SUNA 2012 Annual Meeting Minutes

            Southeast Urbana Neighborhood Association Annual Meeting

    Wednesday May 23, 2012   7 – 9 pm

                          Yankee Ridge School Gymnasium

Present: 84 people signed in or were otherwise recorded, and a few latecomers.

SUNA Business Meeting

Theresa Michelson called the meeting to order at 7 pm.

She introduced and thanked the 2011-12 Steering Committee (SC) members and summarized the past year’s activities. Two meetings were held, one in fall, one in spring. In the summer and fall two SC members attended meetings of Philo Road business owners organized by Urbana Police Lt. Bob Fitzgerald. The SC was also involved in discussion about collaborating on a community based research project to be carried out by students of Illinois Wesleyan School of Nursing. SUNA was asked and agreed to be one of several sponsors of the Urbana Youth Summit organized by the Lierman Neighborhood Association.

In April Gary Storm and Jeremiah Sullivan resigned from the SC.

Theresa announced that the separation of the function of the two Listservs is now being strictly enforced. Announcements will be sent out on both, but any follow-up discussion will be carried on only on SUNA- talk.

The Minutes of the 2011 Annual Meeting and Financial Report May 2011- May 2012 were presented.

The slate of volunteers for Coordinators and Steering Committee 2012- 2013 was presented and approved by voice vote as follows:

Coordinators: Theresa Michelson (NE quadrant) and Pauline Mak (SW)

Steering Committee: Abby Heras (NE), Eileen Kohen (SW), Marilyn Michal (NE), Neil Parthun (NE), Michael Pleck (NE), Luke Scarf (NW), David Trail (SE), Nancy Uchtmann (SW), Kathy Wallig (SE).

Theresa explained that SUNA had applied and was approved to participate in the Adopt-a-Street program with the adoption of Colorado Street from Philo Road to Anderson. The commitment consists of three clean-up days per year over a two year period. The first clean-up day was set for June 2, 2012, rain date June 9. Michael Pleck is the SC member in charge of this undertaking. A sign-up sheet was passed around for volunteers for June 2 and for 2 future clean-up days, dates to be announced later.

At 7:20 the business meeting ended.

Presentation by Elected and Appointed City Officials

Theresa introduced the city officials at the table.

Mayor Laurel Prussing began by describing the uniqueness of Urbana’s governing style as one that was open to listening and hearing new ideas. She cited Alderman Diane Marlin‘s frequent communication with Ward 7 residents as an example of such openness.

She referred to the approval of the Municipal Electricity Aggregation Program and the resulting benefit of a lower electric rate and saving of $200.00 per year for residents. On the motor fuel tax increase, she said in considering the issue she had observed no correlation between an increase in gas tax and the price of gas at the pump, and the dire need to fix city streets would be met by the tax increase.

Ward 7 Alderman Diane Marlin introduced two guests: Robin Arbiter of the Lierman Neighborhood Association which organized the Urbana Youth Summit, and Dennis Roberts, alderman from Ward 5 which includes that neighborhood.

She said that letters had been sent out informing residents of the option to opt out of the Municipal Electric Aggregation Program. Anyone who had not received this letter should notify her or other city personnel immediately to be in time to meet the opt-out deadline.

She reported on the Illinois Wesleyan nursing students project which mapped resources available in SE Urbana to implement the healthy community initiative on childhood obesity called “Let’s Move”. The students reported their findings to the city council. This information was incorporated into the city’s database and was used to create posters (on exhibit that evening in the gym) for the “Let’s Move” program.

Diane passed on a request from Dorothy Neumann, a SUNA small apartment manager, for other small apartment managers with concerns to meet with her.

Finally, she thanked residents for their input, community involvement, and efforts to promote Neighborhood Watch groups,

Urbana Police Chief Pat Connolly had two messages to impart. First, he thanked SUNA residents for their cooperation in tackling neighborhood concerns and noted that there was still a long way to go to find solutions. Secondly, he appealed for citizens’ help in addressing the crisis of young people under 21 years old in possession of guns in order  to prevent tragedies such as the recent local incident involving the shooting of a 3 year old by a 17 year old.

He updated changes in personnel staffing and assignments, introducing new assistant Police Chief, Sylvia Morgan, Officer Rich Surles in charge of the city’s north division, and Lt. Bob Fitzgerald in charge of the south division which includes the SUNA area. He remarked that Urbana has good working relations with the Champaign Police Department, UI Police, and Champaign County Sheriff’s Office.

Lt. Bob Fitzgerald reviewed crime statistics in the SUNA area for the past year.  He passed out maps which showed zero crimes reported to fewer calls reporting minor infractions. He said a proactive approach had resulted in a 20 per cent drop in calls between January to May 2012 in the Philo Road area. There was also a drop in calls for sexual assaults. He noted that the nuisance ordinance was working to reduce panhandling around businesses and rental properties as a result of talking with management about violations and ways to preempt occurrences. Panhandling calls had decreased and were limited to non-aggressive nuisance. As the coordinator of Neighborhood Watch Groups, he reported an increase in numbers to 18 throughout the city, with most new groups being formed in the SUNA area, and hoped that more groups would be formed citywide.

In conclusion, he said that at the next regular meeting of Philo Road business owners in July, an objective would be to organize a board that would include representatives from SUNA and would meet regularly to discuss issues and problems.

Community Development Director Libby Tyler introduced Tom Carrino, Economic Development Manager. She listed new businesses on High Cross Road (Village Inn Pizza) and Philo Road (Rick’s Bakery and Cafe, a Greek restaurant, Maia Roman Spa at the Pines, and U.S. Cellular). The former Piccadilly store behind CVS is soon to be occupied. Efforts to fill the IGA space are ongoing.

She mentioned grants received to rehabilitate old properties in certain areas of SUNA and citywide, and referred to her work with neighborhood groups on issues of concern. She gave out a list of names and phone numbers to contact about property or community concerns.

Bill Gray, Public Works Director, thanked SUNA for participating in the Adopt-a- Street program. He promoted the Landscape Recycling Center as the place to go for buying mulch. He outlined department projects in the pipeline, a large part of which is to be funded by the new motor fuel tax: much needed repairs on Silver Street, Cottage Grove, Windsor Road, and Broadway Avenue; upgrading traffic lights at Philo and Florida; resurfacing Washington Street and adding bike lanes; and the extensive Boneyard Creek Improvements Project to encompass the downtown areas of Race, Grigg, and Broadway Streets. He explained the reason for the deteriorating section of Windsor Road between Philo and Race and the plans to rebuild it in the fall with federal funds and revenue from the increased gas tax.

He mentioned that the storm water utility fee will come into effect on July 1, 2013, with the first bill to go out in August 2013. He emphasized that no properties will be exempted from the fee which will provide needed funds to upgrade an obsolete storm sewer system.

He drew attention to the work in progress of installing cable conduits for the Big Broadband high speed internet project which was ahead of schedule.

At 8:15 a period of questions and answers followed.  To summarize the answers to the main questions raised, it was pointed out that the Big Broadband system would not affect subscribers to Comcast or other internet servers as it was intended to serve those communities now underserved for internet connection; that voluntary compliance with the public nuisance ordinance was the goal; and that demolition of blighted apartment properties was a last resort option.

At 8:45 pm the meeting adjourned.        Pauline Mak             June 2012