November’s meeting included 2021 Board elections and discussions on the Neighborhood Association’s proposal for a seat on the Development Committee.
17 November 2020 / 6:45 PM / Zoom
6:45 Meeting Called to order (Vincent Chewning)
FPSE Neighborhood Business
6:45 – 6:50 pm Announcements (Community)
- Infrastructure Committee meeting is 11/19 at 6pm via zoom: https://zoom.us/j/91769054787, Meeting ID: 917 6905 4787, and that info and future meetings can be found here: https://parkcentraldevelopment.org/fpse-infrastructure-committee/
- At the last Infrastructure Committee meeting discussion included the ward budget to about $11,000 for 2021 and striping crosswalks and making sidewalks ADA compliant
- Chouteau Park: There is money allocated for new benches and picnic tables, but no timeline to installation. Location will be near the dog park, on the top of the hill, and near where the basketball court is going. Upgrades should be made over the next few months.
- There are open seats on the Infrastructure Committee. You can email Park Central if you’re interested in becoming a board member: firstname.lastname@example.org
Board Member: What was the discussion of the crosswalks?
- How to continue making sure that at least Tower Grove is ADA compliant, and striping crosswalks where there is ADA compliance.
General Member: Any info on sewers south of Manchester? There’s development but no infrastructure. There’s all this demolition going on and our houses and shaking. It’s’ frustrating the Drury gets an outpouring, but the site over here sees no attention.
Vince: The last thing we heard was that Green Street’s development in the southwest corner of the neighborhood will have a CID, which includes infrastructure updates, including streets, sewers, ramps and sidewalks between Taylor and Newstead, in. We’ve asked for a contact at Green Street for somebody who is sitting on that CID. We did have a separate meeting for the developments on the south side of Manchester. The neighborhood association has tried to facilitate and push for that communication on the south side.
General Member: It sounds like the Cortex Connector took a large chunk of the budget? Wants to see the Association to look at the development a little deeper.
- The Association is talking about potentially having a seat on the Development Committee tonight.
6:50 – 6:55 pm Treasurer’s Report (Steve Chodes)
- Steve was unable to make it, so the treasurer’s report does not reflect the dues that were paid this past month. There was an expenditure to purchase a checkbook for the Association.
6:55 – 7:05 pm Crime and Safety Report (Officer Ed Slade)
7:05 – 7:10 pm Neighborhood Improvement Specialist Update (Ron Coleman)
- Ron was unable to attend and there are no updates
Guest Speakers and Discussion
7:10 – 7:20 pm 2021 FPSE NA Board Elections
- Member at Large: Xavier Woodson – elected to 2021 board.
- My name is Xavier Woodson and I had my transplant here in St. Louis. I would love to be a part of this board because I’ve always had a passion to do community development. It was my previous role before I moved here, working with the community development corporation at a university in Little Rock, Arkansas. I actually see quite a bit of a need here in this community. I also work with a group of students at Harris-Stowe State University. I would love to see some of the students participate in our neighborhood association meeting as well. I think that there are some important issues to expand on, such as what has already been discussed here tonight.
- Secretary: Adam Kepka – elected to 2021 board.
- My name’s Adam. I’ve been in the neighborhood since about, 2010 and I was the Vice President in 2013 and 2017. And I just wanted to volunteer for this year. Hopefully everything will go smoothly in 2021. I’m looking forward to meeting new people and seeing some positive events in the neighborhood.
- Treasurer: Steve Chodes – election for Treasurer to be held in January.
- Was unable to attend tonight. General members and the Board motion to extend the election for Treasurer until January.
- Vice President: Brian Alder – elected to 2021 board.
- It’s good to see you all here. I am excited to be able to help wherever I can with this Neighborhood Association and the community at large. I love working in community developments and have been studying economic development with my master’s at UMSL. I am always looking for ways that I can get myself more deeply rooted in the community here. I also have some experience with writing and media about neighborhood and community development with a bit of an interesting social focus on it too. So I think that this will be a good role for me to make sure I can support the neighborhood as much as possible. I’m excited to work with you all.
- President: Dan Doelling – elected to 2021 board.
- My name is Dan. I’ve been the secretary here on the board for the last two years. I’ve really enjoyed working and getting to know the community better.I know Brian, I know Adam I’ve met Xavier – we’ve done the cleanup together -, and I know Steve and it’s a really great board; a lot of people who are highly engaged and want a better place to live for everybody. I know it’s been the board’s objective here over the last few years to really increase the communication between us and the other organizations here, and I think the objective for 2021 would be to continue that and build upon it. I know we have a lot of concerns here from you, Kim and Don as well. Know that your voice doesn’t go on hurt and we do try our best to help you out. So over the next year, I would love to continue what we’ve been able to accomplish and build off of it especially with a new and highly energized board.
General Member: Will not pay his dues and is protesting. Sees it that a dues-paying association is about the rest of the community. By charging dues you have left out the rest of the neighborhood and whoever doesn’t have a computer right now would be left out of the decision of electing a new board.
Board: Vince, you’ve done a great job and I wanted to give a special shout out for all that you’ve done to keep the neighborhood association going. It’s really had a lot of growth in the content over the past few years. So I appreciate you guys, everything you’ve done, but also just being willing to step forward and put in a lot of work behind the scenes that not everybody gets to see. So thank you for that.
7:20 – 7:45 pm FPSE NA and a FPSE DC Seat
- Vince discussed briefly discussed the background of the FPSE NA and its mission:
- To provide a neutral forum for discussions
- To ensure communication to elected officials and neighborhood organizations
- To encourage residents to play an active role in the neighborhood
- To serve as a mechanism for fostering community.
- Then discussed was the FPSE Development Committee and it’s process within the neighborhood:
- The FPSE DC’s primary objective is to give community support for or reject proposed developments.
- The FPSE DC and the development process were established by Alderman Roddy and are facilitated by Park Central Development (PCD).
- Outside of public comment the FPSE NA is currently not one of the organizations represented on the FPSE DC and has no formal input over whether projects are given community support by the FPSE DC
- There has not been adequate and consistent communication from the FPSE DC, PCD, or developers to ensure residents have the opportunity to make their voices heard.
- This request was after pushing and trying every month to get a PCD representative and/or FPSEDC member at association meetings.
- The Board would like to establish mechanisms that ensure:
- Improved communication with residents, ensuring adequate notification of developments being proposed in the neighborhood
- There is time and an outlet for FPSE DC members to gather feedback from residents about proposed developments
- The FPSE NA is an organization that has a formal voice in the FPSE DC process
- Over the course of this year, the Board has discussed with the FPSE DC and Alderman Roddy a proposal that institutes those mechanisms:
- The FPSENA will elect a representative to sit on the FPSEDC effective January 2021.
- Either the DC meeting or the NA meeting will need to be moved, or the FPSE DC agenda should be released earlier before the NA meeting.
- Any single person on the DC will have the ability to delay a vote for projects over $5M, whereas a “legitimate” reason is met (i.e. not aesthetic, but due to concerns about project impact, process, or neighborhood outreach).
- The FPSEDC will disclose any conflicts of interest in any future projects and that disclosure will be recorded in the minutes. The committee members will sign an annual conflict of interest document.
- Panel discussion:
- Question 1: Will the representative be picked from one of the board members, will it be a new position or will it be a non-board member representative? What’s the proposal for how this development committee member will be selected?
- Dan: Pretty simply put this person will be a non-board member representative. What this means is that this person does not have a vote. He does not sit on the board, but is a designated person who comes to every association meeting and development committee meeting, and takes feedback between the two organizations to bridge that gap to communicate what is going on.
- Question 2: Will this person need to live in the neighborhood?
- Sarah: Yeah. The idea is that this person would have a familiarity with the neighborhood and with the people of the neighborhood. Obviously we’re going to have some people that are moving in and we don’t want to prohibit involvement just because they’re a newer resident. We do ask that this person just be involved for the year prior to being elected. And then this person is not required to own property or anything.
- Question 3: How will they be required to vote? Is it only with the neighborhood association interest in mind? Are there going to be any guidelines?
- Sarah: Obviously we want the, the development committee member that would be elected to reflect the neighborhood’s best interests in every respect. We’re obviously never going to all agree at the same time, but we need to give the person on this committee, the leeway to make their own decisions. However, we ask that they consider the form-based code and how that was supposed to be a guideline for the neighborhood. And then also, if there are any variances from the form-based code, that would need to be reviewed and presented so that the members, or when discussion is held at the neighborhood association meetings, that there’s an educated understanding of what those variances are. It’s not necessarily up to the person themselves to be up to speed on those variances. Usually there are recommendations that come from the city, there’s a letter that they can get. But the biggest thing that we want to make sure is that this person is asking the hard questions of how is this new development being communicated to the neighborhood? How is it being communicated to the residents? If there is an impact within a certain distance of the project, there may be additional requirements, or if it’s above a certain dollar threshold, then there may be requirements for additional discussion. So just getting, giving that feedback so that the neighborhood association has the utmost opportunity to communicate their opinions.
- Question 4: We’ve heard from several folks that they’re kind of worried about being complicit. How do we know that they’ll ask those hard questions that they’ll make sure that they’re being communicated, or that, that the developers are communicating with the neighborhood and how do we kind of hold that elected representative responsible?
- Dan: They’ll absolutely have to report back to the neighborhood association and our meetings. So they will be responsible for answering your questions as they come in. Additionally, this person will be elected by you. So they’re held accountable for what they have, or have not done over the previous year.So you have the ability to say, ‘I don’t like what you have done. We need somebody new in the position. You’re out. Or, you’ve done a great job communicating back and taking my questions and getting answers. I’d like to see you continue to do that. So they are held responsible for their actions. They’re voted upon by you, and ultimately held accountable by all of us.
- Question 5: So how about this legitimate reason? We said that they can’t just stop a project because they dislike it or there’s some kind of aesthetic issue. So what’s considered a legitimate reason to try to throw up their hand and say, ‘Hey, wait, I think that we need to hold on this for a month.’
- Sarah: I would say there are two main things. One being community outreach and then just making sure that there has been community outreach for the project, especially those higher dollar values, like I said before. And the second one is if the facts are not available. So a lot of times for those of you who’ve been to the development committee meetings, the developers have a chance to answer questions. There may be some questions that they don’t have an answer for that may greatly impact the outcome of the vote. It’s those kinds of questions that we don’t feel it’s necessarily the time or the place to say we’re going to go through and rush and vote. There would be an opportunity to say, ‘Hey, timeout, we need more information on what’s going on or clarification before we can vote.’ It’s something that there’s been precedent for in previous development committee meetings. There’s nothing new about this, but this is just kind of a formal way to say that everybody has the option to do that.
- Question: Is this going to change the bylaws?
- Vince: I’m going to kind of open up for questions because I think this is the key point: why we need the memberships input. this will be a change to the bylaws and this will be a new elected representative. We want to make sure that everybody’s on board with this and that it takes the shape and the form that the membership would like. We’ve done a lot of work. Trust me, I know it doesn’t look like it. There’ve been countless hours and emails dedicated to trying to just get to this part.
- Sarah: This position would not be replacing any of the current positions on the development committee. There’s a certain number of representatives that’s required for the development committee.
- General Member: General Member is a part of the Community Builders Network and they are working on community benefit agreements. Wants to make sure the representative knows of community betterment agreements (what it is, how it’s used). Wants “low level” community members getting the benefits of the betterment agreements. Examples: sidewalks and ADA compliance.
- General Member: How are current residents on the FPSEDC chosen? The lack of democracy in the 17th Ward has been chiseled away. Wants a whole meeting for home repair funds and community betterment agreements. Wants everything to take on the urgency of Drury.
- It is run by Park Central, and their board does the selection through an application process, which requires a diverse group members from different parts of the neighborhood, including neighbors, developers and business owners.
- Vince: We’ve heard this from other members. And that’s why we want to have formal participation from the neighborhood association and have more of a formal say, making sure that there’s communication that all residents are included in when folks are thinking about these developments
- Sarah: A lot of these decisions are made at a higher political level than the development committee. The development committee is really a tool that was supposed to be used to inform the political process. So there are still a lot of things that can only take place at the aldermanic level. But I think those are great points to bring up in the next few months with Alderman Roddy stepping down, we don’t know who’s going to fill those shoes, but I think it would be good to just keep that in mind for future conversations, because it is important to a lot of us. North, south doesn’t really matter. They’re valid concerns
- General Member: Have you had discussions with Alderman Roddy about making the development committee a more lasting thing, no matter who is alderman??
- Vince: Alderman Roddy briefly touched on this where he basically he said the same thing. He’s not sure if the next alderman will see the development committee in the same light and take the same recommendations. This was this, I think, right after he announced that he wasn’t running again. So maybe that’s changed. But I think it’s a good point. I do think we need to have more of that discussion. And I think that the feeling was well, yeah, even if it’s, even if it’s not the development committee, maybe there’s some other organization that the next alderman takes community support from, and we need to make sure that the neighbor association is represented on whatever shape that takes. Getting a seat or a representative on development committee makes it that much easier to transition to whatever that new body is.
- General Member: Wants to see written out in detail how the by-laws are changed to see this position created and how we balance the mission of remaining a neutral forum.
- Sarah: I think that’s a very valid point. That was something that we did discuss as all of this was evolving. It was first and foremost, what is our mission statement? What is our identity as an organization? And we talked about options of this person being able to sit on the committee, but then not be a voting member on the development committee. And what would that be like? Ultimately, we came down to the conclusion that we should accept the opportunity to have a voice, even if that person always abstains. But it could be the deciding factor and we don’t want to necessarily limit our options. So I think that definitely warrants further discussion. Especially when it comes to bylaws and being revised. So I think that’s a great point.
- Vince: Next steps would be writing out the by-laws, discussing those changes, and voting on those proposed changes.
- Vince: Are there feelings on this person being an elected position outside of the board? We said this position would be a non-board member try to create that separation from the board. So the board isn’t voting on something and this representative can’t come to the board meeting and vote a certain way. Any comments or thoughts on that is that this is just a representative elected outside of the board, because we don’t really have a position like that today.
- General Member: Sees this position as more of liaison. From an information and a communication perspective to provide timely updates between the NA and FPSEDC. Doesn’t think they need to be a board member to do that, and the board votes/decides upon different issues any ways. So I think that’s a smart setup/agrees with the proposal. Second general member seconds.
- General Member: See it as a way to democratize the neighborhood.
- General Member: Undecided if liaison should have a vote on the FPSEDC. Are we struggling with this deliberation because of the lack of transparency for how that development committee is chosen by the board of Park Central Development, or if the real issue is that there needs to be revisions to the way that the development committee is formed.
- Vince: We had those discussions as well. Is this bigger than just a seat? And actually I think in our very initial proposal, the seat wasn’t even on the table. But it came to that because without somebody sitting in that seat without that constant liaison, without somebody who is a part of those discussions, then we can’t have any insight into the rest of the process. So it’s really just having somebody, show up and have a seat at the table. While I think that the board agreed or had some questions of their own about how the development committee members are chosen, this is that first step into getting more information and understanding the process and being a part of the process and showing up.
- General Member: Advantage of seat would be ability to delay a vote. One of the things that’s been talked about is the Green Street thing; they dumped that on us with two days notice before the development committee meeting. There was no chance for community engagement. It was the neighborhood association who stood up and said, ‘hang on, you need to come and talk to the community before you vote on this.’ Unfortunately, the vote had already passed in that situation because they rushed it through so quickly, but this setup here would prevent that from happening again.
- General Member: Wants the neighborhood association to review itself as being a neutral forum. Are you representing the neighbors, or the developers?
- Vince: Certainly that’s the goal – to represent all neighbors. This is why I think the development committee seat is something that we wanted to be a part of, because I think it gives us a chance to have more input for all neighbors. And then the person has to come back and be accountable to the neighborhood association.
7:45 PM Adjournment (Vincent Chewning)
You can listen to the recording of this month’s meeting on Anchor and wherever you listen to your podcasts.
You can download this month’s update below.