May 2012 Meeting Minutes



Sat., May 26:  Fox Trot 

Mon., June 4, 7 p.m.:  GPA Housewalk Committee Meeting  Historical Museum

Thurs., June 21, 7 p.m.: GPA General Membership Meeting  Place TBA




                                                     May 17, 2012


The meeting was called to order by President Karen Bach ([email protected]“>[email protected]).



Deborah Allan, Dorie Alpha, Carol Anderson, Karen/Chris Bach, Bill Briska, Fran Cella, Barbara Counterman, Barbara Evans, Ali Hallock, Tom Hokenson, Donna Leetz, Pat/Dan Miller, Cherie Murphy, Officer Todd Pavoris, Glenna/Mark Preradovic, Tony Sanchez, Moira Savel, Tim Solarz


The motion to approve the minutes of the March 15th, 2012, meeting as printed—made by Donna Leetz and seconded by Dori Alpha—passed unanimously.



As of today, GPA’s total funds add up to $95,917.12.  Of this amount, $1,627.23 is in checking, $13,893.13 in money market, and the rest in four CDs.

R.O.P.E. Officer’s Report  (Todd Pavoris, substituting for Eric Echevarria)

All is still quiet in the neighborhood.  And even the traffic on Park Street is slowing down since GPA member John LaFleur spoke up.  For those who have seen the police gathered at Park and Gifford Streets and wondered how they could catch speeders standing at the corner, be aware that radar guns shoot up and down the street.  Park/Gifford is simply where they’ve been pulling the speeders over!

In contrast, the large sign on Liberty Street that clocks a car’s speed does not photograph license plate numbers.  Nor is it used to nab speeders.  Thus the friend of a GPA member who got a ticket near the sign was just unlucky said Officer Pavoris.

As those who travel Channing Street know, the stop sign that was at Channing/Prairie has been moved to Channing/Fulton.  Fortunately, its red irridescent pole makes it next-to-impossible to miss.

HOUSEWALK COMMITTEE   (Bill Briska   [email protected]“>[email protected])             

That expenses have gone up and GPA’s income down is painfully apparent if one compares GPA’s total funds in October of 2011 ($104.232.40) with this month’s.  Thus Barbara E. has been hard at work soliciting sponsorships to help defray the cost of the housewalk tour booklet.  After presenting the list of businesses contacted to date, she asked for and received further suggestions of ones that our members recommend.

For professionals such as doctors and dentists, however, the personal touch is needed, so once again, please ask yours to consider becoming sponsors.  As the deadline is June 30th, don’t delay.  If you need a copy of the sponsorship tri-fold, email Barbara at [email protected]“>[email protected]. 

As was reported in the March minutes, the one-line listing for a Patron has been reduced to $50 to try to attract more.  GPA members who have paid their dues for ’12-’13 may be listed as Patrons in this year’s tour booklet for even less: for $35 if a business; for $30 if a household (Ex: Barbara Evans or John & Carol Anderson or Fran Cella & Bill Briska).  If you would like your name(s) or the name of your business listed as a patron in this year’s tour booklet, please send a note as it should appear along with a check made out to Gifford Park Association by June 30th to Barbara Evans at 115 E. Chicago St., Elgin  60120.


HISTORIC DISTRICT COMMITTEE  (Dan Miller   [email protected]“>[email protected])

Given the weather we’ve been having, it’s time for summer porch parties.  It has been decided to move them back to Friday nights and make them BYOB-and-a-dish-to-pass affairs.  If you’re willing to host one, please contact Dan.

The first issue of the long-dormant Gazette, scheduled for June l, will be emailed in pdf format (thanks to Jennifer Shroder) and put on GPA’s website.  Although aware of the importance of reaching out to new residents, because of the cost, only key issues, such as the first and the housewalk ones, will be printed in black/white and hand-delivered to all in the Historic District.  (A big thanks goes to Donna Leetz, who has offered to print the first issue gratis.)

Eight GPA members have already signed up for delivery routes; more are needed.   If you are willing to play paperboy/girl, please contact Dan.

Moira Savel, who will be The Gazettes editor, explained that each issue will feature the following: 1) notices of upcoming events and meetings; 2) a Mr. Fix-It column; 3) a GPA member; 4) a local city personality; 5) a Look Back, which will focus on one of the houses on past tours.  Dorie A. requested that membership contact form also be included in every issue.

Progress is being made on the selection of the design for the new Elgin Historic District signs.  Of the 200 surveyed, 40 responded the first time.  Because some did not care for any of the choices, Dan asked the designers to come up with other possibilities, then surveyed the 200 again.  This time, 38 responded.  The result was a tie between two signs.  Fran C’s suggestion that Dan convene a focus group to make the final determination and perhaps tweak elements such as color met with everyone’s approval.  Aware of the need for the signage to be readable to those driving by, Barbara C. volunteered to lend her expertise to that group.

Because the most popular signs are the same size/shape, Dan asked a company for estimates.  Cut out of thick aluminum and reflective, 30 signs alone will cost around $2,000.  Another $2,000 will go toward the posts, finials and specially designed steal-proof bolts.  Dan has a meeting with the City to discuss getting a neighborhood improvement grant to cover part of the cost as well as to ask if the City will install them.  Guest speaker Cherie Murphy noted that there may be money left from the grant GPA got for tree planting that could be used for signage.

To raise money to cover even more of the cost, GPA member John LaFleur approached Spacetaste Gallery owner Tim Solarz with a rather unusual proposition.  Having inherited some 50 vintage Avon bottles from a relative, many of which are in their original boxes, John asked Tim if 1) he would ask artists to “transform them into updated works of art” to subsequently be sold for between $20-$30 and 2) if he would split the proceeds with GPA to help further defray the cost of Historic District signage.  Tim agreed enthusiastically and intends to have the repurposed bottles for sale at Spacetaste (new location, 215 E. Chicago St.) during the Art and Soul festival at the end of July.


MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE   (Dori Alpha  [email protected]“>[email protected])                     

Though the turnout for the April 20th membership potluck was small and no new members were gained, dues were renewed, and all had an enjoyable evening.

Those who have yet to renew memberships may do so by sending a check made out to Gifford Park Association ($6 for a single; $12 for a family) to Dorie Alpha at 357 N. Liberty St., Elgin  IL  60120.

PROGRAM COMMITTEE  (Donna Leetz    [email protected]“>[email protected])

Due to what, unfortunately, now may be a death in the family, the landscaper who was scheduled to speak tonight could not.  The information provided by Cherie Murphy, the other guest speaker scheduled, is at the end of these minutes.

Scott Savel will do a workshop/seminar for GPA in the fall.


Due to an unexpected conflict of interest, John LaFleur is unable to continue in this position.  If you are willing to step in, please contact Karen B., whose email is noted at the beginning of the minutes.

BREAKFAST BRAINSTORMING RESULTS  (Fran Cella [email protected]“>[email protected])

The results of the 22 surveys of the ideas generated at the March breakfast session that have been returned to date give no decisive direction to the Board.  What was evident is that people are not eager to take on leadership roles to bring the ideas to fruition.

FOX TROT WATER STATION  (Glenna Preradovic)

As GPA has done for a number of years in order to qualify for a one-time gratis use of Lords Park Pavilion, members will again be manning a Fox Trot water station.  Because the route has been changed, the location of ours is now at the corner of Park and Preston.  As everything needs to be up and running by 7:15 a.m., those who have volunteered to help are to meet there no later than 7 a.m. on Saturday, May 26th, wearing clothes that won’t be ruined by water.

ELGIN AL FRESCO: A Taste of the Arts  (Glenna Preradovic  [email protected]“>[email protected])

Directed by the Elgin Community Network, this year’s public art exhibition will feature bistro sets designed to complement Gail Borden Public Library’s summer campaign, Reading Is Delicious.  What Glenna and Karen B. have selected as the basis for the design for the set GPA has purchased is sure to make ours a winner.



1. Walking the Neighborhood with the Mayor

Learning that the purpose of such walks is to encourage people to walk more rather than to point out things of concern in the neighborhoods dampened our enthusiasm for scheduling one, albeit no one is against walking more.  As Cherie Murphy suggested, however, if we have concerns, it would be far better to schedule an appointment with the Mayor to discuss them.  If we decide to also join the Mayor to encourage walking, we are to call her with three or four dates that would work for us.

2. GPA Website

Dan M.’s emails of a number of other neighborhood organizations’ websites prompted Dave Knoerr, who designed GPA’s, to offer to make it even better.  The general consensus was that the $150 it would cost to do so would better be spent on other things.  This will be discussed further at the upcoming Board meeting.

3. A Request for Financial Assistance

Paul Bednar asked if GPA could contribute to the $1,200 cost of installing a brick drive and brick veneer on the Habitat house at 140 N. Channing.  Although concerns about the drive, especially, meeting design guidelines were expressed, the bottom line is that it is not in GPA’s budget for the year.  Karen B. will so inform Paul.

4. Pat Miller, who sent out thanks to all as soon as she received it, passed around a photo of the beautiful flower arrangement Paul Durrenberger created for GPA to send to her after her fall.

5. Karen B. gave kudos to Bill Briska for the “Made in Elgin” talk he gave at the library as a part of Preservation Month.


6. To ensure that everyone stayed to socialize after the meeting was adjourned, Karen/Chris Back brought pralines from their New Orleans’ trip. Glenna Preradovic and Deborah Allan also brought tasty treats.  Secretary’s Note:  Has anyone noticed that I seem to be crediting the same people for bringing refreshments repeatedly?  If you’re willing to take a turn for the June meeting, please so inform Karen. 


Cherie Murphy, Assistant to the City Manager for Community Engagement

Although everything that Cherie discussed was of interest, among the most important was her message about electric aggregation program, which voters approved in the primary.  Designed to help offset some of the new taxes levied, it gave the City the authority to seek bids from electricity suppliers other than ComEd to obtain lower electrical rates for residences and small businesses.  The bids have been put out and the rates offered by those responding are much lower than ComEd’s.  Just which bid will be accepted, however, has yet to be announced.  Therefore, until you receive official notification from the City, tell anyone who comes to your door offering to sign you up for some company thanks but no thanks.  Included in the official notification will be an opt-out letter for those who want to keep ComEd or who have already signed contracts with other suppliers.  Interestingly, ComEd lines will continue to be used, even though the supplier will change, unless you opt to remain with ComEd.

Of interest to those who have torn their hair out trying to find out who in the City deals with what will be the non-emergency 311 Center scheduled to begin this summer.  Operators will be trained on all departments of the city and will assist residents to ensure that their questions are answered promptly and accurately.  To make the first floor of City hall a one-stop shop, housed adjacent to the 311 center on the first floor of City Hall will be a volunteer center.

Because the new budget requires City staff to work “lean and mean,” Cherie is currently wearing several different hats and working on several projects related to community engagement. Nevertheless, Dan M’s request that she be GPA’s liason with the City—i.e., the one we’d contact to help us “get things done”—was accepted, for as Cherie explained, because the City Manager’s office can coordinate a variety of City departments, contacting her first would be best, and she’ll help us as soon as she can.

One of Cherie’s projects is finding vacant city lots where, for a nominal fee such as $10 per year, organizations could rent space for community gardens.  The interest in this has been prompted by the publicity garnered by the 20 community gardens already in existence, including those in Lords Park and Channing Park.

The almost all-new City Council is currently reviewing the City’s 10 priorities, which only Bob Gilliam had a part in determining.  Although some will undoubtedly remain the same, others will be new.  If you wish to have input into what they will be, contact the Mayor and Council members via

As a prelude to discussing the events that the City will still fund, Cherie noted how painful the budget process was this year because with the drop in property values, the 40% that the City gets from them amounted to far less than usual.  As a result, new taxes, such as a sales tax that will pay for street repair, have been levied.  Although “Budget in Action,” a City publication explaining its 2012-2016 financial plan was mailed to all residences, copies are still available at City Hall.

One of the events that the City is still funding is Fox Trot.  To save overtime costs and avoid conflicts with veteran events, however, this year, its 35th, it will be held on Saturday, May 26th.  Changed, too, has been the route, much to the dismay of those of us used to cheering on the runners from our front yards on East Chicago Street.  The runners themselves, however, will probably welcome the new route, for it will enable them to spend more time running in the shade of Lords Park.  A beer tent, music and food will be set up for the celebration afterwards at the Douglas Ave./Symphony Way finish line.

There will also be fireworks for the Fourth of July, but this year, the City is partnering with Hoffman Estates to share the $15,000 cost.  That they can be viewed at the Sear’s Center, where 6,000 parking spaces are available, is an added bonus.  There will also be live music, a carnival, a beer tent and food.  The event, including parking, is free to the public.

Art and Soul—the end-of-July event that includes artists’ booths, Kaleidascope of Music on DuPage Court and Walkabout, the not-to-be-missed short productions put on by community theater groups—will receive City funding as well.  Featured this year will also be a model apartment in ArtSpace.

Added to the City’s calendar of events has been an International Festival, which will take place over Labor Day weekend and will include a parade.

Because it drew people from as far away as Milwaukee to our city, also receiving funds from the City will be the Halloween Zombie Festival.

Another thing for Elgin residents to look forward to is the completion of ArtSpace, for all of the company’s other such developments have gentrified their surrounding areas.  That the company declared the public space that will be in Elgin’s “the most beautiful” of all is also noteworthy.  That public space will include 5,000 square feet of retail and community space for arts-friendly businesses and nonprofit organizations.

Recently, ArtSpace held an informational meeting at Gail Borden Public Library for those who want to live and/or have retail space there.  For information presented at that meeting, visit

After briefly noting them, Cherie asked that the following be detailed in our minutes.

1. Free Resources Conservation Kits for Elgin Residents

While many kits were distributed at the Green Expo, courtesy of the Elgin Sustainability Commission and local hardware stores, some are still available.  Valued at $60 each, they include an EcoFlow Showerhead, a faucet aerator, outlet and light switch insulators, a roll of Fit Foam insulation, and a window shrink kit.  To receive one, email Aaron Cosentino at

[email protected]“>[email protected] or call 847-213-5861.  

2. Additional Offers from ComEd and Nicor

ComEd and Nicor’s Home Energy Savings Program offers the direct installation of energy-efficient items, a comprehensive energy audit and 50% (up to $1,250) towards a weatherization improvement.  The fee for participating in the program is $49.  For more information, visit

3. Villa Street Construction

Lane closures for the street resurfacing project began May 8th.  To preserve the new surface, the staff has proposed the following strategy: Reduce the street from a four-lane road to a three-lane urban cross section—i.e., one lane in each direction with a center turn lane.  Bike lanes will also be included.

4. Designing Healthy Communities Broadcast

If you missed the Channel 11 broadcast that featured Elgin in its documentary, it is being rebroadcast at the following times:  Sundays at 7 p.m., Mondays at 3 p.m., and Tuesdays/Thursdays at 6 p.m.  The documentary is also available in the “On Demand” category at 


Respectfully submitted,

Barbara Evans, Secretary