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June 2015 RNA Board Meeting


Ravinia Neighbors Association General Meeting
June 4, 2015

Carolyn Cerf called the meeting to order at 7:05 at Full Circle Architects

Board Members present: Amy Lohmolder, Ray DeLong, Michael Babian, and Dan Baigelman. Also present: Former Board Member Jean Meier and Ravinia Resident and HP Historical Society Board Member Elliot Miller

President’s Report Ms. Cerf gave a report of the ‘soft’ grand opening of Rosewood Beach, which she said was impressive and sure to be frequented by many Highland Park residents. City Councilwoman Michelle Holleman had extended an invitation to Cerf to attend the opening for officials and others who were involved in the process of renovating/redesigning the beach since 2010. Attendance by a RNA representative represents a growing goodwill between parties on either side of the issue and an effort to rebuild relationships between those who were in favor of the improvements and those who tried to amend the proposal and may have opposed parts of the Park District’s plan. Cerf also solicited event ideas for the summer, with the caveat that the Ravinia District/Ripple Public Relations is being relied upon to organize events in the business district from a business promotion perspective. So her view was that RNA events should be more fellowship/community oriented. Conversation ensued regarding the recently published spring/summer newsletter, because Ms. Lohmolder asked if Mr. De Long had received her articles sent prior to the deadline. De Long replied that the omission had been due to space limitations. Cerf stated that she thought we would have extended the length by some pages if there was more content to print, and that she too had submitted a Ravinia Festival cookbook recipe and a full story on the oldest/newest businesses, which were not published. Elliot Miller added that he too had submitted an article that did not appear in the newsletter, which was a second installment of his history of Ravinia School. Conversation about the newsletter was then postponed until later on the agenda.

Treasurer’s Report Mr. Babian reported that efforts to gain tax exempt status as a 501(c)(3) organization were moving, but moving slowly due to the need to find an attorney who can help us complete the necessary paperwork and documentation. Babian informed the Board that the RNA’s checking account has $7.271.78 and our CD has $5,231.10, totaling $12,503.10. Of that, new monies accounted for $1,070, largely from Doug Purington’s membership campaigns. The matter of how to distribute the new RNA window decals was discussed. It was generally agreed we should give them to all the member businesses as soon as possible. Ms. Lohmolder suggested that for residential members, we should give them to members in good standing at events, or perhaps sell them for a few bucks under the logic that people will use them if they’ve paid a little something for them.

Schools Sub-Committee Report Mr. Schneiderman updated the group on the current options put forth by NSSD 112, none of which include closing either Ravinia or Braeside schools. The news was met with general relief and approval, but it was noted that the current proposals may potentially change between now and their final iterations. It was also noted that a Centennial park area resident named Adam Kornblatt has proposed a third option to raise property taxes in order to rehab and keep open all the existing buildings in the district. Ms. Lohmolder provided an insight that while the cities are moving toward increased residential density and walkability, the schools appear to be moving toward consolidation and student transport. She noted that the two local governmental bodies seem to be headed in two different directions and should consider getting on the same page regarding their long-term visions and future planning efforts. Mr. Babian and Ms. Lohmolder asked who might serve as an advocate for the neighborhood schools argument should the issue of closing schools come up again in Ravinia. The group thought that whoever it is, tone is important, and that the RNA has a responsibility to provoke thought and make the effort to show up when possible at key meetings. It was expressed that the RNA is generally pleased that the current proposals do not include the closure of Ravinia or Braeside schools, not because this is good for Ravinia alone, but rather because it is good for the whole community to have neighborhood schools.

Business District Update Mr. Baigelman reported that Ripple Public Relations, the firm hired by the City of Highland Park to promote the Ravinia District using SSA funding, would likely be supporting the Third Thursdays events through the end of the year, but that it would be important to keep track of spending by the businesses involved in the project and make note of what works, so that they can ask for funding next year. Currently, the project is paid for and promoted primarily by the businesses that organize the events, including Full Circle Architects and Design Quartet @ Ravinia. Ms. Lohmolder, who also works at the library, reported that the HP Public Library is very excited about things in Ravinia and is participating not only in the Third Thursdays, but also in the Farmers Market. Mr. Baigelman gave a brief history of the TIF (tax increment financing) district in Ravinia and the SSA (special service area) funding also established for Ravinia. Included in that history was an overview of the 2010 market study and playbook, which recommended millions of dollars in streetscape improvements. However, the TIF balance is lower than projected and the city reports that sewer mains and other infrastructure maintenance will have to precede any permanent streetscape improvements. For now, the city has said that Phase 1 of streetscape improvements that are not impacted by underground capital projects – including direction and pylon signs as well as some pavement beautification - should begin implementation this fall. Mr. Baigelman gave a report for himself and the absent Lisa Temkin about the planned Historic Ravinia tour and car show scheduled for October. The City has informed them that SSA funds will not be used to support the project because a part of the event that takes place in Ravinia Festival and residential streets falls outside of the SSA area map. Organizers approached the Historical Society to see if they were interested in working with them on the Historic Ravinia project, but the Historical Society was not interested in supporting the project. The event organizers are therefore seeking assistance from other groups including the RNA. Ms. Lohmolder made a motion to provide up to $500 to sponsor the event with recognition of the RNA on the event trolley, signage and/or possibly pamphlets or other printed materials. The motion was approved unanimously. Ms. Cerf suggested that perhaps local real estate agents would be interested in sponsoring the event as well.

Newsletter Editor’s Update A discussion ensued about the recently adopted newsletter content review process approved at the interim meeting on April 29th. The interim meeting was held by a quorum of the Board to discuss the resignation and replacement of former Board Member Eve Tarm and to discuss issues some members had with the recently published spring/summer newsletter. A review process was agreed upon and that requires the newsletter editor, when he has produced a draft that he considers final, to submit it to the scrutiny of a sub-committee of three (3) Board Members in order to review it in order to prevent proofreading mistakes, missing advertisements, content and photos that may have been submitted but not included, and other areas of concern. Mr. De Long was unhappy that the Board had adopted a review process for the newsletter. He was of the opinion that there was no need for the newsletter to be reviewed by others before publication. Despite objection from some Board Members, Mr. De Long expressed his desire to resign from his role as Newsletter Editor and departed the meeting.

Mr. Baigelman made a motion to adjourn. All were in favor. The meeting adjourned at approximately 9:05pm.