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August 2015 RNA Board Meeting


Ravinia Neighbors Association General Meeting
Thursday, August 6, 2015

Carolyn Cerf called the meeting to order at 7:03 p.m. at Full Circle Architects

In attendance, besides Cerf, were Mike Babian, host Dan Baigelman, Amy Lohmolder, Doug Purington, Jeff Stern and Lisa Temkin. Also present were guests Andy Amend, Mary Seyfarth, Kathryn VandenBerk, Erica Weeder and Landmark reporter Todd Marver.

In her President’s Report, Carolyn Cerf said Eve Tarm has resigned from the RNA Board and Dan Baigelman has taken her place. She also suggested ways to honor Tarm and Ray DeLong for their service to RNA.

Cerf then opened for discussion an issue brought to RNA’s attention by a resident on Pleasant Avenue regarding loud music being played outside the Ravinia Coffee Station on St. Johns starting at 9 a.m. on Sunday mornings. Mike Babian said he had already talked to the Coffee Station proprietors about it, that they had been told of the complaint by the city, and that they agreed to stop using amplification equipment. It was felt RNA had served as a conduit for the community without taking sides, and that the issue seems to have been resolved.

Cerf announced that the city was planning a Ravinia Fall Festival for October 2-4 to promote the business district. Events will center around Jens Jensen Park with music and live bands, vendors and restaurants participating. Ilyse Strongin-Bombicino, Founder/Partner, Ripple Public Relations, has been given authority to organize the event by the city but is asking RNA to provide six volunteers to help out while still requiring us to pay for any tent we might put up. It was felt RNA had worked hard to advance plans she has presented as her own.

Babian spoke about the resignation of Ray DeLong from the Board and as editor of the newsletter. Another meeting was proposed to discuss the search for a new editor.

In his Membership Report, Purington said 80 percent of households had renewed and that 49 still had not, while he expected a few more to trickle in. He also noted that RNA was still carrying 80 households which didn’t renew in 2011, 2012, 2013 or 2014. If households that had not yet renewed were included, he said membership would stand at 500, with households at 317. Purington said the 2015 campaign for membership took in $2,840, but that this was less than what had been targeted. He said RNA is not getting the number of new members we would like to see, and that we need to find different ways to approach people. Cerf attributed lagging membership results to the absence of a block bash or other event that might have sparked greater interest among area residents. Regarding the website, Purington said his goal was to take control of content management and leave other aspects of it to Karlson Rapp. Cerf noted that most people react to our organization in ways other than through the website.

Tax attorney Kathryn VandenBerk was introduced as someone who could guide us through the process of acquiring 501c3 status as a non-profit organization, which would enable RNA to solicit and collect funds more easily by giving donors the opportunity to get a tax deduction for their contributions. She discussed the 6 to 8-week process, which included pulling together paper work involving our incorporation, for which we would be charged about $1,000. Babian said he had wanted to do this for quite some time, but did not have the legal expertise.

Cerf called for a vote to approve the expenditure of up to $2,500 to cover the $1,000 fee for VandenBerk’s work, plus an estimated $450 for the IRS and another $550 for the Illinois Attorney General’s office to complete the process. Her motion was approved by voice vote.

Andy Amend suggested that RNA should support community activists who want to create a more open community in Highland Park by making it more welcoming. Amy Lohmolder said it would not be wise for RNA to become more political, which is where she perceived such support might lead.

Regarding the business district Dan Baigelman said the most recent Third Thursday event was a rainout, but that he expected August 20 to work out better. He anticipated having a meeting soon to determine if Ravinia businesses could do something more effective to attract more interest from area residents. He said holding a special event every month required a lot of effort, that six weeks are needed to advertise adequately, and that a quarterly event made more sense.

Regarding the Ravinia Fall Festival, Baigelman said it would be centered in the Martin Theater to highlight the history of Ravinia and the park. Temkin, who sits on the Historic Preservation Commission, said there was a $5,000 budget for the event, which will include a trolley to transport participants between Jens Jensen Park, Ravinia Park, the former Rosenwald estate, Jensen’s studio and other sites, and that the Jensen movie will also be shown. Temkin said Nick Pullia, of the Ravinia Festival, is pitching the program, which will need sponsors, and that the city won’t pay for any kind of promotional material.

Erica Weeder talked about area dog owners who wanted to walk their dogs at Rosewood Beach, but couldn’t because of a Park District ruling. They seek support from the community to walk their dogs at least along the boardwalk after the swimming season ends. It was decided RNA should not get involved.

Responding to a question from Todd Marver, Cerf said Ravinia School is still included in both models for the reorganization of District 112 schools. Citing no further business to conduct, Cerf adjourned the meeting at 9:23 p.m.