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February 2018 RNA Board Meeting

Ravinia Neighbors Association

Minutes of Board Meeting held February 1, 2018


1.       The meeting, held at Full Circle Architects, was called to order at 7:08 PM. Board members present: Mike Stroz, Doug Purington, Michael Babian, Amy Lohmolder, Dan Baigelman, Justin Kee, Jean Meier and Jeff Stern. Brett Tolpin and Ed Kugler had previously advised the board they could not attend and were absent.  A quorum was present. Three community members were in attendance. Also in attendance was Drew Awsumb, Highland Park Deputy Community Development Director.

2.       President’s Report/ Newsletter Update by Justin Kee and Mike Stroz:

2.1.    Justin reported that his President’s piece for the Winter newsletter will get to Doug by Sunday.

2.2.    He stated that Amy and Mike will also be submitting articles for the Winter newsletter

2.3.    Mike urged more Board members to volunteer to write newsletter articles. Suggestions from Board and community members included:

2.3.1.  Asking local students to write Ravinia-related articles

2.3.2.  Asking for articles from the high school students on HP Boards and Commissions (UPDATE: Jeff Stern spoke with Jennifer Dotson, who could not provide the students’ names due to security concerns, but can communicate our requests to them, if desired.)


2.3.4.  Re-visiting Jeff Cohen’s offer to write an article about his photography career (UPDATE: Jeff wrote back that he willing to do so, but is not ready to do so at this time.)

3.       Treasurer’s report by Michael Babian:

3.1.    Account Balances:

3.1.1.   Checking account $6,546.97

3.1.2.   CD $5,305.19

3.1.3.   Paypal $101.05

3.1.4.   Total $11,953.21

3.2.    Treasury Audit:                                                                                                                                            Justin, Amy, Jean and Michael will conduct the required annual treasury audit on February 5th.    

4.       Publicity/Membership Report by Doug Purington:

4.1.    Publicity:

Doug always welcomes items to post on Facebook and will post them promptly.

4.2.    Membership:

4.2.1.  One membership renewal. This is always slow season for membership.

4.2.2.  Justin and Doug will meet soon to establish a protocol for using the Nation Builder program. The board agreed we need to contact former Board President Carolyn Cerf to assure RNA has completely terminated its subscription to the Contact program. Michael Babian stated RNA has not paid for it recently, and he will contact Carolyn. Mike Stroz urged that she receive a written inquiry via a certified letter and be asked to respond within 30 to 60 days.

5.       City of Highland Park Update by Drew Awsumb:

5.1.    Ravinia Fire Station: A new station is a high priority capital improvement in the 5-year plan and will be financed primarily by municipal taxes. This project will not include the razing of two private homes immediately west of the station. It will either be built on the current footprint or include the use of land in Brown Park, requiring Park District approval. The City will schedule more public outreach sessions for community input. Construction will likely begin in 2021.

5.2.    Clavey Repaving Project: Originally a 2017 project, no work has yet been done, not predicted to start in 2019 and will be a 2-4 year project. It is financed completely by federal funds.

5.3.    Ravinia Vogue Cleaners: It remains vacant, but the owners are current in their taxes and continue to comply with code requirements. The building is not listed for sale. When inquiries regarding the property are made to the City, they are forwarded to the owners, but the owners are unresponsive. Drew is unaware of ongoing environmental remediation issues, but the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) would monitor any such matters.

5.4.    Klairmont Development: All parking space issues have been resolved and there are no changes in the plans for the mixed-use development which the City approved in 2014. Al Klairmont applied for building permits in December 2017 and predicts that construction will begin in Spring 2018, subject to weather and timing of building permit approvals by the City.

5.5.    Merlo’s Restaurant: Merlo’s Restaurant closed precipitously at the end of January. The closure was not due to lack of customers.  After 6 years the owner, John Merlo, is moving on and another Italian restaurant has begun the paperwork with the City to take over the space.

5.6.    Witty’s Refresher Restaurant and Ravinia Brewery: Permits are still current on both buildings (north and south side of Roger Williams). There have been several revisions in the design plans since construction began, but work continues.

5.7.    Shelton’s Restaurant: Exterior Improvements and window replacement are complete. The City advised the owner as to necessary interior improvements to comply with accessibility and other code requirements. The upstairs will remain an apartment and is occupied. The owner is entertaining various options to develop the property for sale or rental.

5.8.    Ravinia Streetscape: Public outreach and comment sessions will soon be announced, to be held in March 2018. This Ravinia Business District project is funded by Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds. The City hired the Ratio Design firm. Emphasis is placed on strategic and attractive lighting for various community activities. The designs will be done to a 60% standard, so if future TIF funds become available, additional features can be added seamlessly. Some Board members expressed concerns that more lighting is needed on the parkway surrounding Jens Jensen park, while some concern was also expressed regarding the impact of lighting to the historic park. Streetscape will not include any lighting on the trail from the Ravinia Train Station southward to Ravinia Festival, as it is outside the Business District perimeter. Nor has Ravinia Festival initiated efforts to install such lighting.

5.9.    Drew praised the thoughtfulness of RNA member Betsy Cerf’s letter. He stated that the City realizes it must address the needs of HP’s aging population but must also attract younger residents. It also tries to balance the needs of employees, tourists and commuters.


6.       Discussion of RNA working with the Ravinia Farmer’s Market

6.1.    After the January 2018 meeting, the Board obtained a legal opinion that the sponsorship of the Ravinia Farmers Market in the City permit application might threaten RNA’s 501(c)(3) status and the Board advised Ed Kugler that we would be willing to assist in other ways, instead. Suggestions include:

6.1.1.  Publicity on our facebook page

6.1.2.  A biographic article in our newsletter on Ed Kugler (already in the works) and another newsletter story on the 40th anniversary of the Farmers Market in Ravinia

6.1.3.  A full-page ad in our newsletter.

6.1.4.  As done in past summers, having our RNA tent at the Farmers Market. The Board discussed staffing difficulties and the possibility of purchasing a newer tent that is easier to set up.  Doug and Dan will look into tent options.

6.1.5. Purchase and distribution of environmentally friendly cloth bags with promotional logos of both the RNA and the Farmers Market.  Michael Babian will research bag options.

6.2.    Mike Stroz, Michael Babian and Doug Purington volunteered to contact Ed Kugler to discuss the above suggestions and to urge him to stay on our Board.


7.       Other Business/Additional Comments or Concerns from Members and/or Residents

7.1.    A resident noted that the newspaper vending machines at the Ravinia Train Station are mostly empty and are becoming rusty and unsightly. Jeff Stern responded that he has informed the City of this concern. The City has not yet taken action, but Jeff thinks it may do so in the Spring.

8.       Adjournment at 9:08 PM.