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June 2014 RNA Board Meeting


Ravinia Neighbors Association Board Meeting
June 5, 2014

Carolyn Cerf called the meeting to order at 7:03 P.M. at the Design Quartet showroom at 595 Roger Williams Avenue

The meeting was called to order by Carolyn Cerf at 7:03 p.m. in the Design Quartet showroom at 595 Roger Williams. In attendance, besides Cerf, were Ray DeLong, Amy Lohmolder, Doug Purington, Harold Rafson, Jeff Stern, Lisa Temkin and Aaron Wolf. Also present were associate members Michael Babian and Josh Nanus, Ravinia-based architect Dan Baigelman and Go Green Highland Park representative Andrea Amend.,/p>

Treasurer Aaron Wolf, having previously announced his intention to give up that position, said he would stay on until August and would be willing to train whoever was chosen to replace him. He said there was $4,824 in the RNA’s checking account and $5,230 in a CD for a total of $10,054 in assets. Michael Babian agreed to take on the job of Treasurer, and was given conditional approval. Amy Lohmolder presented a bill from the city for police assistance at the September 2012 Ravinia Block Bash in the amount of $345, which Wolf later paid.

In his Membership report, Doug Purington said he started a month ago to solicit potential new members and membership renewals by email and personal letters. The results to date have been 11 new members and 34 renewals, making a total of 397 members and 248 households after sending out 505 mailings. He said 26 per cent of the responses came through Paypal, and turned in a check for just under $1,500.

Responding to a question from Cerf, Purington said RNA-sponsored events don’t ordinarily generate much new membership, observing that only four renewals were received at the Ravinia Night Out May 22 at Jeff Cohen’s Photo Studio on Roger Williams, though as many as 70 people showed up for the event. Purington said he planned to send another renewal notice out in about a month.

Cerf said the city was about two months behind on retaining a PR firm to promote the Ravinia Business District, and that it won’t be until June 19 that Elyse Bombacino, the person who was hired, will be able present her plan to the City Council. She only recently began talking to businesses to get their ideas. Harold Rafson suggested that RNA point out to Bombacino that in a recent Highland Park magazine article about Ravinia seven of the advertisers were from outside the RBD, so that it would appear we get support from throughout the community.

Cerf said no major events were likely to be planned by the city for the Ravinia area this year, and that we should consider doing something on our own to raise funds and the profile of RNA. She had a number of ideas, such as sponsoring an organic workshop; organizing a “night out” at Ravinia Park; having progressive dinner/garden parties, or co-sponsoring an event with the Farmers’ Market. It was agreed that anything to do with the Market would need the approval of Lydia Davis, who has said in the past that she doesn’t like working with non-profits. Mike Babian agreed to be the liaison with Davis inasmuch as his grandfather was instrumental in bringing the Farmers’ Market to Ravinia several years ago.

In response to Cerf’s request for comments on which plan to support, the only one to be ruled out was the progressive dinner. Lisa Temkin noted that Chicago-born filmmaker Carey Lundin had just come out with a 90-minute documentary on Jens Jensen, and that RNA might try to arrange a showing for area residents, which could be done in Dan Baigelman’s offices on St. Johns Avenue. This idea appeared to have widespread approval from members in attendance.

Regarding the proposed Al Klairmont development at the former 7-11 site on Roger Williams Avenue, Purington showed new drawings that reflected changes since the first rendering. He attended a recent meeting of the Design Review Commission, where he learned of plans to provide 12 enclosed parking spaces opening onto the alley behind the building. Combined with outdoor parking already designated for residents, this would make available a total to 53 spaces. He said DRC members gave unanimous (6-0) approval to the parking plan, landscaping and lighting, but were split on the bulk size of the building (3-3).

Purington said the current plan calls for the upper three floors of the building to accommodate 24 two-bedroom and six one-bedroom rental units, of which five were to be designated affordable housing, plus 6,100 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, which could be divided into six or fewer shops. He said RNA sent a letter to the city in support of the plan with certain conditions, that RNA would keep tabs on how it develops, and that the Planning Commission would hold a hearing on it June 17. It was his impression that the Mayor and City Council were in favor of the project.

In the discussion that followed, Rafson said he was concerned about the bulk of the building, while others recommended adding detail to the structure and possibly providing a setback for the top floor so it would blend in better with the community. Purington said Klairmont indicated he would not move ahead with the project if he had to change the bulk of the building, while Temkin was skeptical of Klairmont’s ability to provide services in buildings he already owns. It was generally felt there was not enough information yet about the project.

Guest Andrea Amend of Go Green Highland Park works in Ravinia and said her organization was part of a consortium trying to address sustainability and environmental issues in the northern suburbs, and that they would like to work with us on recycling, the community.

In his Newsletter report, Ray DeLong said that after the April 3 meeting he contacted people who write for the newsletter, asking them to think about the proposed extra issue and provide him with topics they might write about. Since then he received one article and the promise of one other. This limited response led him to think it was unrealistic to consider producing three newsletters a year, especially in view of the difficulty of securing ads in the absence of an ad taker. He recommended expanding the next issue to 12 pages to include two or three more articles than usual, and asked everyone to suggest topics to write about.

While members reluctantly accepted DeLong’s proposal, Purington promised an article on new businesses for the next issue, which would have a deadline of August 1, with publication planned for late August or early September. It was agreed that a new ad person was needed who would be proficient with a computer and would respond in a timely way to emails from merchants. Cerf said the job would only require about eight hours of work over eight weeks. She also said she had ideas for more articles which she would send to DeLong.

Cerf said RNA would have a table at the Stupey Cabin Picnic from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on June 7, where Amy Lohmolder would have information and materials needed to plant organic gardens. Other members were welcome to join her.

Under Other Business, Temkin said a demolition permit had been submitted for a home at 450 Woodland. There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 8:45 p.m.