February 2001 Membership Meeting

GPA General Membership Meeting Minutes
Thursday February 15, 2001

The meeting was called to order by Paul Bednar at 7:15 PM

In Attendance: Joe and Debbie Aguinaga, Karen Bach, Paul Bednar, Mark Billings, Bill Briska, Rork and Angela Coon, Sean Freid, John Gately, Clyde Larsen, Christine Lee, Dan and Pat Miller, Jason Musser, Glenna Preradovic, Dave and Pat Segal, Kevin Sosnowski, and Brian Stark,

January Minutes

Dan Miller made a motion to approve the minutes from the January board and general membership meetings. Mark Billings seconded the motion.

Treasurer’s Report

Glenna Preradovic provided the following report:
Checking Account              $
Money Market                  $
Wayne Landers Fund            $

February Board Meeting Summary

Rork Coon reported that the topic for discussion during the February board meeting was the budget. The proposed figures were reviewed and adjustments were recommended.

Code Enforcement

Clyde Larsen reported that his area has been reduced by 2/3rds. Clyde put together a map of the historic district by code officer. Clyde is currently working on an illegal unit on the 300 block of Ann St. He is also working on a rental unit on the 300 block of Prairie St., the owner states that the property is listed as a 2 unit. Clyde is checking into this with the city, as it was not licensed as a 2 unit in the past. A violation is also being turned in on the 100 block of South Gifford. Clyde will be going to court regarding the exterior issues with a house on the 300 block of North St., by Tennyson Ct. Clyde has been focusing on exterior issues on Tennyson Court. Mark Billings asked what type of exterior issues. Clyde responded: siding, porches, and painting, among other things. It was brought up that lots of people are bidding on 433 DuPage St., which is now listed as a 4 unit. Karen Bach asked if that means that someone can purchase the home and leave it as a 4 unit, the price is comparable to a single family home? Paul Bednar asked if it is in the neighborhoods best interest to list it that way? Mark Billings responded that the property needs quite a bit of work, the deconversion monies could be useful to help with the improvements.   Clyde commented that before it could be rented out, substantial improvements to the outside would need to be made. Paul Bednar asked if anyone else felt that a letter should be written regarding the house on DuPage? Pat Miller stated that she was concerned with non-licensed units and why they can be registered after the cut-off date. Pat also asked for an update on the land use status of the house on Channing that was discussed during the January meeting. Clyde stated that he would need to check into this, and get back to GPA. Pat then asked if the house on DuPage was vacant. Karen responded that it was. Mark Billings added that he was unsure what GPA could do at this point as the bids are already being offered, and should be accepted in the next few days.   Karen Bach responded that she was excited because this is the first real chance this property has had in several years, and it has the potential to be a beautiful home. Mark commented that the listing sheet has it listed as a possible deconversion. Sean Freid asked if the code is different for a 4 unit then a single family home. Clyde responded that it is possible because there would be 4 bathrooms and 4 kitchens in a 4 unit. Bill Briska asked if someone could follow up with the City on this. Karen Bach was asked to do this, and agreed. Deb Aguinaga asked about the status of the house on Franklin behind Casa de Estillos. Clyde commented that the car wash purchased the property, they need to rebuild the retaining wall. Deb then asked if Casa de Estillos would be able to expand their parking lot as parking is an issue there. Clyde is unsure of the zoning there.

ROPE Officer Report

Kevin Sosnowski reported that Marge Fostiack at Channing School made a proposal to the Neighborhood Services Committee to make DuPage Street one way east bound, east of Channing, and eliminate parking on DuPage east of Channing.
Kevin was asked to go door to door in the neighborhood and survey the neighbors. The 2 questions asked were: do you want to eliminate parking on DuPage Street, and do you want to make DuPage one way. The survey showed almost unanimous support for both. The path forward is to now make the recommendation to the City. The proposal will also include making Rugby Place one way northbound. Karen Bach asked what kind of follow through occurs after they do this? Do they perform a traffic survey to ensure that lights and so forth are appropriate? Karen is still concerned about the changes made at Gifford Place. Kevin commented that the proposal was brought up for the safety of the children. Most residents, including those on Rugby, were in favor. Bill Briska asked Paul Bednar’s opinion as Paul lives on Rugby Place. Paul commented that he voted no. He would like to see the approach take 2 steps, first eliminate parking, and then see if changing the street direction is needed.

Kevin then reported that for the most part the 13 and 14 gang members have been quiet. A home on South Gifford was identified as having gang members living there. Kevin talked to the parents, and an agreement was made that there was to be no congregating on the street. Kevin has not seen much graffiti. Glenna Preradovic added that there was red painted on a pole at Gifford and Addison. Kevin continued by stating that he received a call on the condition of the Grandview Property. Kevin followed through and found graffiti and trash littering the area. He has contacted community restitution to clean up the property once the snowmelts. Pat Miller added that the debris is new, it was not there at the end of December. Pat also commented that there was a decision made by Glenn Theriault to clear the area in an attempt to make things more visible. Now it is just weeds instead of trees and shrubs. The part that leads to Gifford has been trampled from people using it. There are people mowing it, but it is not done until July. Mark Billings asked if Jennifer Shroder had contacted anyone about forming a resident task committee in order to develop some possible options for the property. Paul Bednar commented that the plan for the property when the grant was written was to make it a historical park, rather than a playground type park. The plan also included a little section for parking so that parking could be moved off of the street.

Sean Freid asked Kevin if there was a ROPE officer for the 600 block of South Liberty, as he has concerns with a home in that area selling drugs. Kevin replied by stating that there is not a ROPE officer, but there are 3 beat officers. Kevin suggested that Sean contact the drug unit directly. Kevin has also sent a note to Ann Reebok in order to try and get the Gifford Street High School Partnership meetings started again.

City Comprehensive Plan Status

Paul Bednar reported that the consultants want to sit down with the neighborhood groups in order to develop neighborhood plans.

Gifford Park Improvements

Mark Billings updated everyone on the fact that the Victorian Park idea with the gazebo intact, and upgraded walkways, was embraced by all. A meeting to finalize the plans is scheduled for February 22nd at 7:00 PM at the Parks Department. The monetary figure associated with the project is approximately $300,000. Paul Bednar commented that initially a large sum of money was budgeted for paving. He believes that by reducing the width of the walkways from 10ft to 7ft, this cost can be significantly reduced.

St. Mary’s Addition

St. Mary’s brought their proposal to the Design Review Subcommittee last Tuesday. Karen Bach reported that St. Mary’s came with changes from the original plan and supporters. Everything was put on hold until the subcommittee meeting. Pat Miller added that the original COA had not changed. By the time of meeting, the COA was the same for the temporary building. St. Mary’s did make a statement that they are now willing to make the structure temporary. Behind the scenes, some changes were made to the original plan to fill the needs of the design committee. During the Tuesday night meeting, Sarosh presented the specifics of the lot and the school, this included figures such as how far from the building and the street the structure would need to be.   St. Mary’s can appeal for a variance, at which time neighbors can voice their opinions. Sarosh also discussed the differences between temporary and permanent structures. A temporary unit is put up for 6 months and does not have plumbing or a foundation. Karen Bach asked for St. Mary’s response. Pat commented that the people designing the structure did not provide them with the information defining temporary versus permanent structures. The Heritage Commission would like to see a plan and agreement that it would be temporary, a timeline for how long it will be up, and the plans for the future.   The Commission will vote on the topic during the March meeting. Dan Miller added that he got the feeling that the committee is leaning towards letting St. Mary’s put up a temporary structure. Sarosh states that temporary is 6-18 months. An agreement would need to be in place with the timeline and future plans. Dan also spoke with someone who does additions for schools all over the state. This person stated that a 4-room addition would cost somewhere in the area of $550,000. The members of the Design Review Subcommittee are: Dan Miller, Pat Hill, David Jurina, and Steve Stroud. The Heritage Commission will cast the final vote during their March meeting. Paul Bednar asked if an additional letter should be sent by GPA outlining the concerns with the proposal. Mark Billings commented that part of the rationale for not supporting the demolitions at St. Joseph’s was because they did not have a plan. Dan Miller replied that the agreement would need to have a plan. Bill Briska asked if there is a bond to cover the removal of the structure if the agreement is broken. Pat Miller added that she does not feel there is anything new to state. Mark Billings made a motion to draft a letter. Dan Miller commented that maybe the letter should be to St. Mary’s asking if members of the neighborhood group could sit down with their committee to help with the planning. Karen Bach added that she does not think they have a committee.   Paul Bednar then asked again if GPA should write a letter to the Commission and to St. Mary’s offering assistance in the project plan. Bill Briska made the motion and Dan Miller seconded it. Bill then volunteered to draft a letter with the key points. Brian Stark asked if there is a school board that has reviewed the key points, perhaps GPA could present to them.

Neighborhood Expo

Paul Bednar updated GPA on the success of the neighborhood expo. GPA was one of two groups that presented a PowerPoint presentation. There was a good turn out, and many people were interested in talking to GPA.

2001 Budget

Bill Briska stated that the proposed budget was based on previous operating expenses. Paul Bednar added that the board discussed the budget and made revisions. Paul also added that the budget could always be updated at a later date. Jason Musser commented that the website cost might go up from $500 to $650. Mark Billings made a motion to approve the budget as recommended, Dan Miller seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.


Jean Bednar will be looking for people to sign up for Gazette delivery at the end of March. Delivery is scheduled for before the April Potluck.

Neighborhood Council

Mark Billings provided the neighborhhood council update. The Advisory Board is coming to fruition. Cherie Murphy has been hired as a consultant as the neighborhood liaison for 6 months. Mark is serving on the structure committee and will continue to update GPA.

Meeting Location

The March general membership meeting will be held at Channing Elementary School. The remainder of the year will be at Gifford Street High School, 355 E. Chicago Street.

Great Unveiling

Dan Miller was happy to report that during the last Heritage Commission meeting, Steve Stroud proposed that the Commission sponsor the Great Unveiling. The Commission agreed to provide $5000 in sponsorships with the condition that the homeowners sign a long-term agreement for rehabilitation. This agreement consists of sitting down with an inspector and developing a realistic plan to complete the project. Volunteers are now needed. GPA will still lead the efforts by sending out fliers and selecting houses. Rork Coon asked if there are any prospects as of yet. Pat Miller commented that a person on Hinsdale Place has expressed an interest. Paul Bednar added that a card will be sent out to everyone in the district. Similar mailings will also be distributed to other neighborhoods.


Deb Aguinaga has rescheduled the first meeting for Thursday March 8th at 7PM. The meeting will be held at her home, 273 College Street.

Home Marketing

Mark Billings has secured a digital camera. There are currently 16 home in the neighborhood that are for sale, the average sale price is $155,000. There are at least 8-10 bids out for 433 DuPage, including a gentleman who has called back and upped his bid because he really wants it. Of the 16, one half are in the DuPage, Channing, Prairie, Gifford, square. Mark thanked Sean Freid for his assistance in helping to update the homes for sale page on the website. Mark has also secured a 26-time ad in Cranes Chicago Business Magazine. This ad will air on February 19th. The next phase is to do newspaper ads, such as the Herald and the Courier. The deconversion program allotment has been upped to $20,000 per unit. Pat Miller added that now you do not have to show the receipts for how much you spend. She voiced a concern that this might encourage investors to come in and spend the minimum amount necessary to complete the deconversion. Dan Miller replied that he feels this should be this way because by deconverting, you are decreasing the value of the property. Paul Bednar added that they are required to take the kitchens and bathrooms out.   Mark Billings then added that Elginliving.com is a new web address for people looking at homes in Elgin, and is linked to Cranes.


Sean Freid reported that the website committee is looking at a new host that would allow anyone who wants to work with the website to have access through a web browser. This would enable the committee to delegate responsibilities. The plan is to make the move within the next 4 weeks. Sean has thrown out the GPA web address to two old house discussion groups, and has received feedback from both. Paul Bednar asked about establishing links with magazines, such as Midwest Living. Sean stated that he believes that magazines would charge. He has, however, linked to Love my Old House, and Old House Chronicles. Jason Musser thanked everyone who attended the meeting.


Paul Bednar again stated that GPA is offering assistance to people who would like to attend the NUSA conference in Pittsburgh, PA on May 23rd. Paul would like to go and present GPA’s story. He has not heard yet if he has made the cut.


Fran Cella provided the following Housewalk update:

First Housewalk Committee meeting was held January 30. After much discussion about the pros and cons of doing a city wide Housewalk, there was consensus that we should focus on a single neighborhood and attempt to have a number of past “belles of the ball” on the tour. The designated location is the near west side. One of the special themes for the 20th Housewalk will be a celebration of the people who have made the Housewalk possible. Possibilities include recognizing volunteers for the numbers of years worked, interviewing long time volunteers, honoring long time sponsors. Dawn Hagen from the city has been contacted and is interested in helping with the housewalk. The next meeting will be Wednesday 2/21 7 p.m. at the YMCA in the Ace room.

Historic District

Karen Bach scheduled the first Historic District meeting for Wednesday March 7th at 7PM. The meeting location is 419 DuPage Street.


Paul Bednar reported for Jean Bednar. We are currently out of the walking tour brochures, and the Visitors Bureau has been asking for them. GPA will need to print up more, and will need to pay for the printing upfront. The cost is about $3000 for 5000 brochures. Jean would like to put in new pictures and update the book. A major revision, however, will not be done for this printing. Sean Freid agreed to take pictures within the next few weeks. The target dates for Gazettes are as follows: March 31st for spring – featuring the Potluck, Porchfest and Great Unveiling, June for Summer – featuring Porchfest, Nite in the Park, Community Build Day, and Housewalk volunteers needed, late August for Fall – featuring Housewalk preview, and Make a Difference Day, and Late November for Winter – featuring the Christmas Party and a recap of the year’s events.


Pat Miller commented that a program is still needed for the membership potluck. The Pavilion is reserved for April 20th. Paul Bednar replied that he would like to see Mike Alft, and a follow up to what was done last year. Mark Billings added that Jerry Turnquist has agreed to talk to GPA anytime he is asked.

Hispanic Outreach

Joe Aguinaga commented that he needs more direction as to what he needs to say. Dan Miller replied that he would like to see GPA give welcome wagons to the new Hispanic neighbors. Paul Bednar agreed to forward more information to Joe.

Neighborhood School Liaison

Brian has agreed to act as the liaison. Dan Miller commented that he believes that Brian should talk to Channing about the mobiles as he heard that they might be permanent. Paul Bednar added that maybe he should talk to Marge about a grounds master plan which would include replacing the playground equipment, and fixing the tennis courts. Pat Miller stated that she spoke with Warren Tejes, who has been on the CA Committee for many years. Warren stated that he feels the enrollment at Channing does not merit the need for mobiles. Pat added that he might be a good future resource.

Top Ten List

Paul Bednar would like to discuss options for going over the top ten list during the March board meeting. There are two possible ways of doing this. One would be to hold a special meeting for 4 hours on a Saturday morning. The second would be to discuss a portion of the list during the next few general memberships meetings. Paul’s idea is to minimize the number of additional meetings. Please forward any comments to Paul prior to the Board meeting. Anyone interested in being involved is invited to attend the board meeting.

Congratulations to Dan and Pat Miller!

Their project will be featured on the show “Restore America”. The 2.5 minute segment will air Sunday March 18th at 9:00 PM on HGTV. Please spread the word.

Advertising Elgin

Sean Freid asked if anyone had contacted magazines about featuring Elgin. Dan Miller replied that Old House Journal is always looking for articles. Paul Bednar added that Midwest Living will be writing an article about Elgin, which focuses on the Housewalk.

Calendar of Events

February 21st , Wednesday- Housewalk Meeting – YMCA 7PM
February 22nd, Thursday – Gifford Park Improvement Meeting – Parks Dept. 7PM
March 7th, Wednesday – Historic District Meeting – 419 DuPage St. 7PM
March 8th, Thursday – Porchfest Planning Meeting – 273 College St., 7PM
March 15th , Thursday – GPA General Membership Meeting – Channing School, 7PM
April 20th , Friday – Annual Membership Potluck, Lords Park Pavilion – 6PM
May 19th, Saturday – Great Unveiling