July 2012 Meeting Minutes

DATES TO NOTE

Mon., July 23rd, 7 p.m.:  Housewalk Committee meeting  Historical Museum

Fri., July 27th, 7-9 p.m.:  Vintage bottle auction at Spacetaste  215 E. Chicago St.

July 27-29th: Art and Soul on the Fox  Downtown Elgin

Mon., July 30th, 7 p.m.:  Tentative GPA Board meeting  Historical Museum

Fri., Aug. 10th, 7 p.m.:  Porch party, Chris/Rebekah Berry, hosts  442 DuPage St.

Fri., Aug. 17th, 6:30 p.m.: Housewalk Kickoff Potluck  Lords Park Pavilion 

Fri., Aug. 24th, 7 p.m.:  Porch party, John/Trish LaFleur, hosts  373 Park St.

Sat., Sept. 8th, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.:  Gifford Park Annual Historic Housewalk

 

 

GIFFORD PARK ASSOCIATION GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING

JULY 19, 2012

              

Held at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, the July 19th meeting of the GPA membership was called to order shortly after 7 p.m. by President Karen Bach ([email protected]“>[email protected]) Missing a quorum of Board members, no motions could be made/approved.

 

IN ATTENDANCE

Karen/Chris Bach, Fran Cella, Barbara Evans, Ali Hallock, Tom Hokenson, Pat/Dan Miller, Glenna Preradovic 

 

TREASURER’S REPORT  (Karen Bach, reporting for Bill Briska)

Total cash assets are $98,276.14, an increase from last month due to payments for housewalk sponsorships.

 

HISTORIC DISTRICT COMMITTEE  (Dan Miller   [email protected]“>[email protected])

A letter from Aaron Constentino informed GPA that notified of the Board’s approval, the City has closed out the grant for the Tree-for-All Program and rolled over the $1,756 balance remaining to the Heritage Commission to be applied to signs for the Elgin Historic District.

A date for the meeting of a focus group for signage will be announced when mockups of several new possibilities have been completed.  These will be added for consideration to the top two signs from the most recent survey.

Kudos to Roy & Linda Voss for hosting a great porch party on July 14th.  If you missed it, be aware that you have two more opportunities to attend these socials: Aug. 10th at 442 DuPage and Aug. 24th at 373 Park.  

The silent auction of repurposed vintage Avon bottles will be held on July 27 from 7-9 p.m. at Spacetaste Gallery.  When bidding on them, remember that part of the proceeds will go toward Historic District signage.  GPA has volunteered to provide snacks for the event, so please let President Karen Bach know ASAP if you would be willing to provide some.

Although Dan did not know from whence they came, five persons who were not among the 300 who received The Gazette online found it and asked to subscribe.  Secretary’s Note:  Just after the meeting concluded, Donna Leetz arrived with the hot-off-the-press print copies of the newsletter, which will be delivered to all Historic District residents.  

Dan is planning to do a special housewalk Gazette.  If you have ideas for it, please contact him.

 

MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE  (Dorie Alpha  [email protected]“>[email protected])   

The inclusion of membership information in The Gazette produced results: shortly after the online version was sent out, six members renewed.

 

HOUSEWALK COMMITTEE  (various committee members, reporting for Bill Briska)

Though two houses scheduled to be on tour cancelled, due to Dan’s persuasive skills, another was added.  Zion Lutheran Church on Griswold St., which is the registration center, will also be a tour site.  To celebrate its 130th birthday, the church will begin serving slices of its 130-foot-long birthday cake midmorning on the day of the tour.

Dan will look into the possibility of putting an ad for the tour on Facebook.  This would be in addition to creating a Facebook invitation to it.

Please remember that the August 17th potluck, to be held at Lords Park Pavilion, is in honor of those who have agreed to put their homes on tour this year.  Please make an effort to honor them by attending.

 

ELGIN AL FRESCO: GPA’S BISTRO SET  (Karen Bach & Glenna Preradovic)

To be one of the ten sets auctioned off live during Art and Soul on the Fox, GPA’s will have to be one of the top ten vote getters.  Thus be aware that you still have until July 26th to vote as often as you wish for GPA’s Hungry in Gifford Park, a set which illustrates the children’s story The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Voting may be done at Gail Borden Library or online atwww.gailborden.info

 

BREAKFAST BRAINSTORMING  

The tabulated results will be discussed at the Board meeting, tentatively scheduled for Monday, July 30th.

 

TURKEY TROT  (Karen Bach)

Because no one could be found in time to spearhead this GPA money maker, it will not be held this year.

 

NEW BUSINESS

1.  Having seen information about historic sites given through cell phones in Indiana, Karen Bach raised the possibility of GPA doing the same.  A good idea, everyone thought, though not everyone knew that the Elgin Heritage Commission already has done this for a few historic sites in Elgin, among them Pratt’s Castle at 1262 Cedar Ave.

 

2.  Dorie Alpha made a formal request for GPA support for the Liberty Street Residents’ ongoing struggle to get the truck traffic rerouted from that street to Shales Parkway.  Because the City has to approach the State for any change to be made, much effort has been made to convince the council that rerouting is a necessity.  Thus far, the City has been noncommittal.  Unfortunately, lacking a quorum, GPA could not give its support this evening.

Secretary’s Note:  For those interested in all the details of the Liberty Street traffic problems, below is the residents’ most recent letter to the City Council.

 

 

The meeting ended at 8 p.m. and was followed by socializing over tasty treats, again provided by Karen Bach and Glenna Preradovic.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Barbara Evans, Secretary

 

Dear Council Member,

I write today to update you on the efforts of Liberty St. residents to change the volume and kind of traffic on that street and to appeal to you to support committed, persistent communication on the part of the city with IDOT to achieve such change. In the letter to Council members dated June 1, 2011, I first presented a description of our situation. Since then, with the welcome help of the Elgin police, we have gathered additional traffic volume statistics and can expand upon that first appeal.  Please allow me to elaborate on the character of Liberty St. , the present statistics regarding traffic volume, and the experience of those of us who live here.

This street is on the east side of old Elgin, a gateway neighborhood to Lords Park, the gem of Elgin’s public parks, with  Elgin’s premier Historic District, the Gifford Park Association, along part of it. In addition, Ellis Middle School, Sheridan Grade School and the Elgin Academy playing fields all lie within its bordering blocks.

Liberty St., from Bluff City Blvd. to Congdon Ave., has only 3 stop lights, with stretches of 7-10 blocks between each pair of lights with NO stops. More stops would slow down traffic, which is a desirable goal, and there are some very appropriate intersections for those stops:  at Laurel, Park, and Franklin Blvd. (where we already have IDOT’s agreement for a crosswalk).  In contrast, consider how FEW blocks Elgin presently has between stops on Chicago St. (STATE ROUTE 19) between Liberty and Villa/Center. Not breaking up the traffic flow on Liberty with stops results in tempting cars and trucks with too much open street room between, for instance, Chicago St. and Summit in which to really speed up to the next light. The gravel trucks, particularly, are clearly on the road to make “good” time, and they don’t hesitate to go as fast as they can. When they’re empty, every flaw they hit in the road surface erupts into reverberating loud bangs.

There are 290 residential buildings, mostly single family homes with a few apartment houses, duplexes and other rentals. Many of these homes are historic turn-of-the-century structures positioned close to and facing Liberty. They were not built to have the present huge truck and car volume pass 5-6 yards from their front doors.  Imagine the decibel level of traffic which blazes/blares/groans/chugs and thunders by our homes. These homes have no protection from noise and exhaust pollution.  Furthermore, we now are clearly aware of the threat posed by diesel exhaust emissions, as reported by the World Health Organization’s cancer research agency (from a 6/12 article in REUTERS). The significant change is that now these emissions are categorized in its group 1 of substances with definite links to cancer, right up there with asbestos, arsenic and mustard gas. Their advice is to reduce exposure to diesel particulates worldwide. Please remember that Liberty St. is not a business or industrial street, but in effect A RESIDENTIAL STREET (although a state route) with the 290 residential buildings mentioned earlier. The people in these buildings live here 24 hours a day every day of the week, with much more exposure than what is experienced in a workplace.

Within just the last year traffic volume has risen dramatically. City monitors report from May/2011 a daily volume (north and south) of 6368, from October/2011 a daily north & south volume of 9470. In May of 2012, we find city monitors recording daily north & southbound volumes ranging from 14,462 to 20,814.

The present use of Liberty for HEAVY TRUCK TRAFFIC has added insult to injury for this street which has already been bearing concentrated vehicle traffic. Evidently, within the last two years, the floodgates have somehow been opened to huge trucks, carriers of many kinds:  tankers, semis, gravel trucks using Liberty as their daily back and forth, back and forth, construction routes, huge and long concrete pipe haulers, one of which dropped a huge pipe onto the street just a bit north of the intersection at Chicago St. & Liberty. This heavy truck traffic has not been customary on Liberty and, in addition to the existing high volume of car traffic, it has created AN INTOLERABLE SITUATION. The residents SEE this traffic every day and night; we HEAR the constant noise (STARTING AT 4 AM);  we FEEL THE TRAFFIC VIBRATIONS rumbling through our old houses from front to back;  we FEAR FOR THE SAFETY of our children and other pedestrians. Two school crossing guards have recently been hit by vehicles. We have also had two truck spills at the Rt. 25 I-90 exit, one involving Hazmat.  Furthermore, we SUFFER ECONOMICALLY. Many of us have invested thousands and thousands of dollars in renovating these single-family houses, supporting the heritage of our city with OUR money.

Because we are facing all these threats to our health, economic, mental and physical, we appeal to the Elgin City Council, our elected representatives, to diligently fight for a change to the present traffic loads  on Liberty. At the very first meeting our residents had with city officials, an alternate traffic plan was offered, one which directs heavy trucking along more appropriate roads. This is not a new concept in Illinois or the U.S.  Wise city planning considers this need.  The proposed plan uses Bluff City Blvd., Shales Parkway and sections of Rt. 58 and Dundee Ave., ALL ROADS WITH COMMERCIAL FOCUS AND FAR FEWER RESIDENCES, MOST OF WHICH ARE SET FAR BACK FROM THE ROAD. Shales has NO HOMES ON ITS EAST SIDE. We ask you to actually drive along all of N. & S. Liberty, then drive the proposed alternative route and offer us your thoughts.

 Common sense alone shows the desperate need for a far-sighted public policy put in place AT THIS TIME while there are still options open on the east side of Elgin. We have learned that IDOT responds to plans presented to them by city governments, not by individual residents. We must have the power of Elgin behind us. We have also learned that it is necessary for our officials to continue to push for rerouting and not give in to discouragement from a negative IDOT response. “Power concedes nothing without a demand…” (Frederick Douglass) We ask that our City Council instead commit to devising and supporting a solution to the present traffic abuse on Liberty St. We know that this will require tenacity,  a purposeful spirit and time.

In the interim, we would like to see the speed limit reduced to 25 mph as has been done on STATE RT. 72 in West Dundee, more stops installed in order to eliminate the present long stretches of unimpeded traffic flow like what we see in the blocks on STATE RT. 19 in  Elgin, and signage banning engine braking systems on Liberty per a 2007 STATE LAW such as what Grayslake has done along highways like US 45 and ILLINOIS STATE RT. 137.  We hope such changes would discourage heavy truck traffic, in particular. We are open to solutions  generated by city government also.

Thank you very much for your careful attention and consideration. We are hopeful that as a City Council Member you will commit yourself to this cause.

Mary Ellen & Mich Barbezat, (847)697-6972, 353 N. Liberty; Doris Alpha, 357 N. Liberty; Cheryl & James Bacon, 325 N. Liberty; David Bullock, 324 N. Liberty; Bill Decker, 350 S. Liberty; Stephan & Mabel Dieterle, 310 N. Liberty; Tia Kramer, 16 N. Liberty; Lesa McQuinn, 329 N. Liberty; Michael Miller, 321 N. Liberty; John and Holly Wiedmeyer, 73 N. Liberty