BOARD OF DIRECTORS MINUTES – Meeting of April 4, 2016

PRESENT:  Matt Ruben, President; Michael Coyne, Vice-President; Steve Richman, Treasurer; Janet Finegar, Secretary; Larry Freedman; Jesse Gardner; Sasi Judd; Jeremy Lindemann; Don Phillips; Barbara Saverino; Chris Somers; Anne Waginger.

ABSENT: Troy Crichton; Monika Kreidie.

The meeting was called to order by the President at 7:08 p.m.

Motion: By Jeremy Lindemann, seconded by Anne Waginger:“To approve the minutes of the March Board meeting with a minor edit.”  Passed 9-0-1

President’s Report: Matt Ruben.

Matt updated the committee on the new letter of agreement with Lara Kelly related to increasing her number of hours in the office to 30; we hope that this increase will be finalized soon. He also reported that many (8-9) blocks are arranging cleanups for the Citywide Cleanup Day on Saturday, April 9. Finally, he confirmed that there will be a quality-of-life oriented General Membership meeting on April 27 and a meeting on May 19th for which the theme is yet to be determined. Election business for the NLNA board will also be handled at these meetings.

Matt covered a few other smaller issues: work continues on the Spring Garden underpass renovations and we look forward to the lights being turned on soon. There is a movie showing happening at the Piazza this week, which is a positive move toward activities there. Finally, there was some discussion of the proposed renovation work at Madison Memorial Park and the (extremely high) estimated cost, with suggestions offered for raising the funds.

Treasurer’s Report: Steve Richman: written report distributed and reviewed.



2015-16 Budget: March Financials – tables attached. For the six months ended on February 29th all funds income was $169,811; this was $103,200 more than projected, due mostly to the receipt of $100,000 from Penn Treaty SSD. Expenses totaled $83,449, which was about $21,300 more than anticipated – again, largely due to grant-related expenses. Net income was $86,362 – $81,900 more than projected. These amounts include $100,750 in income from grants and about $24,900 in grant expenses.

  • Excluding grant fund activity yields a more accurate representation of our financial position. Thus, if we limit the calculation to income and expenses from the General Fund and Liberty Lands accounts, our financial position after the first six months of the fiscal year is as follows:
  • GF & LL Income: $69,061 — $3,226 more than anticipated.
  • GF & LL Expenses: $58,573 — $929 less than anticipated.
  • GF & LL Net Income: $10,488 — $4,156 more than anticipated.
  • Significant variations from budgeted projections through March include:
    • Net income from fundraising activities was nearly $440 higher than anticipated. The most significant contributing factor was the Annual Appeal, which was nearly $1,500 higher than projected, and the Winterfest, which was $1,400 higher. Separately, corporate donations totaling $5,805 were received from PTSSD for Operation Santa, Krampuslauf, the Fall Fest and Winterfest. Thus far, expenses for the events funded by PTSSD have totaled approximately $4,940. Any remaining unspent funds (about $865 thru March 31) will have to be returned to PTSSD.
    • A shortfall in fundraising revenue and corporate donations for Clean Streets offset the higher revenues reported above. Thus far, no revenue for Clean Streets has been received. In addition, while a $1,000 Activities Grant for Liberty Lands was received from the City, the budget anticipated that the grant would total $1,500.
    • Spending was lower than anticipated for repair and maintenance ($-680). The difference is almost entirely due to slow billing and seasonality. Spending was also lower than anticipated for professional services and communications (-$2,000).
    • Higher than anticipated spending for certain administrative expenses mitigated the savings realized in these other categories.

Other Items: Capital Grant from PTSSD – As reported previously, PTSSD has awarded us a capital improvement grant of $178,000. Funding was approved to repair the exterior of the community center, renovate the basement and portions of the first floor, make substantial improvements to the yard and purchase new furnishings for the office, the basement and the main room on the first floor. In February we received $100,000. The balance – $78,000 – will be made available in November. To date, we have spent approximately $21,800 for renovations and improvements to the basement and the first floor. This spending has generally been in line with expectations. Repairs to the exterior of the community center are scheduled to begin in early April as anticipated.

Motion: By Don Phillips, seconded by Chris Somers. “To accept the Treasurer’s report as presented.”  Passed 11-0-0

Operations Committee: Anne Waginger and Steve Richman.

Steve updated the group on the ongoing renovations at the Community Center, which are going very well and quickly. Anne let the group know that in the next week the doors will be re-keyed to make the office section of the community center more secure.

Elections Committee: Barbara Saverino

Barbara reported that plans for the upcoming election are going well, and that the committee will meet this Wednesday. She urged current Board members who are up for re-election to consider running again and submit their statements as soon as possible.

Liberty Lands Committee Report: by Janet Finegar

Liberty Lands Board Report – April 2016

  • The first workday of the season (known as the “hard-core workday”) on March 26 was well attended with a few groups of great volunteers (a group of guys who work at Air Wisconsin and work like machines, a group of kids from the Youth Volunteer Corp who are also wonderful, and a bunch of neighbors). Many thanks to all! The City Harvest gardens and the public Edible Forest garden at the north end of the park were both weeded and prepared for the season. The community gardens in the park and on Laurel Street both were cleaned out and made ready to go, including their public garden edges along the west side and Bodine Street. In addition, a lot of rubble and trash from all around the park was cleaned up (oh, and the potty shed got a reorganization). It’s great to have the park so prepped so early!
  • In other season-starting news: we didn’t get around to having trees professionally pruned this winter, but think it’s probably not a problem. Party reservations are starting to come in for the season, with 3 weddings scheduled already and early plans for a dance performance in late August and a theater performance by the group who’s performed at the park in the past for September. As a reminder, we aren’t doing a season of movies this year, but it looks like there will be at least one movie presented by a rock-climbing organization. Finally, Janet’s working on an Activities Fund grant proposal for the coming year.
  • In other volunteer news, Kenny is looking into replacing the pump for the cistern and Don is going to look into getting a mower hired for the summer. Thank you both!!!
  • Off-leash dogs have been a problem again in the recent months, especially the few intransigent neighbors who persist in letting dogs off-leash despite repeated requests not to do so. (The fact that these neighbors are generally friends of at least some of us complicates the matter, of course.) The core committee is taking a few steps to address this: one part of that is this paragraph begging every friend of Liberty Lands to follow the lead of the core committee members and have the difficult conversations with those whose dogs are off-leash no matter how much you like the person or dog. [And begging anyone reading this who’s ever been guilty of unclipping that leash to give your friends a break and NOT DO THAT at Liberty Lands.] There’s no question that the thousands of people in this neighborhood who aren’t park volunteers or friends notice when they see the community leaders who ARE park volunteers/friends doing something and assume that action is acceptable.
  • Liz and Jen and Linda and Chico (our stalwart trash and odd-jobs guy) worked out in the nasty cold rain on Saturday, which was really impressive. Weeder’s Club is every Saturday from 9-11 from now until sometime in late October – usually coffee, always nice people. Not usually cold rain. Come join us.

Zoning Committee Report: Larry Freedman; written report attached and reviewed.

Motion: By Barbara Saverino, seconded by Janet Finegar. “In the matter of 936-40 N. Leithgow St., we can support this project only if you can demonstrate that a car can fit into the parking space without going onto the sidewalk/stairs. Please meet with the neighbors to discuss other issues.”  Passed 11-0-0

Motion: By Steve Richman, seconded by Jesse Gardner. “We support the revised proposal for 723 N. 6th St. for a 5 story building with 26 residential units and 14 parking spaces. The building will have a commercial first floor with 2 of the 26 residential units also on the first floor. The developers agree to meet with the Urban Design Committee.’”  Passed 11-0-0

 Motion: By Jeremy Lindemann, seconded by Jesse Gardner. “To support the Zoning Committee’s recommendation in the matter of 721 N. 5th St. We can only support this project if: 1) there are no more than 4 apartments; 2) the roof deck is set back 6 feet from the adjacent neighbor’s property on the north side; and, 3) the cornices and brick façade are restored.  Passed 11-0-0

 Motion: By Barbara Saverino, seconded by Jesse Gardner. “To support the Zoning Committee’s recommendation in the matter of 962 N. American St., i.e.: ‘Please return with drawings that accurately reflect how the house will be built based on the resolution of the plot line dispute with dimension, floor plans and materials specified.’”  Passed 11-0-0

Motion: By Steve Richman, seconded by Jesse Gardner. “To support the Zoning Committee’s recommendation in the matter of 816 N. American St., i.e.: ‘We support this project as proposed with the proviso the deck (railing/wall) is moved 5’ back from the party line.’”  Passed 11-0-0

 Motion: By Jeremy Lindemann, seconded by JesseGardner. “To support the Zoning Committee’s recommendation in the matter of 124 Pollard St., i.e.: ‘We support this project as presented.’”  Passed 11-0-0

Old Business

Steve informed the Board that Bamboo WiFi would be installing their equipment up and down 3rd Street in the coming week, and that the kickoff for the service would be during Philly Tech Week in late April.

Larry reminded the Board that, while there has been many confusing changes through the proposal to renovate the old Finnegan’s Wake site into offices, the proposal that is moving forward now is the one that was carefully considered and approved by the NLNA as part of our usual process.

New Business

Don reminded the committee that the Spring Music Festival will occur in two months, and urged Board members to volunteer and encourage attendance.

Jesse drew the Board’s attention to work being done at a building in the neighborhood which does not appear to have permits posted. He was encouraged to file a 311 complaint (as neighbors should for all such issues), with the usual caveat that it is essential to have a correct address when filing complaints.

The meeting was adjourned by acclaim at 8:06 p.m.


Zoning Committee Meeting Monday 3/28/16

Members present: Larry Freedman (chair), Charlie Abdo, Kenny Grono, Chris Isaacson, Melissa Magness, Joe Mikuliak, Sharon RichmanMichael Simons, Abbey Spector, Ira Upin,   Members absent: Anthony Bottenfield, Jonathan Sher,

936-40 N. Leithgow St.- RSA5 – Nino Cutrufello : A return visit with a proposal to consolidate lots and build three single-family dwellings. February 2016 Motion Please return with the following: 1. Facade drawings of all sides of all three homes, with dimensions and materials called out. Include accurate placement of all windows. 2. Present several design options for the corner building, consider a planter on the corner 3. Have garage on St. John Neumann approved by the city. Bring drawing with turning radius illustrated. Materials will be formed concrete, standing seam metal, charred wood, Hardi plank. Roof deck planters set 5 feet back from Leithgow and St. John Neumann. A meter cove will be built to hide the utilities. The Streets Department said that one off-street parking is allowed, but the turning radius was not illustrated and the Streets Department did not actually give approval for the turning radius. No other design options were presented for the corner building. Discussion: – Neighbors complained about the lack of space for turning. Stairs and sidewalk have already been damaged by turning vehicles.   – The existing structure would be taken down by hand and not heavy machinery.- Neighbors preferred a garage on Leithgow with the front entrance on St. John Neumann.

Motion: (Ira) – 2nd (Melissa) Vote: 8-0: We cannot support the project as presented. Please demonstrate that a car can fit into the parking space without going onto sidewalks/stairs . Please develop an alternate design with a garage on Leithgow and the front door on St. John Neumann. Please meet with neighbors to address their concerns.


723 N. 6th St. – ICMX – Herc Grigos: A return visit with a proposal for a multi-unit residential building with indoor parking spots. February 2016 Motion Before we will consider supporting any residential variance on this site, we need to review plans for a 5 story building with at least 14 parking spaces, and with a corner commercial space and 26 residential units (maximum) on floors 1 to 5. The original proposal specified 33 residential units with 14 parking spaces. We requested 26 units with 14 spaces. They returned with an increase of units (29) with 17 parking spaces and maintained the 6-story design. Floors 2-4 have 6 units each. Floors 5 and 6 have 5 units each. One commercial unit (780 sq. ft.) is on the first floor with ground floor entrance apartment.   Trash is enclosed on the ground floor with commercial pick-up. Discussion: Height and density remains an issue. Still would like to eliminate 1 floor.

Motion: (Ira) – 2nd (Melissa) Vote: 7-1-1 We can only support this project as a 5-story building with 24 units and 17 parking spaces. Please return with: 1. comprehensive list of materials and colors; 2. show elevations in context with adjacent structures; and, 3. the street level residence should be ADA compliant.

721 N. 5th St. – RSA5 – Herc Grigos: A proposal for a multi-family dwelling with 5 units. Refusal for a multi-family house in a single family zone. All units are one bedroom. Floor #1 – 732 sq. ft. Floor #2 – 864 sq. ft. Floor #3 – 539 sq. ft. Floor #4 – Bi-level 675 sq. ft. with roof deck Floor #5 – 596 sq. ft. Discussion: Density is an issue, as is the amount of the deck set back.

Motion: (Chris) – 2nd (Joe) Vote: 9-0 We can only support this project if: 1) there are no more than 4 apartments; 2) the roof deck is set back 6 feet from the adjacent neighbor’s property on the north side; and, 3) the cornices and brick façade are restored.

962 N. American St. – RSA5 – Gerry Gutierrez: A proposal for a single-family dwelling. Lot is 15’5” x 27’6” (424 sq. ft lot).   A Trinity is proposed. Refusal for open space and rear yard. An 18” bay projection on the 2nd and 3rd floor. Roof deck set back 5’ from front façade. A/C compressor on roof towards back of house. Rear yard 4’2 ”x 7’. ZBA hearing is April 19. Discussion: No floor plans were provided. Plans were based on the property size in the deed. The survey shows the property as 1’ less than the deed. 960 N. American Street encroaches on this property.

Motion: (Joe) – 2nd (Kenny) Vote: 9-0 Please return next month with drawings that accurately reflect how the house will be built based on the resolution of the plot line dispute with dimension, floor plans and materials specified.

816 N. American St. – IRMX/RSA5 – Shimi ZakenA proposal for the erection of a single-family dwelling with 2 decks and 2 parking spaces. 4300 sq. ft house. Charred wood façade. Anticipate 3 refusals: single family in lieu of IRMX, open space and rear yard. There is an atrium in the center of the house. The driveway to the 2-car parking uses an easement to the property behind the house. A bathroom on the 2nd floor and the deck above this bathroom on the 3rd floor extend over the easement. Discussion: Neighbors to the north were not happy with the deck extending over the easement so close to their decks.

Motion: (Ira) – 2nd (Kenny) Vote: 9-0 We support this project as proposed with the proviso the deck (railing/wall) is moved 5’ back from the party line.

124 Pollard St. – RSA5 – Francis Mastromarco – A proposal for a 3-unit bldg with 3 parking spots. This is a 4-story building with parking, building entrance and elevator on ground level. The cornice and pillars are made of precast concrete. Reclaimed brick will be used on the façade. The back wall will be masonry. The roof deck is set back 15’7” from the street. The remainder of the roof is grass.

Motion: (Kenny) – 2nd (Group) Vote: 9-0 We support this project as presented.