February 2015 Minutes


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Historical Society Museum


NEXT MEETING: 7 p.m., Thursday, March 19, Historical Society Museum

A short movie featuring historical tidbits of Elgin, narrated by Mike Alft will be shown.



John Boline, Bill Briska, Bob Engelke, Barbara Evans, Tom Hokenson, John LaFleur, Chris Lee, Tom & Moe Lee, Dan & Pat Miller, Doug Tomsha, Ron Wright


R.O.P.E. REPORT (Officer Engelke)

  • Tempting though it might be in very cold weather, do NOT leave your car running while you run briefly into home/store because this makes it too easy for a passerby to “borrow’ it.
  • Be alert to any suspicious activity around the Jewish synagogue on Division Street and call the police ASAP to report it.
  • Thefts to date this year number 88 in contrast to 74 last year.
  • The EPD is hosting Coffee with a Cop at Big Apple Bagels on N. McLean on February 25th. As the flyer for it notes, “no agenda or speeches just a chance to ask questions, voice concerns and get to know the officers in your neighborhood.”

Post-meeting Note: It didn’t occur to any present to ask Officer Engelke when such an event would be hosted in our neighborhood. This will be done at our next meeting.



Originally contacted by Dan to discuss the possibility of doing a simple app for a walking tour of the Historic District, Milan, at Dan’s request, detailed other possibilities, which included featuring exteriors of housewalk properties as well. He also explained the reasons GPA’s website does not accomplish what an app can—notably, to provide a singular focus. Just how one develops a successful app, which is one that results in repeat visits, was also explained. Milan also stressed the necessity of developing a marketing plan that will bring in “recurring” revenue.

Developing such apps is Milan’s business, and he detailed how the one he developed for Elgin’s Fourth of July parade worked. The bulk of his work is in the initial development of the app, and he gave us 3 different proposals for creating one for us. (See Miscellaneous Business for further information.)


Approval of Minutes and Treasurer’s Report

The minutes of the Jan. 15 general membership meeting were approved unanimously.

Treasurer Pat Miller reported that to date, GPA has $23,234.80 in its checking account and $81,044.02 in five CDs for a total of $104,278.82.

The addition of almost $5,000 since January came from money that Pat discovered had not been collected from PayPal for 2012 and 2013 house tour tickets!


Historic District Committee  (Dan Miller)

  • Street Signs

After discussion Barbara moved that up to $2,000 be spent to replace the Historic District’s missing street signs with ones identical in design to those in the rest of the district. Seconded by Chris, the motion passed unanimously. (Each corner’s signage consists of two signs. The charge for each set of two is $290.)

Many thanks to the City for agreeing to install the signs at no charge to GPA.

Because complaints about the poor reflectivity of our existing signs were voiced as last month’s meeting, various possibilities were explored with the company that made them. Replacing all signs (approx. 70) with new ones designed like the existing ones would cost between $25,000–$30,000. Cost-prohibitive, too, was removing the current signs and shipping them to Pennsylvania to have them sandblasted and repainted. Although the company knows of no DIY product, such as a spray, that could improve the reflectivity of our existing signs, a call has been made to Elgin’s Public Works Department to see if it has any solutions.

  • Historic District Walking Tour Brochures

We are in need of an updated version of the walking tour brochure of the Historic District. Jean Bednar, who did the original one, has volunteered to do an updated one, which would include colored photos, at no charge to GPA.  Because Jean no longer has the templates, her offer is especially generous. Two local vendors were contacted for estimates and both priced doing them at approximately $2 each. Seconded by Moe, Bill’s motion that GPA spend up to $1,000 for new brochures passed unanimously.

Bill cautioned that we needed to be sure to place the brochures where they would be most likely to be taken and used. Elgin Area Convention Bureau has offered to help distribute them.

  • Historic Home marketing Committee

Moe is still working on a brochure to market historic properties as well as on a plan to distribute them to areas outside of Elgin.


Housewalk (Bill Briska)

Volunteers are needed to help with (not chair) the after-party. Those in charge of it are not only well-organized but are fun to work with, so call Bill to let him know you’re willing.

Dan is working on site selection, focusing on a north-end area where we have not yet been. Tom Lee has volunteered to photograph the homes at no charge to GPA.


Membership  (Moe Lee)

Enhanced by subtle color tones, the new membership brochure, updated by Laura Meyer, looks terrific.

Via email exchanges, the Board decided to eliminate dues for membership because what the dues were originally designed to cover—primarily postage for mailings—is no longer necessary because of email. Although Karen Bach had proposed to Board members that GPA offer further incentives—such as a magazine subscription or dining coupon—to attract new members, the general consensus tonight was that this was not necessary.



  1. McKinley School Playground

Given all that north-enders have done to help make our housewalks successful, it was not surprising that Bill’s motion, seconded by Doug, passed unanimously to make a $500 donation from GPA to go toward the repair and renovation of the McKinley Elementary School Playground.

Post-meeting update: GPA has received a thank you note from NENA for this donation.


  1. Architectural Grants

Grants are still available with the deadline for applying being April 3rd. Realize that the money does not carry over from year to year, so use it so we don’t lose it.


  1. Historic District/Housewalk Walking Tour Phone App

The detail and explanations that Milan Shah included in his presentation about developing an app for us was such that those present at this meeting felt that the proposals should be discussed and possibly voted on this evening. That tech gurus present (so labeled by this secretary) had either worked with Milan or knew of his work spoke highly of him/his work/his prices made a decision that much more likely.

The app proposal that most appealed to those present was the higher priced one, which included both our Historic District Walking Tour and the House Tour. By featuring the House Tour as well, we felt that we would be helping to promote Elgin as a town with great historic properties.

The higher-priced app is the only one that included updates for three years at no charge. Though we were shown apps with aerial photographs, there would be an extra charge for them.

In Milan’s proposal, after the initial 3-year contract is up, GPA would pay him $100 for each property added, which could add up considering the number of houses on tour each year. Thus it was considered imperative that GPA negotiate the right to do its own content additions at no charge.

After a lengthy discussion, Barbara moved that GPA meet with Milan to negotiate a contract for his $4,500 package, with the provision that Chris Lee and other tech gurus present this evening be a part of those negotiations. Seconded by Bill, the motion passed unanimously.

Milan’s presentation and our discussion following it was quite interesting and too involved to relay in detail in these minutes. If you’re interested, be sure to attend our upcoming general membership meeting, for a contract has been negotiated and will be presented.


Respectfully submitted,

Barbara Evans, Secretary