BOARD OF DIRECTORS MINUTES – Meeting of June 6, 2016

PRESENT:  Matt Ruben, President; Michael Coyne, Vice-President; Janet Finegar, Secretary; Troy Crichton; Ira Upin; Roneil Jackson; Monika Kreidie; Jeremy Lindemann; Joe Mikuliak; Don Phillips; Barbara Saverino; Chris Somers; Anne Waginger.

ABSENT: Steve Richman, Treasurer; Donald Hoegg.

The meeting was called to order by the President at 7:03 p.m.

Motion: By Jeremy Lindemann, seconded by Chris Somers:“To approve the minutes of the May Board meeting as presented.”  Passed 9-0-2

Don reported that the cancellation of the music festival was frustrating but based on the best information they had at the time: a rescheduled event will probably be on July 9, pending confirmation with another group that has a reservation at the park.

Don further reported on a Clean Streets fundraiser suggested by Val Wilson, a neighbor and longtime supporter of the NLNA. The original proposal for an event at a miniature golf course has not panned out, but the group who researched that option is working on planning a different event (a sponsored event for adults, which would be paid for by a coalition of local business people so that the tickets would be profit).

President’s Report June 2016: Matt Ruben

1. PLANNING, DEVELOPMENT, AND POLICY
Piazza/Liberties Walk – The Piazza has been rebranded as The Schmidts Commons. The central plaza itself still is called The Piazza (e.g. The Piazza at The Schmidts Commons). The rebranding coincides with the formal opening of national co-working company WeWork, and with the recent stepping up of programming in the piazza, including free weekly yoga, movie screenings, classical music, and salsa lessons/dancing. A brewpub also is slated to open in the former King’s Oak space; and Wahlburgers is about to open in the one building still owned by Tower Investments. The 300-car parking garage also has been completed.

Construction Impacts – The 800 block of N 3rd is closed this week 9:30AM-3:30PM.
Spring Garden – DRWC says they’ve been doing testing of the lighting, and the entire installation is expected to be done no later than. DRWC will have a ceremony when it’s time for the lights to be turned on.

Business Improvement District (BID) – The Commerce Dept was not successful in getting BID planning-grant money from the state. We are going to confer with the 2nd St Festival about using some of their funds to start the planning process ourselves – something our friends in Fishtown are discussing too. On a related note, the 2nd St Festival wants to deposit their accumulated revenue with the NLNA. Steve and I met with Owen Kamihira about it, and we are in the midst of revising a written agreement that would outline the terms.

DoughBoy/Madison Memorial Park Update – June 6, 2016 – Barbara Saverino

$22,000 fundraising campaign to restore the Doughboy statue and maintain it for the future The Doughboy statue is located at Second and Spring Garden Streets, and honors soldiers (known as doughboys) from the Northern Liberties who were killed during the First World War. The statue was paid for by the Northern Liberties community in 1981. NLNA is working with the City of Philadelphia and Kreilick Conservation, LLC on the restoration.

I have been working with Mary Dankanis (longtime neighbor and champion of the statue) and Katrina Mansfield on the communications and fundraising plans. Funds raised will: reproduce and install a bronze plaque of 400 names that was removed which will then restore the complete listing of soldiers from our community, replicate and attach missing bayonet to the solder’s left hand rifle, clean and apply a protective covering of the complete sculpture, and support the ongoing maintenance of the statue and park.

Since the May NLNA Board meeting:

  • Katrina posted a message on NLNA website (news section) with a call for funds
    I began work on GoFundMe page set-up
  • Starting receiving checks and requested that “Doughboy” be listed on check
    (Need NLNA Facebook admin information)
  • Once our fundraising campaign begins receiving online donations, we can request a withdrawal at any time. Withdrawing money does not affect the progress meter that is displayed on your GoFundMe campaign. We can withdraw our balance directly to your bank account. US users may also request a check. Most withdrawals take between 5 and 7 business days. We can choose between an electronic bank transfer or paper check delivery during the withdrawal process. While it’s free to create and share your online fundraising campaign, GoFundMe will deduct a 5% fee from each donation that we receive. The fee is deducted automatically. A small processing fee of about 3% will also be deducted from each donation. We will receive an email notification each time a donation is made to your GoFundMe campaign. We also can get the contact list/donors to thank and or engage in the future.
  • Steve recommended that since we already have a restricted funds account that we are using for Bamboo Wi-Fi and Kearney Friends, that we establish a new sub-account for the Doughboy.
  • Forwarded information on our campaign to Larry Freedman. He did outreach to Transport Workers.
  • Created a letter for Matt to send to select our elected officials (US Rep. Brady, PA Rep. O’Brien, Councilman Squilla)
  • Katrina connected with member of Amvets Post 146 in Fishtown. They are willing to co-sponsor a grant request with us to Penn Treaty SSD. That means that they will sponsor us as a non-profit so the $20k does not get taxed. The check (if approved)     would be made out to them. Then they would write checks to our vendors.We could get this request in as early as September if we act quickly. We’ll need to create a “Friends of the Doughboy”; group, and apply as such (with Amvets as our co sponsor).

2. FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION

May Board Elections – We are pleased to welcome new board members Roneil Jackson, Don Hoegg, Ira Upin, and Joe Mikuliak! As Ira is co-chair of the Zoning Committee, and Joe is a member as well, this puts us back in conformity with our Bylaws, which state that two members of the board must be on the Zoning Committee.

3. EVENTS AND OUTREACH

General Membership Meetings – In keeping with our new guideline of four meetings a year, no meetings are planned for the summer. Our next meeting will be in September (or perhaps early October). And a reminder that we are not limited to four meetings a year – we always can have more, and can have special meetings if and when warranted.

4. COMMUNICATION AND PUBLICITY

Internet – All seems to be well, and growing. I will, however, update the board on the status of the northernliberties.org web domain, and conversations I’ve been having with Katrina Mansfield about its future direction.

In addition to the points in his written report, Matt informed the Board that Lara is researching a street cleaning machine – smaller than the ones used by Center City District but still large enough to improve the cleaning our team is currently doing. With further information, the Board will discuss the proposal next month. He also raised the possibility of reaching out to local realtors for specific donations to Clean Streets; Chris agreed to talk with Lara about the idea.

Treasurer’s Report
In his absence, Steve provided a brief written update: “Our finances are in good shape, bolstered this past month by the receipt of over $9,000 (courtesy of Larry Freedman) from developers for the Clean Streets program. I’ll have specific revenue and expense figures for our entire budget next month but my quick look this past week showed nothing negative for May.”
Motion: By Monika Kreidie, seconded by Anne Waginger. “To table the Treasurer’s Report until next month.”  Passed 11-0-0

New Business
Ira reported that the painter working on the community center renovation project gave a reasonable estimate for professionally finishing the painting in the interior and exterior of the center. This expense was not covered in the grant proposal for the renovation but makes sense as part of the work being done.

Motion: By Joe Mikuliak, seconded by Anne Waginger. “To approve the expenditure of up to $2,100 additional funds for the painting of the exterior and rest of the interior of the community center as part of the ongoing renovation project.”  Passed 11-0-0

Joe raised the issue that the NLNA name is not clearly visible on the community center building. A few options for improving our branding on the building were suggested, and it was generally agreed that the issue should be tabled until later in the renovation project.

Liberty Lands Committee Report June 2016: Janet Finegar

A few questions were raised about the rain garden and cistern pump. Ira offered to fix the broken bench slat near the playground (thank you, Ira!)

The music fest/flea market was called on account of tricky weather. We’re discussing re-scheduling, but the fairly full summer calendar at the park makes it difficult. In related news, the summer calendar at the park is relatively full, with 2 benefit/festival-type events scheduled for July and 2 corporate parties also in July, a dance performance series two weekends of August, and probably at least one performance night for the Fringe Festival from our regular theater troupe. That’s on top of the various community parties that are on the calendar now or will pop up through the summer.

The Farmer’s Market did start up on Saturday, along with a rogue flea market of vendors who chanced the rain (they won), and apparently a good day was had by those who were there and not at home cursing the sunny skies.

A few recent incidents – related to the contentious park rules about no off-leash dogs and no amplified music – have the park committee talking again about rule enforcement and what our policies are. No particular results or changes yet, just the ongoing conversation.

A Facebook post about a “creepy guy” hanging around the playground was followed up by Seth actually talking to him: he seems okay, actually lives in the ‘hood, and seems to have responded well to a request to not just hang around the playground staring at the kids. Even better, the community on Facebook seems to have heard the message that talking to him directly and assessing him as a human being worked as a means of control.

Everyone knows by now that someone broke the beautiful and expensive wooden gate near the playground on a recent Friday night. None of the neighbors heard or saw anything, and while there have been some calls for cameras at the park, no one has solved how such cameras would be protected in an environment where wooden gates are broken or how they would be powered without a new, expensive electrical drop. The breakage clearly indicates how the damage was done (sitting/standing on the gate while swinging it), and that the breakers intended damage at least during the second half of snapping through the 1” boards. Michelle has taken it back to her shop to estimate the cost of trying to fix it or replace it, but it will certainly be in the thousands of dollars and not soon. So. There’s that.

Related to most of the above, any ideas that anyone has about how to convey rules/policies/pleas for volunteers to park users – short of plastering the park with signs and/or establishing a 24-hour patrol of the park – would be welcome. Speaking of which, many signs for the park already exist and are in the potty shed waiting for someone with time and minor tool skills to put them up.

In slightly better news, after a frustrating run of non-communication with one of our local daycares, we have been able to resolve the issue with them and things seem better. As a fortunate by-product, the “liability” letter to all the area schools/preschools that use the park actually went out this year.

Thanks to the combined efforts of Ken and Seth and some timely nudging by Jen, we have both a new controller and a new pump ordered for the cisterns and may someday have the pump running on them again just in time to water the gardens for the summer.

Thanks to Don, lawn mowing is in effect at the park, and it really does look better (at least right now). They did, however, mow the rain garden center section, leading Janet and Liz to brainstorm some about how to solve that garden area. . . our thinking at the moment is to put a raised bed in the center section (the part without shrubs) as a way to keep feet off the flowers without more paths. We have to check that such a plan won’t negatively affect the way the rain garden works. More on this later. The “edible forest” section back there is looking better than ever, I think.

Also related to the mower, a series of SNAFUs mean that the mower is still parked in the community garden. I’m working on figuring out how to make it gone forever.

One of the park’s founders, Santos Sostre (Nina’s husband) died a few weeks ago after a long illness. At the family’s request, I’d like to put a bench dedicated to him under the pawlonia trees (where his “pig pit” bbq area used to be).

In more good news, I met the man who bought the “American Street” houses that face onto the park, and he is not only an actual Northern Liberties resident but also a nice guy who is interested in really being involved and helping out with the park. Step one of involvement is that we are going to try to partner with him in getting Schectman Tree out to deal with pawlonia trimming – one large trunk is basically dead and needs removal and many branches are hitting the houses. A single trip by the company means half the cost for us each, so it’s a good thing.

City Harvest is going very well this year, with lots of support from new gardeners, especially in the Laurel Street annex garden. Yay.

Probably because of all the rain, it’s been a sinkhole-prone spring at the park. The one in the community garden right by the southwestern gate reopened – because we’ve dug that one out before and the gardener there, Jason, was part of that effort, he was confident that it could safely be stuffed with debris to re-fill. There is a new one in the park proper, just west of the council circle (near one of the smaller, newer crabapples) that Chico filled last weekend. We need to keep an eye on that one to see if it grows.

PHS is still working on scheduling for the renovation of the brick path that runs east-west through the southern section of the park. This is a funded project they’ll handle entirely – they hire the contractors, make arrangements, and get it done, through a granting program called “Legacy Landscapes. I met with the contractor and Eileen Gallagher from PHS a few weeks ago to discuss it. The renovation will keep the existing bricks as part of the path, but re-lay them so that the path is smooth and use pavers to expand the path to a width of 3-4 feet so that it can accommodate a double stroller or two people passing. The new path will curve north at the eastern edge to join up with the old gravel “road” so that it doesn’t just weirdly end in a mass of tree roots (and its path will cross the concrete from the old sign board, so that will go away as part of the project). At the western edge, it will curve through part of the existing garden in a way that will (fingers crossed) eliminate the puddle-at-the-foot-of-the-path issue that exists any time there’s water. This is a pretty major improvement in terms of increasing accessibility to the park for anyone with stability issues (the young, the old, the disabled, the drunk. . .), and other than the fact that it makes it easier for the drunk, and it will be much more attractive for kids on bikes to fly through the park, it’s going to be great.

Finally, the situation of early spring in which all the core members of the Liberty Lands committee are extra busy this year continues to be true – any additional help anyone would like to offer is dearly appreciated. If you can’t make it to meetings, some ones of us are generally at the park for Weeder’s Club on Saturday mornings from 9-11. Bring your ideas or your abilities – we can put them to work.

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

Motion: By Barbara Saverino, seconded by Monika Kreidie. “To ratify the recommendations of the Zoning Committee in the matter of 936,938, 940 N. Leithgow Street; i.e.: ‘We support the proposal as presented; please provide drawings with dimensions and materials and refusal that agrees with the presentation.’”  Passed 11-0-0

Motion: By Chris Somers, seconded by Monika Kreidie. “To ratify the recommendations of the Zoning Committee in the matter of 912 N. American Street; i.e.: ‘Based on the presentation as explained, we support this change contingent upon review of final drawings provided to the Chair and Co-Chair.’”  Passed 11-0-0

Motion: By Chris Somers, seconded by Monika Kreidie. “To ratify the recommendations of the Zoning Committee in the matter of 958 N. American Street; i.e.: ‘We cannot support the request for a variance for the carport as presented. There were serious concerns that the wholesale liquor storage use at this residential property could become a problem for nearby neighbors and extremely difficult to control if it expanded. Therefore, we oppose this use request.’”  Passed 11-0-0

Motion: By Janet Finegar, seconded by Jeremy Lindemann. “To ratify the recommendations of the Zoning Committee in the matter of 928 N. Leithgow St.; i.e.: ‘We reject the proposal as presented. A better house would be built on this small lot if it were built by right.’”  Passed 11-0-0

Motion: By Barbara Saverino, seconded by Monika Kreidie. “To ratify the recommendations of the Zoning Committee in the matter of 631 N. 2nd Street; i.e.: ‘We support the variance with the following provisos: 1) Open hours not to be earlier than 6 a.m. or later than 9 p.m.; 2) Trash receptacle to be maintained outside the entrance and stored in the building when the café is closed; 3) All café trash and recycling to be stored inside the building or in the rear yard, and picked up on Hancock after 7 a.m.; 4) Maximum seating 10 seats inside, two tables outside; 5) Signage to meet code requirements and not be internally illuminated; 6) Hood vent ductwork must not be on the front of the building.’”  Passed 11-0-0

The meeting was adjourned by acclaim at 8:12 p.m.

Addenda

Zoning Committee Meeting Monday 5/24/16

Present: Larry Freedman (chair), Anthony Bottenfield, Melissa Magness, Chris Isaacson, Joe Mikuliak, Jonathan Sher, Ira Upin.

Absent: Charlie Abdo, Kenny Grono, Sharon Richman, Michael Simons, Abbey Spector

936,938, 940 N. Leithgow Street – RSA5 – Nino Cutrufello – A return visit with a proposal for 3 single-family dwellings with no parking. Changes: removed parking spot on St. John Neumann Way which will now be a new yard for adjacent property; they will secure rear wall; 5 ft. yards in rear of all 3.  940 and 938 – unchanged from last presentation
Motion: (Joe) – 2 nd (Jonathan Sher) Vote: 5-0-1 (Melissa abstained because she missed part of the presentation: Support as presented; provide drawings with dimensions and materials and refusal that agrees with the presentation.

912 N. American Street – RSA5 – Steven Weisz – Proposal for a second floor addition with roof deck – refused for open space. – Refusal is for open space – only received refusal because they are applying for a change – requires 30%, proposal is 22%  – Not changing footprint; not changing backyard   Zoning Hearing scheduled for 6/22/2016.  Discussion: Concern that we don’t have stamped drawings; we need the drawings that will be presented at the ZBA before the hearing
Motion: (Ira) – 2nd (Melissa) Vote: 6-0:  Based on presentation as explained, we support change based upon review of final drawings provided to the Chair and Co-Chair.

958 N. American Street – RSA5 – Matt Monroe, Esquire; Jonathan Reed, Owner, Russell Mahoney, Design/Builder – Proposal for a single family dwelling. Refusals for carport parking, open space, rear yard setback, and use registration for storage or imported spirits and wholesale sales (updated refusal). Owner is requesting variances related to two issues: (1) Use – allowable use for storage of imported spirits and wholesale sales; needs an address in order to register with state and federal governments; and (2) Structure – owner wants to have an 8’ carport in the rear of the property.   Discussion: neighbors concern about Use Issue: how to limit deliveries; bringing down value of surrounding homes; limiting deliveries because of blocking streets; zoning variance staying with the property; whether the PLCB would require certain things like parking, signage, security, etc.; need to know what the code says specifically about use. Neighbors concern about Structure Issue: don’t want 8’ carport while all fences and walls on surrounding properties are 6’; afraid a garage will replace the carport; Owner: Owner willing to deed restriction; willing to provide us with a deed reflecting the restrictions
Motion: (Joe) – 2nd (Jonathan) Vote: 6-0:  1) We cannot support the request for a variance for the carport as presented. 2) There were serious concerns regarding the liquor storage wholesale use at this residential property. We fear it could become a problem for nearby neighbors and difficult to enforce. Therefore, we oppose this use request.

928 N. Leithgow St. – RSA5 Ed Fink, architect for the project – A proposal for a single-family dwelling. (Refusal for front street parking, open area, rear yard depth, and height). Ed Fink said that a five feet deep yard should not trigger a refusal because the lot is under 45 feet deep. Also, that the height is less than 9 inches above the 38 feet requirement. About six neighbors were present. The lot is 40 feet deep by 15 feet wide but this was disputed by neighbors who said it was even smaller. They also spoke against the garage front and height. Eyes on the street was mentioned and how the garage dominates the street level façade.
Motion by Anthony B. 2nd by Joe M.: To reject the proposal as presented. A better house would be built on this small lot if it was built by right.   Passed 5-0

631 N. 2nd Street CMX 2.5 Jordan Rushie, lawyer for the proprietors. A proposal for a take-out restaurant with seating on the first floor – special exception. The restaurant would be a coffee shop with a French Bakery, “The Kettle Black.” Jordan introduced the two proprietors, Claire Ogilvie and Marc Basilz. They said the hours would be 7 AM to 6 PM, 7 days a week, no alcohol would be served, trash (and recycling?) would be picked up daily from the rear of the building on Hancock. They also are planning to have two tables on the 2nd street sidewalk. Baking would be done on premises and vented to the rear.
Motion by Ira U. 2 nd by Joe M.: To support the variance with the following provisos: 1. Open hours not to be earlier than 6 AM or later than 9 PM.  2. Trash receptacle to be maintained outside the entrance and stored in the building when the café is closed. 3. All café trash and recycling to be stored inside the building and picked up on Hancock after 7 AM.  4. Maximum seating 10 seats inside, two tables outside. 5. Signage to meet code requirements and not be internally illuminated.  Passed 4-0