ESENT: Matt Ruben, President; Barbara Mulckhuyse, Vice-President; Steve Richman, Treasurer; Janet Finegar, Secretary; Michael Coyne; Ira Upin; Monika Kreidie; Ben Mann; Joe Mikuliak; Barbara Saverino; Anne Waginger.
ABSENT: Donald Hoegg; Jeremy Lindemann; Don Phillips; Chris Somers.
The meeting was called to order by the President at 7:03 p.m.
The Zoning Committee presented Christine Furman, a neighborhood resident and an architect, as a potential new member of the Committee. Christine told the board a little about her experience and confirmed that her projects are rarely in the City so that the possibility of conflicts is small.
Motion: By Janet Finegar, seconded by Barb Mulckhuyse: “To approve Christine Furman as a member of the Zoning Committee.” Passed 10-0-0
Motion: By Anne Waginger, seconded by Monika Kriedie:“To approve the minutes of the October Board meeting as presented.” Passed 10-0-0
President’s Report: Matt Ruben: written report attached and reviewed.
Motion: By Anne Waginger, seconded by Barbara Saverino: “To make a donation of $250 to benefit Puerto Rico hurricane relief through the Crosstown Coalition.” Passed 10-0-0
Motion: By Barb Mulckhuyse, seconded by Ira Upin.“To ratify any and all Board polls taken electronically during the previous month.” Passed 10-0-0
- PLANNING, DEVELOPMENT, AND POLICY
- Construction Impacts – Nothing major or persistent at this time.
- Waterfront Issues –Stakeholder discussions continue on Mark Squilla’s Central Delaware Zoning Overlay bill, which was introduced in May and then put on hold in June based on community objections. The process has begun to drag out because of the technical challenges of coming up with legislative language that will achieve the desired goals.
- Business Improvement District (BID) – The BID’s final official public meeting was less well attended than the first one, but still well-attended with substantive discussion. The goal is to have the necessary City Council legislation introduced before year’s end, with hearings in the spring.
- Schmidt’s Commons/Piazza – It is still unclear what will happen with the ownership. But for the moment it appears Kushner/Westminster will retain its minority but operational interest, with one or more other investors purchasing Oaktree Capital’s majority stake. On a related note, the Acme shopping center has been sold to the FL-based Sterling company. And Bart/Tower has sold the 2nd St property across from the shopping center. Bart retains ownership of the gravel lot along Germantown, and the 2nd & Poplar warehouse space. He also has sold Tower’s headquarters on 3rd St, which is slated to be demolished and replaced with a small apartment building.
- FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION
- Annual Appeal – We need to get on this ASAP. We are not behind schedule yet – but we will be if we don’t have something ready to go in the next 10-14 days.
- Puerto Rico Relief Follow-up – The Philadelphia Crosstown Coalition will be making a single donation to a vetted local organization for this. Interested member-groups of the coalition have until November 30 to send checks to the Coalition. I would like a motion at our board meeting to make a specific dollar amount donation for this purpose.
- Office Management – Barb has been working with Lara to formulate a job description for Lara’s position. Barb also has suggested that Lara’s position report directly to the Vice President, a suggestion I agree with. For some time the Executive Committee has been discussing the benefits of the VP taking on operational responsibilities, and this would be a great step in that direction.
- Temple Fox School Follow-up – Lara did some looking into a CRM (customer relationship management) software package, and provisionally concluded that it would not necessarily meet our needs. I would like Operations to look further, however: If a software package serves only some of our needs, that might still constitute progress.
- EVENTS AND OUTREACH
- General Membership Meeting Nov 13 – The subject will be Historic Preservation, with two great guests leading the discussion. This will be a good one, and I urge board members to attend, and to help spread the word on social media and otherwise. We also have to discuss a request by a neighbor to video record the entire meeting.
- Board Meet-n-Greet October 19 – This was well-attended, a full house. Special thanks to Michael Coyne and the Membership Committee for making it such a success, especially in the absence of Paula Gansky, who was unable to help with this particular event.
- COMMUNICATION AND PUBLICITY
- The Facebook Group is well over 4,000 members and continues to grow rapidly. It has its fair share of drama and flare-ups, but overall is a bit more productive and balanced than it was a year or so ago.
- The email list is over 3,000, but its growth has slowed considerably, and it looks like it might be settling into a natural level of around 3.050, with new subscriptions and unsubscribes close to even. The open rate has decreased slightly, from about 30-31% to about 27-28%. However, the click-through rate (people clicking on links in the emails) has increased significantly, from about 6% to about 15-18%. I have no explanation for this, but it is interesting.
- OTHER ITEMS
- Board Polls – Ratification of any online or online board polls since last month’s board meeting.
Treasurer’s Report: Steve Richman: written report distributed and reviewed.
TREASURER’S REPORT – NOVEMBER 2017
- 2017-18 Budget
- The 2017-18 budget was adopted by the Board at the October meeting. There were no changes made by the Board to the budget that was recommended by the Finance Committee.
- The adopted budget projects approximately $160,000 in income and $160,000 in expenses in the General Fund and Liberty Lands accounts combined. In addition, the budget anticipates the availability of nearly $37,000 in prior year funds and leaves an additional $9,000 available to be programmed. A total of $15,100 is budgeted for deposit into the Reserve.
- Income and expenses recorded In October were in line with expectations. Notably, we received a $2,500 sponsorship grant from the PTSSD for the Fall Fest and the Parade of Spirits, and we made an expenditure of $2,000 for installation of our new alarm system and one year of monitoring.
- Other Items
- Capital Grant from PTSSD – Work continued on the construction of the pavilion. With the completion of the structural steel portion a 3rd progress payment to the contractor was made in October. The installation of the light gauge framing is currently underway and is expected to be finished shortly, at which time an additional progress payment will be made. A contract was executed with a roofer in October and work will commence shortly on the standing seam metal roof. A contract was also negotiated (and is expected to be signed this week) for the concrete benches and pads that will be installed. Finally, work will begin shortly by the landscaper on the wood screening.
- Accountant’s 2016-17 Financial Report and Tax Preparation – Our accountant is scheduled to start work this week on preparation of our annual Compilation Report and Tax Return.
- Report on Account Balances – The October Treasurer’s Report included a three-year statement of bank balances. Attached is an updated table reflecting activity through the close of the 2016-17 fiscal year.
Motion: By Janet Finegar, seconded by Joe Mikuliak. “To accept the Treasurer’s report as presented.” Passed 10-0-0
Liberty Lands Committee Report: Janet Finegar: written report attached and reviewed.
Liberty Lands Board Report – November 2017
- No submissions came in by the October 10 deadline for the fence project. We discussed this at the Liberty Lands meeting and decided to extend the deadline to January and make a new push to contact artists for proposals. If there are not proposals by January, we will need to reconsider the artistic panel element of the project. There continues to be enthusiasm for the sidewalk element of the project, and at the meeting we discussed a proposal to extend the sidewalk along the American/Bodine/Laurel intersection to allow nearly as much parking but still create a safer pathway for pedestrians. We will need to figure out funding for that element of the sidewalk if we choose to include that part of the project.
- There was also some discussion at the meeting about the condition of the community garden plots (a yearly issue in the late fall, when gardeners traditionally lose steam and have less time). Laura and Brian have plans for starting the process of assigning plots earlier this coming season.
- Jen reports that the Garden Hub project got a late start with the gleaning aspect of harvesting from individuals’ plots for City Harvest because of start-up issues with the tech app that is part of that project, but that a good amount of gleaning happened through the summer and that she anticipates more next season when the app to make that easier is in place. The Garden Hub gardener – Max – returned to school in September, and gleaning after that has been done at a lower rate by volunteers Leslie and Albert.
- The Philly Free Streets event on Saturday the 28th was a lovely day for the parks – lots of people who’d never seen Liberty Lands before appreciating and enjoying it, and a good day for the Farmers’ Market stalwarts who have been coming out all season despite a low level of customers.
- Unfortunately, the Fall Festival original date of Sunday the 29th was rained out, but there was beautiful weather and good attendance for the raindate on Saturday the 4th. The Festival made a lot of people happy and made a nice profit of around $1,200 for the park! Big thanks to organizers Sara, Priya, and Ellyn.
- Sadly, the fall Love Your Park workday on the 4th was barely attended, with only six people in all (including Janet, Nathalie, and Liz). We got several jobs started (moving the rocks donated by Joan Rothmund, draining the cistern, pruning the wisteria), but none of them finished.
- Jonathan Albert made new brackets and reattached the drum panel (big thanks!)
- October saw some significant Facebook conversation on the NLNeighbors page about lights and having the park open at night. The committee continues to be very sure that the park should not be open at night and that having lights would be counter-productive. As always, we are open to new volunteers and their energy and ideas, but not to doing things suggested by the community when we don’t like the idea. The most energetic voice on Facebook has said that he plans to come to a Liberty Lands meeting and we will look forward to talking with him there.
- On November 20th we will end our contract with Waste Management (as we usually do in the fall) and plan to begin with a new, local hauling company in the spring. Chico will go to taking out the trash only once a week for city hauling at the same time.
- The yearly IRS e-postcard filing for the NLAC was done on November 1 for the 2016 tax year.
- The last event of the park season is the Parade of Spirits on December 9; Janet will shut off the water line after that event.
- The next Liberty Lands steering committee meeting is Tuesday, November 14 at 7 p.m. at the community center.
Quality of Life Committee Report: Janet Finegar: written report attached and reviewed.
Quality of Life Meeting
In attendance: Brett, Michelle, Sasi, Janet, Lara
- Brett Cohen did some research on a program that would allow a lot of different people to input data about the neighborhood and thinks that Scribble Maps is the best choice because it allows sharing most easily. He posted a link to the site on the QOL Facebook page. The goal for this (or whatever platform) is to have a single map that can capture information about all the blocks in Northern Liberties but not require only one person to do all the data input. Ideally, people will put in the information about their own blocks so that no one person is doing very much (and the folks most likely to easily have the information are supplying it). The kind of data we are looking for is:
- what sort of property each address is (single family home, apartment, industrial, vacant, etc.)
- where hydrants are (and whether they are the real or old kind)
- street trees and their condition (plus empty tree pits)
- locations of newspaper boxes, storm drains, curbcuts both legal and illegal, parking restrictions and regulations, street trash cans
- problem properties and information about actions taken
- Lara has the project of painting the defunct hydrants underway: she has a list of where they are and is working on getting the necessary permits to paint them so that they aren’t confusing.
- Lara has a company that does responsible recycling of e-waste and proposes doing an e-waste collection in the spring (update: May 19 is a possible date). We are considering asking for PTSSD sponsorship of the collection to cover the cost of taking big items like TVs.
- The grant proposal for PTSSD support of our Christmas tree recycling had not yet gone in (update: Janet submitted the grant the next day). The group planned out dates and logistics for the program: trees will be collected at Liberty Lands from January 1 through the 14th, with public chipping and mass collection on the 6th of January (Saturday). We will pay someone to drive around the neighborhood that morning with a pickup truck and get trees from neighbors who can’t drag them themselves AND from the curbside. We will set it up to encourage Paypal donations from people who don’t bring their tree on the 6th. On the 15th, we will chip any trees collected in the second week as part of the Liberty Lands tree pruning. Chips will be dumped at Orianna Hill Park.
- Sasi updated us on the newspaper boxes: Clarke’s office is working on extending Center City’s ordinance regulating them so that it covers Northern Liberties as well. They have this underway and are communicating with Sasi about it.
Zoning Committee Report: Ira Upin; written report attached and reviewed.
There was significant discussion of a proposed change to the motion ratified in October regarding 157 Poplar Street.
Motion: By Barb Mulckhuyse, seconded by Steve Richman. “That the NLNA agree with the language of the letter sent to the Zoning Board of Adjustments in regard to 157 Poplar Street.” Passed 8-0-2
Barbara Saverino provided a followup to the Board regarding the Doughboy park. The statue has recently been washed and re-waxed, and a mold for the replacement parts is underway with a plan for installation in early December. There was some conversation about doing a formal re-dedication on Memorial Day 2018.
Matt reported that the 26th Police District is becoming increasingly active in its community outreach, and part of that has been a suggestion to the neighborhoods to mimic Olde Richmond’s project to cover every residential block with SafeCam registered security cameras. Olde Richmond funded their project through a PTSSD grant. Matt suggested that a project in Northern Liberties would require someone to locate all the existing cameras and get them registered and then develop a plan to fill in the gaps. Steve suggested speaking first with the organizer of the Olde Richmond project to learn how the project is going and any difficulties he’s encountered. It was agreed to ask Donald Hoegg and Jeremy Lindemann to look into it.
There was a conversation about how the NLNA and Northern Liberties in general can support the Kearny public school and encourage more local families to consider it. It was agreed that a meeting with the current principal of the school, followed by a Northern Liberties public meeting to build awareness and support.
The meeting was adjourned by acclaim at 8:56 p.m.
Zoning Committee minutes October 30th 2017
Members present: Larry Freedman, chair Joe Mikuliak recording secretary, Kenny Grono, Ira Upin, Melissa Magness
Members absent: Chris Issacson, Michael Simons, Charlie Abdo, Jonathan Sher, Abbey Spector, Sharon Richman
1) 983 North 6th Street RSA 5. Presentation by Philadelphia Zoning. Variance is to use the structure as a duplex. Applicant has an agreement of sale dependent upon zoning from single-family to duplex. Drawings of existing conditions for two units were presented. The applicant and another tenant live there now and will continue to live there. The rear yard is for use of the first-floor tenants only. Applicant presented a petition but some of the addresses were vacant properties and few were from 6th Street neighbors. 16 neighbors attended but there were no neighbors from 6th Street. I delivered 40 flyers to the block on Saturday. One person expressed the desire to have no more apartments, no more people, no more cars, and no more dogs in the neighborhood. Everyone else supported the proposed variance.
Motion by Joe M., 2nd by Ira U. To support the variance for 983 North 6th Street for use as a duplex with the following proviso: That the rear yard will be accessible to tenants of both units for storage of trash. Passed 3-1-0
The ZBA hearing is November 1 so a board poll is necessary.
2) Christine Furman requested membership on the ZC. She has already been to several ZC meetings and was interviewed by the committee. Christine lives near 3rd and Cambridge. She is an architect and is familiar with the Zoning Code. She works for a firm that designs commercial and institutional buildings. She is presently working on the design of a dormitory for a suburban university. Zoning Committee members felt Christine would be a good addition to our committee. She will attend the next board meeting to be interviewed by board members.