Tuesday, November 30, 2004

GANA Meeting Minutes

GANA (Green Acres Neighborhood Association) Meeting
7:00 PM, 11/29/04 Georgia Schaich's house

Marian Hoffa, Betty Byrne, Halley Walsh, Georgia Schaich, Ann Kreilkamp, and two guests from other neighborhood associations, Sarah Pearce and Keith Romaine.

Agenda and Summary
A special meeting called to talk with Keith Romaine, of the McDoel Gardens Neighborhood Association (and famous locally as "the banner maker") about his interest and follow-up on the recent Bloomington presentation by a the founder of Portland's City Repair Project (www.cityrepair.org).

The Process
Keith, who is finishing a doctorate in Art History with a dissertation on how the presence of public spaces makes cities more viable, loves Portland's City Repair project, because it "sets up public squares within the usual city grid"&emdash;by revisioning intersections, to create the sense of a piazza (like in European cities and towns). As an example, the before and after photos he presented from the cityrepair.org website showed neighbors painting a gorgeous spiraling Fibonacci design on a typical drab intersection in a middle-class district of Portland. These neighbors drew on community resources - their own architects, designers, and, of course, painters, to create their own "public square," and presto! - the result was an colorful and attractive centerpiece to their neighborhood.

This neighborhood project was initiated in response to fast-moving traffic. A number of children live in the neighborhood so they were especially concerned about safety issues. Creating a public square out of the intersection had the immediate effect of slowing cars down.

In this and other Portland neighborhoods where intersections have been turned into public squares, other things begin to happen. He showed us photos of a "24-hour tea station," for example (a little table with iced tea and glasses on it), and a "library," (a tiny cupboard on legs with books in it), and a "24-hour chalk station" (for drawing on sidewalks and the street). Other neighbors put benches out in front of their lawns, facing the street, for walkers to rest. Each of these little gestures by neighbors in front of their own houses helps to foster a festive, even whimsical, interactive sense of connectedness and belonging. As neighbors meet on the street, they get to know each other better, and sooner or later birth new group projects (all extremely inexpensive and that utilize found objects), by incorporating diverse talents of those who live there.

Keith told the story of how the City Repair Project began—with a "tea house" built by a couple of architects and engineers out of branches and plastic on an empty lot in a Portland neighborhood. The first evening 25 people came for free tea, the next 35. Then 75, 100, 500, 1000.... As the word got around, the city found out and of course got upset, because it was not legal and they had no permit. The founders tore it down, but the point was made. People hunger for community.

Empty lots aside, Portland now has an ordinance that states that any intersection in Portland can be turned into a public square where people can meet and cars can go - with the caveat that everybody living within two blocks of the intersection has to be contacted. Keith pointed out that we could push for the same ordinance here.

The downside of painted intersections is that they have to be repainted every year. (But, said Georgia, that just means more community participation!) Also, as Marian pointed out, Portland probably doesn't have much snow, and she wonders if snow machines would scrape off the paint.

Re: our concern for traffic calming on Hillsdale: Keith said that in his reading about these issues (he especially recommends Street Reclaiming, by David Engwicht, (in the local library)), he discovered that people drive to the limit of what they think safe. So if you have a long straight wide road with no visual obstructions like Hillsdale people are just naturally going to drive fast, no matter what the speed limit. Whenever roads are widened, cars drive faster, and the sense of community diminishes. Besides making public squares out of intersections, another traffic-calming possibility is to just narrow the road in places, and he suggests neighbors instigate that on their own initiative by having some kind of project jut out slightly into the street - he mentioned an art project in this context. Or, if kids - or adults- are out in the street playing hopscotch with chalk from the nearby 24-hour chalk station....

The whole point, says Keith, community is "about involving everybody."And for Keith, it's important that we not just focus on big serious issues like zoning and sidewalks and storm drainage, but that we incorporate our artistic sense as well as have fun. When he moved into the McDoel neighborhood, he says, that's when they began to have annual street parties. (He's known, he says, as "the party man.") At first, they held the party at the local Baptist church, but the year they moved the party to someone's backyard and billed it as "Beer, Buns and Brats," it came alive. The McDoel Neighborhood Association was formed in 1998, in response to the city, the hospital and RCA wanting to tear the neighborhood down. In 1998, 60% of the neighborhood was renters, now it's down to 40%.

Prospect Hill also has a very successful neighborhood association. Georgia says that her daughter, who is very active there, asked permission to beautify an empty lot from its owner and with a few neighbors, created a garden. To cap it off they placed an arch that the city wanted to get rid of at the entrance to the garden. Again, very low cost.

Keith pointed out that CONA - Bloomington's Council of Neighborhood Associations - wants every neighborhood to have a center and a sense of place unique to that neighborhood's character. (This reminds me of Julia's idea for a Green Acres motto: "The neighborhood that walks"- particularly apt, given our proximity to both downtown and the IU campus.)

Keith's presentation inspired Sarah Pearce, an artist with twin toddler girls and a professor husband who has just started a neighborhood association with a letter stuck in the door of her Grandview neighbors (east of the bypass, between 10th and 3rd). At our meeting she got the idea of Grandview neighbors celebrating the city's decision to build a sidewalk from the post office along 10th to Grandview by holding a party on the sidewalk when its finished.

Georgia wants several of us to get together to walk the Green Acres neighborhood, take note of empty lots, if any, of intersection possibilities, and possibilities for other types of projects that might interest us. I also like this idea and invite anyone to join us some sunny day soon.

Next meeting
Monday, January 31, 2005, 7 p.m.
Georgia's house, 202 S. Hillsdale Dr.

Happy Holidays!
Ann Kreilkamp

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Friday, October 29, 2004

GANA Meeting Minutes

GANA (Green Acres Neighborhood Association) Meeting
7:00 PM, 10/28/04 Georgia Schaich's house

Attending: Marian Hoffa, Mariam Shabagh, Marsha Bradford, Georgia Schaich, Tim Mayer and Ann Kreilkamp.

Agenda and Summary
Mostly a discussion of “Ideas and Concerns for the Green Acres Neighborhood” as written down by neighbors at the Tent Party on October 9, 2004 (see Report for the Tent Party).

The Process
We didn’t exactly consciously intend to spend our one-hour meeting on the Ideas and Concerns, but that is what we ended up doing. We discussed most of them, often drawing on Tim Mayer’s experience and knowledge as a City Council member-at-large.

First, though, we discussed something that was not on the list, namely sidewalks, which led into a discussion of flood problems and drainage.

Tim said that he tried to get a proposal to a three-member City Council subcommittee two years ago for sidewalks from the end of 5th to Union and from Jefferson to 10th. Then he discovered that only $170,000 was allocated to sidewalks for the whole city of Bloomington! Moreover, he told us, he found out that in order for sidewalks to go in, storm drainage problems have to be addressed first. The city did estimate what it would cost to do storm drainage work for the entire length of 5th (the intersections of 5th and Hillsdale and 5th and Overhill flood during intense long rains): $500,000! Tim said that the city was in the process of looking at drainage for Green Acres, but that right now it is on the shelf. By the way, the only existing sidewalks in our entire neighborhood are 7th through Hillsdale and up Eastgate to the bypass and the entire length of Hillsdale. Eventually, after the bypass is widened, plans call for a pedestrian/bicycle tunnel under the bypass from Eastgate.

Tim said that once the bypass widens, you will only be able to turn South when leaving Eastgate. He said that there will be a street at St. Mark’s Church, and a signal on the bypass there. Furthermore, he said that they had planned to make that street a continuation of 5th street. This would have transformed 5th street into a major street and cut our neighborhood in half. But he said that four or five years ago when the state held a series of meetings on the bypass plan the GANA folks stood up and stopped the 5th street cut through.

On rentals vs. home-owners: several Bloomington neighborhood associations keep lists of homes in their neighborhood that are for sale and another list of individuals, couples and families who wish to buy homes and live in their neighborhoods. With these lists they have gained more control over rentals and have begun to move their neighborhoods back to owner-occupied. If you know of houses being sold or people wanting to buy and live in a Green Acres home, please contact Georgia gschaich@yahoo.com so we can begin these lists.

On parking: though many neighbors are against parking on the street, if parking were allowed on both sides, that in itself would slow traffic, thus producing the desired traffic-calming. For bushes or trees that block the view of traffic: if they are in the city’s right-of-way (up to your water meter), then the city will remove them if you ask.

On traffic calming: Marsha said she would be willing to work with a neighborhood group on traffic calming, and to even think about the idea of spearheading it. (She is concerned that our last failed effort, which took up so much time and energy, could have used a lawyer with her expertise.)

On lights: Tim said lights are installed by Cinergy, which then bills the city for them. Thus, since lights are expensive for the city, it is difficult to get them. However, Ann volunteered to survey the neighborhood to see where there are dark patches at night; she will also survey to see where street signs are missing — and take her findings to Tim and the city. So, if you are aware of places that need lights and/or of missing street signs, please email Ann at akcrone@sbcglobal.net.

On cutting down trees: Tim said that a number of years ago there was a proposal known as the Pam Service Tree Ordinance that failed. This ordinance addressed the issue of people cutting down trees on their property (the ordinance would have put controls on this). However HAND can require trees on rental properties to be cut if they are dangerous. Concerns about trees should be addressed to the City Tree Commission or the City Arborist (Lee Huss).

Next Meeting
November 29th, 7 pm, Georgia’s house 202 S. Hillsdale.
At this meeting we will show and discuss the video of “The City Repair Project” in Portland that works with neighborhoods to “educate and inspire communities and individuals to creatively transform the places where they live.” Georgia, Ann and Kathy Ruesink attended a presentation given by one of the founders of this project in early October and came away so excited by Portland’s visionary, inexpensive and practical example that they want to share what they learned with their GANA neighbors. So if you are inspired by the idea of discovering new ways to help foster a real sense of community in Green Acres, then please do join us at the next meeting.

For those who cannot attend Thursday meetings, note that the next meeting, November 29th, is on a Monday. Ann Kreilkamp scribe

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Friday, October 1, 2004

GANA Meetings Minutes

GANA (Green Acres Neighborhood Association) Meeting
7:00 PM, 9/30/04
Georgia Schaich's house

Marian Hoffa, Georgia Schaich, Julia and Halley Jackson, Janna Anna, Aggie Sarkissian, Lois Sabo-Skelton, Paulette Davidson, Ann Kreilkamp and David Hohnke


  • Upcoming Tent Party
  • Traffic Calming

Plans well underway for Tent Party. Traffic Calming on hold for now.

The Process
Tent Party: Georgia Schaich and Julia Jackson spoke about their plans for the Tent Party, to be held in a big tent in Bloomingfoods East Parking Lot on October 9 from 4 to 7 pm.

Georgia, Julia, Millie Jackson and Stanley Routon have worked hard to prepare for this event. They were joined by Jana Anna, Phil Eskew, Noriko Hara, Marian Hoffa, Jelene Campbell, and Marian Shaaban to distribute flyers for the event to all houses in the Green Acres Neighborhood.

(For those who don't know, our lovely, tree-splashed section of the city, "Green Acres," is bounded by 10th Street on the North, the Bypass on the East, 3rd Street on the South and the IU Campus on the West (Union Street). There are approximately 450 households in the GANA neighborhood.)

The original idea was for a block party on 5th street. The committee decided that time was too short to get permission from nearby residents as well as from the city (to block off the street). And, since the party is being held in October, the thought of possible cold and rain also dampened the block party idea and they decided to hold it somewhere inside. They approached the area churches, but were turned down, also because of time being too short. Likewise the fire station. So Julia came up with the idea of asking George Huntington, manager of Bloomingfoods, if we could use the tent that will be set up for the Bloomingfoods annual party the night before our party is to be held. He agreed, and also donated a deli tray, and a bread and cheese spray for the event. IF YOU WISH TO BRING FOOD OR DRINK TO SHARE (and we hope you do!) please email Julia at Julia.Jackson@sbcglobal.net so she can coordinate your offering with others.

There will be kids' entertainment, with Halley Jackson, 11 years old, in charge, including an apple bob!

Lois Sabo-Skelton will play her fiddle AND HOPES TO BE JOINED BY OTHERS WITH INSTRUMENTS! So bring your drums and rattles and guitars, pots and pans, whistles, harmonicas, and your clapping hands.

The committee has also lined up an amazing number of door prizes from area businesses, plus Millie Jackson will offer free chair massages.

There will be a table set with places for you to note your neighborhood concerns, and for how you would like to see Green Acres develop in the future. Examples: sound barriers for the upcoming wider Bypass, high speeds through the neighbrhood, safe crosswalks across 3rd and 10th and the Bypass, safe lighting, parking issues, too many people in rental houses, etc. Julia suggested that we think up a slogan, for example "The Neighborhood that Walks."

SO COME! BRING YOUR CONCERNS AND BRING YOUR UNIQUE SPIRIT TO JOIN WITH OTHERS! This Tent Party is our inaugural GANA event. We hope to encourage a greater sense of community as well as to create a neighborhood in which we all feel so at home and so welcomed that we settle in to live here all our lives.

PLEASE DO REMEMBER TO EMAIL JULIA OR CALL GEORGIA at 334-3292 to let the committee know you are coming so they can line up enough food.

Traffic Calming: Russell White from the city's Engineering Department, who has been working with us on this issue, has asked that we hold another meeting to come up with what we would like to see on traffic calming. But after the last attempt and its denouement (see meeting report for 9/3/04), people at this meeting decided to hold off for awhile on even thinking about the issue. All except for David Hohnke, who came up with an idea nobody else has thought of. This is to ask the police department to station a police car on a street in the neighborhood on which cars speed (like Hillsdale) for a week or two, and to do this sporadically. He says other neighborhoods have done this and it works. People stop speeding, at least temporarily, and it costs the city nothing in terms of infrastructure.

He also gave us information re: parking in our neighborhood: if there is not a no-parking sign in front of your house, then you, and anyone else, is free to park there. (Were we to ask the city to put "Neighborhood Parking Only" signs up, it would cost $15 per year per household.) Also FYI, David says that though your household pays taxes up to the center line of the street in front of your house, the city has the right-of-way on the street all the way up on your lawn to where your water main is located.

We meet again on Thursday, October 28, at Georgia’s house, 202 S. Hillsdale.
Ann Kreilkamp

P.S. If you want to join me on a walk to an event held at 7 p.m. in the IU Law School this Sunday night, let me know at 334-1987. Mark Lakeman, of Portland, will speak on his project of retrofitting cites with "grassroots changes that promote personal interaction, not just robotic interchange." (See the H-T today, front page story in Local section.) I expect Mark to infuse us with more ideas about how to encourage community spirit in Green Acres.)

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Saturday, September 4, 2004

GANA Meetings Minutes

GANA (Green Acres Neighborhood Association) Meeting 7:00 PM, 9/3/04
Georgia Schaich's house

Millie Jackson, Harold Dumes, Marian Hoffa, Mariam Shabagh, Stanley Routs, Marsha Bradford, Georgia Schaich and Ann Kreilkamp.


  • By-laws
  • Proposed Neighborhood Block Party in October
  • Traffic Calming

Old by-laws not yet reworked in committee. Group gave input for party to block party committee chair. (Date, time and type of party yet undecided.) Much discussion about traffic calming ballot which most likely won’t pass (ballots were sent, votes must be in by Tuesday, September 7). Group is glad! See story below.

The Process in Detail
Neither the by-law nor the block party committees have met yet. However, Julia Jackson has transcribed the old by-laws into a computer document and will e-mail them to anyone interested.

Georgia wanted suggestions to take back to the block party committee, of which she and Julia are co-chairs. Among them: With neighbors' permission, block off 5th street between Hillsdale and Overhill. Georgia to seek a permit from the city. Millie to design and distribute flyers. Parking lot of the Christian church is possible alternative location, at least in case of rain. Georgia suggested two kinds of chili, with and without meat. (Every household to bring some according to a common recipe and pour it in a giant pot.) Stanley suggested hot cider if it's cold, and possibly a flea market. Millie offered to give free massages and Ann suggested a give-away (where everyone brings one gift for someone else). Georgia suggested asking the fire department to attend, with one of their big trucks for children to climb upon. Georgia can secure tables and chairs and said we might expect 30 to 40 families. Several suggested we contact students in the neighborhood to possibly supply music for the event.

Stanley would also like a neighborhood event in the spring to exchange plants and flowers. Ann would like to exchange bulbs now. Since past GANA meetings had focused on problems with renters, Ann told of a heartwarming beginning to her relationship with new student renters next door: four girls who asked to "meet the neighbors" and brought cookies!

The final item on the agenda, traffic calming, was presided over by Marsha, who came with her husband Harold to the meeting specifically to explain her alarm to find on the back side of the ballot a map that showed not only two traffic circles (at the intersections of 5th and Hillsdale and 7th and Hillsdale) but also two islands, one of them directly in front of her house! The island made the street so narrow that cars would no longer be able to park in front. She said she wouldn’t want an island in front of anyone else’s house either, and so she and her husband voted "No." Marsha who is an attorney, told us that if the ballot passed, its legal language would lock the neighborhood in to the calming structures as shown on the map.

This caught everyone by surprise. It seemed in direct contradiction to the information on a flyer that Lois Sabo-Skelton designed and distributed to the Hillsdale area voters prior to the ballot. The content of the flyer was based on a talk Lois had with Russell White, an Engineering Field Specialist assigned to our neighborhood who had presided over information meetings put on by the City of Bloomington Engineering Department. It was also based on the (same) information Lois and others from the neighborhood had gleaned from attending Russell’s official meetings on the subject. Her flyer urged the Hillsdale area residents to vote "Yes," saying that a yes vote would put our neighborhood on the city's list for traffic calming, but not lock in any particular calming method; the neighborhood would still be able to decide what method was most desirable.

On the basis of Marsha's new information, we all agreed that we hoped the ballot wouldn't pass, and that there were probably some who voted yes who had been misinformed by the flyer. Georgia said that as of two days earlier, 33 had voted, and that they needed 22 more by next Tuesday, September 8, for it to pass.

At this point, with everyone still somewhat confused by the contradictory information (and I tell it here to the best of my recollection, with consultation from both Marsha and Georgia; there may be other interpretations of what led to the misunderstanding between the Russell and those in the neighborhood who had worked hard on this traffic calming project) we received a phone call from Justin Wykoff, Russell's boss, the Manager of Engineering Services for the Engineering Department. Marsha said she had talked with Justin, and he had said he would try to attend part of our meeting. Justin brought a big map with him that showed the planned islands and traffic circles. He confirmed what Marsha said, that a "yes" vote would lock the neighborhood in to the plan, but added that he didn’t think that there would be enough "yes" votes to trigger the second ballot phase: if 60% of the returned ballots "are in favor of the project then a second ballot shall be mailed to those addresses that did not respond to the first ballot. Ballots will be tallied for a period of four weeks from the time of distribution; ballots postmarked after the expiration date of the four-week period will not be tallied."

Justin said that if, as he expects, the ballot doesn’t get enough "yes" votes, it does not mean we have to start the process over from scratch. Instead, we simply need to back up one step (the ballot itself was "step six") and look again at what kind of neighborhood calming would be appropriate for the neighborhood.

He further clarified the issue of parking where islands are planned. He said that actual street curbs on both sides would be constructed parallel to where the islands are placed. The curbs would be a big factor in the elimination of on-street parking.

So that's how GANA participants, who have actively and patiently and with great endurance supported the process of getting traffic calming in place on Hillsdale, came to oppose the ballot that asked Hillsdale area residents to vote on it.

We meet again on Thursday, September 30, at Georgia's house, 202 S. Hillsdale

Dr. Ann Kreilkamp

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Friday, August 6, 2004

Neighborhood Meeting Minutes

Nine people met at Georgia Schaich's house at 7 pm. This was the second meeting following the decision to resurrect the Green Acres Neighborhood Association. The first meeting was in early July. About a dozen people attended that meeting, and most of the time was spent introducing ourselves plus saying what we we liked about Green Acres and what we would like to see more of in the neighborhood. At the second meeting four of the people were new, and we introduced ourselves again and agreed to have the meeting last no more than one hour.

On the agenda were the following:

1. Latest news on Traffic Calming on Hillsdale-Lois Sabo-Skelton.
Lois told us that Russell White said that he was concerned that three other neighborhoods were competing for funds, and that we needed to send out ballots to those qualified to vote on traffic calming on Hillsdale. It is very unclear as to what kind of calming can be instituted, both because of funds and since the road is so narrow (roundabouts appear to be out). Lois volunteered to create a flyer to take door-to-door to those who will be receiving ballots and urge them to vote "yes" so that we can stay in the running to receive city funds for traffic calming. She asked everyone present to send an email to Russell White at whiter@city.bloomington.in.us to give our own views on the best form of traffic calming for Hillsdale.

2. Review Greater Green Acres Neighborhood By-Laws
The city has a brochure, "How to Start a Neighborhood Association." We agreed to set up a committee to review the Constitution and By-Laws and draft a proposal for the rest of the group. This committee will meet at 7 pm Tuesday, August 24, at Lois's house and will consist of Julia, Georgia, Lois, Ann, Marianne Shabaan—and any other interested person.

3. Discuss possible Neighborhood Activity for late Sept/ early October
After some discussion about the possibility of a neighborhood garage sale, we agreed instead to set up a committee to organize a neighborhood block party to be held sometime in late September or early October. Julia will chair the party committee. Julia and Georgia will decide when and where to hold the meeting. The committee consists of Julia, Georgia, Ann and Stanley—and any other interested person. Stanley told us that when he moved here, many decades ago, whenever a new person or a new family moved in, his block would hold a party. We would love to see that kind of welcoming return to Green Acres.

4. CONA information received about Regional Neighborhood Network Conference in Cleveland(?) Ohio
Georgia told us about this conference. HAND has five paid registration spots for persons from city neighborhood associations to attend. Included will be registration, hotel, food and mileage. The requirement is that whoever goes be willing to share information received with others in their neighborhood association. We hope to find a person from Green Acres willing and eager to go to this conference. For more information, go to the Council of Neighborhood Associations, or CONA, at conaonline.org.

The next Neighborhood Association meeting will be held September 2, at 7 pm, again at Georgia Schaich's house, 202 So. Hillsdale Drive.

The meeting adjourned right on time, at 8 pm.

Ann Kreilkamp

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