September 2001 Membership Meeting

GPA General Membership Meeting Minutes
Thursday September 20, 2001

In Attendance: Joe Aguinaga, Joe and Laura Becerra, Paul and Jean Bednar, Bill Briska, Mark and Nancy Buchner, Angela Coon, Paul Durrenberger, Gil Feliciano, John Gately, Christine Lee, Dan and Pat Miller, Jason and Kari White Musser, Mark and Glenna Preradovic, and Jim Sheppard (Parks and Recreation)

July Minutes

Paul Bednar reviewed the minutes from the last general membership meeting. Joe Becerra commented that the minutes incorrectly stated that he was present for the board meeting. Dan Miller made a motion to approve the minutes. Jean Bednar seconded the motion.


The group welcomed Mark, Nancy, and Hope Buchner to the neighborhood. They have recently purchased and moved into 416 Park Street.

Holiday Decorations at Gifford Park

Jim Sheppard from the Parks and Recreation Department was present to speak to the group briefly regarding the possibility of putting holiday decorations up at Gifford Park.   Jim stated that for the last 3 years he has worked with Tish Powell on Holiday lighting. Typically, the downtown area has been the focus. This year, they would like to expand from downtown and also add lighting to a few neighborhood parks. They would like for Gifford Park to be included in this group.   Last week Jim met with the City’s electrician, and a few others, to come up with a tentative plan. The ideas put forth include putting garland and ribbon around the gazebo and poles, a set of Victorian carolers in the gazebo, and a horse and sleigh in the grassy area west of the gazebo. Jim passed around pictures that showed what they would propose.   Jim then asked the group for their thoughts. He stated that he would need positive feedback from the community within the next week in order to make the necessary preparations. The decorations would be put up the second or third week of November, lighted the day after Thanksgiving, and taken down the second week of January.   Jim added that several displays were put in parks last year. Vandalism was only experienced at one. The displays have been very secure in the past. Paul Bednar asked about the type and quality of the garland. Angela Coon commented that the Victorian carolers might detract too much from the quaintness of the park. Glenna Preradovic asked if the carolers could be lit in white lights only.   Glenna also asked if the park across the street from the Turners had the necessary power to support the carolers.   It was brought up that the Soldier park has high visibility, and therefore would be nice to decorate.   Paul Bednar thanked Jim and the Park Department for their efforts at cleanup and flowerbed maintenance prior to Housewalk.

Treasurer’s Report

Glenna Preradovic provided the following report:
Checking Account                             $27,438.39

The increase in the checking account funds is due to Housewalk income. There are, however, still Housewalk expenses that have yet to be paid. The CD’s and Wayne Landers’ funds have not changed since the last meeting. Pat Miller asked if GPA has been reimbursed from the City for the Home Marketing expenditures yet. Glenna commented that we have not. Gil Feliciano, who oversees the grant program, replied that the receipts were submitted and checks should have been cut within the last week. Paul Bednar asked if Glenna had a list of all the Housewalk sponsors. Glenna replied that she has forwarded the list to April Nowak for thank you letters.


Dan Miller reported the following information on housewalk ticket sales:
Sold by mail              153
Advance sales             1155
Sold day of on Saturday   287
Sold day of on Sunday     419
Internet sales            41
Total sold                2055
Total attendance          2637
Includes 582 complimentary tickets, 308 of which were docents
2000 Total sold           1952
1999 Total sold           1917

Dan then thanked all that participated, especially the Housewalk Chair Fran Cella.


Pat Miller commented that she would like to send out an updated membership list with this month’s minutes. Pat then asked Jean Bednar if she would be able to work on the updates. Jean agreed. Pat added that she is still behind in distributing welcome wagons.   She has a list of names of people that need to be contacted, and is asking for volunteers to sign up to contact these people. Pat encourages everyone to let her know if there are new neighbors that you would like to contact, she would be happy to get you the information.

Paul Bednar asked if the group should spend some time discussing membership fees. There have been many tabled discussions in the past regarding possibly eliminating the dues. Paul then discussed how other neighborhood groups are handling membership fees. Angela Coon stated that since there has been so much discussion on this topic in the past with no resolution, she believes that we should try an alternative method, such as where people just send in an application form / card and receive free membership for a year, and see if it is actually beneficial. Pat Miller asked, with this approach, how do you establish membership? How do you tell people about the change, and get them to respond, by Gazette? Jean Bednar stated that she did not believe that people respond to the Gazette. Laura Becerra asked if these people are just going to sign up to be on the mailing list and never respond, will this just add to postage costs. Pat Miller added that GPA has always handled wide scale communications through the Gazette. She believes we will be disappointed with a program such as this because people won’t respond. Joe Becerra asked if we should consider having two types of membership with a group that pays dues and has voting rights, and a second set of non-paying members.   Paul Bednar commented that he likes what NENA is proposing, which includes a $12 membership fee of which $6 goes towards a T-shirt. Paul asked if the group thought that this would entice people to join. Bill Briska stated that this is a marketing tool.   The question is how do we build membership numbers. Paul Bednar then suggested that anyone with additional comments forward them to the board so that a decision can be made at the next meeting. Laura Becerra asked what the ultimate goal is, to increase membership or to add names to the list. She then asked if the additional costs of the membership increase would become a drain over the year. Jason Musser then asked if people thought there would really be a response if the membership fees were eliminated. Paul Bednar concluded by stating that people like to continue receiving the minutes.

All American City Award Committee

Cherie Murphy is looking for people to volunteer to be on the All American City Award Committee.

Bilingual GPA Publications

Laura Becerra asked if GPA should begin printing things, such as the Gazette, in both English and Spanish.   Laura added that she has wonderful neighbors that take excellent care of their homes, but speak only Spanish. The group agreed that this is a good idea.   Dan Miller commented that there was a note put on a previous Gazette that stated that if anyone would like to see this newsletter in Spanish please let GPA know. No feedback was received.

Proposal for Channing Park Improvements

Paul Bednar stated that he would like to spend some time discussing the proposed plan for improvements to Channing Park. Paul displayed a photo of the current layout of the park. Paul then put up a drawing outlining the proposed changes. These updates include: small ball fields, a shelter, and additional landscaping.   Paul asked the group for input.   He would like to send a letter to Lalo stating that this is what could happen with the land should U46 trade / donate some of the land to the City. Glenna Preradovic commented that the teachers have always wanted an outdoor type of amphitheater built into the slope to give lectures in. Joe Becerra stated that he would like to voice the same opinion as previously. Joe could see adding landscaping, but leaving the park open by not adding the ball fields or shelter. Dan Miller replied that he does not feel that the fields would be a detriment. John Gately commented that the reason for having the development plan is as an enticement to get the School District to turn the land over to the City. Paul Bednar reiterated that the Park would not be used in a different manner. Glenna added that she has a neighbor that is part of the Laotian tennis club. They would like to help out towards the maintenance and improvement of the tennis courts. Paul Durrenberger stated that he is one of the few people in the area that remembers what the Park looked like before the school was built. He would like to see it returned to a neighborhood park as it was then. Angela Coon asked if we could send the plan over to Lalo with the letter now, but not commit to a formal plan yet. Paul Bednar replied yes, but he does not want to do this until he gets consensus from GPA that this is what is wanted. Laura Becerra commented that she likes the idea of the amphitheater. Paul Bednar added that the school district might not be willing to give up the whole area, but just a portion of it.

Dan Miller stated that he wrote a letter to Stuart Wasilowski regarding the Grandview Property. Stuart has since called Dan and stated that he is willing to lobby the City to try and get this purchase on the budget. The idea would be to have this area be converted to a passive park with minimal parking.

Paul Bednar asked for any additional comments. Dan Miller replied that he likes the idea. Pat Miller stated that the only thing that she does not like is the fence for the backstop. Laura Becerra commented that she thought that the whole idea of working with Lalo to keep the addition form occurring was to keep the park natural. What is wrong with just adding a shelter and an amphitheater for the teachers. Pat Miller asked about adding parking at the end of Henry Court. Glenna Preradovic asked if some parking could be added on the side of the tennis courts. Jean Bednar proposed putting the backstop up between the asphalt tennis courts, and leaving the rest of the area open for natural landscaping. Pat Miller added that the real advantage is to have Parks take over the maintenance of the tennis courts, as the City is in a better position to handle it at this time. Jean Bednar added that a positive for U46 is more and a better parking area. Pat replied that she would think that U46 would want to keep the parking area under their control. Paul Bednar then asked for a show of hands of those that would like to see the letter and design, as it is now, submitted to Lalo. A majority of those present raised their hands. John Gately concluded the discussion by stating that the most attractive design should be submitted now because compromises may need to be reached later.

Neighborhood Block Parties

Dan Miller had an idea that he would like to share with the group. Dan began by commenting that the original idea for Porchfest was an event to build communities. People would use this time to get to know their neighbors. $500 was spent this year on Porchfest, and only 25-30 people participated. Dan was encouraged to hear about the success of Mark Billings’ neighborhood block party.   Dan’s idea is to offer $100 and assistance to anyone willing to put forth the effort necessary to organize a neighborhood block party. This could be done in place of Porchfest, and could be advertised by putting out a flier in both English and Spanish.

Letter to Joyce Parker

Pat Miller stated that she has drafted a letter to Joyce Parker regarding some of the issues that were experienced during the last salvage. This letter was discussed during the last board meeting. Pat has updated the letter with some revisions suggested by Bill Briska, and has resubmitted it to everyone via email for review. Please let Pat know if you have any comments within the next few days. Pat will send this letter out if no other comments are received.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Paul Bednar reported that he received a call from someone at the City regarding whether or not GPA is still interested in organizing a ribbon cutting ceremony for Gifford Park. The thought was for music at night, some food, and a ribbon cutting ceremony. Kevin Sosnowski would like to pair the event with a Kids Olympics during the day. The activity would be held in October. Paul concluded by stating that he would send out a note by email to see if anyone would be willing to head the activity up.

Code Department Update

Code has reported that they are working on a couple of problem properties on DuPage Street. The person that was operating a business out of their garage on North Street has moved out. A property has been condemned at the corner of North and Tennyson Court.   Burger King still has a request in, but nothing has been finalized yet. No additional plans have been made yet for the Premier Flowers site.

Laura Becerra asked for an update on the house on Channing that is putting siding up. Dan Miller replied that work has been stopped because they must first remove the asbestos and check to see if the clapboards are more than 50% good. If the clapboards are more than 50% good, they must repair them, if not, they have been approved for vinyl siding. The vinyl for the addition was approved.


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

Calendar of Events

October 18th, Thursday – General Membership Mtg., Gifford Street High School – 7PM
November 15th, Thursday – General Membership Mtg., Gifford Street High School – 7PM