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March 2020 RNA Board Meeting


P.O. Box 1123

Highland Park, IL

60035-1123

email: RNA@ravinianeighbors.org

www.ravinianeighbors.org

Meeting Notes – Thursday March 5, 2020 

Ravinia Neighbors Association Board Meeting

Governing Board Attendees

Brett Tolpin, VP

Mike Babian, Treasurer

Doug Purington, Membership, PR

Beth Grey, Recording Secretary 

Board Members at Large Attendees

Jeff Levin

Ed Kugler

Paul Silverman

Jeff Stern 

Absent Board Members

Mike Stroz, President

Justin Kee, at large

 

Guest Attendees

Gerry Field

Virginia Gordon

Ben Johnston

Peggy Laemle

Elliot Miller

Phil Pace

Shruthi Potocek

Brian Romes, Executive Director, PDHP

Jeff Smith, Director of Planning and Projects, PDHP

Kendra Tuazon

 

  1. The meeting, held at Aloha City Ukes, 453 Roger Williams Avenue, Highland Park, IL, was called to order on Thursday, March 5, 2020 at 6:12pm.
  2. President’s Report.

President Mike Stroz was absent. VP Brett Tolpin had nothing to report.

  1. Residents Time.

Update on Community Garage Sale (Shruthi Potocek):

Garage sale is scheduled for last Saturday and Sunday in May from 9am to 3pm. The police agreed to the date. Kendra Tuazon and her husband received materials from Francesca who was the last community garage sale organizer. Kens quoted $250 for printing, Kinkos and another printer were over $150. Need to put up signs to direct traffic, include information in various publications and local newspapers, local businesses can put fliers in windows, Facebook announcements also included. Total cost should be around $300. There was a discussion about whether donations, e.g., $5.00, should be requested from sellers (this was not done at last community garage sale). It was suggested that RNA contribute $150, and obtain the rest from participants or RNA can offer to match donations up to $300. Shruthi should forward a map of the garage sale boundaries (Ed Kuglar was mentioned with regard to maps), get in newsletter end of April, deadline is March 20th, could shift by a few days.

It was proposed and agreed that RNA would match participant contributions of $5 up to $300 so $150 is RNA’s cap.

Shruthi should send a draft of the flyer to Doug Purington and Doug will circulate to the Board. If no one objects, it’s approved. It was agreed that the draft may include RNA’s logo as “sponsoring” (not supporting) the garage sale.

  1. Treasurer’s Report (Michael Babian).

Checking Balance $3766.32

CD Balance $5523.84

Paypal $81.93 balance transferred today

Total Balance $9,372.09 

Payments issued over $50:

$99 Survey Monkey

$200 Kimberly Stroz

Usually, our total balance stays around $10k, sometimes more, but if we don’t get renewals we can go below $10k, so we need renewals and more members.

  1. Publicity/Membership/Ravinia District Report (Doug Purington)

  1. Membership: Kendra Tuazon is a new member. With new members in March and April and more in May, June, and July, our account should go well above $10k. There is no substantial change in the membership statistics from 2016-19: 126 people did not renew in one of those years, last year 41, this year 44, and 4 years ago only 18. We need hooks.

  1. Publicity: Kim Stroz is returning to do the newsletter. Doug Purington (update since meeting: suspending newsletter due to Covid-19), possible articles, ads: Jeff Stern re train station; mention of community garage sale; Fields renewed ad for next 3 newsletters; Peggy may write another article about the farmers market but does not have time right now; Ed offered to write article about March 9th city council meeting regarding the proposed new farmers market schedule; there may be a possible article on Rosewood Beach with various viewpoints and mention of Park Ave. boating issue; an article on the Klairmont development with a list of business tenants and other updates on what’s going on with it.

  1. Previous Action Items.

  1. E-Mail Voting Process: We will not be using email voting process for matters between meetings.

  1. Metra Station Update from Jeff Stern: Keith O’Herrin, City Forester, is making improvements such as new benches and re-doing landscaping around station. The city has approved $10k for 2 replicas of the benches in the Hubbard Woods station, but the work will not happen overnight. The new benches will include brass feet but there will not be any middle armrests because they are damage prone. A woman at Metra looked into transferring benches from another station but never got very far on that project.

  1. New Business.

  1. RNA involvement in Clavey Road Construction Project.

We are tabeling discussion of the Clavey Road construction to the next meeting.

  1. Farmers market (Ed Kugler): Ed would like to have the RNA sponsor the farmers market and he needs to fill out the city’s form with RNA’s information and signature. RNA’s sponsoring would enable Ed to post signage about the farmers market in certain places. The city is okay with RNA as a sponsor only, with Ed’s business handling the management element and providing insurance. They are looking to name the RNA, City of Highland Park, and the Park District of Highland Park in the insurance. The park district will not be listed in the permit but needs to be included in the insurance if the farmers market has to use park district land because the city streets are filled up. For the 5 full days of the market, first Wednesday of each month in June, July, August, September, and October, through Oct. 7th (if no Covid-19 restrictions, of course) vendors will be parking all day, 5am to 9pm. If the city approves this schedule, Ed will solicit vendors. Ed figured he would need the next two months to solicit sellers. Ed spoke to Jennifer Dodson with the city, regarding the hold harmless agreement for the RNA with Ed’s organization.

Carolyn Hirsch from the city is printing 2 signs for the farmers market. Additional expenses this year will include porta potties, although maybe the farmers market can use existing porta potties that are set up for the Thursday food truck/music program. RNA will have a stand at the market for 19 weeks. Last year RNA hung up banner and the booth was backside to Ed’s tent. This location on a weekly basis is in line with RNA’s mission statement. RNA’s vote on the booth location last year would cover this year’s booth location.

Brett Tolpin made a motion to sponsor the farmers market subject to verification of insurance, RNA being held harmless by the City of Highland Park, and the RNA being listed as an additional insured. The motion was seconded by Jeff Levin and the RNA agreed to sponsoring the farmers market subject to the above specifications.

  1. Park District presentation.

The following are notes from a presentation by Brian Romes, Executive Director, PDHP and Jeff Smith, Director of Planning and Projects:

 

Brian said that things are going well considering the condition of Lake Michigan with record high water levels and record storms. There is a lot of damage along the lake abutting North Shore communities. Jeff is leading a number of projects to protect Rosewood structures, shoreline, and bluff with resources for mitigation with grant funding. Jeff is working with coastal engineers on the projects.

Jeff said that last fall PDHP brought in sand for the swimming and interpretive coves. The real challenge is lake levels. We’ve had higher water levels coming closer to land, and intense and more frequent storms. Jeff showed us a graph starting from 2008. The water level rose about 3ft total, with last spring and summer up 1.5 ft. They’re dealing with the interpretive center building wall next to the parking lot, and brought in larger grain sand in both coves in mid-October. Then came the Halloween and January storms. The new sand held up nicely.

PDHP is working with the SmithGroup coastal engineers. Longer term fixes they are looking at include additional revetments to protect the interpretive and swimming coves. The last cove is the recreation cove. The volleyball nets were removed and now there is just the water with no beach. Along the parking lot by the interpretive center, a sheat pile wall may be added along with stone revetments to fortify the center and swimming cove structures, perhaps to be installed as early as the fall. The third cove with the playground shade structure has one footing exposed. One option would be to bring in more material to keep the playground open and protect the boardwalk or alternatively, the playground could be closed off and/or removed.

Cost estimates are not yet available. Bringing in sand was $250k which included a little work on the break water. The coastal engineers believe sand could be escaping through stones, so they did a little extra work. Sand leaving naturally is part of a cycle, but escaping through stone too close to the staircase, boardwalk, and bluffs is a problem. [I’m not sure this last sentence is correct]. Additional sand would come to just under $400k.

In the swimming cove, the plan is to protect buildings in case the lake goes up a foot, but no additional material will be needed, except for sand for the recreation cove. The original sand was nice, fine sand but coastal engineers said that waves easily remove fine stand. Heavier sand is more stable and much more will stay put.

Army Corps of Engineers studies over the past 100 years indicate that the 3 coves that were designed for erosion were not designed for the most extreme scenerios. They don’t know what will happen in the future. If at some point there are lower lake levels, it would be a challenge if the revetments were much taller. SmithGroup is also retained by the City of Chicago and Wilmette.

Army Corp predicts a lake rise through the summer. They only go 6 months out. Typical pattern is only 2 years peak and then the lake goes down but these are not typical times.

Regarding usage, Brian says Rosewood is one of the most heavily used and desired in the interest/use survey. Residents move to Highland Park for the lake so preservation is important. PDHP estimates 30k visits. Sunrise to sunset there are people walking and swimming. Jeff says the decision from the PDHP board for interpretive and swimming coves is to focus on the back of the beach permanent revetments so they won’t have to be redone. PDHP is now getting the construction documents, and later they will decide if they will move to construction.

Stones will be placed at the level of the boardwalk and sand will be place over the stones so they will not be noticeable. Not trying to fight mother nature.

The middle cove should be open for the summer. There will be an additional expense to move the shade structure over playground and then put a fence around the playground.

30k visitors includes summer camp, walking, and rentals of the interpretative center. To get visitor numbers they use computer tracking of cell phones.

The interpretive center generates net revenue but with the cost of life guards there is no net revenue.

PDHP and engineers were not comfortable doing anything out into the lake, but they did want to protect the investment in the beach structures, including the lifeguard stand and interpretive center.

Adding sand to the 3rd cove is under consideration, mostly because it is a well-used area, though no decision yet.  The construction documents show the bluff is in great condition and they are not concerned with the bluff eroding, but will have to take out a portion of the playground which is a loss of recreation.

SmithGroup shared graphs showing 20-year cycles of water level ups and downs. The question is whether the recent levels were catastrophic and way off the charts. Is there nothing to indicate whether the new levels are permanent? No one knows. Coastal engineers believe levels will go down as part of the natural cycle, but different opinions about global warming exist. If that were truly the problem, none of the solutions would address catastrophic scenarios.

Was there a maintenance budget? For the first 5 years, yes, but it was never used. $50K per year was never needed, this year did not budget for these problems, they budget a year in advance so sand was part of the emergency budget, but now we are in the budget for 20-21 so they have the funds.

A really wet spring would be bad but we’ve had a dry winter which may be helpful. Applied for grants through FEMA, IEMA (Illinois), but while our issues seem big, the City of Chicago has much bigger problems and they’ll probably get a lot of funding. Actively talking to state and local legislators.

PDHP budgets funding, they revise 5 and 1 year plans every year, and if funding is not used, the money can be allocated to a different project or use. However, this is not use it or lose it. There are unanticipated needs such as with Moraine beach, capital funds are not restricted to the beach, and funds can be used for all projects.

Brian says we are fortunate the PDHP Board is very aware of the value of lake fronts, Rosewood is a top priority of board, they’ve spent a lot of time having coastal engineers explain the situation, and they’ve done their own research.

How can RNA help? Come to PDHP board meetings. The best ones are PDHP Board workshops which have a portion of the meetings for public comment. Feedback helps the board make decisions and they value input. Schedules are on the PDHP website. (Prior to Covid-19 changes) the next board meeting was scheduled for the following Tuesday at 6pm with the SmithGroup representative there, at West Ridge Center, 636 Ridge Rd., HP.

Is there competition from other North Shore communities? Lake Forest is lucky with its location but Evanston lost the dog beach. SmithGroup is involved there. In Wilmette, parts of the beach were stripped back to the bluff.

Barge replacement for motor boats on Park Avenue beach: Is PDHP Board willing to fund any of the $1 million required to replace the barge at the Park Avenue beach? Brian says FEMA funds generally are for emergencies, so the barge is not eligible. The past 5 years have been tricky, starting when the city issued a security alert and then PDHP or the city wanted to close Park Ave. beach. To keep it open, the task force needed to reroute cars and boats, but that was not easy with the traffic flow which created some unknowns, and there was also the question of the long-term viability of the boating site.

Then engineers were brought in when the barge collapsed. SmithGroup gave a variety options ranging from $900k to $2 million. The PDHP Boad considered the options but sat on the problem for a while, and then the Rosewood problems happened and the barge fell off the radar. The barge was taken off the capital plan. Then the Park Ave. working group met three to four times, reengaged, and came up with 2 concepts.

Now with lake levels and erosion of the site and sustainability issues, they’ve narrowed to 2 options that would involve removing and replacing the barge. The issue is funding for this. At the finance committee meeting with the board, there was discussion of funding models. In other situations, the park district and users share costs. Facilities usually lose money. Those who benefit from the facility pay user fees. Those who simply look at the nice views don’t need the barge and should not have to pay. Everything in the park district is fee-funded except for natural areas and parks. For instance, there are fees for Centennial Ice Arena, Deer Creek Raquet Club, and the Rosewood Beach interpretive center. The agreement for the interpretive center is that part will be open for shade and safety but otherwise there are fees. Next Park Ave. Working Group meeting is scheduled for 3/17 to discuss funding model and then they will send a recommendation to the PDHP board for a vote.

Additional comments re Jens Jensen Park: Elliot Miller raised concerns about Jens Jensen Park maintenance, with increased activities and inappropriate plantings. Andy Cross, Senior Planner, City of Highland Park, sent a report. The park is a landmark with historic preservation needs. Elliot is concerned that changes are not being reviewed for historic preservation concerns, and no one knows who planted certain shrubs, etc.

IIIV. Motion to adjourn at 7:44pm. (All RNA meetings have been suspended until further notice, due to Covid-19 restrictions.)