Historical Commission Minutes
January 4, 2022
The meeting was attended by Diane Provenz, Gail Gelburd, Joel Meyers, Celeste Watman, Thomas Ragusa, James Richard, Hilary Harley, Tricia Smith, Geoff Pigman, and Diane Saunders. The minutes of the December 6, 2021 meeting were tabled.
A hike of the Knox Trail, led by Thomas Ragusa was scheduled for January 12, 2022. There was a discussion about the Knox Trail not approved by the Massachusetts Historical Commission, that it does not meet the criteria for inclusion in the National Register, and what we need to do for approval. Diane Provenz suggested that we contact Ben Haley at the commission and ask him about approval.
The damage to the 65 mile marker on the Knox Trail was mentioned, and the possibility of installing a camera above the marker was suggested as a means to view any vandalism to the stone.
Thomas Ragusa will compile a list of new tools that the Knox Trail Snow Riders need to maintain the Trail from becoming overgrown. Mr. Ragusa stated that approximately .83 acres near the Knox Trail are owned privately. If this land was purchased, the Knox Trail would be contiguous. A motion was made and accepted to pursue the purchase of the privately owned parcel. There is a possibility that the video of the Knox Trail will be edited by February.
Diane Provenz and Gail Gelburd prepared the OHC budget which will be emailed to members of the Commission. Once the budget is reviewed by members at a special meeting, it will be forwarded to the Select Board for approval.
The Martin Foundation sent a check for $50,000 to the Otis Preservation Trust to be used for the restoration of St. Paul’s. Later this year, the Trust will receive another $50,000 for the project.
In 2021, the Otis Preservation Trust received and approved a grant of $12,500 from the Berkshire Bank. This amount was half of the total grant of $25,000. The rest of the funds will be received in 2022.
On January 11, 2022, the Select Board will award bids for emergency repairs to the steeple at St. Paul’s, and the East Otis schoolhouse. The Town was awarded a grant from Complete Streets, and plans to use a part of it to construct sidewalks for the East Otis schoolhouse. To publicize fundraising progress, Geoff Pigman suggested that the next sign in front of St. Paul’s be in the shape of a church. Currently, the sign shows that $250,000 was raised for renovations.
On September 30, 2021, the engineer reported on St. Paul’s. We are waiting for a cost estimate from the architect for the renovation.
On January 6, 2022, Diane Provenz is scheduled to meet with the local PTA to talk about children joining the Junior Historical Society.
The Town also received approximately $403,000 for infrastructure improvements. We will wait for specific details of the projects.
On February 10, the Notice Otis series plans to have a Native American historian speak about indigenous heritage. Press releases were sent out to promote the talk. A future lecture will have the artist Maurice “Pops” Peterson talk about the experiences of people of color.
A committee was formed to organize a panel to focus on Otis as a workplace of the future, including working from home, and service industries. Possible panelists are Gail Gelburd, Diane Provenz, Stephanie Skinner, Joel Myer, and Hilary Harley. A similar opinion was mentioned by Diane Provenz pertaining to Otis serving as a prototype and a crossroads for economic development.
The meeting was adjourned at 5:43pm. The next meeting will be on February 1, at 11:00am.