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December 2015 RNA Board Meeting


Ravinia Neighbors Association General Meeting
Thursday, December 3, 2015

Carolyn Cerf called the meeting to order at 7:02 p.m. at Full Circle Architects

In attendance, besides Cerf, were Dan Baigelman, Amy Lohmolder, Doug Purington, Laura Saret, Jeff Stern, and Lisa Temkin. Also present were Newsletter Editor Jeanne Vella and neighborhood residents Peg Laemle, Adam Natenshon and Loren Schechter.

In her President’s Report, Carolyn Cerf talked about the potluck/Thanksgiving season event RNA sponsored at Ravinia School on Thursday, November 19. While turnout was limited, Amy Lohmolder said it was a relatively simple event to put together. Cerf suggested RNA should consider another such low-maintenance event in the future, and push for a better turnout by making a greater promotional effort.

Cerf brought up the Justice Project, and suggested that the RNA consider picking some aspect of it to work on as a group project to improve the community. In the absence of Treasurer Mike Babian, Cerf reported that there had been no progress thus far on RNA’s efforts to achieve 501C3 status, but that she expected a letter soon from IRS telling us we have become a tax-deductible organization. She said RNA’s bank balance was $5,232.66, while the checking account had $4,640.60. Doug Purington said another $530.00 would be added soon. Cerf said the annual audit, which she conducted October 19 with Babian, Amy Lohmolder, Jean Meier and Lisa Temkin, had found nothing out of order.

Regarding the Newsletter, Cerf said it was the first one printed in color and had enough articles, ads, a crossword puzzle and other items to fill 12 pages. The cost of $772, including postage, was kept in line with previous editions by cutting production from 350 to 400 down to 270 copies, which were mainly for mailing. Purington said he was able to print extra copies at home, which could be used for additional distribution. Those in attendance expressed mixed opinions on the value of color, and Purington said he would send an email asking all members for comments on that feature and other aspects of the newsletter. Cerf asked for ideas on content for the next edition. Readers were also to be asked for input.

In his Business District Report, Dan Baigelman said the district was already planning another Harvest and Harmony event for September, 2016, but little else. He said he planned to host an event to discuss other ideas. He said the SSA tends to jump on board of events RNA plans, and that they rarely meet. He suggested quarterly events because they would be easier to promote than the monthly ones that were attempted this year, which required too much effort to do effectively. He said whatever ideas are chosen will have a philanthropic bent.

Purington said he is regularly in touch with Ravinia businesses, which have all received the new RNA sticker for their windows. New RNA members include Just Wellness, at 467 Roger Williams, replacing Calm Message, and Jewel Nail Spa, at 727 St. Johns, where the One-Hour Cleaner was formerly located. He said Walgreens has restored its RNA membership, and that next year will see a micro-brewery serving food across from Walgreen’s on Roger Williams. The same owner has bought the former Ravinia Grill east of Walgreen’s. Vogue Cleaner has remained closed owing to the death of the owner and other issues. In his Membership report, Purington said there were two new members and three renewals, and that he is still working with Karlsson Rapp regarding the website, and that he has been able to post new material on it by himself.

Regarding developments in School District 112, Amy Lohmolder felt the Board was talking down to area residents, and that she was criticized at a community meeting at Ravinia School earlier in the day for suggesting that they were using marketing tools to push their proposals. Others expressed their own criticism of the process, which included the likelihood that the plan, as currently presented, would saddle the community with debt for years to come. Members from CARE and the League of Women Voters met with District Board Members, who seemed to be resistant to community feedback. Critics claimed that the District’s CFO is an officer of the same company that is expected to issue bonds for the project.

Adam Natenshon, who has attended District 112 meetings, said the plan is all spin, financially unsound, and would result in 95 percent of children in the district being bused to school. Cerf asked if members felt RNA should take a public position on the proposals. Lohmolder said that since the proposals clash with city planning by increasing the need for more student busing and fewer schools they could walk to, that perhaps City Council members should be made aware of the discrepancy. Natenshon said people are thirsting for facts, and that the hypothetical $4 million in savings District 112 claims their plan would achieve would be more than offset by the resulting $12 million in debt service.

After further discussion, Cerf suggested developing a strategy to oppose the plan. Reiterating RNA’s mission to provide information to the community about issues affecting membership and property values, and whether people will want to move in or out as a result, it was decided to invite people who have the facts to a meeting that would include RNA members and a reporter to cover what is said. It was noted that two former mayors had publicly criticized the district’s plans, and that there needs to be a meeting that school board members could not control. Cerf moved to hold a workshop after December 15 to review facts that are brought to us. Her motion was approved by voice vote.

Natenshon brought up the Fire Department’s plans to replace the Ravinia Fire Station and what might happen to the current structure if that went through. He said efforts should be made to preserve it, perhaps converting it for commercial use. Cerf and Stern, aware that funds were not yet available for a replacement, said a site in the park across Burton from the existing structure is under consideration. Lisa Temkin said the City wasn’t likely to approve preserving the old station. Cerf said we should monitor the situation and check with the HPFD in a few months.

Regarding Park District President Scott Meyers’ proposal to change the name of Jens Jensen Park owing to views the world-famous landscape architect supposedly held that Meyers considered racially insensitive, Cerf said she would contacted Meyers to suggest he drop his plan. She said Meyers doesn’t take into consideration Jensen’s life’s work or the era in which he lived, and that there is virtually no support from anyone else for his proposal, such as the prominent Jewish families who commissioned Jensen to landscape their properties.

There being no further business, the meeting was closed at 9:15 p.m.