September 2012

Gifford Park Association

General Membership Meeting

September 20, 2012


The meeting was called to order at 7:07 by President Bach


In attendance: Warren and Christine Tejes, Pat and Dan Miller, Fran Cella, Bill Briska, Carol and John Anderson, Bill Decker, Linnea Carlson, Denise Kroening, Officer Adam Ross, Roy and Linda Voss, Karen and Chris Bach, Deborah Allan, Paul Kuester, Donna Leetz, Dorie Alpha, Tony Sanchez, Barbara Counterman,


Carol Anderson moved and John Anderson seconded a motion to approve the minutes of the July meeting.  The motion passed unanimously.


Treasurer’s Report


Checking Account                  $10,254.77

Money Market                                      $9,895.46

Four CD’s                                $80,401.79


Total                                        $100,552.02


Historic District Committee


Dan mentioned that a special electronic newsletter was sent out for the Housewalk. It was sent to 306 people with 131 of them opening it. No one unsubscribed and no one accused us of being spam.  Forty-six people clicked on at least one of the included links with the most popular being our houses for sale. Dan thanked Tom Hokenson for his computer expertise in setting up the Gazette and sending it out using Constant Contact, to Moira Savel for editing the articles and to Karen Bach for writing the two nice articles on the Bistro Sets. 


 Dan Miller brought mock ups of seven proposed Historic District signs printed in full scale for people to view.  He thanked Jackie Settipani, Chuck Keysor and Tony Sanchez for designing them.  Fran Cella led the discussion.  Lots of suggestions were made with a vote taken to narrow the field to two.  More discussion was had before a vote was taken to choose the winner. Barbara Counterman reminded the group that a sign has to have a telegraphic message as people only see it for fifteen seconds as they are driving by.  It has to be easy to read without too much detail and be clean and elegant. Pat Miller added that the signs were very creative and made some suggestions for tweaking. Tony Sanchez felt the two finalist signs were different than any other sign he’s seen.  Tom Hokenson asked if there is a cost difference in the signs depending on how much they need to be cut.  Dan responded that there is not. A final vote was taken with a clear winner which was one of Tony Sanchez’s designs.  Congratulations Tony!!!  He is taking that sign and photoshopping the suggested tweaks.  He will be contacting the sign company to ask how we can move forward with the project.  Dan added that the sign company will make one sign for us to look at for final approval before thirty are made.  The total cost for the signs, poles and hardware is just over $4000. 




Carol Anderson reported that we had a lovely day.  Everybody had a fabulous time viewing fabulous houses and gardens. The neighborhood was great. Advanced ticket sales were $6000 plus what was sold at the door.  That is slightly down from last year. Karen added a huge thank you to all the volunteers that made it happen.  Bill added that we had about 1000 participants.  Bill thanked everybody involved reminding the group that the committee had lots of pitfalls along the way that could have easily derailed the walk but everything clicked in the end.  We have gotten twenty-five feedback cards which were all pretty much raves. 


ROPE Report


Reporting for Eric, Donna Leetz said that St. Joe‘s did just finish a big event that was loud with lots of trash but otherwise the neighborhood has been quiet. 

Linnea Carlson reported that she feels there is open drug dealing going on at the corner of Geneva and Chicago adding that she does not know how our ROPE officer can miss it as he lives so close by.  John Anderson asked if anyone has called in a complaint.  Linnea added that there have been 100’s of police calls regarding the people that live in the apartment at 10-12 S. Geneva that houses convicted felons on probation.  She added that she would hate to see the neighborhood go back to where it was thirty years ago.  John Anderson added that if there are multiple calls the city can declare it a nuisance and take other actions.  Officer Ross mentioned that if we see stuff we need to call it in.  “If it concerns you, it concerns us. Don’t hesitate to call.”

Fran said that she often just calls Eric and wondered if that gets counted as a police call for the records.  Officer Ross said it does. The non emergency number to call for the police is 847-289-2700.

Denise Kroening said that she calls the management about problems in the building and they do not do anything. She does not feel safe in the building. John Anderson added, “You need to call Eric, he will “Get in their face.”” Denise said she hates to bother Eric especially in off hours.  Officer Ross added that ROPE officers realize they sign up for 24/7 duty.  


Paul Kuester informed the group that the recent festival at St. Joe’s included obnoxiously loud noise for the second year in a row. It could be heard clearly from his house which is two blocks away.  He called the police and they informed him that since they were issued a permit for the festival, there was nothing they could do.  Paul called the Mayor at home, left a message and did not hear back from him.  He called Barb Keselica who is the city events coordinator and she promised to follow up.  Paul disagrees with the city allowing the noise knowing that he would not be allowed to have it in his yard or his car.  “The city has clamped down on loud car stereos rattling our windows, now we need to do it for events.” Paul feels that GPA should lobby to get the policy changed. John Anderson felt that there are limits on decibel levels even with events.  Donna Leetz added that there is a ridiculous amount of noise on College St.  “Elgin does not do enough.  Our windows are still rattling.”


GPA Elections


Karen mentioned that we will have elections at the November meeting with a slate of proposed officers brought to the membership at the October meeting.


Bill Briska added that on Oct 18, the historical museum is hosting a local preservation forum.  The forum is an ad hoc event (one time).  All neighborhood groups and others interested in preservation are invited to a one time, news-from-all update session. It is to help people be aware of what others are doing. It will be info sharing, not problem solving. Guest speakers will address certain issues going on within the city, plus there will be general discussion, reports and concerns of those there, etc…  That is the also the night of the GPA general membership meeting.  Maybe it would be worthwhile and interesting to GPA members to come to this event.  GPA certainly should be present in some form at it.  It could be instead of the traditional GPA membership meeting — sort of a GPA-lite meeting.  If GPA had any business to conduct it could be done before hand, at 6:30, for example.  Something different for us and something larger to be part of. 

Karen agreed and suggested that we meet early to discuss any GPA business.


Bill Decker reminded the group that a couple of years ago Elgin was mentioned in This Old House magazine as a great place to buy a fixer upper.  He came to Elgin from Oak Park because he could get so much house for much lower prices than in Oak Park.  He also added that in the narrative for the housewalk a couple of years ago it was mentioned that the owners came here from Oak Park to get a wonderful house at an affordable price.  He feels that lots of people around the nation work out of their homes and we are close to Metra so we should be able to attract more like minded people to Elgin.  Bill wants to rekindle the old GPA Historic Home Marketing Committee and is looking for others to help.  If you would be interested in working on such a committee call or e-mail Bill at [email protected]“>[email protected]  or 708-557-0785.

Fran added that we have tried to do this for a number of years with the city partnering with us.  It is a great idea.  We need to maintain the momentum.


John Anderson added that the house at 463 E. Chicago that the city rehabbed with NSP money has sold.



Guest Speaker


Karen Bach introduced Megan Butler, who is a Field Organizer for a non-for-profit called Center for Neighborhood Technology-Energy. She mentioned that she is currently working in the area on a project called Energy Impact Illinois. Energy Impact Illinois is a government stimulus project designed to create jobs and promote economic and environmental sustainability in local neighborhoods by helping homeowners make their households more energy efficient. There is $25,000,000 available to Illinois homeowners to weatherize their homes.  The program goes to May.  If we do not use the money it goes away.


“I am reaching out to you today because I am very enthusiastic about speaking with the Gifford Park Association more about this program and how we can work together to help as many homeowners as possible in your community take advantage of this opportunity. The Energy Impact Illinois program is actually a cooperative group effort between the US. Department of Energy, local non-for-profits and local utility companies. Through this program, homeowners receive financial assistance (in the form of 70% rebates up to 1750 and 0% interest loans) to increase the energy efficiency of their households by at least 15% with simple repairs related to air sealing and insulation. To date the average household that goes through this program saves about $500.00 per year in energy costs.


The idea behind this program is that it helps homeowners make their homes more sustainable and comfortable, save money, and increase the value of their households. It is not income dependant and two to four unit rental properties are eligible.


The program focuses on air infiltration which controlled, gives the biggest bang for the buck. If you go thru the program you receive a certificate that Realtors show to prospective buyers which increases the value of your home.  In California they have found that with the certification houses sell three to four times faster and at 9% more. 


If you participate in the program you also receive free of charge, low flow shower head, pipe wrap, low energy bulbs, and a programmable thermostat. 


The cost of the energy assessment is $99.  If you have a Tupperware type party for energy assessment for neighbors you can get the fee waived.  There is no paperwork involved for the homeowner.  Loans are available for a new furnace, ductwork and energy star appliances. 


To check for improvement the home is checked with a blower before during and after the work is done.  They also do a Carbon Monoxide test as well as a combustion test to detect leaks.


I believe that I am a resource for the people of Elgin, and I also believe that the Gifford Park Association would be able to get me in contact with other organizations or homeowners that might be interested in this program.


Attached are two documents with more info if you would like it.


My contact info is:

Megan Butler
Field Organizer
Energy Impact Illinois
[email protected]“>[email protected]
630.750.7726 (W)
773.486.3452 (F)


A motion to adjourn was made by Donna Leetz and seconded by Chris Bach.  Motion passed unanimously. 


Respectfully submitted’

Dan Miller

Acting secretary