Woodward School, Library
Present: Gary Wark, presiding; Marty Anderson, Sharon Carlson, Drew Duncan, Fred Edison, Frank Rocco, Cynthia Whittingham.
Guests: Dan Baisden, City of Kalamazoo; Public Safety Officer Glyn Hawkins, City of Kalamazoo; Public Safety Officer De’Monte Spann, City of Kalamazoo
Absent: Megan Campanile, Staci Gibson
Call to Order: The meeting was called to order at 6:00 by Wark. Introductions were made.
Agenda: A motion was made to approve the agenda as presented. (Edison/Anderson)
Minutes: The October meeting minutes were approved as presented. (Edison/Whittingham)
Community Policing Report
Officers De’Monte Spann and Glyn Hawkins attended and provided information on crime trends in the neighborhood and the city. There were twenty reports generated in the last month for Stuart, and our neighborhood trends on the lower end, even when the boundaries are extended slightly.
Crime statistics in the City have changed in the last year and are less specific to particular neighborhoods. They noted that vehicle break-ins are more typical on Thursday, Friday, and Saturdays, and burglaries are more common on Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday. Overall, incidents have decreased since summer.
They offered the following tips:
Don’t leave your car on when you are inside.
Use your remote start if you have one.
Don’t leave any valuables in your car.
Cell phones, computers, spare keys are especially vulnerable.
There were questions about the number of vehicles that don’t have license plates. The Governor’s mandate temporarily relaxed enforcement, but they are ticketing again. There were also comments about speeding. This is the number one problem in the city.
There was also a question about the use of the cameras. This is a new program, and the cameras have been installed to read license plates. It helps identify stolen cars. They have also been able to use the cameras to find suspected criminals leaving the scene of a reported crime. At this point, it is being used for local problems. At some point, it could be expanded for other uses, such as finding people involved in human trafficking.
There was a question about how the speed bumps on Woodward are working. The consensus from neighbors is that it has helped greatly.
There was a question about a situation with parties and noise near Kalamazoo Avenue. It is best if you can provide a house number. Don’t confront the people directly, especially if you have had negative responses in the past. Continue to report these incidents. Each report generates a paper trail. The consensus was that it would be valuable to have a Community Policing Officer attend the Stuart meetings every few months.
Woodward School Updates
Rocco will keep us posted on the availability of Woodward School for meetings. He described some of the organizations working with the school and their efforts to help students. There continues to be a need for coats, mittens, hats, and outdoor wear so students can participate in recess. Board games and puzzles are also needed when it is too cold for students to go outside. Rocco commented on the crime stats and noted that he doesn’t have many problems with the building, although there have been some problems with vandalism in the garden. He had problems with the basketball hoops and has locked them down after hours. Wark is willing to have a couple of contractors come in and look at the clock. Wark and Rocco will coordinate. The speed bumps have helped and slows it down near the school. February 8 is the 100th day of school.
We no longer had a quorum at 6:48. The rest of the meeting consisted of reports and discussions with no formal actions.
Treasurer’s Report and Property Manager’s Report
Whittingham reported that she had to reissue a check for the Karen Leys memorial. That bills and summer taxes were paid. She also reported on property issues in Wark’s absence. The repairs to the bathroom are going to cost about $3300. The tub is in but the floor needs to be fixed. The basement pipe was repaired for $150. Whittingham is painting the downstairs room. We will need to take some funds to cover the repair, so she applied for $2425.73 of the funds we had at the Kalamazoo Community Foundation. This amount reflects several years of accruals. We have not taken any withdrawals. Next year, our allowable withdrawal will only be $478.44. Edison and Carlson continue to work on the archival records projects on a regular basis.
530 Douglas Property Study – This was tabled. Please send information or ideas to Whittingham or Edison.
Newsletter/Social Media – Carlson will send out a newsletter. We have a void in our social media. This topic will be included on the December agenda.
Imagine Kalamazoo/Neighborhood Plan/Contract with City – Baisden reached out about the problem with the litter and broken glass at the lot at North and Douglas and it generated some response. Duncan asked about how a condemnation works. Baisden explained how it works its way through the courts. The county millage and the Foundation for Excellence have some funds. Whittingham discussed the article in Time and its portrayal of Kalamazoo. Baisden talked about how the FFE works operationally. West Main Hill and Stuart will meet in January to continue working on neighborhood plans.
Stuart House Update – People have been on the property and using a generator at times. It has been much quieter, though, and it seems that some of the activities associated with this property have moved to another property on South Street that is also owned by Mr. Spigelmyer.
There was further discussion on helping Woodward School celebrate its anniversary in February. We should determine what we can do to help. Maybe we could gather some additional photos.
Duncan asked about the City’s lead-based paint programs. Owner-occupied and rentals also qualify. Baisden noted that Flint, Benton Harbor, Saginaw are shrinking and characterized by people moving into the townships, causing a population decrease in the city and reducing property values. Kalamazoo has ranged between 60,000 to 80,000 and had more stability. The Foundation for Excellence has replaced lead water lines and provided other essential needs. That is what sets Kalamazoo apart.
The meeting concluded at 7:15.
The next meeting is December 14, 2021.
The minutes were taken by Carlson.