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December 2016 RNA Board Meeting


Ravinia Neighbors Association Board Meeting
Thursday, December 2, 2016

Called to Order: 7:10 pm

In Attendance:

Lisa Temkin, Dan Baigelman, Laura Saret, Justin Kee, Michael Babian, Jeff Stern, Doug Purington, Amy Lohmolder, Drew Awsumb (Urban Community Development, City of H.P.), Rob Sabo (Asst. City Mgr., City of H.P.) Nancy Funk, Mike Stroz, Mary Seyfarth, Ed Kaufman, Carolyn Cerf.

Update from City of HP on Ravinia Business District : Per Rob, on 11/28 the city council approved Ravinia’s Special Service Area (SSA) renewal for an additional 3 years. There are thirty- one property owners, including city.  Two are subtracted (non-profit).  Fourteen of twenty-nine owners objected but more than 50% must object as well as electors residing in SSA district. A 12/2 morning meeting led by Katie Wiswald and Carolyn Hersch at city hall. Approximately 7 business owners attended.  Mike (Palminteri State Farm) stated that they would now be given greater input regarding how money might be spent. We were reminded that the TIF is different than the SSA. The SSA tax payers decided not to continue with the fall Harvest and Harmony event as it was not seen as benefiting those taxed for the SSA. The less expensive Artisan Market is seen as more beneficial and will continue in some form, probably weekly. Ripple Public Relations will be consulted to see if they are willing to continue in adjusted manner. Mike had cost effective advertising ideas, such as the type of pop up web banners his company employs to reach larger numbers of people economically. Additionally, RNA and local volunteers have in the past economically carried duties related to neighborhood events and can likely do so again.

Length of events was discussed.  It was brought up that RNA had been left off the Ravinia event listings, when even the Volunteer Pool of Highland Park was included. R. Sabo assured that city wanted RNA involved.

Street lighting was discussed. Although regular lights (on poles) are financially out of reach at present, strings of lights are an alternative possibility. Lights would be strung as to outline (just tops?) of buildings, giving little ambient light, but adding a festive feel to the business district.  

Owners would like to see another (anchoring) business drawn to area. Laura stressed that eatery and specialty food is desirable and that city might help with this. Drew Awsumb noted that A. Klairmont seems to be thinking in this vein for his new (pending) development.

Lisa suggested that an alternate meeting time of the SSA might draw greater participation. Food might be another draw.

Check city of HP website for school meeting listings:

Regarding TIF, Drew Awsumb discussed infrastructure plan currently in the works. There will be two areas emphasized in the 2017 draft which is to be widely circulated:  

Part 1 determines all of the work (in HP) to be done over the life of the Ravinia TIF which might affect the TIF so that it is well planned and implemented. It is most cost effective to have a master plan. The “Strand Study” by Strand Associates will involve mostly work that people don’t tend to see: underground pipes, storm water improvements and such. This work needs to be planned along with other more visible works.

Part 2 in 2017, the “Hitchcock Plan” is a conceptual plan. In 2017 there will be a process of prioritizing based on budget for Ravinia streetscape. The city will hire a firm to do plans to help with bidding.

Mike expressed concerns for many consultant expenditures. Question from Mary provoked discussion regarding why the city hires so many consultants to accomplish work. Amy brought up new streets signs again and an opinion that hiring outside, edgy marketing firm had resulted in “edgy” look that cost too much and did not fit Ravinia’s historical character. Drew addressed issue of mismatched signage stating that old signs would be taken down.

It was acknowledged that some RNA members did attend early conceptual Hitchcock presentation in which people could comment. Doug related that something was lost in translation. Material selection, size, scope (number of signs) and other details had significant impact on what we ultimately got. Rob stated Eric Olsen would have greater ability to comment on that process.

Rob Sabo addressed issue of “60% design docs” that needed to be produced to bid work explaining that the city did not have people who could do this work and so it would be hired out. Mary noted that there are many architects and artists in Ravinia. Amy suggested that RNA might be more proactive in amplifying the city’s Requests for Proposals (RFPs) to such groups not as familiar with RFP process.  

Vacancies on Ravinia Business District Alliance (RBDA) left by Eve Tarm and Marsha (Calm Massage) were noted as vacancies that RNA would like to see filled. Rob Sabo said that these selections could be submitted by the RNA.

Rob (or Drew?) stated he/they are more than willing to deep dive and go through Hitchcock bidding material with us. He said the city will not be spending more money for conceptual work. They will pick priorities and get bidding done. The city will welcome public comment. They know that lighting and parking are priorities.       

Amy asked if this is the time to question the type of parking that is planned for Ravinia and the concern that parking lots are often unsightly. Will we forfeit space that we later find could have been used for (example) the Barcelona styled outdoor eating area (shared by all restaurants, etc.) that Laura suggested? Lisa noted that appropriate parking is needed particularly if new business is to come in. Drew thinks we get “efficient” parking. One new trend is shared parking. There will be an analysis of parking. Doug offered that better lighting might be what would help those eating out in Ravinia feel more comfortable with parking a little further out.

Mike brought up issue of realistic time frames and costs in planning. (1.1 million is now in hand.) Drew agreed, stating that 60% design plan will become part of a forecasting tool that will help determine what is possible within certain time frames and with TIF money collected. They will begin to get specific and “forecast out the TIF”. A type of menu will be developed after which we might determine that more money is to be raised, via private fundraiser or the city’s CIP fund, etc. 

Drew said that going forward with two big projects -- hiring firm to do 60% plan, and all important pieces will be transparent and they will be getting input from the public. They will probably have more to report in January.    

Minutes of Last Meeting.  Approved, pending notes submitted by Rob to Lisa.

Treasurer’s Report by Mike:  We have zero in PayPal account. We have $7,892.12 in the checking account, $5,248.35 in the CD account and a total of $13,140.47.  Mike is looking for higher yielding CD.

Membership Report by Doug:  $137.50 was collected representing four new memberships and two renewals. Doug stated this is traditionally a slow period.

Website: Doug had put food pantry drive on the front page and updated with new photos. He is paying 19.50 per month for web hosting (Adobe Business Catalyst) which some felt expensive. Carolyn interjected that this selection allowed for email and that going to cheaper service could change our layout and how our site works.

Lisa suggested and others concurred that getting an RNA credit card would be good and allow Doug to pay website without having to get reimbursements.

City Council Candidates - Both Laura and Davis will be running for the 2 year position resulting from departure of Paul Frank to his new position. Lisa brought up possibility of RNA hosting an open house, inviting all candidates, so that residents could come and meet and speak with those running for office. There was agreement that this was a good idea.

NSSD112 Update   Justin reported that city had put out a list of city planning requirements it would need to complete to accommodate 112’s plan (BDR3). This upset 112 board and representatives. One resident has initiated a lawsuit because she has a special needs child who she believes would not be able to safely evacuate in emergencies at Edgewood School. This is because the new set up Edgewood would have significantly more students, negatively effecting egress. As it is now only at 40% capacity, the lack of ADA updates is not insurmountable but would become so under new plan. The pending lawsuit is likely to stall 112 from moving ahead as quickly as they’d like.

Carolyn brought up concern that RNA should not be too quick to team up with other school related groups in the expedient delivery of school and RNA membership flyers by people affiliated with both groups. Although some felt these groups share school concerns and that RNA has been mandated by a majority of our membership to support Ravinia School, it was agreed that keeping good boundaries is good practice.

Lisa related that 112 Superintendent Bregy had phoned her. Despite apparent lack of interest by 112 Board President, Michael Cohn, Bregy seemed to be soliciting additional information or assistance on how Landmark Illinois might help the district in properly addressing vacated buildings.

Further discussion of Business District: Doug solicited a response from Al Klairmont as to what needed to happen to allow his proposed new building to move forward. The list is as follows: 1) Have a HUD certified Appraiser approved by the City of HP and then hired. 2) Submit the appraisal 3.) Have the Ravinia Housing commission agree to the sale, which he believes they will once they get the approval from their lender and HUD 4) submit his plans for building permit review 5) Have our blueprints approved by the City of HP. Klairmont wrote that he had started work on all that was under his control and that the wild card was the approval of the sale of the land by the Ravinia Housing Commission. (Thank you for your support and interest.)

We viewed architectural renderings of the remodeled Ravinia BBQ for the new Witty’s Refresh which is to open by summer of 2017, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The owners are also contemplating signage (at outdoor seating area?) promoting Ravinia Park history.

The new owners of Shelton's are taking out old equipment (etc?) and believe they do not need a permit for what they are doing. They have yet to share plans with the city (or any known other).

Next RNA event:  Mike strongly felt we needed to jump back into doing some event(s). Although Jean Meier was unable to make the meeting, she was excited about “Farch” event (February/ March doldrums breaker) and so we will wait for this. The group also felt that simple Neighbors Night Outs in which RNA promote get-togethers at local businesses should be another future endeavor. Mike will contact Jean regarding Farch event.

Citizen input is a tradition for which we agreed RNA should stand. Records show there has always been struggle when citizens inserted input and it is normal for those governing to want to do so expediently. Yet the determination of early Ravinia groups to have input as well as some of their own agency is the reason we have so much that is good in Ravinia. We will work to keep our input respectful and productive.   

New Representatives for RBDA was discussed. City probably has one spot for local business person and one for RNA representative. Dan and Mike are obvious choices. Lisa will contact Drew/ Eric Olsen.

Motion to Adjourn: by Mike. Laura seconded. Passed (9:17)

Respectfully Submitted, Amy Lohmolder, Sec'y.