BOARD OF DIRECTORS MINUTES – Meeting of February 2, 2015

 

PRESENT:  Matt Ruben, President; Don Phillips, Vice-President; Steve Richman, Treasurer; Janet Finegar, Secretary; Larry Freedman; Sasi Judd; Dolores Lyons; Katrina Mansfield; Chris Somers; Anne Waginger; Logan Welde

ABSENT:  Jennifer Baker, Michael Coyne, Monika Kreidie, Sharon Richman

The meeting was called to order by the President at 7:10 p.m.

Motion: By Don Phillips, seconded by Anne Waginger:“To approve the minutes of the January Board meeting.” –Passed 9-0-1

President’s Report: Matt Ruben: written report attached and reviewed.

PLANNING, DEVELOPMENT, AND POLICY

  • Businesses – As I noted last month, we were unable to find a corporate partner for the CDC Tax Credit Match program before the deadline. However, since then I have learned that some of our colleagues in Fishtown have been talking about forming a BID (Business Improvement District) centered on Frankford Ave. I broached the idea of joining together to form a BID that would cover both neighborhoods and they are receptive to exploratory discussions. This could be a positive development, because a broader base of commercial properties could, through a small supplemental tax, generate enough revenue to enable the BID to get up and running without the CDC Tax Credit Match program. Further details at our meeting.
  • Piazza/Liberties Walk – Any update on parking will be in the Zoning Committee Report.
  • Construction Impacts – We continue to receive complaints about construction impacts but have made some progress with developers and builders.
  • Spring Garden – Work is beginning on the Spring Garden connector, featuring improvements to the underpass, and including sidewalk improvements as well. The DRWC (Delaware River Waterfront Corp.) has put about $2 million into it, and work is slated to be complete in May or June. In addition, DRWC will be putting out a Request for Proposals for Festival Pier site (several acres at Delaware and Spring Garden) imminently. I believe this means a developer could be selected sometime this year.
  • At 2nd and Spring Garden, the Penn Herb project continues to block the area behind Madison Memorial Park, including the short 100 block of Green Street, and the 2nd St. sidewalk extending a few hundred feet northward from Green St. This has been a source of aggravation and complaints. On the down side, the work continues beyond when the general contractor assured me it would be completed. On the up side, work did resume in December when he said it would, and it appears they are continuing to move steadily towards completion.

FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION

  • Annual Appeal – Steve will have the latest. My understanding is that we are still down compared to last year, but that this is because we have not received donations from a couple of large donors given in years past. If we can secure donations of similar size from those donors, then we can meet or exceed both last year’s total and this year’s projection.
  • PHS Beautification Grant – Thanks to the hard work of Sasi and Monika, the Letter of Interest (first stage of the application process) was submitted on time. I read it before submission, and it’s excellent.

EVENTS AND OUTREACH

  • General Membership Meetings – The January 22nd meeting saw the best attendance since at least last March. The discussion generally was productive, and detailed notes have been on the NLNA web site since a day or two after the meeting. Please check them out if you have not done so already; I also will be happy to answer questions and/or have a brief discussion of the issues at our meeting.
  • The next General Membership meeting will take place April 22 or 23 at the new offices of Keiran Timberlake on the 800 block of N. American St. It also will Candidates Night. It should be fun because of the location, and interesting because of the Mayoral race.
  • In the meantime, the Membership Committee is planning one or more activities nights at the Community Center, most likely on evenings in February and March that previously would have been General Membership meeting dates.
  • Winterfest – this annual neighborhood party and fundraiser is Sunday, February 15, 2-6PM at North Bowl. Please take tickets and sell them; tell your neighbors; encourage out-of-neighborhood friends to attend; share it on social media; and attend the event! I’m sure Michael also needs volunteers to help out, so please consider signing up for an hour or two.

COMMUNICATION AND PUBLICITY

  • Internet – All of our online venues continue to grow and be lively. The email list has reached 2,500 subscribers, and the Facebook page is well over 1,000.

Steve noted that he hopes to approach the owners of Penn Herb to solicit their help with caring for Madison Memorial Park.

Steve further suggested that local business who donate to Winterfest be recognized on the website and a link to their webpages be included.

Matt reminded the Board that some funding from PTSSD, given to clean the area on Front Street near where Amber Long was murdered, still exists. It was agreed that several Board members would help organize another cleaning of the area on April 11 and expend the remaining funds on improving the area.

Motion: By Don Phillips, seconded by Sasi Judd: “To ratify all Board polls taken since the last Board meeting.” –Passed 9-0-0

New Business

On behalf of Sharon, Steve raised the idea of having a mural painted on the community center wall facing west on Fairmount and/or the wall facing north towards the playground. The probable cost of such a project, if done through Mural Arts, was raised as was the question of whether that’s the best use of NLNA funds. Larry mentioned that there might be artists interested in doing such a project even outside of Mural Arts sponsorship. Sasi pointed out that overall plans for the open space at the community center haven’t yet been made. Sharon, Steve, and Larry will begin exploring possibilities for the idea.

Treasurer’s Report: Steve Richman

Motion: By Anne Waginger, seconded by Chris Somers. “To approve the Treasurer’s report as presented.” –Passed 9-0-0

2014-15 Budget: January Financials

  • For the four months ended on January 31st all funds income was $42,750; this was nearly $5,600 less than projected. Expenses totaled $34,545, which was $12,900 less than anticipated. Net income was $8,200 – $7,375 more than projected. However, these amounts include $1,400 in income from grants and $4,400 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 the following is our financial position after the first four months of the fiscal year:

GF & LL Income:         $41,340 — $5,730 less than anticipated.

GF & LL Expenses:     $30,100 — $8,800 less than anticipated.

GF & LL Net Income: $11,240 — $3,070 more than anticipated.

  • Significant variations from budgeted projections through January were:
  1. Lower than anticipated income of $5,000 from fundraising activities and user fees. The Annual Appeal was nearly $1,200 behind projections and $2,400 behind its goal. As of January 31st less than 85% of our collection goal was reached, compared to more than 95% at that time last year. In addition, net income from the two festivals fell short by a net $2,100.
  2. Lower than expected spending of $2,400 for administrative support, $2,900 for repair and maintenance, and $2,300 for fundraising and program expenses.

Other Items

  • The hearing for our appeal of the proposed assessment of the market value of the community center is scheduled for February 10th. The preliminary ruling upheld our request for a reduction in the assessment.

Liberty Lands Committee Report: Janet Finegar

  • We set the spring workday schedule at the last meeting:
    • March 21 “Hardcore” workday (to wake up the park). Saturday Weeder’s Club from hereon (9-11)
    • April 11 “Garden” workday
    • May 2 Plant sale
    • May 9 Love Your Park workday, with playground mulch spreading
    • May 30 Spring music festival
  • A developer who lives in the neighborhood offered to donate several pieces of playground equipment from a building he’s renovating. After discussion, we agreed that the big climbing structures were essentially the same as the equipment we have, and that difficulty of moving and installing the pieces would far outweigh the advantage of slightly newer equipment. We are pursuing taking three small pieces of equipment that will be much easier to move and install.
  • Janet is finishing a progress report for the PTSSD grant. We discussed scheduling for the remaining elements of the grant (installing the water fountain, building new benches, and putting in the new hose valve boxes).
  • Liz has finally gotten someone at the playground company to answer her calls, so it looks like we’ll be able to do mulch this spring as planned and order the replacement parts to repair the equipment.
  • Shectman Tree Service will do this year’s professional pruning on Thursday the 5th of February. They’ll focus on the trees at the southeast edge, taking out dead limbs around the toddler playground and cleaning up the trees along the edge of the park. They will NOT do anything with the paulownia trees at the absolute southeast corner, because they estimated that pruning those monsters would be $2,000 for those trees alone. We should budget to have that work done in the next year or so to keep those trees safe.
  • Following renewal of some conversation about off-leash dogs at Liberty Lands, we agreed that Janet should order some new signs that are larger for the park, and ask Kat to put a blurb on the NLNA website reminding people to leash their dogs at the park and encourage others to do the same.
  • It’s still cold.

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

Motion: By Janet Finegar, seconded by Katrina Mansfield.“To support the recommendations of the Zoning Committee in the matter of 456-58 Myrtle St., i.e.: ‘Thank you for your presentation. We support the project as presented. We request that Myrtle be restored to its existing condition or better if any cobblestones are disturbed during construction. A letter of support will be issued upon receipt of the refusal and a signed set of plans as presented to the ZBA.’” –Passed 9-0-0

Motion: By Don Phillips, seconded by Dolores Lyons.“To support the recommendations of the Zoning Committee in the matter of 410 Green St., i.e.: ‘Thank you for your presentation. In order to support the variance for this project we request that the southern roof deck not include the area above the bay. The intent of this setback is to prevent objects from falling onto the sidewalk below. A letter of support will be issued upon receipt of the refusal and a signed set of plans as presented to the ZBA.’” –Passed 9-0-0

Old Business

Don reminded the Board that volunteer help with Winterfest was needed and appreciated.

In response to some comments at Zoning Committee meetings that have been reported by bloggers, the Board encouraged Larry to remind the committee to pay attention to the appropriateness of their remarks.

The meeting was adjourned by acclaim at 8:10 p.m.

Addenda:

ZONING COMMITTEE MEETING – Monday 1/27/15

Members present: Larry Freedman (chair), Kenny Grono, Michael Simons, Beth Emig, Ira Upin, Anthony Bottenfield, Chris Issacson

Members absent: Sharon Richman, Kyle Koenig, Jonathan Sher, Charlie Abdo, Melissa Magness, Joe Mikuliak, Tim McDonald,

 

456-58 Myrtle St. – RSA5 – Ed Fink / David Orphanides Return visit with a proposal for a single family dwelling

Previous motion: Vote 7-0-1 ‘Thank you for your presentation. This lot is large enough to allow both a spacious home and a legal sized rear yard. Please return with plans for a home that meets the 30% open space requirement and bring drawings in color and that show context with existing buildings on Myrtle St.’   The refusals are for accessory parking, open air, rear yard depth and maximum height. New arguments: The zoning code referred to in refusal was the old code. The new code has an exception for a lot less than 45’ deep for the first 12’ in height, so the rear yard depth refusal is for the upper floors. They have 19.75% open space without the variable width alley which they are trying to acquire as it is only mentioned on their deed and Jeff Phillips, who relinquished his rights with the sale of the property in question. With that they have 23%. This is consistent with approved open space on recent neighboring properties. When compared with a by right building at this location, the overall massing is less and preferable, even though open space requirements are not met.

Motion: (Mike), 2nd: (Ira): Vote 6-0 Thank you for your presentation. We support the project as presented. We request that Myrtle be restored to its existing condition or better if any cobblestones are disturbed during construction. A letter of support will be issued upon receipt of the refusal and a signed set of plans as presented to the ZBA.

 

410 Green St. – RSA5 – Jeremy LeCompte A proposal for a single family dwelling with a rear garage. The refusal is for a garage accessed from Lawrence St. Discussion: One neighbor expressed concern about the façade material choices, which were called out in the plans. She will be put in touch with the developer, as the committee did not feel it was warranted to send this project to the UDC

Motion: (Ira) 2nd (Chris): Vote 6-0   Thank you for your presentation. In order to support the variance for this project we request that the southern roof deck not include the area above the bay. The intent of this setback is to prevent objects from falling onto the sidewalk below. A letter of support will be issued upon receipt of the refusal and a signed set of plans as presented to the ZBA.