November 2015 Minutes


                                                 Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015

Historical Society Museum



Mon., Nov. 30, 7 p.m.:  2016 House Tour Brainstorming Session, Historical Society Museum



Paul Bednar, John Boline, Bill Briska, Barbara Evans, Sue & Paul Kuester, Moe & Tom Lee, Pat & Dan Miller, Milan Shah, Dave Shull, Doug Tomsha and Officers Engleke & Ross


R.O.P.E. REPORT  (Officer Engleke)

Life in the Gifford Park neighborhood has been uneventful. To keep it that way, be certain to keep your car locked and don’t leave it running unattended.

Elgin Police Department’s annual open house is Saturday, Dec. 5, from noon till 3:30 p.m. Facility tours and historic displays as well as activities for kids will be featured. There will be a K9 Colt demonstration from 3:30 to 4 p.m.



The minutes of October’s general membership meeting were unanimously approved, as was the treasurer’s report. Currently GPA has $22,017.64 in its checking account and $81,210.87 in four CDs for a total of $103,228.51.



HISTORIC DISTRICT  (Dan Miller  847-697-3370)

GPA members can be counted on to provide the food/beverages for a holiday gathering. All that’s needed is a place. If you are willing to provide it, please call Dan Miller ASAP. (The reason this is so last-minute is that the person who was going to be in charge of arranging a place has a new job with a horrific commute and simply no longer has the time to do it.)

The October minutes included a photo of The Elgin Historic District lettering that will be attached to the new stonework at the northwest corner of Liberty and E. Chicago streets. When it will be completed is yet unknown.

After showing us the teaser for GPA’s Historic District Walking Tour phone app that he’d put on Facebook, Milan Shah noted that while over 2,300 have viewed it, none have downloaded the app. We think this is probably because 1) there were no instructions for doing so and 2) rather than previewing all that is on the app, the teaser had only photos of the houses on the 2015 tour.  Milan will address both of these concerns. He will also provide Dan with instructions for downloading the app, which Dan will then forward to all on GPA’s mailing lists.


MEMBERSHIP  (Moe Lee   708-828-9706)

To see what an excellent letter is sent to prospective GPA members, the next time you get a GPA email marked “open only if you’re not a member,” open it! Given that letter, it’s not surprising that GPA membership now numbers 150. Now on to 200!



When Barbara Evans and Karen Bach recently met, they segued from discussing sponsorships into ways to make housewalk #35 special. If you’re interested in the ideas they came up with, email Barbara at[email protected] and request them. If you have suggestions for the 2016 tour, please plan to attend the brainstorming session for it on Monday, Nov. 30, at 7 p.m. at the Historic Society Museum or email them to Barbara before that date.




Because the GPA constitution limits board members to a two-year term, four of the persons on the slate were ineligible to continue in their positions. Because no one could be found to serve in their stead, however, they agreed to serve until replacements for them can be found. Bill Briska moved that they be allowed to do so; Tom Lee seconded it. The motion passed unanimously. Thus for the time being, the GPA Board for 2016 is as follows:

Interim President: Dan Miller

Vice President: Paul Bednar

Interim Secretary: Barbara Evans

Interim Treasurer: Pat Miller

Interim Past President: Karen Bach

lst Member at Large: John Boline

2nd Member at Large: Mark Preradovic

Needless to say, the interim members would greatly appreciate being relieved of their duties sooner rather than later.



After patting ourselves on the back for having replaced our worn out historic district signs, we discussed things still of concern to us.

Not surprisingly, that we need to work to increase involvement of GPA members throughout the year was heartedly agreed upon by those present. Decreasing the number of general membership business meetings, perhaps even to just quarterly, in order to reduce the time commitment required of board members was one suggestion. Concern that this might lead to a decline rather than rejuvenation of the organization was countered with the suggestion that we hold social events in the months we don’t have general membership meetings. A number thought that alternating business meetings with purely social gatherings was worth trying. To attract new faces to business meetings, it was suggested that we scramble the venue (hold some at people’s homes and/or restaurants) and/or revive the after-the-meeting gatherings at people’s homes or a local watering hole.

Also not surprising was the consensus that GPA should spend some of its accumulating funds on a major project. Rehabbing another house is an obvious one, but as was noted, to find one that we can afford and to be able to act to purchase it in a timely manner requires a revival of the Dream Committee that spearheaded GPA’s other rehabs. Whether there are enough people willing to commit the time/effort required to undertake this remains to be seen. Spending time/money to improve our neighborhood streetscapes was suggested as another worthwhile project.

Improving communication with neighbors is another thing many think should be a priority for 2016. As in the past, once again we confronted our failure to reach the many Hispanics in our neighborhood. While reasons it is difficult to get them to participate in GPA were noted, also discussed were informal ways to reach out to them. Some, such as bringing back the food/activity/fun-filled summer Night in the Park as well as auctions, would be primarily social events designed to make everyone feel at ease. More focused on GPA goals could be an information booth at Channing Elementary School’s annual fall fiesta. While the idea of asking members to Adopt a Block was not elaborated on, it, too, offers possibilities for involving more historic district residents.

Code enforcement is another major concern. While the principles behind the relatively new Code 2.0 are sound ones, cuts in the number of city inspectors have made it difficult to implement. As a result, not all complaints are getting resolved. That said, however, it was noted that inspector José Alvarez has been successful in resolving complaints about Michigan Street. Many also felt that complaint-driven code enforcement (as opposed to inspectors out on the streets actively looking for problems) is also responsible for many violations not being addressed. It was suggested that we ask Marc Mylott, Elgin’s Community Development Director, to give a seminar on Code 2.0 as a means of focusing people on the need for code compliance. If you are unfamiliar with its philosophy and principles, see

The failure to license all apartments and single-family-home rentals was also noted as an area of concern.

Hopefully you can see from these notes that our discussions were fruitful ones. What is more difficult to convey is the camaraderie that results from meeting to try to solve problems. If you’ve not yet attended a meeting focused on doing just this, please consider doing so in the future. And if you are willing to commit to helping address any of the concerns mentioned, please contact Dan Miller.

Before the meeting was adjourned, everyone agreed that Sara Boline deserves a resounding THANK YOU for yet again providing us with delicious cookies.


Respectfully submitted,

Barbara Evans, Interim Secretary