January 2012 Board Minutes

IN ATTENDANCE: Dorie Alpha, Carol Anderson, Karen Bach, Bill Briska, Fran Cella, Barbara Evans, Donna Leetz, Dan Miller, Pat Miller

NEXT BOARD MEETING: 7 p.m., February 13, 2012, at Old Main

The January 16th meeting of the GPA board was called to order by President Karen Bach at 7:00 p.m.


Bill Briska handed out a statement of GPA’s bank account balance to date, which should be corrected to read $101.827.45, ten more cents than he reported. Of this, $80.330.42 is distributed among four CDs.

However, “while we have a lot of money, we don’t make a lot,” said Bill in preface to his presentation of GPA’s 2011 cash flow report. In fact, he explained, over the past few years GPA has been spending more than it has made: in 2011, $3,866.98 to be precise. This trend he attributes to rising costs and declining House Tour revenues. Bill also presented GPA’s general operating expenses for 2011 by category.

Bill is working on a preliminary budget for 2012, which he will present for discussion at the February board meeting.

Clarification from the by-laws: The Board and standing committees can spend without getting approval from the membership unless the expenditure has not been specified in the budget.



After each agreed to serve, Barbara Evans, seconded by Carol Anderson, moved to approve the the following persons as chairs of the standing committees for 2012:

Dan Miller, Historic District;

Dorie Alpha, Membership;

Donna Leetz, Programming.

Barb Counterman has been asked to again chair Public Relations. (FYI: As of Jan. 18, Karen is still waiting to hear from her.)

The chair(s) for the House Tour will be determined at the February 6th meeting of the committee.


Bill announced that unless more people attend the February 6th meeting and volunteer to take key roles, there is unlikely to be a house tour in 2012.


Although in the past, functions such as Night in the Park, porch parties and Christmas wassails have been spearheaded by this committee, according to the by-laws, its main focus should be on projects to improve the district. The annual Great Unveiling is one such project, as were the corner curb plantings, historic lighting and signage. So long ago were the signs done, however, that Dan intends to make redoing them a priority.


All agreed that one of the best ways to turn members in name only to active participants in GPA is to draw them in via good programs at general membership meetings. Occasional workshops, such as the one GPA had years ago on fixing windows, would also help. And as Carol noted, it would be a mistake to dismiss something just because “it’s already been done,” especially when it was done as long ago as the window workshop, for example.


Pat Miller’s declaration that she had “a burning desire” to fix the property-tax structure of Elgin so that multi-family dwellings paid their fair share, which she said may be a State of Illinois’ issue, triggered one suggestion for a guest speaker that all thought would bring many people to a meeting: the township tax assessor.

Donna will welcome further suggestions for speakers/workshops at the upcoming Brainstorming Session detailed below.


All agreed that an updated directory should be printed and distributed.

Discussion followed about whether to include those whose have let their membership lapse. It was suggested that including just those whose membership is current after the April push to renew might be an incentive to get people to pay their dues. Publication then would not be until June. No final decision was reached on this matter, so it will need to be revisited at a future Board meeting.

All agreed that giving new members a copy of the supplement that Fran and Barb C. prepared for the 2011 House Tour is a must, for it will give them an excellent understanding of just what GPA has accomplished over the years.

Dorie will have membership forms at all general meetings.


While almost everyone turns out to help with the House Tour, so urgent is the need to increase member participation in the organization the rest of the year that we got no further than addressing it and working out the details of a special session we hope will not only draw members who rarely attend general meetings but will also work to foster the camaraderie that has enabled GPA to accomplish so much over the years.

BRAINSTORMING SESSION: Saturday, Feb. 11, 9:00-noon (at the latest) at Old Main

(Place confirmed by Bill on 1/17.)

Because food always brings people out, the following have agreed to be responsible for providing it:

Barbara: Coffee

Barbara & Karen: Egg dishes

Fran: Bagels (and cream cheese, please)

Pat: Fruit plate

Needed: Someone to be in charge of providing cups, silverware, plates, napkins

We opted to call this a brainstorming rather than goal-setting session because what GPA is most in need of are specific ideas that will instill new life-blood into this organization.

Opinions were divided about whether to structure discussion. Although no decision was reached, of the two opposed to it, the one most adamantly so changed her mind before she was half-way home. Yes, Barbara told Karen in a phone call after the meeting, Fran was right: we do need a bit of structure, for it makes sense, for example, to focus on ideas for general meeting programs rather than scattering them throughout the morning.

As a result of Barbara’s concession, Karen will ask Fran and Karen, who were willing, to prepare an outline for the event. Who will moderate it was not discussed. Barbara, as secretary, will take notes and prepare a report of the session in time for our February Board meeting.



After Bill explained what the Elgin Area Historical Society had decided about fees for room use, Fran Cella moved that GPA pay the $125 fee that would allow the Board to meet at Old Main for a year, a charge which also includes a nominal fee for use of the society’s copier for last-minute needs, such as the 8 copies of the budgetary information that Bill ran for us.

Dorie seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.


Although we are booked at 350 E. Chicago Street for general meetings for the remainder of the year, we are “homeless” the in June and July when school is not in session. Will we be able to meet at Old Main those months? Is moving our general membership meetings to Old Main a possibility for 2013, provided we pay the yearly fee? These questions, which were not asked at the Board meeting, occurred to Karen and Barbara during their phone conversation after the meeting.


1. A discussion of how to increase attendance at general meetings resulted in the following suggestions:

•Arrange seating so that everyone is facing each other,

•Serve refreshments after the meetings,

•Put a time limit on the ROPE Officer’s report,

•Make programs with guest speakers a rule rather than the exception.


2. Barbara and Karen agreed to provide refreshments for the January meeting.

3. Donna’s explanation for her early departure from the meeting brought out fascinating information about what she has done/is doing to curb the feral cat population in the Historic District.

Carol moved that the meeting be adjourned. After being seconded by Fran, the motion passed unanimously.

Respectfully submitted,

Barbara Evans, Secretary