February 2014

Gifford Park Association
General Membership Meeting
February 20, 2014

Those in attendance: Tom and Moe Lee,  John Boline, Dan and Pat Miller, Mark Preradovic, Doug Tomsha, Bill Briska, Carol Rauschenberger (City Council Person), Jennifer Shroder (School Board Member), Roy and Linda Voss, Officer Santiago

Shared Harvest

Carol and Jennifer were in attendance to tell us about the proposed Food Co-op for Elgin called Shared Harvest. They asked how many in attendance were already members and three raised their hands. Carol informed the group that they do have a board of directors in place and that Carol is president, and she is the vice president and business manager.

A food co-op is a jointly owned enterprise engaged in the production and distribution of goods and services. It is operated by its members for the mutual benefit. They are consumer-owned and have to be registered under Illinois law. Shared Harvest is selling shares at $100 each. No one person can own more than five shares and they are not tradable. The profits are distributed in relation to patronage. And it doesn’t matter how many shares you own, you get one vote.

REI is a co-op. Costco is kind of like a co-op in some ways in that you get money back based on how much you spend if you have a higher level “executive” membership, but you have to pay for membership every year.

Shared Harvest will be a food co-op grocery store owned by its shareholders. It will emphasize healthy, mostly local foods. There are currently 13 starting up in Illinois and 200 nationwide.

Carol and Jennifer, thru a slide show, explained that they are starting the food co-op because they are concerned about food safety and want to encourage people to shop locally and support sustainability. They desire affordability and flexibility with engaged staff that have product knowledge and are paid a living wage.

Food co-ops typically sell organic/sustainable produce and support local producers which makes for much better environmental stewards. They generate more in the local economy. The purpose and mission of the co-op will be to have an affordable grocery store in downtown Elgin that is open 6 to 7 days a week.  A survey was done in Elgin and it was determined that the interest is high. The first informational meeting attracted 135 people and they started selling shares with 277 being sold so far. In 2014 they are sponsoring the Elgin Food Festival film series. The next film in the series will be shown on March 13 at the Side Street Studio.

A feasibility study has been done on possible locations for the store. The old portion of Ace hardware on Spring St., the old Dinos on Summit and a building across from the library have been looked at. The next step is to write a business plan. There is nothing like it here so there will be no competition. The community and city have been supportive so far. They need about 1.5 million dollars to start up. Grants are available and a lot of fundraising will be done.

The store will be owned by us and each of us will have one vote. It will focus on fresh, healthy, wholesome food and will pay workers a living wage.

Some myths about food co-ops:
You have to work there, it is expensive, you cannot shop there if you are not a member and you have to be a hippie. None of these are true.

There are 160 food co-ops in the US today with 1.3 million members. The Common Ground co-op in Urbana has been very successful over a 30 year period. In the last five years they have gone from $600,000 in sales to 8 million. They have made a huge difference in the neighborhood with other shops joining them. Jennifer and Carol are hoping to duplicate that here.

Carol ended the presentation with “Be calm and Co-Op.” Pat asked if the kickback is cash or a credit. Jennifer responded that it can be either. REI sends a check, Costco gives a credit. The decision will be made by the members. A co-op is a democratic organization that listens to its members.

Pat Miller asked what is the advantage of being a member. Jennifer responded that members will get a kickback at the end of the year (once it starts making money,) a voice in what is stocked, and will get e-mail blasts to notify members of special sales. The co-op can buy in bulk and keep prices low so members don’t have to.

For more info contact Jennifer Shroder at <[email protected]> or call Carol Rauschenberger at 847/873-9995.


A motion was made by Bill Briska and seconded by Pat Miller to approve the minutes of the January 20th meeting.  The minutes were approved unanimously.  Dan Miller thanked Barbara Evans for an excellent job on the minutes.

Treasurer’s Report

Pat Miller reported these account balances
Checking account                             $4950.20
Savings account                                                $9920.17
4 CD’s                                                    $80,810.15

ROPE Officer Report

In Officer Engleke’s absence Officer Santiago gave a report. He informed the group that everything is going good in our neighborhood.   Recently police officers have been concentrating on sex offenders city wide.   There are 120 in Elgin with 20 to 30 in jail.  By law a police officer has to check up on each one twice a year.  Officer Englelke has been responsible for twenty.  I t is important that the ROPE officer knows where the sex offenders live in the neighborhood.

There has been some traffic problems at Channing and Sheridan schools when kids are dropped off and picked up.  To fix the problems they have gotten teachers out to help direct traffic and cones added for direction.  The problem seems to have been solved.

Northwest Quarterly Article

Dan passed around the recent Northwest Quarterly magazine that had a wonderful article on Elgin in it. He mentioned that the link to the article went to a version that included only one picture and no mention of the housewalk. If you did not get to read the article go here to do so:


The article that appeared in the magazine has several wonderful pictures. Dan put out a huge thanks to Bill Briska for facilitating the article with the magazine.  This is a huge plus for Elgin, old house living, the housewalk and our neighborhoods.  Bill added that the magazine has a huge distribution and is a give away at stores and restaurants.  He mentioned that they called the museum asking about doing an article on Elgin.  Liz Marston linked Bill with the reporter and Bill spent three days gathering info for him and showing him around town.  He gave them tons of information including our Progress thru Preservation booklet that was made for our 30th housewalk. Lots of info for the article was lifted right out of our housewalk booklets.   Bill put the reporter in contact with dozens of people in Elgin to get some great pictures and quotes.


Barclay Park

Dan Miller informed the group that progress has been made on the proposal to add an interpretive sign to Barclay park which is the triangular plot of land across from Burger King on Dundee Ave.  He added that the Summit Park neighborhood group is putting the final touches on interpretive signs for Newsome Park at the corner of Kimball and Dundee.  Their signs and the Barclay Park signs will be of similar design.  Bill Briska and Liz Marston have volunteered to take the next steps in making the sign a reality.  They have given text and pictures to Trish LaFluer to design an attractive layout to be sent to the sign maker.  The sign will be a 2 foot by 3 foot reading rail sign.  It will be vandal resistant with seven images and text about David Barclay.  There are three images of what it used to look like in 1860, 1870 and when it was a playground in the 1970’s.  The cost of the sign will be about $1400. Tom Lee made a motion to allocate $1400 to making the sign and Mark Preradovic seconded the motion.  It passed unanimously. Dan added that he hopes to get the city to install the sign.  Bill Briska informed the group that interpretive signs add a sense of place to a community and context to the area.  They show what makes a neighborhood special.  There will be two signs in Newsome Park as it is an important site for this Historic black neighborhood.  It has a very interesting story line with about fifteen families being the nucleus of the black community in Elgin for 100 years.  In the 70’s blacks came to Elgin from other parts of the country.

Historic Home Marketing

Dan reminded the group that GPA used to have a very active Home Marketing committee with a budget to hold open houses and to advertise.  Moe Lee and Craig Dresang have agreed to resurrect the committee.  Moe added:  Craig has come up with a very attractive design for a flier.  Elgin has a bad reputation.  We need to get the positive word out there.  We need to attract people to our wonderful real estate.  Printing Craig’s flier would cost about $500.  We need to determine who it should go to and how to distribute them.  Bill Briska added that a brochure ad is a special niche, not mass distributed.  It needs to be targeted like at a table at an event.  It needs to go to a special demographic. Moe mentioned that she has reached out to the Northwest Quarterly regarding an ad for our neighborhood and houses.  They do give a 40% discount for non profits as their mission is to help cities promote themselves.  She said that it would cost $755 per issue for four issues in a year for a full page color ad. They are giving us a great deal as a full page ad normally costs $1900. Bill added that we would get a terrific amount of synergy for an ad.  It would cultivate a bunch of story lines for future articles. Linda Voss asked if there are other magazines that we should look into also.

Office Santiago mentioned that in the 80’s and 90’s there was a lot more crime in Elgin.  It is nothing like it used to be.  “There has to be a way to get the message out there.”

Pat Miller added that we need to market outside of Elgin and Moe added that we need to educate Elginites too.  Jennifer Shroder added that we have to let people know what we are doing.  Moe mentioned that a friend of hers saw the honor that was recently given to Elgin schools  and said “We should  shout it from the rooftops.”

Moe said that a Home Marketing committee meeting would be announced in the near future.  She invited all to join in to make a difference.

Pictures of homes from the Historical Society

Dan reminded the group that one of the ideas that came out at Fran’s brainstorming meeting was to encourage homeowners in the Historic District to put back missing elements on their houses.  At recent Design Review Subcommittee meetings Steve Stroud has been showing picture so Elgin homes taken in the 1960’s for use at the Assessor’s office.  There are a lot of pictures out there showing missing details.  Dan envision getting pictures from the Historical Society and then taking them to homeowners showing them what their house used to look like, possibly inspiring them to put the details back. The porches were brought back recently at 386 E. Chicago, 530 S. Liberty and 141 Hill all because of old pictures.  Dan added that GPA might even consider a monetary reward to encourage homeowners to do it. We started the Great Unveiling program with a $1000 reward for participation which the city later took over.  Dan added that the Historical Society counts on revenue from its pictures for one small source of their income.  He mentioned that the museum and the   Historical Society are very important to us all so if we support the museum by purchasing pictures from them it helps us both.  Bill Briska added: There would be a great deal of value at the community level in such a program.    The Historical Society was given 100,000 negatives from the Courier.  David Siegenthaler has been cataloguing them.  The Historical society has 5000 house pictures catalogued.   People cannot conceptualize what they cannot see.  The old house jargon is often over their heads.  Seeing a picture would show them exactly what we are talking about.  Bill added that there are 600 house pictures included in the There Used to Be books.   Dan asked for a budget of $500 for the project. Bill Briska made a motion to that effect and Moe Lee seconded it. The motion passed unanimously.

Membership committee

Dorie Alpha has recently sent out letter to new neighbors.  It has already generated one new member.


Dan informed the group that a new Gazette was going out on Friday.  If you did not get it here is the link:  http://www.gifford-park-assoc.org/gazette-newsletter/2014-winter.html

A huge thanks goes out to Tom Hokenson, Barbara Evans, Dan Miller and Karen Bach for making it happen.

Historic District Signs

Pat Miller informed the group that the new Historic District signs and posts have been delivered to the sign dept. at Public Works and will be installed in the Spring if it ever comes and the ground thaws.

Tom Lee made a motion to adjourn and Bill Briska seconded the motion.  It passed unanimously.

Lots of free This Old house magazines were picked up by meeting participants. (See what you missed?)

Respectfully submitted by acting secretary

Dan Miller