- Getting Things Done -


Welcome to the Harmony Neighborhood Association

 



 

 11/17/07

Agenda from the second open meeting


1. Welcome and Introductions - Andrea Livermore, Executive Director BaBB

2. Presentation of Meeting Goals - Facilitator Jeff Lewis, Executive Director BDCC
    •    Report On Association Progress
    •    Reports from the Starter Committees
    •    Open Discussion on Association Structure
    •    Completion of Membership Form and Survey
    •    New Business
    •    Next Meeting Date and Time

3. Association Progress - What We've Accomplished So Far
    a. Increased Police Presence - Gene Wrinn, Acting Police Chief, Brattleboro Police Department
    b. Increased Clean-up Activity - Q&A with Steve Barrett, Director of Public Works - See Below
    c. HarmonyLot.org as a communication tool - Bob Viens
    d. Consulted on the location of new trash receptacle
    e. Funky Cigarette Butt Cans by Krista!
    f. Harmony Halloween Party Success - Deanna Garcia
    g. Neighbors pitching in picking up trash

4. Reports from Starter Committees
    a. Combined Committees on Policing Issues - Pat DeFelice
    b. Dialog with Youth - TBA
    c. Beautification, Trash Clean-Up and Recycling - Andrea Livermore
    d. Activities Committee - Deanna Garcia

5. Discussion of Association Structure including Membership and Voting
    a. September 15th Meeting Review
    b. Discuss formation of Committee for Association Structure
    c. Proceed as Indicated by Consensus

6. Membership Form and Survey

7. New Business
    a. Open Discussion
    b. Identify and record concerns
    c. Discuss Possible Solutions
    d. Initiate Projects
    e. Proceed as Indicated by Consensus

8. Set Next Association Meeting Date and Location 

9. Adjournment


11/15/07 

Q&A with Steve Barrett - Director of Public Works 

What's the current stepped-up street cleaning schedule downtown and in the Harmony? 

The sweeper cleans the downtown area on Wednesday and Saturdays.

I noticed the presence of a couple of cleaning guys last week?

BABB is still funding the part time workers to clean the downtown area. It has been going well.
The BABB workers (the same workers we had this summer) have been working
after school when they can. One of the guy's has been working 2hr Monday -
Friday. They both work on Saturday and some Sundays. We will do this until
the weather takes over.

Am I correct that the trash is picked up only weekdays? Did you mention that it was more on high traffic weekends?

The trash is picked up Mon through Friday. We also will pick up trash when
we work on Saturdays. If there is a big event I have a crew empty trash
barrels on weekends.

Is putting a trash receptacle on the corner by SEVCA do-able? How is that accomplished if one is not currently available?

The trash contract allows for up to 4 containers in the Harmony Parking lot.
I think we have 3 now? So we could add another container, the one we added
was purchased by BABB.

Are there any plans that you know of that are in the works to do major improvements to the Harmony Lot? When was the last one done when the medians were widened? Was that the last big refurb?

The last upgrade that was done to the Harmony Parking lot was done in 1986.
We have been discussing an upgrade. We did put an improvement plan in the
capital budget for 2014 for $200,000.

Any thoughts on a Harmony Recycling Station. I recently began recycling and I now have a hallway full of clean recyclable materials. It would be nice if there was a clean, well maintained, attractive recycling station for downtown residents. Have you already looked into this?

We do need to talk about recycling.


Hope this helps. Steve

-This was condensed from multiple emails for the purpose of this report

11/11/07

Notes from Coffee Talk

Deanna, Wendy, and Bob at Coffee Country.
What we discussed...
Nov 17th Meeting Format - Facilitator?
Review of Meeting Agenda
Discussion of Refreshments
Discussion of Deanna's Visit to BCR
 
11/01/07 

 Combined Committees on Policing Issues

Minutes not submitted

10/12/07 

Beautification, Clean-Up & Recycling  Subcommittee

Report from Walk Around with Steve Barrett

We met in the Harmony at 1:00pm on an unusually rainy and windy day. Present were Steve Barrett from the Department of Public Works, Greg Worden, Andrea Livermore, and Bob Viens. While Steve was waiting for the meeting to begin, he observed a parking sign that had been falling over for some time. He called it in and we were all impressed to see the sign removed while the meeting was still in session. We started with a general discussion of the role of the Public Works Department in the Harmony Lot.  We discussed the trash situation and Steve mentioned that there were more trash cans available and/or on the way. We discussed the town's role in the Holiday light displays and the challenges faced by getting power to the lights in the center of the lot. We also discussed the lights. The large street lights in the Harmony were installed when the lot was constructed in the late 1950's. There is currently a plan on the table to replace those lights with new decorative lights like the ones lining the rest of the downtown streets. We also had a discussion of our vision for the Harmony and Steve asserted his opinion that it was primarily a parking lot and should remain as such. To be continued... 

10/11/07 

Notes from the Steering Committee Meeting

Audrey Garfield called the meeting to address Bob Viens' concerns about the original five-committee organization structure and to address the overlaps that had already started to emerge from the current committees. Present were Audrey Garfield, Barb Sondag, Pete DiMarino, Pat DeFelice, and Bob Viens.  The meeting began with each member receiving a packet containing the latest front page of the website harmonylot.org , along with a proposal to restructure the association, an endorsement and suggestion for improving the proposal that was posted on the website's blog, a photograph of his proposed anti-trash campaign, and reprints of that weeks Reformer articles and letters about the Harmony lot. Bob presented his proposal to streamline the association. His concern was that the original five-committee structure was hastily imposed on the association by the town representatives and was never discussed or voted on. According to Bob, his proposal was offered as a basic format designed to spark a discussion of how the association could be structured to ensure the greatest hope for success. He further argued that once a noticeable change had occurred in Harmony and people become less inflamed, general interest would naturally diminish. He argued that in order to make the association as lean and efficient as possible, the number of committees must be reduced and a voting and membership structure should be established. He further proposed that the members of the steering committee should be elected from among the larger member body, all of whom would have association voting privileges. His proposed sub-committees would deal with two broad areas of focus. One would work toward rethinking and redefining the physical space and one to build a strong Harmony Community within the neighborhood. The Steering Committee decided to hold off on discussing the proposal, citing their wish to let the original committee structure play out and let the larger membership body decide on it during the November Open Town Forum.

Pete DiMarino expressed his admiration for the association but regretfully announced that because of work and family time constraints, he would no longer be playing a leadership role on any of the sub-committees. It was further confirmed that Sarah Dreher, who was on the original Steering committee had withdrawn for similar reasons. Another member present expressed a similar inclination, but it was not recorded into the record at the time of the meeting. If anyone on the Steering committee recalls, please let me know.

Bob announced he had been invited to appear on WKVT's Live and Local. An objection was raised by about a concern that Bob was assuming an overly controlling role in the association. It was recommended that Bob be accompanied on the show by someone that might act as a moderating influence. Bob acquiesced.  (On Oct 22nd Bob appeared alone on Live and Local, after his own attempts to invite either of the recommended guests proved unsuccessful).

A decision was made to merge two of the most obviously overlapping committees. The Community Policing and Resources committee and the Committee to Work With Town and Police officially merged later that afternoon.

Finally, a discussion was had regarding how to improve communications between the, now, four subcommittees to prevent future overlaps. A decision was reached that each Steering committee member would sit in on at least one of the committee meetings and communicate back as to the content of their discussions. The finer details were to be worked out in later conversations. 

~Bob Viens 10/23.

If I missed anything, let me know. Any additional observations will be posted immediately upon receipt.


10/11/07 

Community Policing and Resources Subcommittee Meeting

No minutes submitted 

10/09/07

Dialog With Youth Subcommittee

Minutes from the first meeting

Minutes from Dialogue with Youth. Present were, Officer Di Marino, who led the meeting, Ian Bigelow, Allyson Villars,Juicecca, Nancy Braus, Josh, Dora BouBoulis, & Donna Faith K-Brooks & Deanna Garcia. If I have omitted anyone, I apologize. There was also a young man with 2 small children and he had some ideas. It seemed the number one idea was how to get to know the youth, how to get a dialogue started.  How to interact. Allyson has already an event scheduled at the Common Ground, a dinner, for her youth services group. She suggested presenting question to them then, if they have any ideas for improvement or what is not working now. We also spoke at some length about Ian's Community Bike project. He needs storage space for that and some basements in buildings around the lot were considered. It was brought up that we should ask some of the building owners about renting or donating a space. Another suggestion was to have a "paint/art/chalk" event with cash prizes. Having free hot dogs behind Everyones books, attract the youth and other lot patrons, and start talking. We all, no matter what our age, have something to contribute. Finding a good Skateboarding Park, perhaps building one was another hot topic. Officer Di Marino suggested when/if we build a new police department, build a skate board rink near it. It would be open 24/7 and well lit, with police protection. After I left the meeting I did have a thought. A lot of programs cost money. Perhaps with the youth and their art, and the adults & seniors, crafting or baking, we could do a little fundraiser. Donate the money to D.A.R.E program, which is not funded at this time. Or if an event, like a skateboarding at the youth club costs, we could provide monies to those who could not afford to go. Just a thought.  Deanna Garcia

 

10/08/07

Activities and Events Subcommittee

Minutes from the October 8th meeting

What if the had a meeting and nobody came? 

I arrived at 5:30 and waited until about 6pm. i had written up my suggestions and have entered them below. I did take the opportunity to speak with a young man I know, about writing us a rap song. suggested theme "Rats, thugs, and Harmony" a take off on a well known rap group from 90's "Bone,thugs and Harmony. he said he'll try. he is very good. i know you will rewrite this Bob, but i will confess i like rap. Old School, 80's & 90's. it gives me "creds" with my grandchildren. but truthfully they weren't born when i started liking it. i only know a very few songs of today. Lest you think I am crazy, my main favorite music is folk, country and gospel and blues. Well back to the meeting. Just before i left i asked my friend and the young man with him what they would suggest as activities. "A boxing arena, with oversized boxing gloves for combatants. For child services to be there when 2 pregnant girls fight." On a serious note they said benches and if we clean it up too much, the bad people might leave. Here are the few things I thought of.

 1. International/diversity potluck. We already have India, Greek, Italian, restaurants and the great common bakery and common Ground, while they might feel they are losing customers if we do this, they could perhaps do it as an advertising thing. Small portions, with their logo. Others interested could bring a large dish of their origin. I can cook enough beans, rice, and tamales to feed quite a few. Perhaps a New England boiled dinner. Weathervane & Metropolis could make non-alcoholic punch in plastic champagne glasses, but also advertising.
 
2. Halloween Candy give out. We dress up, pass out flyer with candy.
 
3. Tee Shirts  printed Senior Harmony Rats. (For those of us who are over 40.) do we have a budget?
 
4. A craft/flea market around Christmas time. People could either buy spots for tables, donate part of monies made, or we could ask for donations in paper as a fundraiser. My daughter and I are very good flea market sellers.  I know river garden does have an ongoing craft thing, or they did last winter. But ours could be on a different day,

5. Continue with sit outs or even walk throughs during the week. As we are available. 
 
-Deanna G.

 

9/26/07

Minutes from the first meeting

Community/Police/Town Subcommittee

Pat opened the meeting by stating the purpose was to identify goals for the committee.  There was an in-depth discussion about the Police Department’s role in Harmony Lot.  Members seemed to agree that three separate groups of people inhabited the Lot.  The first group was kids who were present during the afternoons.  They inhibit vehicular traffic in the lot and sit on cars. Older kids come in the later afternoon. This group too inhibits traffic – both pedestrian and vehicular – and can be verbally abrasive/abusive.  The third group includes the drug dealers and drunks who come later in the evening.  This group is physically intimidating and dangerous.  The three groups do overlap, and together make the Harmony Lot an unsafe place for people to walk, drive, and park.  There seemed to be consensus that the “old” group of people who had hung out in the Lot was gone.  This group of young adults also felt unsafe in the Lot and looked for other places to hangout.   

Police Questions. The main discussion centered on increased police presence.  Questions posed included:  How many officers should Brattleboro have on-duty at one time to adequately cover the Town?  Could there be a police officer hired to stay in the Lot?  Could the State Drug Task Force get involved in the Lot?  Could the Sheriff or State Police be called in to assist with the problem?  Do the Police know who the “bad” people are? Why can’t there be more arrest?  

Captain Wrinn answered many of these questions.  The Town would like to have five officers on duty at all times and the BPD is refocusing on hiring officers.  At this point the Town is not able to have one officer assigned to the Lot.  Captain Wrinn will investigate involving the Drug Task Force to increase drug enforcement. However, he was not sure whether the problem was “big enough” for the Task Force to accept.  The Town could hire the Sheriff and State Police, but that would bring in a different type of policing. Unlike the local officers, these hired officers would not know the community or the people.  To increase arrests, the police needs more witnesses in order to collect evidence and allow them to make the arrest.   

Closing the Lot. The Committee discussed closing the Lot to non-vehicular traffic for a period of time. This would require an ordinance, and would be difficult to do.  “No Loitering” laws are difficult to enforce in public areas because enforcement is not successfully upheld in courts due to constitutional reasons.   

Increased Enforcement.  The Committee discussed this quite a bit.  The idea would be that officers would be directed to the Lot for heightened enforcement.  If a person stood in the way of a vehicle they would be give a citation.  If they did any form of littering they would be given a citation or arrested.  While the Committee was in favor of this heightened enforcement there was discussion that this enforcement would impact more than just the people identified in the above mentioned three groups.  Captain Wrinn explained that if a wide net is cast, they will catch a wide range of people.  The Town Manager wanted to be sure that the citizens would be supportive of the police if this type of effort were undertaken.  The concern was that increased enforcement could result in “bad press” for the policing, impacting the already identified issue of low morale in the department.  Members of the Committee stated they would be very supportive of the police and discussed how to show that support.  

Neighborhood Watch.  The committee discussed forming a neighborhood watch.  The Town would be able to assist with training the members as well as providing them with any needed supplies. Safety of participants became of concern with this suggestion.  This led to the idea of activities modeled after the “Take Back the Night” activities.  The idea would be to identify nights when residents, business owners, property owners, etc would meet in the Harmony Lot and set up tables to play board games, or bring chairs to sit and visit.  These nights would not be advertised to the general public.  The obvious goal would be to “Take Back the Lot”. Many people liked this idea.   

Cameras.  The idea of having cameras that would be monitored by the Dispatch/Police Department was discussed.  While the idea failed a few years ago, committee members believe that with the success of the cameras in the Transportation Center and at that High School, citizens might be more receptive to the idea of cameras in the Lot.  The Town Manager and Acting Chief agreed to investigate funding for this project.   

Closing.  In general the Committee focused on how to get more police presence and enforcement to the Lot.  The members seemed to agree that enforcement, coupled with increased citizen presence, could be successful.  Another committee meeting, prior to the Association meeting, will be held. 

9/26/07

Beautification, Clean-Up & Recycling  Subcommittee 

Minutes from the first meeting

The meeting convened on the outside deck of the River Garden just after 6:00 with the following members present... Andrea, Stephan, Deanna, Bob, Greg, and Joe. After acknowledging our objective of providing a set of recommendations to the committee as a whole, we launched into a discussion of some of the Beautification, Trash Clean-Up and Recycling issues currently facing the Harmony area of the downtown...


Trash Clean-Up: It is generally agreed that there has been a lack of proper trash abatement. The sidewalks and gutters are often littered. There had been a local teenager hired full-time to do trash pickup during the summer, but he's since returned to school. Building a Better Brattleboro (BABB) apparently has a surplus in the fund that provided the money for the summer cleaning person, and it was suggested that this could be used to fund a regular clean-up effort. Two possible solutions suggested were the use of  work crews made up of nonviolent offenders that have been assigned to community service, and possibly state funded vocational rehab organizations which may provides work for individuals at little or no expense to the town. We're looking into these. The Adopt-a-Highway concept was also discussed.


Trash Receptacles: It was discussed that the trash cans are often overflowing and we questioned the number of trash receptacles available within the downtown in general. We also currently have no community solution for addressing the proliferation of discarded cigarette butts. We had a conversation about the practices in use in other places, the one that was mainly discussed was Paris. Instead of expensive trash receptacles, Parisians have opted for the use of simple trash bag rings
that attach to poles and trees and offer greatly increased access to proper trash disposal opportunities.


Cigarette Butts: The problem of cigarette butts was discussed at length, and the conversation ranged from providing and maintaining cigarette butt receptacles in the problem areas, to encouraging more business owners to assume greater vigilance in policing their storefronts. This is currently being done very well by some, not so well by others. It was suggested that rather than making additional rules, we should have a means of encouraging and rewarding business cooperation. We also discussed the idea of having some sort of community program or contest to encourage cigarette butt clean-up, but it was not fully decided on the best approach.


Harmony Garden: A discussion was had regarding the feasibility of a Harmony garden or community spaces within Harmony where people can come to sit for lunch, or to read, or join in planting a community garden. It was argeed that in order to minimize the unsavory element that has presented us with our current challenges, we will need to engage and invite a broader spectrum of the downtown residents. It is felt by the committee that there should be a place in Harmony for everyone to feel safe and welcome. We discussed the idea of re-imagining the area behind the Backside Cafe into a great public use area. To be continued...


Neighborhood Walk: Andrea from BABB suggested we join her and Works Director Steve Barrett on a community walk to discover areas in need of attention and to discuss possible solutions to some of the above issues. This will be scheduled within the next week and will be posted here on the website.

We adjourned the meeting after we ran out of daylight.

9/20/07 

Notes from the Steering Committee Meeting

Hi All,

We met yesterday to make decisions about next steps. Here are the decisions we made:
 
We assigned each of us a committee to organize its first meeting. (Sarah - We're sorry you weren't able to be at our meeting yesterday. We hope you're OK with your committee assignment.)
 
Committee to work with Police and Town - Pat and Barb (this is a large committee)
Community dialog with youth - Pete
Activities for the Harmony lot - Sarah
Trash clean up, recycling and beautification - Bob
Resources (funding) for community policing and community projects - Audrey
We agreed that by 9/26 we would have a date set for a first meeting of our committee. 
 
So we don't lose momentum, the  meeting should happen by October 6th - feel free to call me if you need help scheduling the meeting.
 
We all agreed it is important that there be youth on each committee. Pete will talk to Ian Bigelow and I will talk to some young people about recruiting young people for committees.
 
Meeting place options for committee work:
 
Adagio
Common Ground
Brattleboro Savings and Loan
Masonic Temple
Tinderbox
People will need to schedule the meeting place.
 
A second community meeting will be held on one of three dates:
    11/5 in the evening
    11/10 in the morning
    11/12 in the evening
We will ask our committees for their input on the best meeting time.
 
The second community meeting will be held at the Masonic Temple on Main St (beside the post office). Pat will arrange the space as soon as we nail down the date.
 
Bob Viens has set up a website for us! www.harmonylot.org It should be up and running by the first of the week.  People can get information on commitees and submit suggestions to the site. Please everyone make sure we send Bob info so he can post it. Thanks Bob for taking this on!
 
Please note Pat's new email address: pdefelice@verizon.net
 
Thank you all so much for your energy and work.
 
Audrey 9/21/07

9/15/07

Minutes from the first  Open Town Forum


Meeting started at 9am

Larry Hames from the Community Justice Center facilitating.

By the end of the meeting, we hope to have:

   1. defined the issues and challenges
   2. identified tasks
   3.  identified resources in our community
   4. developed ideas to address priorities
   5. planned next steps
   6. set next meetings
________________________________________________________

Three questions posed to participants and citizen responses:
________________________________________________________

What do we like about Harmony Lot?

inviting atmosphere
great community gathering place
architecture, the way the building enclose the space feels like a courtyard
small, locally-owned business
kids (mutually agreed upon term for young people) are visible
convenience of shopping because of the close proximity of the shops
diversity of the people
lot has a sense of a thriving place – its alive
great potential
functional as a parking lot
great accessibility
easy for merchants to receive deliveries – no bottle necking
trees add greenery, sense of green space
it is a mirror to Main St. - interesting, alive and vital
lovely murals
fun place
blackboard
it is everything a strip mall is not

________________________________________________________

What works there?

This question was addressed in first question (see above)
________________________________________________________

What could work better

-more police presence
-community-based policing
-the lot is unsafe for patrons
-influx of drug-dealing/activity
-a more respectful interaction with the youth – common civility
-need for community dialog
-trash pick-up – could be addressed with community service work
-mentoring youth into police training
-this is an historical, on-going problem that has escalated into an unsafe situation
-need to assess the level of danger
-who are “they”?
-How dangerous?
-More citizen involvement – citizens become the eyes and ears of the police
-showcasing the Harmony lot with more activities – art related activities
-need to get to the root of the problem – the entire community is affected by drug-dealing and crime, not just Harmony lot
-use a non-confrontational approach when dealing with negative behavior – for instance: when observing someone littering, say “could you put that in the trash can, it's right over there.”
-frustration at not getting appropriate response from police department
-police essentially are triaging
-there has been a significant change in the element of people
-lack of respect for the police
-trash everywhere – huge problem
-immediate action is needed
-involve the youth element
-define community policing – use common language
________________________________________________________

10am – 5 minute recess

10:05 meeting resumed
________________________________________________________

5 committees were identified based on responses from citizens to the three questions

   1. Committee to work with police and town
   2. Community dialog with youth
   3. Alternative activities for Harmony lot
   4. Trash clean-up, recycling and beautification
   5. Resources for community policing

Participants were asked to sign up for committee work as they left the meeting
________________________________________________________

Question and answer period with Officer DiMarino 
 

  • phone numbers to call to report a crime: 257-7950 or257-7946 
  • 911 should be called in the event of an emergency 
  • Protocol to follow when reporting a crime or suspicious activity:
     -call the police
     -stay on the line with the dispatcher until police arrive
     -DO NOT interact with the suspect(s)
     -do not inform suspects that police are on their way
     -when the police arrive, identify suspects and activity

________________________________________________________

Many participants would like a follow-up meeting – the town will organize another meeting and notify the public.
________________________________________________________

Meeting ended at 10:40.