October 2013

Gifford Park Association
General Membership meeting
October 17, 2013

Those in Attendance
Erin Adame, Deborah Allan, Karen and Chris Bach, Doug Tomsha, Moe and Tom Lee, Mark Preradovic. Barbara Evans, Dorie Alpha, Bill Decker, Bill Briska, Dan and Pat Miller, Sergeant Santiago, Officer Engelke, Commander Lalley.

Secretaries Report
Dorie Alpha moved and Moe Lee seconded a motion to accept the minutes from the July and September meetings. The motion passed unanimously.

Treasurer’s Report
Bill Briska reported that we have a total of $100,354.88 in our checking account and Certificates of Deposit. Bill reminded the group that if anyone has any outstanding Housewalk expenses to get them to him.

ROPE Officer Report
Commander Lalley was in attendance to give us an overview and background of the ROPE program of which she is the supervisor. She reported that she attended a three month class at Northwestern where she did a staffing study for Elgin. She reported that in 1991 Elgin had high crime rates. At that time they identified stressed neighborhoods. Elgin started the ROPE program by putting officers in stressed areas, the first one being Illinois Court. It was their idea to get the officer to pull the neighborhood together, make it self sufficient then take the officer out. The presence of an officer gives the area a sense of security. The Fremont St. ROPE Officer area is currently small. The city’s plan is to combine it with the Gifford Park Area with the services of one officer. Officer Engelke will move to 326 E. Chicago and serve the Fremont area as well as the Gifford Park area formerly served by Eric Echevarria. Eric is back on regular patrol and doing well. The city is currently trying a 90 day trial for certain areas for the ROPE program. Officer Santiago is currently doing the Mulberry Ct. area. He has a foundation in place and may or may not stay there.

If you would like to read more bout the ROPE program, go to the City’s web site at

Barbara Evans voiced her concern that we have ha d a ROPE Officer for years and are we that bad that he has never been removed? We don’t really want to lose him. Commander Lalley responded that they plan to keep the traditional ROPE officer in our neighborhood. Officers now have I-phones and are accessible 24 hours a day even using social media. Commander Lalley reminded the group that Police Chief Swoboda was once a ROPE Officer so he has his heart in the program.

Moe Lee asked how many ROPE officers do we have?. Officer Lalley responded that there are currently four officers that live in residence, one that does not. There are two crime free housing officers. The city looks at calls for service every day. If a pattern is seen they deal with the problem.

Officer Bob Engelke reported that he will be our new ROPE Officer and that he is moving into 326 E. Chicago. He is single and has a dog. He was born and raised in Elgin. His contact info is:
[email protected]

Moe Lee responded that we love having a resident ROPE officer. We want the officer to care about his neighborhood. She then asked if he works with the schools and Bob said that he works with the school resource officer and on he works with the The Boys and Girls Club. He visits the local schools once a week and works with the ROPE soccer program at the Centre. He dresses as Santa at Christmas and helps decorate for Halloween.

VIP – new neighbor
At that point Dan Miller introduced a VIP that had come in late and missed the introductions. Erin Adame and her husband Frank recently purchased 327 DuPage, the Second Empire house at the corner of DuPage and Chapel. The home is often referred to the Murphy house as he is the guy that invented the Elgin Sweeper. Erin responded that it is really ironic because her maiden name is Murphy and she used to work for Elgin Sweeper. Erin told the group that she grew up in Naperville and moved here from Arlington Heights. She was enthusiastically welcomed by the group.

Membership Committee
Dorie Alpha announced that we have a new member in Sue Awot. She was an active member in the past but let her membership lapse.

Dorie mentioned that she had read about the upcoming Historical Society Gala and thought it would be a great idea to sponsor them at the Golden level for $500. Dan Miller added that they are a very important part of Elgin and our neighborhood and deserve our support. Dorie moved and Barbara Evans seconded a motion to sponsor the event at the $500 level. The motion passed unanimously.

Historic District committee
Dan Miller reported that when he moved to Elgin the little triangular piece of land across from the Burgher King on Dundee Ave. was called Barclay Park. It had a large sign and toddler swings which were a favorite of his daughter. The Historical society and Heritage Commission have been doing a lot of interpretive signage and Dan thinks it would be a good idea for GPA to sponsor one for Barclay Park. Dan asked historian Bill Briska to give us a little background on Mr. Barclay:

David Barclay was a tinsmith and a hardware business owner. He had four or five terms on the City Council and three terms of two years each as Mayor. He was on the Board of the Northern Illinois Hospital and Asylum for the Insane and others. He was a very important guy in his generation and his sons continued that. Mr. Barclay donated the little triangle of land to the city in 1906. He lived in what is now the Funeral Home across the street. From the 20’s thru 1983 it was a playground. In 1983 the City Council felt there was too much traffic to attract kids there so they had the equipment taken out and landscaped the lot. Bill reminded the group that he is the Chair of the Heritage Commission and they have been working a lot lately on interpretive signage for Elgin. Their efforts have recently been curtailed by the recent budget crunch.

Barbara Evans mentioned that she was on the Heritage Commission when they placed a marker at Grove and Symphony Way. She asked Bill what had happened to it. He responded that it is still there.

Bill added that there is interpretive signage at the Watch Case Company which was stolen and replaced. A Road Race marker has also been placed at Nessler Rd. and Hwy. 20 at a cost of about $2000.

Dan reminded the group that a few meetings ago he lamented the fact that for the first time in 25 years there were no house plaques awarded at the annual Mayor’s Award ceremony. At that time GPA started a program where we offered to pay half of the expense, up to $75, for anyone in the Historic District applying for a plaque. Our initiative and the fact that Steve Stroud is doing plaques for the Bungalow Thematic District program has lead to thirty-two applications being reviewed by the Heritage Commission at their Oct. 1st meeting. Seven plaques were approved for the Historic district. They were: 11 N. Porter, 490 Division, 162 N. Liberty, , 219 Villa, and 225 Villa and 375 Prairie. Two more applied from the Historic district and were sent back for more info.

Barbara Evans asked what happened to the idea of getting the Doughboy lit up in Davidson Park. Karen responded that Pat Miller and Ali Hallock had volunteered to look into the idea. It has been a long time dream of Pat’s. Dan suggested that she talk to the folks that recently had the windmill erected as they are having it lit. Perhaps they could point us in the right direction.

Housewalk Committee

Bill Briska informed the group that a housewalk steering committee meeting has been schedule for November 11th at 7:00 at the Historical Society Museum. Anyone interested in helping with the 33rd annual 2014 housewalk should attend. Saturday Sept 6 has been chosen as the date for next year’s tour.

Slate of Elected Officers for next year
Moe Lee presented this slate:
Dan Miller – President
Bill Briska – Vice President
Pat Miller – Treasurer
Barbara Evans – Secretary
Mark Preradovic – At large

Nominations for the floor were requested. Hearing none, Dan Miller moved and Barbara Evans seconded a motion to accept the slate as read. The motion passed unanimously. The slate will be voted on at the November meeting on the 21st.

Moe Lee stays on as an At large member and Karen as Past President.

Moe informed the group that she has been going to the Centre for eight years and loves it. She let us know that you can purchase one class for $7 which is a great deal. For $72 (seniors over 60 for $48) you can go to 12 classes at three per month – any class, anytime. Moe feels they have great instructors.

Moe asked about the status of the new Historic district signs. Dan responded that they have been ordered and the city has agreed to install them with our help in the spring.

Pat Miller reported that she had recently been reading about Elgin’s grant program for painting. She feels that we should promote it in our next Gazette. Bill added that if anyone is interested they should contact Amy Munro at the city. It is a 75/25 program that is income based with a grant up to $2500 for painting. It has been around for about five years and was very underutilized this year. He mentioned that revisions to the program have been discussed such as upping the amount to reflect inflation.

Deborah Allan mentioned that there is a lot of street lights out. Bill suggested she call the new 311 number and report them. Officer Engelke added that he often checks on the lights and calls them in. He feels quality of life issues are a big part of his job.

Chris Bach moved and Dorie Alpha seconded a motion to adjourn. It passed unanimously.

People enjoyed some great treats and discussion after the meeting. Office Santiago stayed late and shared some of his views on the ROPE program.