June 2001 Membership Meeting

Gifford Park Association General Membership Meeting
Thursday, June 21, 2001

In Attendance: Deb Aguinaga, Karen Bach, Joe Becerra, Mark Billings, Leonetta Braithwhite, Bill Briska, Fran Cella, Angela and Rork Coon, Paul Durrenberger, John Gately, Christine Lee, Dan and Pat Miller, Jason Musser, Brigitte Nobs, Mark and Glenna Preradovic, Dave and Pat Segal, Kevin Sosnowski, and Brian Stark

The meeting was called to order by Rork Coon at 7:13 PM.

Dan Miller made a motion to approve the May Board and General Membership Minutes. Joe Becerra seconded the motion.

Treasurer’s Report

Checking Account – $13,649.26


Deb Aguinaga reported on the finalized plans for Porchfest. Bike decorating for the parade will take place at Kevin Sosnowki’s home. Handouts will be going out to the neighborhood. Deb asked for assistance in delivering the handouts. Paul Bednar had sent a note asking for pictures for the architectural treasure hunt. Glenna Preradovic agreed to have these taken by Sunday.


Dan Miller reported that the City had purchased 11 homes on Hammond Avenue between St. Charles and Liberty a couple of weeks ago. The City used grant money to purchase the homes that now lie on a flood plain. Dan and Pat took three hours to go through the houses. Pat added that the fire department had already used the homes for training. Therefore, the homes already have a lot of water and ax damage. Still, there are some items worth salvaging. Dan’s thoughts were to possibly share the salvage work and procedures with other neighborhood groups, considering that there are so many homes, and staffing salvages is always a problem. Dan asked the group’s opinion on this proposal. Jason Musser asked when the salvage would be held. Dan replied that it would be in the next few weeks. Pat Miller made a motion to proceed with Dan’s proposal. Joe Becerra seconded the motion.

Tax Status

Dan Miller commented that we currently hold a 501-C4 tax status. The preferred status is 501-C3 because this would enable the group to receive non-profit funds from organizations such as Grand Victoria. Dan has been in contact with a down town lawyer that is working on this issue for DNA. Dan added that GPA has been unsuccessful at getting this status in the past. He is unsure why, as groups such as NHS hold the 501-C3 status.

Community Build Day

Mark Billings reminded everyone that the Gifford Park community build day will begin at 8am on Saturday July 21st. The rain date is scheduled for Saturday July 28th. Mark added that many items, including moving the gazebo to the center of the park and planting oaks, have already been completed. The activities scheduled for the 21st include plantings, and such. Pat Miller commented that there was a meeting a week or so ago. She believes that there should be another meeting scheduled between GPA and OES to work out the details. Mark will coordinate the planning meeting. The items to be discussed will include food and babysitting. Please let Mark or Pat know if you plan on attending. Paul Bednar sent a note asking if perennials will be planted in the Park during the build day. If so, he would like to plan on getting these purchased. Dave Segal replied that a grant was put in for $13,000. $10,000 of this grant was to be allocated to trees throughout the neighborhood in the area between the street and the sidewalk. The remaining $3,000 was for perennials. Pat Segal has generated a list of plants that would be hardy and sustainable past the first year, but has not put together a plan for planting these in the Park.

ROPE Officer Report

Kevin Sosnowski reported that he, and 5 neighborhood kids, have just returned from the ROPE Officer’s camp in Lake Geneva. The Image Advisory Committee has recently had a meeting at Greg Guerrero’s home to discuss the Historic District. Greg is supposed to report on the neighborhood by the end of the month. Kevin added that at Lords Park tomorrow between 11:00-2:00 there will be a youth activity for Jr. and Sr. high schoolers. One of the other officers owns a contruction company and will have equipment there and will go over things such as hanging windows. Kevin has contacted the gang and drug units regarding the KDS taggings in the neighborhood. It appears to be just someone with a can of paint, as they have no information on it. Community restitution has already cleaned much of the taggings up.

Channing Park and School

Paul Bednar has a meeting tentatively scheduled for 4PM on Monday June 25th with Lalo Ponce and Monica Bates to discuss the future of Channing Park. The objectives will be to clearly agree on ownership, maintenance, and future development. For instance, can a partnership be reached between all to get new playground equipment, tennis courts, landscaping, gazebo, and etc. Paul would like to keep the meeting small with just a few GPA representatives. If anyone has any ideas, or would like to be involved, please contact Paul. Pat Miller reported that in preparing for this meeting, she found out that U46 is not bound by City rules. U46 follows the guidelines of the State of Illinois and the Board of Education. Pat believes that for future questions or concerns, one of these two groups will need to be contacted. Elgin code should not be contacted because, except for isolated areas such as new building construction, they do not have the power to enforce anything. Rork Coon then brought up the two new mobile classrooms at Channing. Mark Billings asked Kevin Sosnowski for the history on these units. Kevin replied that the mobiles were going to be placed next to the existing mobiles. However, this would involve moving a tennis court. U46 and the City did not wish to make this change, and therefore the mobiles were placed in the only other available location. Kevin believes that the mobiles will be in place until the addition to Channing School is complete. He does not believe that the new school will be sufficient to alleviate the pressure. Joe Becerra commented that it sounds like GPA can not do anything because U46 is not bound by code. Dan Miller commented that it is beyond his comprehension why the mobiles are needed if a new school is being built. Why not just add 2 more rooms to the new construction. A discussion then took place regarding who to contact regarding the Board of Education and School District rules. Joe Becerra recommended contacting Rep. Doug Hoeft, who used to be superintendent. It was also recommended to call Mr. Mejia at the Kane County Regional Office of Education.

Little League

Paul Bednar provided a written update regarding the monies donated to the Elgin Little League. The Little League was very thankful for the two checks, equaling $500.00. In return for the monies, GPA received $500.00 in discount coupons, as well as an offering to put our name on a sign on the fence. It usually costs $300.00 to get a name on the sign, so they gave more than was expected. The coupons, which are for local businesses, will be given out at Porchfest.

Grant Money Signs

Pat Miller commented that there is still money left from last year’s neighborhood improvement grant for historic home marketing. This could be used to purchase deconversion and exterior rehabilitation grant signs that are 2 sided with larger lettering than the original signs. Pat has received a quote of $900.00 for 12, 2-sided signs with stakes. According to Mark Billings, there is currently $6000 left from the grant. The company would also directly bill the City for the signs so that the funds did not come directly out of GPA’s
treasury. Pat would propose purchasing 10-12 of the deconversion signs and 5-6 of the exterior rehabilitation signs. The signs would be the same color as the original, with some additional green lettering. Pat requested suggestions from the group. Pat added that the biggest problem is getting the signs out there. It would not make sense to purchase 20-30 signs because it is difficult to get them out, and they might become outdated. Karen Bach asked if signs should be made for homes that are taking advantage of the grants. Dan and Pat Miller both replied that Sarosh should already be doing this. These signs specifically target homes that are for sale in the Historic District. Joe Becerra asked if there were fliers to go with the signs, in case someone would like to stop and take information with them. Pat replied no. The signs have a contact number for more information. SEEN did have fliers with their signs, but their signs were heavy metal. The ones that GPA would purchase are much lighter and probably would not support the extra weight of a flier box. Pat did not think it wise to invest the extra monies in the heavier weight signs. There are still issues with the signs not being returned, because they are stolen or vandalized. Mark Billings added that he feels that this project almost requires someone full time to coordinate the efforts of contacting the real estate agent and / or homeowner, delivering, and retrieving the signs. Pat Miller added that this is also part education for realtors on the programs that are available. Please provide any input regarding the signs to the home marketing committee.


Fran Cella reported that site selection for this year’s Housewalk is complete. Fran has sent out a list of tasks that she needs assistance with. Please review the list and contact Fran if you are able to help out.

Paul Bednar provided a written update. Paul met with representatives from the Tribune last week regarding their interest in sponsoring Elgin events. Housewalk was one of the items presented. Paul has not received any feedback yet. Paul also met with the Herald. They are willing to do many articles and sponsor more ads than last year. They also believe that GPA should have some kind of drawing for prizes either the day of HW or for advanced ticket purchasers. If done the day of, the entry box could be near the food court, so as to get a lot of exposure. The Herald would be willing to provide some gift certificates for this drawing.

Great Unveiling

Dan Miller reported on the Great Unveiling. The activity was a huge success. Painting has already been started at 480 Division St. This, along with the painting started at Joe Becerra’s home, has made a dramatic difference in that area. Peter Caviness from Hinsdell Place has sent a letter extending his thanks for all of the assistance. Dan would like to publicly thank the Heritage Commission for the $3000.00 funding for this event. Dan would also like to extend thanks to all those who helped out. Joe Becerra added that a neighbor next to 480 Division saw what was done there, and what Joe has done, and has begun some improvements. Rork Coon asked if there were plans to update the porch at 480 Division. Dan Miller added that some improvements would be made, but it would not be of the original style.

Historic Home Marketing

Mark Billings passed around a collection of ads that were published in Cranes Chicago Business. These ads featured information on homes that were for sale, and amenities in Elgin such as the new library and recreational center. Mark also sent around an ad that, thanks to Brian Stark, went out in the Herald. Mark reported that Tony and Edwina Little have closed on a home at the corner of Rugby Place and DuPage. They will be deconverting the property from a 4 unit. Jarrig Visser, who lives at the corner of DuPage and Channing, has decided to stay and continue to work on his home. Paul Bednar has referred a person that was interested in Jarrig’s home to a property near his. Mark proposed that the group host an open house at the home on the corner of Chicago and Liberty. Mark believes this would be a great idea and asked for assistance from the group. Rork Coon suggested that an open house be proposed for 570 E. Chicago also as it is next door to the previously mentioned home.


Mark Billings reported that GPA was not selected to receive an $80,000 CDBG to purchase and deconvert 140 N. Gifford. The money was allocated to other projects. The owner of 140 N. Gifford is now gutting the unit and deconverting it. Once completed, the home will be put back on the market. For those unaware of the history of this property, it suffered a basement fire several months ago. It then sat vacant for 6-8 months until the owner was convinced to do something with it.

Fourth of July Parade

Discussion ensued regarding the 4th of July parade. Glenna Preradovic reported that she has been working with Tom Eisenmenger on a float. Please let her know if you have any ideas.

Perennials in the District

Paul Bednar provided a written report regarding perennials around street signs in the district. Paul noted that the current flowers are doing well, and that he would like to see more of this. Paul asked if Pat Segal, or any other member, has any ideas regarding this issue. Pat Miller commented that ideally someone should be coordinating this so that homeowners are contacted and asked to maintain the flowerbeds. Joe Becerra asked if street lights and other signs are also being considered. Rork Coon commented that his main concern is with taking care of the perennials that are already planted. Rork will contact Paul on this issue.


Pat Miller passed around two pieces of paper containing the names of the current members, and those that did not renew. The numbers are 100 current, and 40 that did not renew. Pat asked that those present check the lists for their names. The reminder that was listed on the mailing label of last month’s minutes prompted 2 renewals. Pat added that with manpower, a reminder by phone could be done. Pat would like to get membership numbers finalized and a membership list printed. Pat again asked for help with meeting new neighbors, she currently has a list of 15. Pat also requested that everyone let her know if someone new moves into the neighborhood.


Jason Musser reported that he has added a brief note to the website regarding Porchfest. Sean Fried plans to add a more elaborate mention. Jason has officially changed the ISP, and renewed the GPA domain name – this comes up for renewal every two years. Pat Miller asked if the funds for the website could come out of the home marketing grant. Jason replied possibly because parts of the funds are specifically for the link to Elgin’s home page, which is linked heavily to home marketing. Mark Billings added that this is working. Mark also added that now he can go directly into the website and update pictures and information on homes that are for sale.


Paul Durrenberger reported that June’s after party will be at Brigitte and Martin Nobs home at 50 River Bluff. July’s after party will be held at 155 S. Gifford, Dan and Pat Miller’s home. Please contact Paul if you are interested in hosting a future after party.


Dan Miller passed around an ELA brochure. Dan would recommend that GPA support a member to attend. Karen Bach and Glenna Preradovic explained the details and benefits of the program.

Energy Coop

Dave Segal spoke on the importance of the energy coop. In summary, work will take place to ensure that energy efficient appliances are in use. The corresponding energy savings will result in grants being issued back to the community. Rich Hirschberg will be the energy coop representative for Elgin.

Ideas for Possible Donations

Paul Bednar provided a written list of ideas for possible donations. These include the Pioneer Memorial Sculpture Siting, and the Community Crisis Center. The foundation working with the sculpture is asking for donations and would possibly recognize the donors with plaques. The Community Crisis Center is fund raising in order to make interior improvements. Paul stated that maybe GPA could provide assistance towards making exterior improvements of some sort. Paul asked that everyone think on these items and provide feedback.

Comprehensive Plan

The City is interested in neighborhood input on the Comprehensive Plan. A meeting is scheduled for June 27th. Any board member that would be able to attend in order to present GPA’s views should contact Paul Bednar.


Dan Miller made a motion to adjourn. Joe Becerra seconded the motion.

Calendar of Events

July 19th, Thursday – General Membership Mtg., Gifford Street High School – 7PM
After party at the home of Dan and Pat Miller, 155 S. Gifford
July 28th, Saturday – Community Build Day, Gifford Park – 8AM
August 16th, Thursday – General Membership Mtg., Gifford Street High School – 7PM
September 8th and 9th, Saturday and Sunday – Housewalk