June 2016 Minutes

Thursday, June 16, 2016
Historical Society Museum

Sat., June 18: Fox River Volunteer Cleanup Day; 8 to noon, beginning at Elgin’s Walton Island
Thurs., June 23: Meeting for all interested in historic district projects; 7 p.m.; 16 Rugby Pl. (Paul Bednar’s home)
Sat., June 25: Celebration of La Roca Grocery’s 43rd anniversary, noon-7 p.m.; 326 DuPage St., Elgin
Thurs., June 30: Housewalk Steering Committee Meeting; 7 p.m., Historical Society Museum
Thurs., July 21: GPA General Membership Meeting, 7 p.m., Historical Society Museum
Sat. & Sun., Sept. 10 & 11: 35th Annual Elgin Historic House Tour

Paul Bednar, Sara & Sidney Boline, Barbara Evans, Kevin & Natalie Kearney, Paul & Sue Kuester, Tom & Moe Lee, Dan & Pat Miller, Mark & Glenna Preradovic, EPD Officers Ramirez & Alcorn and Sgt. Lesko

R.O.P.E. REPORT: Officer Lisandro Ramirez ([email protected] 224-760-8480)
That a dirt bike was stolen from a garage should remind us to keep our garages locked. And because the gang-related numbers 23 and 16 have appeared on a few signs, we are reminded to call the EPD’s non-emergency number (847-289-2700) to report graffiti so that it can be quickly removed.

Although our historic district neighborhood has been fairly quiet this past month, the 4th of July and the illegal fireworks that accompany it will soon be here. The City has a zero-tolerance policy and a new ordinance that makes it possible to levy “hefty” fines on homeowners if evidence on their properties establishes that illegal fireworks have been set off there. (No longer do people have to be caught in the act of setting them off.) Although neighborhoods with high numbers of complaints in the past will receive special attention on the 4th, you are encouraged to call 911 or the EPD’s non-emergency number to report fireworks whenever they’re set off.

Asked about the summer programs available to elementary school children, Officer Ramirez cited U-46’s Kids United as well as those sponsored by the EPD: Fitness with the Fuzz as well as fishing and golfing outings to name a few. And as they do each summer, each R.O.P.E. officer has selected five boys in his area to attend the R.O.P.E. summer camp, this year to be held in Oregon IL. In the past GPA has donated $300 to that event. A motion made by Glenna Preradovic and seconded by Paul Bednar to donate $300 again this year passed unanimously.

The motion to accept the minutes of the March 19th meeting passed unanimously. ( Note: There was no business meeting in April.)
Treasurer Pat Miller reported that GPA currently has $16,380.64 in its checking account and $81,340.90 in four CDs for a total of $97,721.54. This report was also unanimously approved. To the surprise of some, among GPA’s expenditures this past month was $23 (and some cents) for property tax on the pocket park at the corner of E. Chicago and Geneva streets

Housewalk (Pat Miller [email protected])
Everything is generally on schedule.
Some have already volunteered to handout housewalk postcards at Elgin’s 4th of July parade, but more are needed.
Help is also needed to distribute 1) the revised “Progress through Preservation” booklet to all historic district homes and 2) posters and postcards for the housewalk. Please call Pat if you’re willing help with any/all of these.

Thanks to Paul Bednar, the postcards have the added note to go to GPA’s website to register for a free ticket to the housewalk. GPA plans to award 10 tickets in a drawing.

Thanks to Glenna Preradoric, the “Progress through Preservation” booklet has a map indicating all the homes in the Elgin Historic District that have been on the housewalk along with a brief description of each. Glenna has also overseen the making of signs indicating the year each house was on the walk. These will be placed in front of those houses two weeks before and will remain two weeks after this year’s walk. District U-46 has expressed interest in taking advantage of these signs and booklets to educate children in the area.

Pat also noted that she would be contacting the City to ask code enforcement to be proactive in our neighborhood this summer, given the fact that it will be the site of this year’s housewalk. Glenna said that she would add a note about “sprucing up” to the letter she was sending to those who live in homes that have been on previous walks. And as we have done in the past, a notice will be sent out alerting the neighborhood to the need to do the same so that we look our best on September 10 and 11.

Elgin Historic District (Paul Bednar [email protected] )
Kudos to Pat Miller for writing the grant that will pay a good portion of the $2,057 cost of GPA’s new Elgin Historic District Walking Tour brochure.

Paul had divided the items of potential historic district projects he’d emailed to GPA members into three categories.
Of those that primarily involved volunteer labor, many of the 20 who responded said that a litter patrol/don’t-litter campaign was a priority, as were working with Neighborwerk to do a cleanup and providing workshops for old-house owners. Though it wasn’t in the top three, when Paul asked if there were any others those of us present felt strongly about, Barbara Evans said having a number of events during Neighborhood Night Out was important because the key to getting the uninvolved involved is getting to know them. Paul Kuester suggested that this could also be accomplished by holding workshops in various places in the district.

In Paul Bednar’s second category–those projects that would require some GPA funding–only one item received overwhelming support from the 20 who responded: return Bowes mansion to use. A lengthy discussion ensued. If this is pursued, we concluded, a Dream Committee should be formed to do a feasibility study and look at all the options, which would include merely working to find a buyer for it. Time is of the essence for this property, for as Paul Kuester noted, if Mutual of Omaha, its current owner, stops paying taxes on it, it will go to the county and whoever purchases it will have to pay the back taxes, which GPA could not afford to do. A Dream Committee could also look at other problem properties in the district as potential rehab projects. Those who are interested in being on a Dream Committee should so inform Paul Bednar.

Two other items in Paul’s second category were discussed, albeit far more briefly. Paul noted that if we were to landscape corners again, GPA would not only have to be willing to provide the funds for their upkeep but also to have someone to oversee the project to make certain this was being done. Although it was not on Paul’s original list, Barbara urged us to make getting reflective lighting on historic district street signs a priority. Because of our original contract with the City, upkeep of the signs is GPA’s responsibility.

There were seven projects that many of the 20 respondees thought should be priorities in Paul’s third category-those that should be undertaken by the City. Cleaning/repairing/replacing the sign in our namesake park as well as Davidson Park, completing tree planting to fill in gaps are two that easily could be done. Getting overhead utilities underground when E. Chicago Street is torn up next summer, however, is not, and after Paul Kuester explained the complexities and cost, those of us present had to agree with his conclusion that it would not happen. As for lighting the doughboy statue–because getting electricity to it has been a stumbling block in the past, it was suggested that we investigate the possibility of using solar panels. The other three items in this category that many thought should be priorities were lobbying for additional code enforcement personnel, petitioning for additional architectural grants/deconversion funds and lobbying for strong apartment licensing.

Paul’s goal this evening was to get a feel for what members think should be priorities. Those interested in discussing them further and/or working to make them realities are invited to join his Historic District Committee, which will meet at his home at 16 Rugby Place on Thursday, June 23rd, at 7 p.m.

1. The Elgin Hispanic Network, according to Sue Kuester. who was a guest at one of their monthly meetings, is a vibrant active group that includes many non-Hispanics. One of the benefits of belonging to it is that it will publicize members’ events. But more importantly, said Sue, it will give GPA the inroad to the Hispanic community that we’ve long sought. Voicing the rhetorical question that many of us had, Paul Bednar asked “Why haven’t we known about this group long before?” Sue’s motion that GPA pay its $79 membership fee was seconded by Paul Bednar and, needless to say, passed unanimously. Three people from an organization are covered under one membership, and Barbara volunteered to by one of GPA’s.

2. Discussion about the sad state of the sign in GPA’s namesake park led to reminiscing about the events GPA used to hold there, specifically a summer Night in the Park and silent auctions of whatever was donated. Officer Ramirez then noted that he was sorry his appointment as our R.O.P.E. officer had been made after the site for this year’s neighbors night out had been chosen. Next year, he plans to host his at Gifford Park.

3. Sara Boline received kudos for the delectible cream cheese bars she brought to this evening’s meeting.

A motion to adjourn was made and seconded and also passed unaminously.

Respectfully submitted,
Barbara Evans, secretary