Historical Commission Meeting Minutes 08/03/2020

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Historical Commission minutes for August 3, 2020 – Zoom meeting

Present: Sonia Morrison, Diane Provenz, Celeste Watman, Judi Mabee, Tom Ragusa, Geoff Pigman, Lynn Geane, Jessica Provenz, Gail Gelburd

Called to order at 10:03 am

Minutes of July 6, 2020 accepted

We welcomed Gail Gelburd to our meeting. Gail is an Otis resident who holds a PhD in Art History and was formerly a Professor at Eastern CT State University. She has many years experience in Grant writing and would be an extraordinary asset to our commission. We are thankful for her interest in our projects, and hope she will join us as a member of the Historical Commission.

East Otis Schoolhouse – Sonia and Tom are getting measurements for the playground. Sonia will meet with the Rec Commission to coordinate with local families regarding what they would like to see done with the area. Sonia advised the “Complete Streets” grant would apply to sidewalks and parking.

St. Paul’s -The tree removal has been completed. Diane will revisit our request for mowing with Larry and check with Steve McAllister to see how the plans are proceeding. She advised that the White Church in Blandford has scaffolding set up including a lift. The company they use does historical renovations. She has the company name and phone number. The steeple needs immediate attention. Sonia spoke to Larry about meeting with Brandi. We can’t speak to anyone about having work done until the town approaches it. Hoping OPT will have money to put toward the work -we now have raised over 25K. Celeste asked if town needs to produce RFP to notify bidders – that will take some time. Sonia advised Larry will get back to her after his meeting with Brandi. Diane will ask Heather to correct the select board meeting minutes of a couple of months ago where it was said that the Historical Commission was responsible for the properties upkeep.

Grants – Lynn has pictures of our projects and is waiting to hear about upcoming grants. Diane suggested we check MA Cultural and MA Historical grants for St Paul’s. Although projects must be on the State Historic Registry to be accepted, we are in the application stage now. Lynn has found some more that we can explore. We have matching funds for the Schoolhouse grant and the application will be submitted in January. Should we look to create a subset committee to help explore grants that are available. Sonia requested that Lynn send us links so we can look at what she has found. Celeste discussed a MA Historical Preservation Projects Fund- she has complete application and instructions. Could a Planning Grant be used for the church – could steeple be considered an emergency fix? Can we submit it now since we are paying an architect and preservationist? Diane’s believes that if the entire church was in danger of being torn down it would then be considered an emergency. Gail said that we should look at “Placemaking” grants ie: exhibiting something that makes your town unique. It could be an art theme or something that makes our town special like the Knox Trail etc. We should also look at Private Foundations

Fundraising – Diane and Charles sent out personal letters to 15 people who had made extremely generous donations to St. Paul’s and we should look to see how to get their continuing involvement. Jessica suggested we can call them to say thank you as well. Diane said we need to give a honorarium or naming rights, pavers etc.– something to show our thanks to big donors.

Knox Trail – What is the purpose of the video – what group are we hoping to attract. Jessica needs to know who its being geared to: history buffs, advertising, fundraisers, school groups, cultural groups? That will help narrow down the amount of time it should run and how much information should be included. Sonia suggested we contact Mr. Keller at the Farmington school. He does a reenactment every year, and took the class on the Knox hike and then to Fort Ticonderoga last year. Tom told us that the Western MA HillTown Hikers have posted 2 videos on their website of the Knox Trail. Diane asked if we could use children and period costumes for the hike video similar to what is shown in the kids book “The Big Kaboom” Sonia spoke to Larry regarding the trail. He will overlay the GIS points on our tax map so we can go forward on our application to place it on the Historical Registry. Meanwhile Tom is still getting points to do the West Otis and Sandisfield section. Gail suggested we check with university’s, nearby towns, businesses, non profits to engage as funding partners for the video. We still need to find affordable video editing. Tom described a book called Jubilee of Westfield 1869 which shows how the Knox Trail was important as a route to Westfield. The book is digitized in the Library of Congress. Diane suggested we work with local colleges as a community project to get help with the editing. Gail offered to meet with Jessica to help. Tom and Jessica will meet next week to discuss script and Diane will do an article about them, the book and Gail.

New Business – Sonia will work with Larry on the Harmony Hall roof project. The town has advertised for bids but has received no replies. Can our commission get quotes? / Budget planning for new year. / Advertisement for volunteer group from the community, can we put an ad in the Otis Observer? Are naming rights for donors to St. Paul’s something we could do? Need to check with select board. Diane asked Bradley P if he could make a crossword puzzle or word-find for kids under 10 to do related to Otis. It would be put in the Observer and there would be prizes. We would like to get the younger schoolchildren interested in the history of this area.

Next meeting Tuesday September 1, 2020 at 10 am on Zoom

Adjourned 12pm