BOARD OF DIRECTORS MINUTES – Meeting of January 9, 2017

PRESENT: Matt Ruben, President; Steve Richman, Treasurer; Janet Finegar, Secretary; Troy Crichton; Donald Hoegg; Ira Upin; Roneil Jackson; Monika Kreidie; Jeremy Lindemann; Joe Mikuliak; Barbara Saverino; Chris Somers.

ABSENT: Michael Coyne, Vice-President; Don Phillips; Anne Waginger.  

The meeting was called to order by the President at 7:05 p.m.

Motion: By Jeremy Lindemann, seconded by Donald Hoegg:“To approve the minutes of the December Board meeting as presented.” Passed 9-0-0

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

President’s Report, January 2017

  1. PLANNING, DEVELOPMENT, AND POLICY
  • Construction Impacts – The usual, nothing out of the ordinary.
  • Zoning – Ira and Joe will have a board action item in the Zoning report, relating to an appeal of a ZBA case.
  • Spring Garden Connector – DRWC had the dedication ceremony for the lighting installation on December 20, with NLNA and city officials. The installation has gotten unanimous praise in the community and across the city.
  • Festival Pier Site (Delaware & Spring Garden) – DRWC granted the developer a limited extension on the due diligence process; the process and development proposal should become public on or before February 21. My goal is to have the first public presentation of the development concept at an NLNA meeting in late February.
  • Business Improvement District (BID) – The BID steering committee has retained Renee Gillinger as its consultant. Renee is the longtime director of the East Passyunk BID and has recently stepped away to start a BID consulting firm. Next month will be the first open/public meeting about the BID.
  • Madison Memorial Park – We have funds to repair and restore the statue and plaque, to repair the wood on the footbridge in the park, and to put away for some future regular maintenance. Work on the statue is on track to be performed when the weather clears in early spring, for a Memorial Day formal unveiling/rededication. Work on the footbridge still has to be bid out and scheduled.
  1. FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION
  • Board Retreat – In December the board agreed that we need a retreat, and we settled on a half- day retreat on a Saturday in late January or February. I have identified and contacted a facilitator whom I’ve worked with in the past, and am awaiting an answer on her availability.
  1. EVENTS AND OUTREACH
  • General Membership Meetings – Although we had a highly successful board meet-n-greet, along with Town Watch meetings, in the fall, I dropped the ball on general membership meetings. This spring I hope to remedy that. We have meetings coming up in April and May for board nominations and elections. And in February, as noted above, I hope to organize a meeting centered around the Festival Pier site development proposal.
  • However, in regards to board elections, I am wondering if we might want to experiment with a nomination period that could include or be kicked off by a meeting in April, but could extend before and/or after that meeting. I would value the board’s thoughts and guidance on this.
  • Town Watch – Property crimes (bike thefts, trash can thefts, car break-ins) persist but have generally fallen off from the spike we experienced in the late summer and early fall, probably because of a combination of stepped-up police work and cooling weather (the fall-off began in the autumn, before temps got to their current frigid levels). Jeremy and neighbor Mark Maltby have done a great job leading this effort and doing patrols together. I think it might be a good idea to have a little “party” around late March to officially kick off spring patrols – invite neighbors for a patrol that begins with snacks and non-alcoholic beverages at the Community Center.
  1. COMMUNICATION AND PUBLICITY
  • Internet – At the suggestion of a member, we changed the Facebook Group from “public” to “closed” – meaning that non-members can find and see the group, but no longer can see member names or posts on the group wall. New member requests continue to come in a a brisk pace, and there have been no discernible ill effects, so it appears this strikes a nice balance between openness and privacy. The Group is at about 3,100 members now, surpassing the email list, which is at about 2,900.
  1. OTHER ITEMS
  • Board Polls – Ratification of any online or online board polls since last month’s board meeting.

Motion: By Barbara Saverino, seconded by Donald Hoegg: “To approve the proposed agreement for the NLNA to act as a fiscal sponsor for the Garden Hub project.”  Passed 10-0-0

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

TREASURER’S REPORT – JANUARY 2017    

  1. 2016-17 Budget: December Financials – tables attached
  • For the three months ended on December 31st all funds income was $124,337; this was nearly $7,000 more than projected. Expenses totaled $35,739, which was about $3,900 less than anticipated. Net income was about $88,600 – $10,840 more than projected. These amounts include $82,320 in grant income and $7,150 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 three months of the fiscal year is as follows:
    • GF & LL Income (rounded): $45,900 — $6,500 more than anticipated.
    • GF & LL Expenses (rounded): $33,200 — $4,300 less than anticipated.
    • GF & LL Net Income: $12,700 — $10,800 more than anticipated.
  • Significant variations from budgeted projections through December included:
  1. Income from fundraising activities – which totaled about $14,300. This was nearly $1,000 lower than anticipated. Most significantly, a shortfall in the Annual Appeal (which was $2,500 behind projections) was partially overcome by income from the Fall Fest, which surpassed expectations by nearly $1,800.
  2. Higher than anticipated general donations totaling nearly $5,700. This was $4,500 more than projected and fully offset the shortfall in fundraising. Four large donations constituted most of the amounts we received.
  3. Rental income surpassed expectations by more than $3,800, although $2,300 of this amount was pre-paid rent.
  4. Separately, grants totaling $4,320 were received from PTSSD for Operation Santa, Parade of Spirits and the Fall Fest.  
  5. Spending was lower than anticipated for professional and program services (-$3,800). This difference is almost entirely due to timing and seasonality.
  6. Other Items
  • Capital Grant from PTSSD – We received a check for $78,000 from PTSSD in December, the balance of the $178,000 grant awarded last February.
  • 2015-16 Compilation Report and Federal Tax Return – Our accountant has completed preparation of the annual compilation report and tax return for 2015-16.

Motion: By Donald Hoegg, seconded by Monika Kreidie. “To accept the Treasurer’s report as presented.”  Passed 11-0-0

Fundraising Committee Report: Monika Kreidie:

A committee has met and is working on organizing Winterfest, which will be February 12, 1-5 p.m. Tickets should be printed soon.

Liberty Lands Committee Report: Janet Finegar: written report attached and reviewed.

Liberty Lands Board Report – January 2017

  • Winter is quiet time in Liberty Lands. Look, only six bullet points.
  • The regularly scheduled Liberty Lands meetings have been quite irregular for the past few months, but this should be the last change – the next meeting will be WEDNESDAY (day change!) January 11 at 7 p.m. at the Community Center. All are welcome. Lots of scheduling for 2017 will occur at that meeting!
  • The Parade of Spirits on December 17th went beautifully despite rain earlier in the day. Around 150 people showed up, a great time was had by all, and the park looked lovely decorated for the winter. Sponsorship from the PTSSD covered the expenses and the grant report has already been submitted.
  • Neighbor Maggie Schuler has purchased a Little Free Library for the park and will maintain its book stock. We can’t install it until the spring (concrete doesn’t set in the winter), but we need to choose a location for it – maybe right at the Bodine/American Street entrance gate?
  • January 16 (Monday) will be this year’s professional pruning at Liberty Lands. We’ll also be chipping whatever Christmas trees are left between the 8th and 15th at Orianna Hill.
  • 2017 is a “playground mulching” year – every two years, we put down new woodchips in the playground areas. This is special mulch – better chipped and more fire-resistant than the plain chips we get for other paths – and costs about $2,000 for an 18-wheeler load full. We are considering asking PTSSD for sponsorship of this expense and of the community mulch-spreading day it will engender – ideally on March 18th, though that needs to be confirmed.
  • I am hoping that the mulch day can also be a “festival of concrete” day when we install the Little Free Library, two charcoal grills, and a variety of permanent signs at the park. Concrete-capable folks, please take note.

Janet added to the report that the Christmas tree recycling program is going well despite a very snowy chipping day on January 7th. The sponsorship by PTSSD allowed us not to panic about the low turnout on the 7th because we did not need to earn enough donations to cover the cost of the chipper: the roughly $85 of donations taken in was used as tip money for the pruning crew. The neighborhood has been overwhelmingly positive about the extended collection period. She also noted the tremendous number of dogs at Liberty Lands during the period when the dog run at Orianna Hill was closed as a reminder of what a benefit the parks are to one another.

Operations Committee Report: Monika Kreidie:

Monika reported that the lease is up for the 3rd floor apartment, but the current tenants are extending for a year and are all right with a slight rent increase.

Zoning Committee Report: Ira Upin; written report attached and reviewed.

Motion: By Donald Hoegg, seconded by Barbara Saverino. “To approve the recommendation of the Zoning Committee in the matter of 978-80 N. Lawrence St. (Pernitsky’s Bar), i.e.: ‘We support a variance that would legalize the two apartments upstairs and the one apartment on the 1st floor in the former Pernitsky’s Bar at 978-80 Lawrence Street. A letter of support will be issued if the refusal agrees with the presentation.’”  Passed 11-0-0

Motion: By Barbara Saverino, seconded by Janet Finegar. “To approve the recommendation of the Zoning Committee in the matter of 231 W. Wildey St., i.e.: ‘We support the variance for the existing properties at 1001 N. Bodine Street, 231 W. Wildey Street and 229 W. Wildey, the animal husbandry with a limit of 20 chickens at any time and no roosters.’”  Passed 11-0-0

Motion: By Monika Kreidie, seconded by Donald Hoegg. “To approve the recommendation of the Zoning Committee in the matter of 152 W. Laurel St., i.e.: ‘We approve the variance for the pilot house as presented with the proviso that the pilot house door will be locked at all times and residents cannot open the door for access to the roof. A letter of support will be issued when the Zoning Chair receives a description of the materials that will be used for the solar panel structure and supports.’”  Passed 11-0-0

Motion: By Roneil Jackson, seconded by Janet Finegar. “To approve the recommendation of the Zoning Committee in the matter of 1009 N. Orianna Street, i.e.: ‘We vote to appeal the ZBA decision to approve a curb cut and garage use long after the house was built without such a use and without a curb cut at 1009 N. Orianna Street based on the perceived hardship that there is no rear access to the house. This sets a very bad precedent because so many city homes do not have rear access.’”  Passed 11-0-0

It was noted that approval of the above motion constitutes a commitment by the Board to cover lawyer’s fees for the appeal.

Motion: By Barbara Saverino, seconded by Steve Richman.“To go into Executive Session.”  Passed 11-0-0

Motion: By Barbara Saverino, seconded by Ira Upin.“To go out of Executive Session.”  Passed 11-0-0

Zoning Committee – Monday 12/19/16

Members present: Larry Freedman (chair), Charlie Abdo, Kenny Grono, Joe Mikuliak, Sharon Richman, Jonathan Sher, Michael Simons, Ira Upin        

Members absent: Chris Isaacson, Melissa Magness, Abbey Spector

978-80 N. Lawrence St. (Pernitsky’s Bar) –RSA5 – Barb Mulckhuyse: To legalize 2 existing apartments and create a third apartment from the first floor bar area. The third apartment is 835 sq. feet. The 2 existing apartments are bi-level. The entrance to one is on George Street and the entrance to the other is on Lawrence Street. Unit #1 would be completely renovated. Unit #3 would also be renovated. No windows or doors would be changed, however, the corner entrance formerly used by the bar would be closed up and a planter placed there. Window shutters would be added to make the building look more residential. There is an alleyway that would be used to store trash. At this time, only Unit #1 would have access to the yard. Discussion: It is not clear if the refusal is for the units or the switch from commercial to residential on the first floor.

Motion (Joe) – 2nd ( Micahel): Vote 7-0-0   We support a variance that would legalize the two apartments upstairs and the one apartment on the 1st floor in the former Pernitsky’s Bar at 978-80 Lawrence Street. A letter of support will be issued if the refusal agrees with the presentation.

231 W. Wildey St. – RSA5 – Brett Madsen Jordan Rushie:   Legalization of a 10’ fence and a requested use for chickens and a chicken coop. Only a 4’ fence is permitted on the front and side of a house. This fence has a mural on it. There are currently 13 female chickens on the property. They are kept for their eggs, not to eat. Discussion: Neighbors did not object to the chickens. They are quiet. They do not smell. The high fence protects the chickens and the mural is iconic in the neighborhood.

Motion (Ira) – 2nd ( Kenny): Vote 7-0-0   We support the variance for the existing properties at 1001 N. Bodine Street, 231 W. Wildey Street and 229 W. Wildey, the animal husbandry with a limit of 20 chickens at any time and no roosters.

152 W. Laurel St. – RM1 – Dan Addis Tim McDonald: A request for a pilot house within 10’ of the property line and a request to elevate the solar panel structure. This building is being constructed as a net zero energy building. To achieve this, flat solar panel canopy had to span over the entire “green” roof area, not angled as specified in the original plan. The solar panels are raised above the pilot house so the roof can be maintained and the panels can be serviced. Residents are not permitted on the roof. The door would always be locked.

Motion (Kenny) – 2nd (Michael): Vote 6-1-0 We approve the variance for the pilot house as presented with the proviso that the pilot house door will be locked at all times and residents cannot open the door for access to the roof. A letter of support will be issued when the Zoning Chair receives a description of the materials that will be used for the solar panel structure and supports.

Tuesday 12/20/16

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

1009 N. Orianna Street – appeal ZBA approved curb cut for previously built garage

Motion (Kenny) – 2nd (Jonathan) 7-0-0   We vote to appeal the ZBA decision to approve a curb cut long after the house was built with a garage and no curb cut at 1009 N. Orianna Street based on the perceived hardship that there is no rear access to the house.  This sets a very bad precedent because so many city homes do not have rear access.

Old Business

Monika asked that Matt include an official reminder to neighbors about shoveling their sidewalks. Janet added a request that people be reminded to talk to their neighbors about shoveling problems (and see if they have a problem preventing them from shoveling). Matt further asked that Board members on Facebook post messages themselves about such issues, since there is a large (and sometimes different) reach on that forum.

Joe noted that Matt had contacted the Streets Department about a new stop sign at 4th and Green and that it seems to be going to move forward!

Steve reported on the renovation of the Community Center yard: zoning variance will be heard by the ZBA on January 18. He asked the Board about the idea of selling engraved bricks in the yard as a fundraiser. There was some conversation about the experience of doing a similar fundraiser at Liberty Lands in the past and about the logistics of the project. Troy suggested that the proposal be floated on Facebook to gauge the level of interest and how much could be raised.

Janet reviewed a written report submitted for the 2016 Operation Santa program.

2016 Operation Santa Report

In brief:

  • We ended up serving 24 families with 97 kids and 2 senior citizens. We had excellent volunteer participation from the neighborhood. Toy donations from Waterfront Square were less than normal, but still generous; Solo Realty also made a significant contribution.
  • PTSSD gave us a sponsorship of $1,800, which we significantly overran (costs were $2,300 this year), but lower costs on the Parade of Spirits half of the sponsorship and some $210 in cash donations mean that the program did not end up costing NLNA general funds anything.

Recipients:

  • We added a few families recommended by existing participants. At this point our recipients are significantly from the neighborhood to our west, from Northern Liberties proper, and somewhat from the South Kensington/Fishtown area. Next year I would like to limit further expansion west but look for neglected families to our north by contacting the principals at Adaire and Ludlow elementaries for recommendations.
  • I’d like to see some expansion of senior citizen services, but don’t have ideas about how to locate need in that area (suggestions welcome!)

Donations:

  • Donations from the Waterfront Square community are good, but this year did not quite cover the need for our families. Donations of MONEY rather than toys is much better for us, but we don’t want to compete with the Annual Appeal. I’m proposing doing a larger sponsorship ask for Operation Santa from PTSSD in 2017 by making it a single sponsorship (not partnering the sponsorship with Parade of Spirits as I have been doing) so that the funds better cover the food expenses.
  • Cost overruns this year came mainly from under-budgeting the food expense and a communication SNAFU that meant buying an additional family’s gifts and food separately.
  • We always end up buying a certain amount of things in addition to food: wrapping supplies and batteries and gifts for teens are the main areas of expense. I buy as many wrapping supplies in bulk and clearance in January as possible; I use a Costco membership to get batteries at the lowest price available; and this year I’m looking into bulk-purchasing some basic “teen” gifts (wallets, watches, bracelets, gloves: generic items that work for most teens and can be gotten for around $5 apiece when bought wholesale) in advance.
  • We also started giving every recipient at least one book several years ago, using books obtained for about $.50 each from the First Book Foundation. Another SNAFU kept us from getting those books this year but we should be back on track in 2017.

Volunteering:

  • This remains a very popular and feel-good volunteer activity for neighbors, which is great. We may need to do more coordination of the wrapping event in order to deal with the onslaught of volunteers! I would also like to find a way to let families participate in the event meaningfully. A new coordinator in the program (in addition to me and Don) could help with those areas if anyone was interested.

Logistics:

  • The expanded community center space meant that we could use both upstairs and basement for the wrapping, which was overall a success (some new kinks in the system need to be worked out). We established that cleanup after the deliveries MUST include bundling cardboard boxes for recycling! A good turnout of volunteers on delivery day made delivery easier and we could add a run of the “extra” toys (we get a lot of gifts appropriate for kids in the 5-8 year old range: they don’t work for our older or younger kids but are still great toys) to the Drueding Center.

New Business

Jeremy reported that the Community Affairs Officer from the 6th District invited him to a departmental meeting discussing police-community relations, and particularly applauded Northern Liberties’ community action related to the apprehension of the package thief. The 6th District is interested in holding a meeting with neighbors to further improve relations between the community and the department.

Janet encouraged all Board members who run programs or events for the NLNA to write up a list of the various duties and elements of running the activity and make that list publicly available through Google drive.

Matt offered a general statement of congratulations for the variety of projects and activities that the NLNA has succeeded with in the past year or so, and thanked everyone for their work.

The meeting was adjourned by acclaim at 8:32 p.m.