West Norwalk Association October 2019 Board Meeting Minutes
Board Members in Attendance: Ted Stepanoff, Kristin Clemens, Rob Notley, Brian Forschino, Anthony Carrano, Ken D’Arinzo, Stephen Galyas
Guests in Attendance: Sarah Kline
The meeting commenced at 7:34pm.
No deposits and withdrawals have occurred since our October 2019 board meeting.
All board members in attendance agreed that, collectively, the board is disappointed with the light turnout of West Norwalk residents at the Annual Meeting. This has been a trend over the past few years.
Anthony commented that approximately 30 residents attended the Annual Meeting. This is a very small group, considering that 2019 is a mayoral year.
Rob asked the board if we think that the number of attendees has been dropping due to an increasing political tension in society. Ted noted that earlier in October, there was a similar event hosted at City Hall, and many people attended this event.
Kristin praised the Clubhouse Grille for the wonderful job they did in regards to preparing food and drinks for the event. The board members in attendance shared similar feelings.
Brian will follow up with the owner of the Clubhouse Grille regarding a final invoice for the event.
Anthony informed the board members and guests in attendance that this year, it has been very challenging compiling enough content for the annual newsletter. This is a result of a lack of responses from those that he has reached out to, as well as the fact that there have not been many “big” events or decisions that impact West Norwalk.
Anthony stated that he received a response from St. Matthew’s Parish regarding their recreation center; he will include this topic in the newsletter.
Several board members asked if we should consider not sending a newsletter this year due to a lack of available content. Rob commented that we need to send a newsletter due to the large number of people that paid their dues this year.
Stephen and Kristin suggested that we dedicate a section to updates about the West Norwalk Meeting House Society, which Sarah Kline would be able to provide to us.
Anthony asked if we should include a dues form in the newsletter, because many people that donated to the West Norwalk Association as a result of our Spring Mailing did so to cover their membership dues.
The board members in attendance discussed the idea of delaying the Annual Newsletter distribution to January, which would allow for us to include a dues form in the newsletter without confusing West Norwalk residents. Brian commented that if we do this, we should not schedule the newsletter to be sent out at the beginning of January because this is close to the end of the holiday season.
The board members in attendance decided to delay the Annual Newsletter distribution. The board members in attendance also agreed that we will be sending holiday cards this year.
The Clubhouse Grille sent Anthony and Brian several food and drink options for the Holiday Party. The board members in attendance decided on the menu for the Holiday Party. Some of the food items on the menu will be: crudites, passed appetizers, chicken wings, stuffed mushrooms, stuffed shrimp, and chicken skewers with fresh mozzarella and basil. We will also ask for desserts and coffee to be included, along with drink specials.
The board members in attendance decided on the budget for the Holiday Party.
Brian reminded the board members in attendance that this year, we will not be paying by the head.
Stephen will print out signs for the Holiday Party that include links to our website and social media accounts, and steps for guests to add themselves to our mailing list.
Anthony clarified to the board members and guests in attendance that the West Norwalk Association does not own the meeting house; this is an incorrect belief that many people have about the meeting house.
Sarah Kline, the current president of the West Norwalk Meeting House Society, spoke about the meeting house and her concerns about its future. Sarah’s presidential term is coming to a close and, like the West Norwalk Association, the West Norwalk Meeting House Society needs board members but they are struggling to attract people to join the society. Sarah is not sure if any of the current West Norwalk Meeting House Society board members will want to take over as president when her term ends.
Due to a lack of funds, the meeting house is not in great shape and is in danger of being sold because the West Norwalk Meeting House Society cannot keep up with the cost of maintaining the property. For example, there currently exists a buried oil tank on the premises, and the society does not have enough money to remove this tank (oil tanks are no longer allowed to be buried underground) and install a new above-ground tank. In addition, last year, the West Norwalk Meeting House Society could not afford to run the heat at all during the year, which caused some damage inside the building.
According to Sarah, the neighbors that surround the meeting house have the most interest in preserving the building.
Anthony suggested to Sarah that she uses the funds they have to send a mailing like the West Norwalk Association did in the spring, which was very successful.
Sarah informed the board members in attendance that most West Norwalk residents do not know that the entire West Norwalk community owns the meeting house.
The board members in attendance told Sarah that we would like to have our meetings at the meeting house, which is where West Norwalk meetings were held in previous years. However, we are concerned about the lack of available parking at the meeting house, which deters people from visiting it. The board members in attendance asked Sarah if there is room on the property to build a small parking lot. She said that, potentially, a driveway and small parking lot may be able to fit on the property.
Sarah and Anthony discussed the possibility of converting the meeting house into a museum, and whether or not this would attract residents. A concern that the board members in attendance share with Sarah is what will come of the building if it is sold. Several board members in attendance discussed with Sarah the possibility of working with the city to delegate the meeting house as a historic building so, if it is sold, the person(s) who buy it cannot demolish the building.
Anthony will talk about the meeting house during his speech at the Holiday Party. In addition, he and Ken informed Sarah of the company we use to send out of Annual Newsletter, and told her that she should reach out to them if she decides to send a mailing to the West Norwalk community.
Monthly WNA Events
Ted and Kristin presented the board members in attendance with an idea to host monthly West Norwalk Association social events. These casual events would take place at local restaurants and bars, and would have a focus of building relationships with fellow residents. They hope that, after several months of publicizing and running these events, we will connect with West Norwalk residents on a more personal level than we do at our Annual Meeting and Holiday Party and, possibly, recruit more board members.
Several board members in attendance mentioned that this is very similar to the social events that the WNA hosted at the Clubhouse Grille earlier this year. Ted and Kristin pointed out that, unlike these prior social events, their events would recur monthly (ideally around the same time each month) and be more casual than the previous WNA events.
This topic will be discussed in more detail during future board meetings.
The meeting adjourned at 8:45pm.