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February 2016 RNA Board Meeting


M I N U T E S


Ravinia Neighbors Association General Meeting
Thursday, February 4, 2016


Carolyn Cerf called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m. in the Full Circle Architect’s office at 737 St. Johns Avenue.

In attendance, besides Cerf, were Dan Baigelman, Amy Lohmolder, Adam Natenshon, Doug Purington, Laura Saret, Davis Schneiderman, Jeff Stern and Lisa Temkin. Also present were representatives of groups for and against School District 112’s reconfiguration plan and in favor of maintaining boater access to Park Avenue Beach, and about 35 area residents interested in those issues.

In her President’s Report, Carolyn Cerf talked about wanting to plan events that would bring Ravinia residents together before the end of winter, but said she would email members for their ideas in order to move ahead with the agenda so guests could be given the opportunity to express their views on the school issue.

In the absence of Treasurer Mike Babian, Cerf gave the Treasurer’s Report, stating that there was $5,234.78 in the RNA’s CD and $4,432.38 in the checking account for a total of $9,667.16. Doug Purington said another $125 had been received from membership renewals. Cerf added that RNA was still working on gaining 501 3c status from the IRS as a tax-exempt organization.

In his Business District Report, Dan Baigelman said members of the RBD were taking part in a Highland Park High School charity drive this evening, and were planning another event to promote the district in May. Another Harvest and Harmony event was being planned for September involving music and booths for food, area businesses, etc. in Jensen Park and/or at the Farmers Market site.

Purington said plans were still under way for a micro-brewery on the northwest corner of Roger Williams and Pleasant by late summer or early fall, and that the same people had purchased the former Ravinia Barbecue property on the southeast corner with the intention of opening another restaurant.

Cerf said she had spoken with Park District President Scott Meyers regarding his publicly stated wish to rename Jens Jensen Park, owing to his perception that Jensen was a racist. She said that while RNA hadn’t taken an official position, our board was unanimously opposed to the idea. She believes the only way to influence the Park District on this issue is to write Park Board members.

Cerf introduced Michael Strosz, who identified himself as one of a group of about 50 who had organized to preserve access for boaters to Park Avenue Beach in response to the city’s plan to close it, ostensibly to safeguard the water treatment plant there that was recently upgraded. As a member of a task force established to look into the issue, he was told that security matters could not be discussed, only ways to adhere to the city’s plan to close access from Park Avenue. Strosz said the group checked on the practices of seven North Shore suburbs with similar facilities and found that none had limited access for boaters due to security concerns. He also said statistics showed that before work began on upgrading the water plant (2011-12), there had been 1,000 annual boat launches from Park Avenue, and that around 300 cars had driven through the beach area on a typical summer Sunday.

The city rejected the task force’s recommendation to retain Park Avenue access and said it should work with the Park District to find another way to reach the beach. The PD determined that two-way traffic on the previously used one-way exit leading to Egandale Road would not be adequate for cars with boat trailers, and that boats could therefore no longer be accommodated at the beach.

Paul Nellis, another member of the boat group, said over 1,000 citizens had signed on-line petitions calling for retaining Park Avenue access and for the boat launch to remain open. He pointed out that the lake helps draw home buyers to HP, and said more boats actually improve security. He said the city had never conducted a proper risk management study to support its concerns, and that no past mayor had ever expressed interest in closing the beach for that reason.

Nellis planned to be one of three to present boaters’ positions at a City Council meeting on Monday, February 8. Cerf said all those concerned should email their positions to the Park District’s Lil Bolek at lbolek@pdhp.org.

In his Membership/Publicity/Website report, Purington said he would begin his annual membership drive in about three months, and that he was still working with Karlson Rapp on updating the RNA website to make it more timely.

Having been asked to recommend organizing groups to encourage community identity. Laura Saret suggested establishing a book club, a men’s breakfast club, a knitting club, a bird club or a history club. A dog walkers club was another possibility. Others with ideas should contact Saret at laurasaret@gmail.com.

Cerf announced that RNA had brought together both sides of the District 112 Referendum issue for presentations aimed at clarifying the positions they held and at hearing what audience members felt with a view toward deciding whether RNA should take a public stand on the matter. Cerf then established time guidelines for speakers and for audience members to offer their opinions.

The position of the “Moving District 112 Forward” group favoring the $198 million District 112 referendum on March 15 was presented by Bennett Lasko, citing details spelled out at meetings sponsored by the district throughout the city. He grew up and later made his home in Ravinia, and raised his three children there.

The position of the “Citizens Against the 112 Referendum” (CARE) group was presented by Loren Schechter, who said many members of the group are educators and consider the district’s plan financially irresponsible. He also said the district failed to research and offer any really serious alternatives to its plan.

Adam Natenshon said he attended a number of meetings where the district presented its plan, and was inclined to support it at first, but found that there was no open microphone at any of the meetings where a person could get up and ask questions. Jeff Stern noted that at the Ravinia School meeting he attended, Amy Lohmolder was vehemently attacked by a member of the district’s “sales” team for simply asking for details about a certain aspect of their plan.

After the speakers ended their presentations, almost every one of the 35 or more guests in attendance chose to give their opinions about the District 112 plan. With hardly a single exception, they expressed their opposition, usually after citing a particular aspect of the plan that made them the most apprehensive.

It was the consensus of the Board that another meeting was needed soon to determine whether and in what manner RNA should take a stand on the issue.

With the approval of all other Board members in attendance, Cerf adjourned the meeting at 9:03 p.m.