Wednesday, January 25, 2006

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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