March 2001 membership Meeting

GPA General Membership Meeting Minutes
Thursday March 15, 2001

The meeting was called to order by Paul Bednar at 7:12 PM

In Attendance:   Deb and Joe Aguinaga, Karen Bach, Joe Becerra, Paul and Jean Bednar, Mark and Pat Billings, Bill Briska, Fran Cella, Rork Coon, Paul Durrenberger, John Gately, Dawn Hagen – City of Elgin, Christine Lee, Pat Miller, Glenna Preradovic, Dave Segal, Kevin Sosnowski, Brian Stark, and Kari White

February Minutes

Brian Stark made a motion to approve the minutes from the February board and general membership meetings. Rork Coon seconded the motion. It passed unanimously.

Treasurer’s Report

Glenna Preradovic provided the following report:
Checking Account                   $77,379.99
Money Market                         $11,247.35
Wayne Landers Fund               $   2,021.10

Community Specialist

Dawn Hagen, the community specialist with the City, was present. Dawn is working on internal and external projects such as decentralization.

St. Mary’s Addition

Karen Bach reported on the St. Mary’s addition. They are appealing to the City Council. There are many outstanding questions regarding temporary structures. Pat Miller spoke on the details of the changes to be made to the temporary structure. This should be done before St. Mary’s goes before the City Council. The Heritage Commission and City Legal are drawing up the document to be reviewed by the Council. Bill Briska added that St. Mary’s has a project bigger than they had planned for. Bill asked if someone in the congregation is willing to be the project manager. Bill stated that for big projects, a business plan is needed. Could the City possibly help with a plan, including design guidelines? Karen Bach added that there was a plan previously, which no one seems to know about. Bill Briska continued by stating that perhaps GPA should offer to help in the planning for both St. Mary’s and St. Joe’s. The City Council meeting should happen within the next 2 weeks. Paul Bednar asked if GPA should ask St. Mary’s to meet with us. Fran Cella commented that they perceive GPA as an obstacle. Meeting with them is the next logical step. Jean Bednar made a motion to send a letter to St. Mary’s and copy the Diocese office making an offer to meet with them. A second letter will be sent to St. Joe’s when the time is right. Pat Miller seconded the motion.

Gifford Park Improvements

Mark Billings reiterated that the Victorian Park idea with the existing gazebo in the center, and upgraded walkways, was embraced by all. Community Build Day is scheduled for July 21st. Paul Bednar has worked with the Parks Department on the final drawings. One final point to be decided is the material for the walks. Paul discussed some alternative paver brick materials that he thinks GPA should push for. There are benefits to the new pavers, the most important being cost. Paul will work with the Parks Department to ensure that quotes are received for concrete, Brussels Blocks, and Pinehall Brick. Mark Billings will let OEN know about this as a courtesy.

Neighborhood Advisory Board

Mark Billings is serving on the structure committee. Mark added that the intent of this group is to strengthen Elgin’s neighborhoods and make them a model for other communities. Kevin Sosnowski commented that the Board is considering using a pie shaped concept. The idea behind this is that all neighborhood groups would have equal input.

Block Grant

A determination regarding the CDBG request should be made in March. All GPA members are encouraged to attend the public hearing. Mark Billings will forward any updates, and the meeting date, vial email.


Deb Aguinaga spoke with Cherie Murphy regarding citywide involvement. The only feedback received was from NENA, who will not be able to participate. Deb did speak with NENA about the possibility of coordinating a neighborhood bike tour with the event. Paul Bednar added that the responses he has received have indicated that July 1st would be the preferred date. Many ideas, including bike decorating, were brought forth to try and tie-in Porchfest with the 4th of July parade. Dawn Hagen reported that DNA is looking to begin tying in events with July 4th over the next few years in order to lead up to the 2004, 150 year celebration. The consensus was that this event has many possibilities, but it takes volunteers. GPA will need help if it is to grow. The date for National Night Out might be moved, which might allow for it to be connected to Porchfest. Pat Miller stated that it would be a good idea to finalize a date. It was agreed that Porchfest would be held on July 1st.

Home Marketing

Mark Billings passed around a copy of the most recent ad from Crains. Mark is still evaluating the effectiveness of the ad, as it did not generate any phone calls. Mark added that Jason and Sean should be commended on their job of keeping the website updated. Mark also commented that the turnover in the Gifford-Channing-Prairie-Fulton square has been large recently, with 8 homes going up for sale. Mark has requested that everyone think about this area and any possible ideas to address the high turnover rate. The owner of 140 N. Gifford has recently begun deconverting the property to single family.


Paul Bednar again stated that GPA is offering financial assistance to people who would like to attend the NUSA conference in Pittsburgh, PA on May 23rd.


Fran Cella reported that the Housewalk will be held in the near west neighborhood this year. A registration site has not been tied down yet. The committee is currently looking into other options for the after party, as it appears that we have outgrown the Lords Park Pavilion.

Historic District

Karen Bach held the first meeting on March 7th at the Realtor Board Meeting. Karen plans to set a date for the next meeting in the near future. Karen and Glenna Preradovic compiled a list of 28 streetlights that are out in the district. This list has been forwarded to Dave Lowry.


The Potluck will begin at 6PM on Friday April 20th at the Lords Park Pavilion. The plan is to begin eating at 6:30PM. The program will be given on the Watch Factory documentary preview. It is yet to be determined if GPA will give another presentation in addition to that of the Watch Factory. Award suggestions should be forwarded to Pat Miller prior to the April 5th Board meeting.

Hispanic Outreach

Please forward any ideas to Joe Aguinaga.

Neighborhood School Liaison

Brian Stark has sent letters to the neighborhood schools in order to open the communication pathway with GPA. Pat Miller commented that Mary Beth at St. Mary’s would like to receive our mailings. Pat added that maybe it would be beneficial to discuss adding these types of people to our mailing list. Paul Bednar asked Mark Billings if he would forward a list of neighborhood church contacts to Angela.

Gifford Street High School Meeting

A meeting was held in order to discuss issues, such as smoking on the corner and parking, at the Gifford Street High School. Kevin Sosnowski reported that Bill Witte suggested making all of the streets around Gifford Park one-way and putting diagonal parking in. The next meeting will be held Tuesday April 3rd at 10:00 AM at the school.

Neighborhood Improvement Grants

Paul Bednar stated that the neighborhood improvement grant request is due by the end of March. The board discussed the possibility of submitting a proposal for additional landscaping at Old Elgin High. This would include additional street trees and possibly street trees in other areas. Pat Miller added that Betty Skyles has a list of needs for the High School, including a flagpole and a sign. There maybe 3 groups to tap for these items. Discussion ensued regarding the details of coordinating the grant request. Kevin Sosnowski agreed to check into this further. Rork Coon recommended that GPA have a back up plan for more trees. Joe Becerra suggested flowers at the base of streetlights. The problem with the flowers is maintenance. Paul Bednar has talked to the Parks Department about having paid interns, using GPA funds, handle the maintenance. Kevin added that he could coordinate the work with neighborhood kids. Pat Miller and Dave Segal believe that this idea will be very important during the next few years after Gifford Park is planted.

Realtor Board Meeting

The Realtor Board has been taking a tough stand in opposition to the City’s point of listing inspection. After letting them know GPA’s thoughts, they called a meeting with GPA and other neighborhood groups. They debated what was said, and were not convinced to change their minds. NENA has already written a letter in response to this issue. Paul Bednar asked if GPA should do so also. There will be a forum at the City for neighborhood groups to be heard. Pat Miller will be attending this meeting if she is available. Bill Briska and Karen Bach will also try to attend. Fran Cella suggested that GPA write a letter to the City regarding our position, and copy the Realtor Board. Dawn Hagen reported that the ordinance has not passed yet, so the City wants to hear what everyone has to say regarding this. Pat Miller believes that this can go farther, to include the legal status of a property, and historic district status. Mark Billings made a motion to write a letter in support, as stated with Pat Miller’s additions. Deb Aguinaga seconded the motion.

Library Design

Jean Bednar reported on the current design status of the new library. The library board has received quite a bit of negative feedback concerning the proposed design. It is recommended that each individual provide their opinion. This can be done online through the library’s website. Joe Becerra made a motion that GPA write a letter supporting opposition to the current design. The motion was approved unanimously. Jean Bednar added that the library is planning a public meeting one evening in April.

Good News!

Thanks to John Steffen, GPA received $1000 back from a double payment of a security deposit on 40N. Gifford. This money will be put into the Wayne Landers account.

Kevin Sosnowski reported that gangs in the area have been quiet. He also reported that crime is down 34%.

Bill Briska was happy to report that new exhibits are opening at the Old Main Museum this weekend.

Paul Bednar added that suggestions for GPA contributions would be considered in future meetings.


Brian Stark made a motion to adjourn. Kari White seconded the motion.

Oak Flooring for Sale

Dan and Pat Miller recently got a call from some people that have some new oak flooring for

sale. They have 75 square feet of 3/4 inch thick, unfinished oak for $50. 75 square feet of prefinished 3/4 inch thick oak for $50. 100 square feet of 3/8 inch thick unfinished oak flooring for $50. Call Teresa or Tom Baughman at 854-3285 or Ann and Chuck Miller at 742-2052

Calendar of Events

April 3rd, Tuesday – Gifford Street High School Meeting – 10AM
April 20th , Friday – Annual Membership Potluck, Lords Park Pavilion – 6PM
May 19th, Saturday – Great Unveiling
July 1st, Sunday – Porchfest