Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Susie Johonson, Director of Hand

GANA Speaker Series
Susie Johnson
HAND Director

7:00 pm, January 25, 2006

Susie Johnson, Director of HAND (Department of Housing and Neighborhood Development), handed out brochures and told us about a number of programs for which some Green Acres residents might qualify. The following four programs are all possible through a direct entitlement from HUD (Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development). They offer grants and loans for housing initiatives to people whose income falls within current HUD guidelines to sustain and develop neighborhoods within Bloomington city limits.

Purchase Rehabilitation Program: A loan program that helps people purchase homes in need of repair. HAND will offer down payment and closing cost assistance up to $5,000. For rehabs, they will help determine what needs to be done, receive bids and select a contractor, and work with the project from start to finish. They will also assist financially by providing a deferred second mortgage with no payment or interest if the owner stays 15 years.

HAND offers a regularly scheduled 14-hour class called Home Buyers Club that teaches people how to purchase a home. Income-eligible graduates may be able to access up to $3000 in down payment and closing cost assistance (for the next class, see schedule on their website:

Owner-Occupied Home Rehabilitation Program: two types of grants of up to $7,500: 1) the Emergency Home Repair Program for emergency repairs that includes, for example, roof leaks, an inoperable or unsafe furnace, electrical malfunctions, roof leaks; and 2) Home Modifications for Accessible Living, for example, ramps, doorway ad hallway widening, handles and grip bars in bathrooms, additional lighting in kitchens.

So, if you know of an elderly or otherwise handicapped neighbor who might need HAND's help, please talk with them about this program that helps them be able to stay in their own homes as long as possible.

HAND also has a Rental Rehab Program for owners who rent their homes, a $1 for $1 loan, if the owner rents to a low-income family for five years.

(Unfortunately, HAND's HUD allocation for 2006 includes a $102,000 cut from 2005 (about 10%).)

HAND also

  • has a Rental Inspection Program: registered rentals are inspected every three to five years.
  • works with tenant complaints against landlords and landlord complaints against tenants (though they advocate people solving their disputes themselves, if possible).
  • issues weed and trash tickets (contact Jo Stong:
  • provides staff support to Bloomington Historic Preservation Committee.
  • provides Clean-Up grants.
  • provides Small and Simple grants (one of which Georgia Schaich and Sabrina Grossman will be attempting to get for GANA by the March due date).

Ann Kreilkamp

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GANA Meeting Minutes

GANA (Green Acres Neighborhood Association) Meeting
7:00 PM, 1/25/06
First United Church on 3rd St.

Stan Routon, Hershel Lentz, Evelyn Lentz, Betty Byrne, Ginny Kleindorfer, Georgia Schaich, Jelene Campbell, Dan Matisoff, Sabrina Grossman, Mike Diekhoff, Julia Jackson, Marian Shaaban, Tim Mayer, Rob Turner, John Gaus, Jessica Gaus, and Ann Kreilkamp

Agenda and Summary
The incoming agenda included a report to outline the results of the neighborhood survey, and, based on the survey, a discussion of what committees we need to form. Several other topics were also discussed, including 1) cars driving over and/or parking on grass, 2) tree-cutting, 3) traffic calming, and 4) sidewalks.

The Process
We were highly gratified to see 17 of our mighty band of GANA neighbors turn out for our first monthly meeting of 2006, held in a new place, and on a new evening. The meeting itself followed the first speaker in our new Speaker Series, Suzy Johnson, of HAND (My report on this event to follow.)

After a short break with tea, cookies and grapes, we reconvened, with Georgia Schaich as meeting facilitator.

Georgia reported on the survey results. Here are a few facts from that report. (The entire summation of the survey will be emailed to you on the GANA list-serve, and archived on the new GANA website.)

42 households turned in surveys (32 owners, 10 renters), out of approximately 400 that were put in Green Acres doorways. (That’s 10%, quite good for a survey of its kind.) Questions not usually asked made this survey interesting. For example, we asked about interests and talents that people would like to share with others. Many people responded, and the top four were cooking (15), gardening/landscaping, yoga and environmental concerns (11 each). Green Acres neighbors like to help each other out: 15 said they would help homebound people dig out after a snowstorm; 15 said they would help elderly or handicapped neighbors carry trash and recycling to the curb and back; 10 each said they would house sit and/or pet sit, and a few even volunteered to walk dogs!

Stan Routon told us about cars that drive across the grass from one house to the other at the southeast corner of Overhill and 3rd St. City Councilmen Tim May and Mike Diekhoff mentioned that Zone 3 No Parking (with “no parking” signs) includes the area between Union and North Hillsdale, and that the rest of the neighborhood has residential parking. (for more: see Parking on the grass is a planning violation.

John Gauss wondered whatever happened to traffic calming, and his question inspired a recounting of the long unfortunate traffic-calming-tale of 2005, when we pursued (thanks to Lois Sabo-Skelton’s decision to hand-deliver a petition), but then backed off, due to what appeared to be miscommunication with the city, the idea of a roundabout at the intersection of 5th and Hillsdale. That issue is currently on the back burner.

At this point Georgia brought up the idea that what we need to go forward now as a neighborhood association is standing committees to pursue common interests. “For example,” she said, “traffic calming. That is obviously an interest.” She handed out a sheet of paper for people to sign up for a Traffic Calming Committee and six did: Rob Turner, Stan Routon, John Gaus, Lentz, Betty Byrne, and Ginny Kleindorfer.

Then John Gaus stood up and gave an impassioned defense of trees, reminding us that Bloomington is called a “tree city,” and that he and his wife Jessica, on their morning walks around the neighborhood, are saddened to notice that when neighbors decide to get rid of a tree they just do it. “To me,” he said, “a tree is something for everybody. I know I can’t stop it,” he said, and then, adopting a loud, mean tone, he mimicked the landowner who says, “I can do anything I want with my property!!” Tim Mayer responded that 15 to 18 years ago the city tried and failed to get a tree ordinance in place. He also said that there is a Tree Commission inside the Parks and Recreation Department, and that John might talk to Lee Huss to get on that commission.

Georgia then said that she would like to work with someone on a Small and Simple Grant from the city, and Sabrina Grossman, a grant-writer, volunteered to help her. Julia Jackson said she wants to work with Stan and others on a Garage Sale Committee. Stanley graced her with one of his wonderful smiles and Jessica Gaus, Betty Byrne and Rob Turner also signed up! (And psst to my next door neighbor, Aggie Sarkissian, you want to do this, too!) A Party Committee (Dan Matisoff, Julia Jackson, and Jelene Campbell) and a Gardening Committee (Jelene Campbell and Sabrina Grossman) also formed.

None of these five committees is full. Nor is the Executive Committee full. It currently has three members (Georgia Schaich, Julia Jackson and Ann Kreilkamp) and seeks two more. If you are at all interested in any of these committees, or would like to pursue other topics, please post your interest to the GANA list-serve. (If you know anyone who would like to get on the list-serve contact Julia at

Tim Mayer reported on the construction currently ongoing at Dr. Norman Houze’s Bloomington Chiropractic Center property at Hillsdale and 3rd, saying that though Dr. Houze owns both lots between Hillsdale and Overhill on 3rd, because Dr. Houze had gone over the property line on one of them with a blacktop driveway, he would have to give something back to the city. We all agree that a sidewalk on 3rd would be a fitting trade. The Planning Department is watching the situation as it develops; nothing has been decided.

And Tim Mayer had one piece of very good news: The sidewalk that has been put in on Jefferson from 7th to 8th street will be extended from 4th to 5th street this year — with a sidewalk on the west and curbs on the east side of the street. He reminded us that the reason sidewalks are very slow to be built is that the storm water infrastructure underneath them is extremely expensive. This year’s city budget has allocated a quarter of a million dollars for this one small sidewalk project.

We ask that these committees work on their own and then report to the whole group at our monthly meetings.

We all expressed gratitude to Tim Mayer and Mike Diekhoff, city councilmen who represent in Green Acres, for attending this meeting, though, unfortunately, Wednesday evenings are usually also city council meetings. They both volunteered their phone numbers, should we wish to speak with them about any GANA concern. Tim: 332-5269, and Mike: 333-0210.

George Huntington, General Manager of Bloomingfoods and a Green Acres resident, will be the next speaker at our Speaker Series, held in conjunction with our monthly meetings. George is a member of the newly formed Sustainability Commission and will discuss that topic with us.

Until further notice, our meetings will be held in the First United Church, at 7 pm on the last Wednesday of each month.

Next Meeting
FEBRUARY 22. As usual, I will send a reminder notice a day or two prior to the meeting.

A big hello to all GANA neighbors!

Ann Kreilkamp
Scribe (Secretary)

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

HT Letter to the Editor

To the editor:

On Monday Oct. 24, a house near mine was demolished.
Signs on every window and door read: "The State of
Indiana, in cooperation with the Federal Government,
has purchased this property. All trespassers will be

Green Acres neighborhood, bordering the 45/46 bypass,
has been warned that the already noisy, noxious,
dangerous highway is to become four lanes, so several
houses need removed. Road construction won't begin
until 2007, so why do this now, with no warning? It
was a handsome house in good shape. People could've
lived there. It could've been subsidized housing, or a
badly-needed community meeting space. Instead, it's a
limbo-lot awaiting some mythical highway project that
no one here wants.

Nevertheless, if the usable house had to be destroyed,
the usable materials could've been salvaged.
Bloomington has many skilled, eco-conscious builders,
the Habitat for Humanity Re-store, the recycling
center, and other folks and organizations who would
have been interested in re-using the materials. Were
they contacted?

Every attempt ought to be made to salvage materials.
Nothing was spared. Every double-paned window smashed
to bits, every tub, sink and light fixture crunched to
powder, every piece of lumber splintered to waste.
Wanton waste. Making way for future waste.

Nathan Harman

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In my own backyard

The following letter has appeared in the HT and the Bloomington Alternative...

In my own backyard
January 15, 2006

by Millie Jackson

Out my window on Oct. 24, I witnessed the day-long destruction of a house in my beautiful neighborhood of Green Acres (the neighborhood immediately east of the IU campus and west of the 45-46 Bypass between Third and 10th Streets).

The house had been purchased by the State of Indiana for the 45-46 Bypass expansion – an expansion that continues to be delayed and is years away from happening. Given the reality of imminent Peak Oil and the financial instability of the State of Indiana, I wonder if this project will ever come to fruition.

With that in mind, it was particularly disheartening to see decks, sinks, woodwork, insulation, pipes, etc., crumbled and loaded into dumpsters – usable items destroyed in a matter of minutes.

I watched in amazement as dust and debris filled the air. I closed all my windows and decided to delay my yard work to avoid exposing myself to the obviously unhealthy air.

Throughout the day, there were a variety of workers around the site – not one wearing a mask. I was shocked. I thought masks would have been mandatory for exposure to this kind of destruction. But I also thought that removing all usable items from the house before destroying it would have been required. The unnecessary waste and lack of common sense that I witnessed was upsetting.


In all fairness, I should let you know that I was still beaming that fall day from attending the Simply Living Fair in September and the Bioneers conference in October. Both events filled me with hope and inspiration in regard to a sustainable future for Bloomington.

Just the fact that these events are available to the Bloomington community is encouraging to me. For only $16, I attended a total of eight workshops over the weekend of the Simply Living Fair, as well as the informative and sobering keynote address regarding Peak Oil.

The Bioneers conference was totally free. I experienced three days packed with amazing speakers, workshops, and keynote addresses about innovative and resourceful solutions for a sustainable future. Attendance was surprisingly low, which baffled me. What does it take to get people more involved?


Well, it took witnessing wasteful destruction literally in my own backyard to get me more involved. Encouraged by members of my neighborhood association, I wrote a letter to the editor – the first time in my life – regarding what I witnessed.

Perhaps my disillusionment surrounding the destruction of the house lies primarily with my own lethargy prior to the event. I knew the house had been purchased by the State. I knew that the family that was living there had moved out. I assumed it would not be torn down without usable items being removed first.

I assumed that “someone else” was looking into how the house could be used – perhaps someone who owns a home in Green Acres, since I am “just” a renter.

Then there were my afterthoughts. How many more years could a family have lived in that house? Could an organization like Habitat for Humanity been allowed to remove usable items prior to the destruction? Could our neighborhood association have taken over maintenance of the property and used it as a community center?

The now-empty lot and additional traffic noise and headlights that were once blocked by that house are painful reminders for me of where inaction gets us. My thoughts about possible uses for the house came only after it was gone. I made a lot of assumptions and had justifications for my inaction.

I care deeply and am concerned about what is happening in the world. I recognize that we are entering a time of great crisis in regard to the depletion and destruction of our natural resources. Life as we know it is going to change dramatically in my lifetime – it is unfolding all around us.

Yet, I still had done so very little to make a difference up to this point. I sometimes find myself wondering if it really is “too late” for us to actually accomplish a sustainable future.

I want to believe that it is not too late. I find comfort in knowing that the wasteful destruction of that house awakened the activist in me. Silence does not serve us, and it certainly does not make problems go away – it makes valuable resources go away.

Millie Jackson can be reached at

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Featured resident

Our mailman, Rob Vernon 307 N. Jefferson

Our intrepid, courteous and ever-cheerful mailman, Rob, aka Robville Cleo Vernon, as of March 1, 2005, had been on the job for “32 years, months, 17 days, 13 hours and 45 seconds.” He says what he likes best is “watching everybody grow old. I see the students struggle to get through school but do well and graduate. And another batch moves in. I love all my customers but I especially love my long-time customers.”

When asked how we could make his work easier or more pleasant, he says,“Only one item comes to mind. Please shovel all snow no matter how little there is off walks and steps.”

Of the funny things that have happened to him on the job, this one is a doozer. “I got my belt hoop on my shorts caught in a screen door handle and ripped my shorts off. I called my wife to bring out another pair. Thank Goodness I was wearing my underwear!”

He won’t tell us who gets the most mail on his route, citing the World War II motto: “Loose Lips Sink Ships.”

Finally, Rob tells us that another thing he likes best about his job is “counting the days ‘til 8-18-07. That’s when I retire. Let me quote the Late Great Martin Luther King: ‘Free at last. Free at last. Thank God almighty I am free at last.’”

Not surprisingly, given Rob’s wonderful attitude, when people apologize for the volume of their mail, or when he delivers a particularly heavy package, he replies, “That’s fine with me, thanks for the business! Need all I can get.”

One resident who had just moved with her husband to Bloomington and Green Acres reports that, when her husband then died suddenly, Rob told her to put all the junk mail addressed to him back in the mailbox, and he would stamp “Deceased” on each envelope and sent it back. She says that he will never know how much she appreciated that generous act during her time of loneliness and grief.Original post by Melody

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Welcome new residents

It was difficult for those in Green Acres who knew Dorothy Spencer to accept the fact that her health was failing and that it was time for her to sell her home and move closer to her daughter in Mooresville where she could get more care and attention on a daily basis from her family.

But now that the transition has taken place we are so pleased that Phil and Noriko chose Dorothy’s house in Green Acres Neighborhood as their place to settle in Monroe County.

It was Indiana University that brought Phil and Noriko to Bloomington. Phil came in 1989 to earn his B.A. and stayed on for the laid-back lifestyle. Noriko arrived in 1994 and eventually earned a Ph.D. After post-doc work at UNC in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, she returned to work for the School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) beginning in 2001. Phil says that the two met by providence in 2002. They were married in Bloomington in June 2004 and went to Kauai for their honeymoon.

Noriko teaches information science courses in SLIS and conducts research in the area of social informatics, which is the study of how computerization influences society. “My work keeps me busy,”she says, “but when I have time, I like to watch movies and work out at the gym, especially the kick-bo class.”

This summer they plan to build a brick porch onto the back of their house. It will provide a nice place to relax in the evening or to hang out with friends and have cook-outs.

Phil works as a reference assistant for the Monroe County Public Library in addition to teaching three classes at the IU library school. He’s an avid reader of science fiction, a semi-skilled musician, a fan of IU basketball (He’s been going to games since 1975), and he actually enjoys mowing the yard and trimming hedges. He,too, is looking forward to working on the new porch project.

The story of how “Ole Fat Bellers”, their cat, became part of the family is an interesting one...

Phil worked at Little Zagreb for four years before attending library school. One of the servers had allergies that were getting worse as she got older, and she asked Phil if he’d be interested in one of her cats. You could say that it was love at first sight. Ole Fat Bellers was two at the time and about 6 pounds lighter. He'll be nine in October and has settled comfortably into the new neighborhood at a steady weight of 15 pounds.

When asked what they like about Green Acres Neighborhood Noriko replied. “The original reason I decided to live in this neighborhood was because it's so close to where I work. I try to ride my bike as much as possible when the weather is nice. The lots here are bigger than newer developed sub-divisions, and people are willing to work to make the neighborhood better.” She also likes the fact that each house has it’s own character, unlike many newer neighborhoods where they all look so much alike.

Phil says, “I like being close to downtown Bloomington and IU. I can ride my bike to work or to grab a bite to eat (you've probably seen me tooling around the neighborhood on an old Little 500 bike). I also like the fact that the neighborhood association is so active. I was very excited to learn that there was a forum via which I could meet my neighbors and discuss issues of concern and interests relevant to the neighborhood and its place in the Bloomington community.”

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Tuesday, January 3, 2006

New Speaker Series in 2006

GANA will sponsor a Speaker Series starting with the first meeting of 2006, January 25, at 7 p.m., at the First United Church, 2420 E. 3rd. St.

Our official meeting will be preceded by the first speaker in our new Speaker Series, Suzie Johnson, the director of Bloomington’s H.A.N.D. (Housing and Neighborhood Development), who will inform us about home and neighborhood improvement grants as well as owner/rental registration. After her talk and time for questions we will enjoy a short break with refreshments and hold a short meeting where we will discuss future possible speakers, summarize the results of our recent neighborhood survey, and finally, set up and sign up for committees based on interest-groups as found in the survey.

Until further notice, we will meet monthly on the last Wednesday of each month at the First United Church, at 7 pm, and, except for the first speaker, our speakers will follow the meeting and start at 8 pm.

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