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August 2016 RNA Board Meeting


Ravinia Neighbors Association Board Meeting
Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Interim-President Lisa Temkin called the meeting to order at 7:08 p.m. in the Full Circle Architect’s office at 737 St. Johns Avenue.

In attendance, besides Temkin, were Dan Baigelman, Amy Lohmolder, Jean Meier, Doug Purington, Laura Saret, Jeff Stern and Jeanne Vella. Also present were Phyllis Bagan, Elliott Miller and Gail Taxy.

Lisa Temkin opened the meeting with a discussion about the need to fill open positions for President and Secretary on the RNA Board. Doug Purington said the goal should be to have more people involved in the RNA in order to have a wider pool of people to consider for RNA offices. Dan Baigelman would also like to give up his position as Vice President. Temkin herself prefers not to be an organizer of events, saying she has a number of other commitments, including membership on the Historic Preservation Commission until the end of the year.

It was noted that before Carolyn Cerf resigned as President, she indicated she would still be willing to help organize events for the RNA. Amy Lohmolder said there have been too many activities, and the same core group has been left with the burden of carrying them out. She recommended following Eve Tarm’s example by proposing Neighbors’ Night Out events that don’t require a lot of planning but produce the desired effect of bringing people together while drawing attention to local businesses and having fun doing it. Purington suggested that RNA have fewer events a year and do all we can to make them successful.

Baigelman proposed putting an item in the next newsletter asking RNA members to become more active and consider joining the Board. Purington recommended putting together information about the responsibilities of each Board position, and noted that the Fall Newsletter was scheduled to be published in October. Gail Taxy observed that a group she belonged to found it useful to get people’s attention by asking them what they felt they were good at doing. That was found to be a more successful approach, rather than simply calling for volunteers. Lohmolder suggested setting up groups with a common interest, and Purington said that when RNA was founded, it had committees to deal with specific issues.

Jean Meier said school issues appeared to be the overwhelming cause right now, and that those who can should attend as many meetings involving the schools as possible and tell us what they learned so we can be better informed in case we want to take a stand on behalf of our members. She said the League of Women Voters always had observers at meetings of general interest who come back and report their findings to the group’s board. Temkin noted that RNA had people involved with District 112 reconfiguration issues at our last meeting, and that there was usually a place on the agenda for a community report.

In the absence of Michael Babian there was no Treasurer’s Report. However, Purington said he had had already turned over to Babian somewhat over $2,000 for membership renewals, that he expected to turn in another $400 soon, and that there was now between $11,000 and $12,000 in RNA accounts.

Baigelman said that the Second Annual Historic Ravinia event was scheduled for Sunday, October 9, and that a full-page ad could be seen in the Summer 2016 My Ravinia Newsletter spelling out the features of the free event, which focuses on Mid-20th Century Modern Design. He said a trolley provided by the Historic Preservation Commission would take participants to some of the area’s finest architectural sites, with docents offering anecdotes and historical information. Among other parts of the program will be a talk at Ravinia School about Chicago’s architectural gems by a writer for Crain’s Chicago, and a display of playhouses and dog houses that were winners of a ‘Design Challenge.’

Baigelman said there would be some costs involving the creation of banners and buttons for the event, the printing of brochures and the use of Ravinia School. Purington made a motion for RNA to provide $500 for the event, to be paid directly to vendors, which was approved by members in attendance.

In his Membership Report, Purington said renewals had reached 82 percent this year, compared to 54 percent a year ago, and that RNA now had 176 members. He said he sent out some 300 emails so far, and that he wasn’t hesitant about approaching city officials to renew when he came across those who hadn’t.

In his Business District Report, Purington said he was making a greater effort to update the website with more pictures and other information about businesses, and repeated previous reports about the start of Al Klairmont’s apartment project on Roger Williams Avenue being delayed over parking issues. He said a Gastro Pub on Roger Williams across from Walgreen’s was now expected to open next spring, as was the restaurant that once housed the Ravinia BBQ. Purington also noted the closing of the So Chic Boutique and the absence of progress at the long-closed Vogue Cleaners owing to remediation issues. Also, while the price for the former Shelton’s had been reduced to $400,000, it still wasn’t selling.

Temkin wondered whether this year’s Thursday Artisan’s Market was bringing more business to Ravinia. Baigelman said its purpose reportedly was to have something earlier in the day for children to enjoy, with music later for adults. While the event has apparently brought traffic to Baker Boys, he said the aim is to sell a product, and that many merchants can’t be out there from 3 until 8 p.m. It was felt that the city’s Business Development Manager should work more closely with the community to promote businesses, and should be invited to an RNA meeting to hear suggestions on how to become more pro-active.

In regard to the spending of TIF funds on upgrades to the Business District, Purington talked about the new street and district signage, but wondered about the street lighting and other improvements that had been promise. Lohmolder surveyed the cost of the signs that was revealed at the Annual Joint Review Board Meeting, which Baigelman attended on June 23, and determined that the $280,250 total would have broken down to about $17,500 for each of the 16 signs she counted, of which nine were simple street signs.

Purington said more oversight was needed in the design and approval process. Baigelman suggested that community development efforts were not achieving what was intended, and that the city has chosen to do events that attract other merchants instead of helping those that are here in Ravinia. Temkin said she would email a Council Member she knew to get more information about the new Ravinia signs and the process that was followed to obtain them.

Jeanne Vella reported that the next Newsletter would be out shortly. Purington drew attention to the lead article on the new Ravinia Festival Fountain and the favorable comments it had received. He said the number of copies had been reduced to 205 for mailing and another 95 for distribution in the station kiosk and at other locations, and that more could be printed if needed. He noted that there had been over $600 in ad sales for the new edition, which had 12 pages in color.

Regarding issues with mobile phone usage in the area, Laura Saret was concerned about calls being dropped by Verizon customers during Ravinia Festival events. Temkin said Verizon had wanted to put up another antenna atop the Murray Theater. Purington said there already were nine other antennae around the park, and no apparent problem with AT&T or other services. Baigelman said he had just been at the opening of a new building on the Festival campus, which is to serve as a small theater or museum with displays relating to the history of the Festival. It is located next to the restaurant.

Under Other Business, Stern said he was still trying to get a piano removed from the train station. It has been there for several months, but can’t be played because it has 16 keys that don’t work. He also is looking for three 6-foot-long historic-looking benches that can replace the two unwieldy ones that are there now. Temkin suggested looking for the benches at either of two antique shops she was familiar with that are located around Dempster and Dodge in Evanston.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 8:53 p.m.