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June 2016 RNA Board Meeting


Ravinia Neighbors Association Board Meeting
Thursday, June 2, 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, Doug Purington, Laura Saret, Davis Schneiderman, Jeff Stern and Lisa Temkin. Also present were Julie Campbell, Michael Plasz and Mary Seyfarth.

In her President’s Report Carolyn Cerf called attention to RNA’s Ravinia Night Out event being planned for Friday, June 17 at Ravinia Park. She urged everyone to participate and said that while the Festival wouldn’t offer any discounts to our group, the Bodeans Concert that night cost only $22 per person and RNA was assured a place for participants along the main sculpture path.

Tickets will have to be purchased in advance and will be held at the “Will Call” window at the Main Gate. Cerf asked for volunteers to direct RNA members to the assembly area from the Main Gate and the Opus Lot, and that donations of food would be welcomed. Michael Plasz offered to be one of the volunteers.

Cerf then announced that she was submitting her resignation as President, effective technically at the end of tonight’s meeting. She attributed her decision mainly to new demands on her time in her professional life, and also to her feeling that she had done basically what she set out to accomplish when she accepted the position three years ago.

In her letter of resignation Cerf mentioned “building our institutions to be stronger, gaining 501c3 status, increasing our public profile, strengthening the business district,” etc. among goals she had set out to achieve. She also felt RNA had acquired “new tools to communicate better with members, such as Constant Contact, Survey Monkey, Eventbrite, etc. Davis Schneiderman was the first of several to commend Cerf for her service. He also asked about terms and procedures for running for RNA offices, and suggested that an interim President be named.

Cerf said she would make a list of the duties of the President, which would then be available to anyone considering a run for that position. Doug Purington said that in the interim he would take care of all emails to RNA. It was decided to send out an email to all members asking for prospective candidates to make their availability known, and for an election to be held in the next month. Cerf said she would continue to work on the June 17 event until it is held.

Julie Campbell was introduced as one of six Ravinia area people named to the District 112 School Board reconfiguration committee created as a result of the failed referendum. A lawyer who has taught medical ethics law, as well as a trained negotiator, she has children at Ravinia School, looks forward to finding new solutions to the school closing issue, and expects to take part in workshop meetings on that issue June 21-22. She feels the Budget Deficit Reduction 3 Plan should be scrapped rather than just reworked to gain support. She plans to gather data from parents, teachers, etc. in a community survey to find out what really concerns the community regarding reconfiguration.

A lengthy discussion followed regarding the District 112 reconfiguration issue. Among the topics covered were: The most common finding from the failed referendum that a vast majority objected to the single-campus proposal for all middle schoolers, and the inadequate plans for mitigating the traffic congestion that was likely to result. Reasons people who have grown up here come back to Highland Park to live and raise families of their own. The appeal of living close enough for children to walk to school. The impact Ravinia School has on the Ravinia Business District because of the foot and car traffic it generates by being so close by. Jerry Field has already indicated he would have to close his violin shop if the school shuts down. How Board actions are influenced by the premise that buildings represent only 10 percent of the cost of operating a school district, so that reducing the number of buildings can provide justification for cutting staff and lowering costs overall. The issue of setting new boundaries for student enrollment at schools remaining in the district when others may be closed. The preference among architects to build new structures rather than renovate existing ones, suggesting that taxpayer money can easily be wasted. Why it can be less expensive to own property that no longer has buildings on it. The relatively unknown fact that four current District11irct 112 school buildings are on the state’s list of endangered structures.

In the absence of the Treasurer, there was no Treasurer’s report.

Regarding Membership, Purington reported that there had been 18 renewals so far, bringing in $600, and that he was continuing to send out notices to those whose renewals had not yet been received.

Reporting on the Newsletter, Purington said nine of 11 ads published in the current edition were being resubmitted, but that there was a need for new content. He said the deadline for sending new articles to Jeanne Vello was July 2. In response to complaints from some writers, he said he edits all copy for grammatical errors, but does not alter the content.

Due to concerns that stories in the previous edition had been altered without the knowledge of writers, he promised that all future edited copy would be sent back to the writers for their approval before publication.

After questions were raised by guest Michael Plasz about the status of a number of commercial buildings and proposed new construction in the business district, Purington repeated information he had previously provided about the redevelopment of the former 7-11 site, the new restaurant proposed for the former Ravinia Barbecue, the new Micro-Brewery, the long-vacant Vogue Cleaners and the adjacent Sushi Restaurant on Roger Williams.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:12 p.m.