January 2012 Meeting Minutes


Those prefaced by an asterisk are detailed in the minutes.

All GPA events are open to the membership.

*Mon., Jan. 30, 7 p.m.: GPA Historic District Committee meeting   Place TBA

*Tues., Jan. 31, noon: DNA’s Out to Lunch at Al’s Cafe, beginning with a tour of ArtSpace

*Mon., Feb. 6, 7 p.m.: GPA Housewalk Committee meeting Historical Museum

*Sat., Feb. 11, 9 a.m.: GPA Breakfast Brainstorming Historical Museum

Mon., Feb. 13, 7 p.m.: GPA Board Meeting Historical Museum

Thurs., Feb. 16, 7 p.m.: GPA General Membership Meeting 350 E. Chicago St., Room 239



January 19, 2012


The meeting was called to order by President Karen Bach.


Dorie Alpha, Deborah Allen, Carol/John Anderson, Karen/Chris Bach, Bill Briska, Fran Cella, Barb Counterman, Eric Echevarria, Barbara Evans, Ali Hallock, Tom Hokenson, John LaFleur, Donna Leetz, Pat/Dan Miller, Jason Pawloski, Glenna Preradovic, Tony Sanchez, Doug Tomsha


The motion to approve the minutes of the Nov. 17, 2011, meeting as printed—made by Carol Anderson and seconded by Donna Leetz—passed unanimously.


A difference in the checking account total that was reported to the Board on Jan. 16 makes GPA’s bank balance just a bit healthier. Of GPA’s now-total funds of $102,075.75, $80,330.42 is distributed among four CDs, and $13,890.81 is in a money market account.

ROPE OFFICER UPDATE (Officer Eric Echevarria)

Again, the Elgin Historic District is relatively trouble-free.

There are drop-off/pick-up rules that when followed, alleviate the traffic problems around St. Mary’s. And people tend to follow them when a squad car is present. Because the police can’t always be there, however, the department is sending out flyers to remind people of the rules.

That when calling the police, one should have the correct information is obvious. What may not be, however, is that the comments one makes to an officer are not sanitized when put on record and may thus come back to haunt a person if the case goes to court. Realizing that the police must listen to both sides of a complaint may help control tendencies to be less than courteous. (We’d have loved to have heard the specifics that prompted Eric to mention these things; unfortunately, he was not at liberty to give them.)

FYI: The Echevarria baby, which is a boy, is due Jan. 26th.

STANDING COMMITTEE APPOINTMENTS (Karen Bach [email protected])

At the Jan. 16th Board meeting, the following were appointed as chairspersons: Dan Miller, Historic District; Dorie Alpha, Membership; Donna Leetz, Programing.

Unfortunately, Barb Counterman is unable to again be in charge of Public Relations. Anyone who would be should contact Karen Bach ASAP.


Needless to say, all chairpersons hope to be inundated with phone calls/emails from members eager to join their committees.


Programming (Donna Leetz, Chair [email protected])

On Monday when the Board discussed the importance of having guest speakers to attract people to general meetings, one of the names mentioned was Jason Pawloski’s. Miraculously, he was available for this evening’s meeting.

Still to be determined is the speaker for the February meeting.

Donna also plans to offer old house workshops in the summer months.

Suggestions for speakers/workshops may be sent to Donna or brought forward at the February Brainstorming Breakfast.

Elgin Historic District (Dan Miller, Chair [email protected])

Needed are members for this committee that Dan declared of utmost importance. (Street signs, historic lighting and curb-side plantings as well as the Gazette and even porch parties, for example, have resulted because of its work in the past.) Those with an interest in such projects and/or who have ideas for other ones should contact Dan, who will also apprise them of where the Jan. 30th, 7 p.m. committee meeting will be held.

A key item on the agenda will be whether to ask the City to repair or replace the Historic District signs, which have deteriorated to the point of being “embarrassing.”

Housewalk (Bill Briska [email protected])

Needed are people to not only attend the Feb. 6th, 7 p.m. committee meeting at the Historical Musem but also to volunteer to help with soliciting sponsorships, designing the tour booklet, publicizing the event, calling to staff houses and planning the kick-off and after parties. Though GPA is committed to having a housewalk, unless more are willing to do more than be docents, housewalk is in jeopardy. A few cannot do it all.

Come to the committee meeting also prepared to discuss when and where to hold the tour. If you cannot attend this meeting but are willing to be on a housewalk committee, please notify Bill ASAP.

Membership (Dorie Alpha, Chair [email protected])

In the works is an updated directory of the membership. Those whose phone numbers and/or addresses have changed recently should notify Dorie.

Save-the-date notices will be sent out far in advance of April’s general membership potluck.


Public Relations (in need of a chairperson)

No report

Turkey Trot (Karen Bach reporting for Amanda Carlson [email protected])

Perhaps because of the unseasonably balmy weather, the 2011 trot brought out almost twice the number of participants as it did in 2010. Food donations for the Northern Illinois Food Bank also almost doubled. And $680.70 was added to GPA’s coffers.

In addition to Amanda, pats on the back for the resounding success of this event are due the following volunteers: Bill Briska; Mike Burns; Wendy, Laurissa and Trisha Carlson; Rob and Joann Klamczynski; Derek Kolich; Jeff McIntire; Dan Miller.

Unfortunately, Amanda will not be able to chair the committee in 2012. She will, however, turn over all reports and contact information to whomever is willing to do so. Please contact Karen if you are.



Regretfully recognizing that the number of active members has declined dramatically, the Board decided to hold a stop-the-stagnation brainstorming session to bring out ideas for projects, programs, speakers, workshops, committees, events and whatever else might help to revitalize GPA. If you are hesitant to attend because you have been relatively inactive, you need not worry: so delighted will be the Board to see less familiar faces that you will be showered with attention. (continued)

GPA’s meeting of minds will be held at the Historical Museum from 9:00 a.m. till noon (at the latest) on Saturday, February 11th. To fuel brains (as well as to entice many to attend), the Board is providing breakfast: egg casseroles, bagels, fruit and coffee. Non-Board members are, of course, welcome to bring additional food.



The GPA Board decided that the $500 prize awarded to GPA for having the best overall Winter Wonderland window in downtown Elgin should be donated to a local charity but left it up to the members to decide which one. After a brief discussion, the motion to donate it to Crisis Center—made by John Anderson and seconded by Dorie Alpha—passed unanimously.

(Guest speaker Jason Pawloski of the DNA, which awarded the prize, congratulated GPA, and a photograph of the window was passed around.)

GUEST SPEAKER JASON PAWLOSKI, Promotional Coordinator for the Downtown Neighborhood Association (DNA)

Of immediate interest to many will be DNA’sopen-to-the-public, Out to Lunch meeting at noon at Al’s Cafe on Tues., Jan 31, for itwill begin with a John Shales-led tour of ArtSpace.   To attend, notify DNA (847-488-1456) in advance. Whether or not you stay for lunch, the cost is $12, payable at the door.

(The grand opening of ArtSpace is targeted for October/November of 2012. There will be retail space on the ground floor.)

You may also wish to be included in the survey DNA is currently doing to determine the hours and days of this year’s Harvest Market. Because Barbara followed Jason’s directions to the letter yet did not get it via DNA’s website, she advises you to simply call DNA to request the survey.

The focus of Jason’s talk was on the DNA’s Retail Study, which yielded the following conclusions.

1. Within the boundary created by the 5-mile driving distance from downtown Elgin (Randall Road, Routes 72 and 59; W. Bartlett), the density and household income is too low to attract national retail tenants. Thus, for example, while some Elginites might love to have a Trader Joe’s downtown, that business is unlikely to find it profitable to locate there.

2. Only truly unique retail businesses will succeed in downtown Elgin. Thus though a bike shop springs to the minds of many as an desirable addition to downtown Elgin, the number of already established bike shops in nearby communities makes this business far from unique. Soon to open, however, are several that are: Fat Cat Guitars, which will have a studio for lessons above its retail space on Douglas, and Elgin Knit Works on Grove.

3. Heavy marketing is essential to the success of a downtown retail business.

4. To thrive, downtown Elgin must create its own daytime customer base of downtown residents, employees and visitors.

5. Key sectors for business recruitment are technology and innovation in the arts.

So successful has been the relocation of technology-oriented businesses to downtown that the Tower Building, for example, is almost fully occupied by them. Downtown Elgin is also establishing itself as a go-to-place for antiques.

Because so essential to the success of downtown businesses is the public pulse, DNA regularly takes it via such surveys as the one Jason distributed this evening after his presentation of the above facts. From a listing of 46 types of businesses, each of us was asked to identify the top ten types we want and can support in the downtown district over the next few years.

DNA actively works to find specific businesses that will be the “right fit” for downtown and markets it to them. Sometimes, however, DNA gets lucky, and such a business approaches it.

Because parking was such an impediment to downtown businesses, DNA also lobbied the City Council to make the recently implemented changes. (Although Jason did not detail what they were, they were reported in newspapers.)

Asked what was being done to direct people to downtown restaurants after cultural events, Jason sighed, for he has regularly encouraged the Hemmens, for example, to urge people to eat locally after its events.

Jason also relayed the following information about the downtown district.

•The Red Bar restaurant will not be reopening, certainly a sad loss to downtown.

•The Grove Central Station was open but briefly because the elevator was discovered to not be up to code and to bring it up was way beyond the means of the owners.

•Going into the space vacated by Prairie Rock will be what is tentatively being called the Prairie Rock Grill, albeit with different owners.

•The owner of 64 S. Gifford may decide that this summer is the finally the right time to open a new pizza restaurant there.

•Finally cleared by the court, the Riverside Drive project is now out for bids. Gained will be a 1,500-foot promenade; lost will be the parking lots.

•All the condos in the building on Grove are occupied. The townhouses across from the casino are still working toward that goal.

Those who truly want to be in the know and up-to-date on what DNA is doing should subscribe to DNA’s “Top Ten.” To do so, go to downtownelgin.org and click on the “Top Ten” green box. But even if you don’t want another subscription added to your emails, if you are only somewhat familiar with DNA, take time to peruse its website for a fount of information about it.

Jason also appealed to GPA members who “see the big picture” and are willing to help realize it to join the DNA.


•(Pat Miller) There is no new funding for either the 50/50 or 25/75 grants in the 2012 City of Elgin budget.

•(Pat Miller) In contrast to the past practice of requiring the owner of a multi-family dwelling to declare in writing that it is vacant, the City is now accepting other proof to establish this. Thus if you are aware that a residential multi-family property has been vacant for 365 days or more (whether foreclosed on or not is immaterial), please notify the City, for steps are being taken to enforce requiring those buildings to then revert to single-family homes. (Because the former Bowes nursing home is not zoned as a residence, this information does not apply to it.)

Passed around was a copy of the magazine Northwest Quarterly, which featured three historic home renovations in the area, one of which was Dan and Pat Miller’s.

•Thanks to a comment made by Dorie Alpha at the Board meeting, we are, in the words of our president, working toward a “kinder, gentler” GPA. Thus at this evening’s meeting, tables were arranged so all members faced each other; Deborah Allen passed a plate of candies during the meeting; and after the meeting, perhaps tempted by the munchies provided by Barbara Evans and Karen Bach, everyone remained to socialize.

•Those willing to provide treats for February’s general meeting should contact Karen Bach.

The motion to adjourn—made by John Anderson and seconded by Dorie Alpha—passed unanimously.

Respectfully submitted,

Barbara Evans, Secretary