February 2006

Gifford Park Association
Regular Membership Meeting Minutes
Thursday, February 16, 2006

Members present:  Dan Miller, Pat Miller, Doug Tomsha, Bill Briska, Fran Cella, Linda and Roy Voss, Mark Billings, Jean Bednar, Mark and Glenna Preradovic, Laura Knoerr, Julie Schmitt, Ed Schock, Joe Kjellander, Jeff McIntire, Sue Awot, Betsy Couture, Bill and Sally Wilson, Dave Mendiola, Chris and Karen Bach, Deborah Allan.
Others present:  Carl and Nicole Brahms, Mark Whalley, Mark Guarino.
Dan Miller started the meeting with a round of introductions.
Jean Bednar moved, and Fran seconded approval of the minutes from the last meeting.
Glenna Preradovic’s Treasurer’s report stated that we have $9,218.60 and all our bills are paid to date.  Dan added his thanks to Bill Briska for doing GPA’s taxes.
Fran Cella reported that Dan Miller is heading up the site selection for Housewalk and that four people have already offered to be on the walk.  Fran will be having a committee meeting in the near future.  .
A passionate discourse on the perilous journey undertaken by GPA on its last rehab project at 132 N. Channing was given by Mark Billings.  The drama unfolded 2 1/2 years ago in a derelict two-unit on a dark and stormy night.  It concludes with the sun shining and the birds singing as an offer has been accepted on the property.  With luck, the sun will finally set on this ongoing saga in mid-March.  Mark extended his thanks to Fran, Bill, Pat, Dan, Paul, Julie, et al for taking leadership roles in getting the house finished.  Mark had wise words for the next person who chairs this committee citing the many grants and partnerships available for these types of projects.  He went on to offer to be a mentor for the next chairperson.
Pat Miller spoke about the membership committee.   We currently have brought our total memberships to 97 households with the addition of seven new members thanks to the efforts of Dan Miller.  Pat continues to look for a few good people to go out and knock on doors with her in an effort to flush out more of our neighbors who may be willing to become GPA converts.  Dan added that he will be putting out a new membership directory in the near future to reflect the additions to the group.
Julie Schmitt has made updates to our web site including correcting dead links.  Should you find any such problems, please let her know via email.
Our resident officer, Dave Mendiola, talked about our QUIET, QUIET neighborhood.  He is planning a spring cleanup week for late March.
Due to the diligence of Betsy Couture, we may be able to get salvage rights to the Schock Greenhouse site.  Dan went on to speak at  l e n g t h  of all the things that were saved at the Grant School salvage.  Thanks to Dan’s fanatical zest and boundless energy, many freebies were put out on the street and carted away as fast as they were brought out.  Dan asked for volunteers for the Lovellton salvage and talked about all of the way cool junk  there was to discover within its murky midst.
Many people expressed interest in the Channing Y property.  Julie Schmitt asked if there were to be more meetings concerning its usage. Discussion included talk of a park.  Mayor Schock stated that the parcel is being marketed primarily as a single family residential project.  They are now looking for general concepts from planners.  Negotiations would start from there.
Dan Miller introduced our guest speaker Mayor Ed Schock.  Ed has been a friend to GPA and a member for 25 years.  Recently, he has helped us navigate through red tape at 132 N. Channing  and was able to get rid of the curb cut there and at the property next door.  He helped get salvage rights at both Grant School and Lovellton when all looked bleak.
Mayor Schock spoke to the group about the downtown and the new developments that are being planned for the area.  We looked at flyers with concept plans for Festival Park on the riverfront north of the casino.  Work began in stages several years ago with drainage, lighting, new bike paths, etc.  Park infrastructure is currently going in (underground and oversized electricity).  The centerpiece of the park will be an interactive water fountain.  There will be a playground area with more unusual structures such as giant musical chimes.  There will also be permanent washrooms.  The grand entry feature will be on Prairie and Grove.  This 4-5 million improvement phase will also include a green space, and a pad with electrical for bands and symphonies.  The city council has recently approved the final design and budget.  The park should be completed by this October and will be ready to hold festivals in 2007.  In response to questions, there will be a police monitoring system in the park  and a grant has been applied for in conjunction with Metra to address the west bank – erosion, perhaps a walking/biking bridge to link the east and west banks.
The mayor then talked about the successes we have had thus far in the downtown redevelopment.  City investment has given us the rec center, Metra improvements, streetscape improvements, kept the library downtown, and have attracted new housing.  Studies have shown that housing density makes successful downtowns.  River Park Place was the first downtown project.  The condos, a fifty million dollar project, will be starting soon.  Fountain Square Plaza is starting soon on the Spiess and NBD site.  Beginning construction and the first tower is 70% sold in the 200,000 range.  This 70 million dollar project includes million dollar penthouses, 211 condos, 10-11 rowhouses and first floor retail space.  The 4 ½ acre former library site is a 65 million dollar project that includes condos and rowhouses with three restaurants.
Questions included future infrastructure support, and fire department response after which Mayor Ed Schock thanked us for our time and sat down to roof-shaking applause.
Dan closed the meeting by asking us to stop by the after-party at the Bednar’s home.
No motion to adjourn was made, much to the consternation of Robert’s.  Some of us are still waiting…
Cheerfully submitted by Karen Bach, GPA secretary.


The next meeting will be held at 355 E. Chicago St. room 339 at 7:00 pm.  Jerry Deering will tell us of new initiatives proposed by the Code Enforcement Department.   An after party will be held at the beautiful home of Dave and Laura Knoerr at  415 DuPage.