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November 2016 RNA Board Workshop


M I N U T E S


Ravinia Neighbors Association Board Workshop Meeting
Thursday, November 3, 2016


Lisa Temkin called the meeting to order at 7:05 P.M. at Full Circle Architects

In Attendance: Lisa Temkin, Laura Saret, Dan Baigelman, Jeff Stern, Doug Purington, Carla Arnell, Justin Kee, Davis Schneiderman, Amy Lohmolder, Carolyn Hersch (City of HP), Rob Sabo (City of HP), Jean Meier, Lisa Hersch, Phylis Bagan, Steve Hersch, Mike Stroz.

Introductions.

Our agenda was altered to take advantage of the attendance of two city representatives and the resulting opportunity to ask questions and convey neighbors’ concerns.

Carolyn Hersch introduced the topic of Ravinia’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) which will be in effect until it expires in 2028. This fund is designated for infrastructure improvements in Ravinia’s central, business area. Infrastructure work could include: lighting, signage, crosswalks, and such. Even benches are a possibility. In response to Lisa’ s question of when better lighting might be implemented, Carolyn related that lighting is very expensive, probably not feasible with current funds. Current funds are in the neighborhood of approx. one million dollars. Doug brought up the very costly signs recently installed, questioning whether expenditure of money was being judiciously managed. Carolyn Hersch stated that the new signs were not typical signage but rather built to last. Amy brought up older parking lot signage that is still in good shape, but of an entirely different style than the new signs. Hersch stated that she would need to look at this in the light of day in order to better consider. She is also going to contact Eric Olsen at the city to provide paperwork documenting public involvement in signage planning as well as bidding information.

Laura asked about benches and whether a contest involving artists might be something the city would entertain. Carolyn Hersch stated that this might not be the best approach for ensuring long term quality and maintenance but that in selecting more mass produced approach, they could look at providing “artsy” aesthetic in keeping with Ravinia culture, even perhaps implementing some differentiating details from one bench to another. Hersch stated that if continuation of the SSA (Special Services Area) passes, the benches might be obtained with SSA funding. .

Caroline Hersch related deadline for objections to SSA (Special Service Assessment), which is Monday Nov. 7th. Fifty-one percent of property owners and registered voters (per Illinois statute) would need to object to eliminate.  

Carolyn Hersch related that the city’s public works department was currently involved with engineers and Com Ed. to study what might be done in Ravinia. In order to not too adversely impact business activity (digging up roads etc), phasing the implementation of various elements is seen at the way to go. Parking will be a priority. More spots will be added to the train station parking near bike path, and along Dean/ Judson. Lighting might be most easily accomplished with battery packs on signage. Doug inquired as to how Ravinia residents might have a say in lighting design. Hersch indicating that the RBA (Ravinia Business Alliance) would be the most likely body to consult on this piece.

Current state of the TIF is on the city website. The city’s site is undergoing change; Rob Sabo will send a link to RNA reps. so that interested parties know how to access this information.

Laura inquired of pending Klairmont project. It was confirmed that HUD is holding up parking that Klairmont deems necessary to make project workable.

Carolyn Hersch explained that the building of the dry cleaners which closed upon the owner’s death a couple of years ago has passed EPA guidelines such that it could be made into any number of businesses or residential developments. Perhaps there would be further remediation to assure no chemicals remain. But the family does not want to sell the building at this point. Some speculated on possible probate.

Carolyn Hersch related that the Mayor of HP held discussions with School District 112 officials recently to try to discern where 112 is headed and what impact 112 decisions will have on the city. Representatives from Fire and Police Departments, Public Works and City Mgr. attended that meeting. Nothing substantive emerged. Illinois municipal code allows separate operation of school and city. Rob Sabo stated that city must first have school plan to know how city is to be impacted.  

RNA members and guests put forth reality of business districts being impacted in Ravinia (and in the downtown around Elm Place) were schools to close. The lack of revenue and threat to business districts is seen as a city concern. Carolyn Hersch agreed that city would not want business adversely impacted or for school building to sit abandoned, but the school is 112’s property. Residents suggested that traffic patterns and congestion would impact roads and require tax money to address. Would street remediation be required? New taxes? Rob Sabo indicated capital is fluid fund and city has capacity to act quickly with street work. Residents felt the city might more strongly put forth its concerns and the ripple effects school changes will have for city and tax payers. Emergence of these new facts related to fall out for the city would allow board members to save face as they reconsider a bigger picture. A slowing of the process would also allow April’s newly elected board members to consider public sentiment. Carolyn Hersch and Rob Sabo stated that they are not making these decisions but will relate concerns to others who are. 

Given all the complications with how schools impact us, Schneiderman expressed wish that public would be kept apprised of any city meetings related to school closings. Is there a city liaison to school? The sense is yes but that they are not engaged in the process. Carolyn Hersch and Rob Sabo will look into this as well as the posting of meetings on city website.

Cell phone service concerns were brought up. Verizon has particularly bad reception in some areas of Ravinia (north end by Laura). Rob Sabo will look into this

Doug gave membership report. We have two new members. It’s the “quiet season” but he will continue to encourage renewals. Regarding RNA newsletter, Doug reported that Jeannie and he had just mailed these out. Cost: $864. Of this $750 was covered by the ads Doug sold, for a net cost of $164.

(No Treasurer’s Report)

HP resident Lisa Hersch shared her work on a “Save Elm Place” Facebook page designed to bring parents together on school closure issue. Most of the parents are from Elm Place, but some have joined from Ravinia. She now has 350 people following. Elm Place parents are making the most noise, which may account for the 112 board back tracking a bit on Elm Place. Forty new Ravinia members added since Saturday, but Ravinia is relatively quiet.

Doug is adding school board meeting notices to his RNA email blasts.

Davis Schneiderman presented “big news”:  A new tool has been developed by two people on the 2.0 task force group. It is a calculator where any resident can look at financial picture as any combination of schools are closed or left opened. Tool seems to confirm that keeping all schools open is hard. But it also shows that many BDR assumptions were not correct.

There will be an open house to be held next Thursday 11/10 to demonstrate the tool. More information can also be found at www.112information.org.

Carla expressed two points:  BDR 3 was not an education plan; it was a cost saving plan. She added that short term deficit spending might not pose a problem.

RNA should continue to keep updating members. The Ravinia PTO is not acting to oppose school closing.

     Neighbors discussed ways to get critical mass and keep people involved.(groups of friends on Facebook to attend meetings, C.A.R.E. flyers, etc.)

Next Meeting is to be Thursday Dec. 1st. at 7:00 at Full Circle Architects. 

Motion was made by Amy to adjourn. Justin seconded. Motion carried (approx. 9:05)

 

Respectfully submitted

Amy Lohmolder, Secy.       

 

The meeting was adjourned at 9:05 P.M.