November 2012 Meeting Minutes

Gifford Park Association

General Membership Meeting

November 15, 2012


The meeting was called to order at 7:05 by President Bach


In attendance: Pat and Dan Miller, Bill Briska, Carol Anderson, Karen and Chris Bach, Tony Sanchez, Moe and Tom Lee, Tom Hokenson, Glenna Preradovic, Officer Pavoris


Approval of Minutes


Chris Bach moved and Carol Anderson seconded a motion to approve the minutes of the October meeting.  The motion passed unanimously.


Treasurer’s Report


Checking Account                   $11,312.98

Money Market                            $9,895.46

Four CD’s                               $80,400.92


Total                                        $100,609.76


Bill Briska reported that the House Tour net proceeds were $4513.19 and that year to date we have spent $242.56 more than we have taken in.  When we pay the bill to have the corners and pocket park maintained, the number will be much higher.

Bill added that we are experiencing gradual financial erosion that the GPA Board needs to deal with thru long range planning.  All sponsorship money is in for the Housewalk and the bills have been paid.  Attendance is down for the Housewalk and we have kept the ticket price the same. 

We paid out $1300 in donations last year, $1470 for insurance and $920 for our storage locker.  The corner planting maintenance costs us $1800.  Karen asked about our insurance.  Bill responded that it is mainly for our Great Unveiling and Salvage projects and is very thin even though expensive.  Event insurance for our Housewalk alone would probably only be about $400.


ROPE Report


Officer Pavoris reported in Eric’s absence that nothing has really happened in the neighborhood.  Things have been pretty quiet.  Eric has worked to get a few problem tenants evicted in two buildings close to the corner of Chicago and Geneva Sts.  The problems have been mainly drug related.  Glenna asked about the house at the SE corner of Gifford and North St.  She reported that rough looking guys are often seen sitting in front of the house.  Officer Pavoris promised that he and Eric would look into it.  Dan added that McIntire’s have complained to the police dept. about it on many occasions.


Membership Committee – no report



Historic District Committee


Dan mentioned that he wants to put out another Gazette and encouraged people to let him know if they had any ideas for articles or were interested in writing an article.  Tony updated the group on the progress of the new Historic District signs.  He said that the customer service of the company we are using is very bad.  They are very slow at returning messages.  They have promised a sample sign to be sent to us soon. 




Bill had nothing to add.


GPA Elections


Karen passed out ballots including these nominees:


President – Karen Bach

Vice-President – no nomination

Treasurer – Bill Briska

Secretary – Dan Miller

At Large 1 – Tony Sanchez

At Large 2 – Moe Lee


Tony counted the ballots and added that the slate passed unanimously. 


Pocket Park


Karen reported that Gretchan Vapnar had brought the concept of us giving the Crisis Center the pocket park to her board.  They discussed it and want more time to make a decision.  They do not have paid maintenance staff so their volunteers would have to take on more maintenance. Dan added that they do a nice job of maintaining their lawn and flower beds. Karen mentioned that she informed Gretchan that if they wanted to reconfigure the park perhaps she could get GPA volunteers to help.


Window Wonderland


Glenna has offered to be the lead person in our efforts to do a window this year.  She added that they have changed the way things are done this year and that we are late in applying. It needs to be completed by November 26th. The application fee is $20. “Win This Window” is to be the theme this year.  Participants are to put together a gift basket including products, and or gift certificates to be displayed in the window.  People voting on the windows will donate a dollar for each vote. DNA matches that amount to the winner.  We won $500 on our window last year.  Dan asked how we could decorate to this theme. Karen suggested that we create a huge basket.  Carol Anderson wondered what window we would be offered.  Glenna offered that Ravenheart Coffee might be interested in partnering with us to offer coffee from their establishment.


Christmas Party


Karen mentioned that John LaFleur has offered to help with the Christmas Party.  We need a location.  The Elgin Public Museum was discussed.  Pat wondered if they have tables and chairs there. Bill mentioned that they have and Ethnic Christmas tree display at the museum.  Karen also added that she thought the party should be in the beginning of December before things get too busy for Christmas. Karen liked the “olden days” when we had a family centered party at the Elgin Academy cafeteria.  GPA supplied a basic dinner with people bringing desserts.  Parents brought a wrapped gift with a value under $10 to be handed out by Santa.  Canned goods were requested for the food pantry.  Karen added that if other plans do not come together, Voss’s have offered to host a Christmas party at their house.


Bowes Retirement Center – D.C. Cook Mansion.


Dan informed the group that Urban Remains, an architectural salvage company in Chicago purchased many of the fancy items from the inside of the home.  Click here to go to their site to view the items that are for sale.[email protected]/sets/72157630069193143/show/ Click here for a slide show of the items before they were removed.


Bill Briska reported that thru discussions with the Mayor and other city staff he has learned that the Save A Vet organization is interested in the building.  They are a private for profit organization that has been in existence for about six years.  Click here to view their web site. Everything is still in discussions but they are hoping the bank will donate the building to the city and the city would donate it to Save a Vet.  TIF money could be used to rehab the building.  It would be used as a residential facility for disabled vets to be paired up with retired service or military dogs for therapy. The vets have long term disabilities but not incapacitated.  It would be a residential facility not rehab and outpatient.     Some of the additions on the north end might be torn off.  Pat Miler wondered how it could be code compliant.  Bill responded that there are obviously huge issues to be resolved like zoning and financing.  The neighbors have been polled and seem to be supportive. 


It is the only plan so far that has come forward for a use for the building.  Bill reminded the group not to get nitpicky yet as it is in discussion stage.  The city is exploring options.  Bill feels there are far more opportunities than throw backs given this white elephant building. 


St. Mary’s School


Karen told the group that as a parishioner of St. Mary’s church she often takes their new priests around the neighborhood to educate them about the neighborhood and the Gifford Park Association.  She wants to give them a balanced perspective of our neighborhood as they often get negatives from others.  She added that the pastor enjoyed their walk. 


The church is considering tearing the southernmost mobile and replacing with a wider one to also accommodate a pre-school class.  The additional children could spell the difference between St. Mary’s school being able to continue or not.  They want to start a preschool program as they are profitable.  They had plans to build a full scale addition on the North side but with dwindling enrollment they cannot justify that.  Their rental agreement for the southernmost mobile goes into perpetuity and they are finding it is hard to get out of.  They cannot find the plans that were drawn up for the addition.  Dan added that the city should have them as they came to the Design Review Committee at the time.  Bill wondered if there were life safety code problems with mobiles.  Dan added that when the church was given permission to add the mobile classroom they were given a deadline to remove it.  They have far exceeded that deadline and are currently breaking the law. Karen added that she has lobbied with the church for years to buy the Everett building at the corner of DuPage and Park Row for an expanded school. Bill added that St. Mary’s is a huge asset to our neighborhood.  We need to delicately and open mindedly work with the church, city and neighborhood.  We need to make compromises. We can’t have the church disconnected with the neighborhood.  They need to be a part of our neighborhood.   


Pat added that there are huge zoning issues when they take up their parking with mobile classrooms.  Being a neighbor Pat feels that she sees a decline in the number of people attending the church.  Karen added that they now have two masses in Spanish. (St. Joe‘s has eleven). Pat sees a scary trend in our older churches declining in membership and their ability to maintain their buildings.  Dan feels the huge popularity of mega churches like Willow Creek are ruining our old churches just like shopping malls are ruining our old downtowns. 



Thanksgiving Dinner


Karen reminded the group of the difficulties the organizers are having putting on their annual Thanksgiving dinner.  She added that we usually give a donation for the dinner and suggested we do it again.  Glenna moved that we donate $200 and Carol seconded the motion.  It passed unanimously.


Chris Bach made a motion to adjourn and Glenna seconded it. The motion passéd unanimously


Respectfully submitted,

Dan Miller

Acting secretary