Historical Commission minutes for August 29, 2021

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Historical Commission minutes for August 29, 2021

Present: Sonia Morrison, Gail Gelburd, Judi Mabee , Diane Provenz, Thomas Ragusa, Celeste Watman

Guests: Melva Eidelberg, Edwin Strickland, Geoff Pigman, Lynne Geane

called to order at 10:30 am

July minutes approved with corrections

Knox Trail Video – Diane advised that Jessica is setting up a meeting with Josh regarding script. Should have it for next meeting. Trying to have it done by end of the year so we can use Cultural Council grant to pay him. Sonia is hoping to get Steve McAllister to visit the trail. Lynne and Tom are looking into the Pomeroy grant.

East Otis schoolhouse – Sonia said Steve has sent final documents to the State. She advised we have 2 weeks for the RFD and we have a funding shortfall of 32K for Phase 1 . Discussion whether to ask the town for it. We could piggy back with the planning board at the Special town meeting in October/November. Geoff disagreed with this plan saying we are trying to improve relationship with those opposed to the plans and asking to use taxpayer funds is not the best way to accomplish this. We are able to get grants and donations for this project through OPT. Diane felt that because the town voted $100K for the schoolhouse already, we have their support. If we asked for $50K we can get matching funds. If framed correctly we should have enough. We could ask for $30K. Gail advised it is not necessarily an all or nothing question. Our part of matching grant includes work done by members – for instance Sonia’s work with contractors and architects is “in kind” work done by Larry Gould would be considered “indirect” because he is working through the town. Any volunteers would be “in kind” while a paid person from the town would be “indirect”. That would reduce cash needed. We should talk to Larry Sothern and Terry Gould before the meeting to explain what we are trying to accomplish. Diane advised we can speak to each of them and present it at the select-board meeting in two weeks. Motion to move forward to speak to them was accepted. Sonia said this is just for Phase 1, for Phase 2 we will need $100K. 

Discussion began regarding donations to OPT. Geoff believed that donations made at the fundraiser were for the schoolhouse, however we have 5 projects and Harmony Hall. We should not ask for more money for the schoolhouse. Diane was of the feeling that the money donated was for all projects. Lynne asked if donors should designate for what projects in particular that they wish to help. She also felt its not good PR to ask the town for the $30K. Gail agreed with Lynn. In the future we might need to but for now we shouldn’t ask for anything if we don’t have to. Sonia felt we should speak to the 3 select -board members and then decide. Diane thought we should discuss again in 2 weeks

St. Paul’s and East Otis Schoolhouse – Diane asked Judi to get copies of deeds and assessor maps for the East Otis schoolhouse and the land behind St. Paul’s for surveyors.

St. Paul’s – The architect and select-board have signed off for pre-development grant.

Grant Updates – Fitzpatrick grant not in yet but should be soon. Mass Cultural Council needs date of incorporation for OPT Feigelman Grant – we need to be careful about what we apply for had how much.. Probably should be 1-2 K. Diane advised we need a small amount and direct reason for it. Maybe the Junior Historical ? Gail felt we need to be specific and small if we ask for it for St. Paul’s – maybe architectural fees? Gail asked if we can get a timetable for when grants are due and spread them out.

Junior Historical – no emails have come in yet. We still have no one to create the website. Sonia said she has met someone from Columbia University that is related to a local family. He may be able to help – she will ask him. Diane suggested Judi speak to Kyle Hawley a college student who worked at our library this summer.

Notice Otis – OPT is sponsoring an antiques appraisal at the Library Fair. Larry Gould said he would get a microphone and Jim Crandall volunteered to bring tables.

Zoom Presentation – nothing in the works at this time.

New Business – Archival Work – Lynne, Celeste and Gail are working on listings. Mrs June Crandall is going through her papers to see what she can share with us. Tom advised that anything she she has that is historical should come to us. Lynn Pyenson will look at some books that Celeste mentioned to her. Gail said she has 200 pages written on the Sue Moody book – she is hoping to speak to Eleanor Kimberly who knew her. Diane said Berkshire Taconic has moved to Great Barrington. We should look that their resources. 

Mr. Strickland thanked the committee for their work. He is a member of a founding family in Otis, a prior member of an earlier Otis Historical Commission and former organist at St. Paul’s. His grandmother was town clerk from the 40’s to 60’s and his dad was a former tax collector. Mr. Strickland himself is a historian He advised we should put our efforts into Harmony Hall first, the East Otis Schoolhouse and finally, St. Paul’s. He did hope we could get back the organ. He also suggested we increase our social median coverage. We thank him for attending our meeting and offering such valuable information.

Next meeting September 14th at 10:30 am. 

Meeting adjourned 12:05 pm