March 2006

Gifford Park Association
General Membership Meeting Minutes
Thursday, March 16, 2006

Members present:  Sue Awot, Doug Tomsha, Jeff and Laura Jacobson, Deborah Allan, Dianne   Rieken, Jeff McIntire, Paul Durrenberger, Fran Cella, Jean Bednar, Dan and Pat Miller, Chris and Karen Bach, Zlatko and Anka Koprivec, Roy and Linda Voss.
Others present:  Jerry Deering.
Dan opened the meeting at 7:08 pm by having everyone introduce themselves.
A motion was made by Fran Cella to approve the wonderful minutes from the last meeting.  It was enthusiastically seconded by Deborah Allan.
In Glenna’s absence, the treasurer’s report was made by Dan who reported our coffers are at an awe inspiring total of $15,251.20.
House Walk Report – Fran reported that her committee had their first meeting.  The date for this year’s House Tour was set for September 9 and 10, 2006.   Dan showed pictures of the houses that have been targeted for possible inclusion in this year’s walk.  Some homeowners have already agreed.  Fran is kicking around ideas for a super special after- party for our 25th anniversary walk.  She also said that there are still some jobs open on her committee.  C’mon people, don’t make her beg.  It’s not pretty.  Kinda entertaining, but definitely not pretty.
Deborah stated that 132 N. Channing would be closing on March 17, 2006 and then we’ll be free, Free, FREE!  Dan effusively thanked the Allans’ for handling the legal work free of charge.  Free, Free, FREE!
Pat told us that next month’s meeting will be our annual Membership Pot Luck on Friday, April 21, 2006 at Lord’s Park Pavilion at 6 pm so alert your neighbors, wake the kids, lock up the dogs and goose step on over to the Pavilion for a rolicking good time.  Don’t forget to bring your most impressive dish to pass ‘cuz we talk about any crummy food at the next meeting.  Pat said she is still looking for some truly great program ideas for the evening.  So pick up the phone and give her a jingle with your thoughts.  Don’t be shy.
Web Site – There was lots and lots of email discussion about finding a cheaper alternative to our current host site.  Dan mentioned that he would like to see our web site have a more up-to-date home page.
Salvages – We had two salvages in three weeks.  The second salvage, Lovellton, made $9,200.00 with $500.00 in expenses.  Dan had a whole bunch of volunteers to thank including George Doescher who brought heat (a warming device, not a gun), and uber-volunteer Pat Miller who worked all three shifts and helped sort the bids.  The other intrepid volunteers who braved the numbing cold were Sally Wilson, Sue Awot, Joe Kjellander, Karen Bach, Laura Valaitis, Jean Bednar, Paul Bednar, Doug Tomsha, Jeff McIntire, Dave Bullock, Deb Bullock, Deborah Allan, Mary Krebsbach, Dianne Rieken, Susan Shadid, Anka Koprivec, Fran Cella, April Nowak, Chuck Keysor and of course, Dan Miller who once again went above and beyond the call of duty by working the entire 3 days plus countless hours the week preceding the salvage.
GPA has received Mayor’s Awards for its 26 years of existence and for salvaging 50 Elgin houses.  This year’s Mayor’s Awards will be on May 4, 2006 at 6 pm.
Historic District – Deborah Allan is receiving a Mayor’s Award for securing the pocket park property for GPA.  Deborah told us how the property had been turned over to the county by the owner and the county then gave the property to GPA for the park.  Dan mowed, Paul Bednar designed, found plants and benches, Pat got bricks from Kresmery, and a city grant was awarded to us for the fence and landscaping.
Proposals are currently being sought for the Channing Y property.
Channing School Park – The next meeting is on April 4 at the Centre at 7 pm.  Pat Miller expressed her angst over the land swap on this parcel of land.  The portion that will be city-owned parkland seems to have very little access.  U-46 land surrounds it and the possibility of easements was discussed.  Three-fourths of the property will belong to U-46.  The history of Channing was discussed for those not familiar with the covenant.  So gather ‘round kiddies to hear a charming fairytale about the Channing School property:  Originally, this land was a cemetery.  The big bad wolf huffed and puffed and blew most of the graves to a new location.  Then the fairy godmother waved her magic wand and gave the land to U-46 with the stipulation that only one building would be on the property, the tennis courts would be maintained and that the remaining land would be for public enjoyment and that everyone would live happily ever after under this covenant.  The End.  Concerns remain about the terms of the covenant being upheld.
Neighborhood Plan – Fran had hand-outs for us graphing the neighborhood questionnaire responses.  They showed a scale ranking of the importance of neighborhood assets and also of neighborhood likes and dislikes.  Fran and Paul Bednar are now working on a draft plan on what actions need to be taken based on survey results.  When the plans are ready in the next 2-3 weeks, the committee will meet with the Historic District committee.
Jean Bednar brought up our sponsorship of an Elgin American Little League team as we have in the past.  The league is asking us to send $350.00 for signage and sponsorship.  Jean made a motion to sponsor a team for the above amount.  Chris Bach seconded and the motion passed.
Jean then told us that NENA wants to co-sponsor a gardening program with GPA.  The seminar is to be conducted by our own green-thumbed, master gardener Fran Cella, in conjunction with the University of Illinois Extension.  It will be held at Sherman on April 27, 2006 from 7-8:30 pm.  It will cost us $50.00 for flyers.  Jean moved that we co-sponsor this program and Deborah Allan seconded it.  The motion passed.
Dan talked about some missing street signs in the Historic District.  The city has made some inquiries about replacing our street signs with another type of sign.  Jean told us why the current signs are so important to GPA.  Lots of energy went into choosing good-looking, distinctive signage.  The kids at Channing School were involved with assembling the many pieces of each sign.  Neighbors sledge hammered and raised poles and put the signs up.  Discussion ensued about visibility.  Could the reflective finish be redone?
Dan then brought up the ugly green trash receptacles in Gifford Park.  He has strongly lobbied for the  more attractive metal receptacles used elsewhere in the city.  Randy Reopelle says more attractive cans will come this summer.  Kudos to Dan for using his pesky qualities for good instead of evil!
Dan then introduced the evening’s guest speaker, Jerry Deering, Director of Community Development and friend of GPA for almost 30 years.  Jerry was instrumental in the city adopting a city-wide ordinance on the correct height of porch rails being allowed on all historic homes.
Jerry started his talk by telling us how he has been in Elgin since 1976.  Both he and his wife live and work in Elgin and his children went through U-46 schools.  He enjoys working for the city.  He was a code official for 6 years before obtaining the additional title in Community Development.
Jerry talked about how the city originally had only two inspectors and code enforcement was complaint driven.  During the 90’s, a bigger commitment was made to enforcing city housing codes.  By 1995 the rental licensing program was in place.  Jerry started in the code department in 2000.  At that time, there was still not any accountability for inspectors.   He established written priorities in 2003; exterior violations, occupancy issues, complaints, licensing, and lastly, preservation related issues.  There are also nine code districts in place so each officer has his own area.  Jerry goes out twice a year with each inspector and writes up code violations.
There will be a weekend code enforcement officer beginning April 1st!  He will be available by cell phone which will be publicized.
Jerry is approaching the city council with several new code initiatives.   The first is a public reaffirmation program where citizen complaints will include a follow-up call to the complainant when a conclusion is reached.  The second is a rapid response initiative in which the code officer will be authorized to instantly issue a fine for violations.  The fine will be reissued daily and then court action will be taken.  The third initiative is large violation stickers for cars and houses when there is a zoning violation such as an improperly parked car.
Dan thanked Jerry for coming to speak with us.
Important coming events include spring clean-up the week of March 27-31 during regular garbage pick-up.  Also, no stickers are required for yard waste during the month of April.
Fran mentioned that Rich Jacobs is no longer with NHS.
A motion to adjourn was made by Fran and seconded by Jean Bednar.  Everyone hightailed it for the after-party at the Knoerr’s home.
Respectfully submitted by Karen Bach, secretary