Train Logo

February 2015 RNA Board Meeting


Ravinia Neighbors Association General Meeting
Thursday February 5, 2015

The meeting was called to order by Carolyn Cerf at 7:10 p.m. in the Full Circle Architect's office at 737 St. Johns Avenue.

In attendance, besides Cerf, were Mike Babian, Ray DeLong, Amy Lohmolder, Doug Purington, and Eve Tarm. Guests included Christine and son Nate Kelley, David Greenberg and host Dan Baigelman.

Cerf made a motion, seconded by Purington and approved by voice vote, to spend $15 a month to maintain a Constant Contact account at the Highland Park Bank.

In his Treasurer's Report, Babian said RNA has $5,230.90 in a CD and $6,688.82 in checking, and had received $124.73 in Paypal accounts for a total of $12,044.45.

Babian said RNA needs an attorney who specializes in helping non-profits qualify for 501 C3 status, since we are not yet recognized as such by the state. Cerf said a committee was needed to research the documentation that would be required, and that having tax-deductible status would help us raise a lot more money than we do now. Babian offered to serve on the committee.

Guest Christine Kelley said she and her husband had lived in Highland Park since 1991. She noted signage at Shelton's indicating it was for sale, and thought about making it into a breakfast place. She realized it would have to be gutted since nothing was up to code. Tarm suggested getting in touch with Carolyn Hersch, the city's Director of Economic Development, and offered to help in any way she could.

Purington said surveys have indicated a breakfast and lunch place was a high priority in the community. Babian offered advice on how to proceed, and said this would be a great time to come in, especially with the Klairmont property now being planned.

Cerf called for continuing to discuss business opportunities in the area. Baigelman said he had just met with a PR person who was helping with marketing the district, and that April 16 was to be the first of many Thursdays on which events would be held to draw people to businesses in the area. He also said he and another person aimed to create an historic tourism event, such as a tour of the Ravinia Festival grounds or a house walk, which might become an annual event on a Sunday in October, and were trying to get the Festival's approval. Cerf noted a precedent in the Ravinia Village House and Jens Jensen film events RNA has sponsored. She said the first weekend in October has already been scheduled for introducing the new Ravinia Streetscape to the community. Baigelman said Carolyn Hersch told him TIF money was not coming in as quickly as had been expected, and that he was working with other businesses to proceed without depending on that source to finance promotional activities.

The vacant ground floor of the building on the northwest corner of Roger Williams and Pleasant was expected to be occupied soon by a micro-brewery, and a florist shop was scheduled to move in nearby from its previous location in downtown Highland Park.

The possibility of advertising on buses used to transport people to the Ravinia Festival was brought up, with the hope that it could be done for a discounted rate. It was pointed out that any such discount would have to apply to all Ravinia businesses.

The issue of gateway signage on Sheridan Road was mentioned in connection with the Streetscape. Purington said the first signage would be put up on Green Bay Road and Roger Williams, rather than on Sheridan Road. Tarm noted that there had been a big turnover of personnel in city departments relating to business development, and Cerf worried about the loss of momentum in getting things done.

Regarding the postponed School District 112 Referendum, which included closing Ravinia School, among others, Lohmolder said it seemed to have more to do with the properties than with the way it would affect the children and neighborhoods involved. Cerf said that at a January meeting on that issue, those who spoke against the consolidation plan were more vocal in winning others over than those in favor, who didn't seem to have many answers to the questions that were asked.

Baigelman said it was his impression that most people bought homes in the Ravinia area so their children could walk to school. His point was supported by someone who said that if keeping Ravinia School open was just a case of funding to maintain the aging structure, he thought plenty of people in the area could provide the needed funds, but was told that wouldn't fly with the Board because of equality issues.

Tarm said demography was a big part of the issue, while David Greenberg said it is also influenced by architects who like to build campuses rather than repurpose existing buildings. He said a west side campus for all middle schoolers wouldn't work because of having to cross Route 41, and that planners didn't consult the community. Cerf said RNA should consider preparing a list of questions from our membership about the issue that haven't been answered yet, and to submit the list to the District for a response.

In his Membership Report, Purington said 36 new members had joined since January 13, and that he had turned over $845 to Treasurer Babian from new members and renewals, but mainly from proceeds (about $700) from the party at Shelton's. He said he will now manage the website while Karlson Rapp will continue the technical part.

Regarding the Newsletter, Ray DeLong asked if an ad person had been found yet. Purington said he was working on it, and that he and Cerf will sell ads for the next issue, predicting that he will sell so many the Newsletter could have 12 pages. He said he had not yet caught up with Jeffrey James, the proprietor of a new shop on Roger Williams. DeLong set the deadline for articles for the next issue for sometime early in March.

Tarm, said she considered writing about upcoming events, but couldn't take on any more assignments. Baigelman said he would do a timeline item on events planned for the business district. Lohmolder said she was interviewing Terry London regarding the film event and other issues involving the Jens Jensen project. Cerf said she would do a historic piece on the business district then and now.

Purington proposed making Dan Baigelman a board member, effective immediately, since Jean Meier indicated she could no longer serve. Babian seconded the motion, which was approved by voice vote.

There being no further business, Cerf adjourned the meeting just after 9 p.m.