Status of the Banneker Center

The Near West Side Neighborhood Association normally meets every third Tuesday evening at 7:00 in the first floor kitchen at the Banneker Community Center, 930 W 7th St. Like most public facilities, the Banneker Center closed because of the COVID-19 crisis. Today, we received this update from Erik Pearson, Program/Facility Coordinator at the Banneker Center:

  • At this time, Banneker will be utilized for three COVID-19 related programs: 1) Food and donation storage and disbursement on the third floor organized by Boys and Girls Club. 2) Mask making in the gym. 3) Banneker Camp On-the-Go in the kitchen space. The latter is our altered version of our normal summer camp. We will be delivering meals and activity packets to 100 youth each week beginning Monday June 1. 
  • Over the last several weeks Banneker has been thoroughly sanitized per the CDC and Health Department guidelines. In addition, renovations have continued. All new furniture is located throughout the building. Commercial refrigerators, freezers and a warming oven has been installed. Most recently, the gym is being prepared for the projector and screen that will be installed shortly. There are still kitchen cabinets and counters to be installed throughout the building, but we are moving along. 
  • Public meetings taking place at Banneker are not likely to return until August, although things could certainly change. If they do I will be sure to reach out. 

NWSNA meetings will be via Zoom until the Banneker Center becomes available again. The next meeting is Tuesday, June 16; watch the community mailing list, the neighborhood Facebook group, Nextdoor and this site for a meeting link.

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Minutes of May 19 NWSNA Meeting

Near West Side Neighborhood Association

Minutes of the May 19, 2020 Zoom Meeting

The virtual meeting was facilitated by Olivia Dorfman and began at 7:00 p.m. After a brief introductory primer on the basic functions of the Zoom platform, president Alan Balkema assumed the role of chairman.

Virtually present were: Alan Balkema, Bill Baus, Sheri Benham, Sandi Clothier, Peter and Olivia Dorfman, Karen Duffy, Natalia Galvan, Christopher Harrell, Megan Hutchinson, Joe Neukam, and Vernon and Cheryl Sweeney.

The only item on the agenda was the election of officers for the next year. Four volunteers had stepped forward to fill the four positions: Peter Dorfman for president, Alan Balkema for VP, Bill Baus for treasurer and Jennifer Ryan for secretary. Alan asked meeting attendees if anyone wanted to throw their hat into the ring to contest any of the positions. No one volunteered. The question was put to a vote, and the slate of candidates was elected.

The executive board of the NWSNA through May of 2021 are:

  • Peter Dorfman – president
  • Alan Balkema – vice president
  • Bill Baus – treasurer
  • Jennifer Ryan – secretary

Bill gave the Treasurer’s report; we have $351.74 in the bank, plus $110.50 in recently received dues to be deposited, for a total of $462.24.

Sandi reported on information from a recent Council of Neighborhood Associations meeting. The city has chosen a firm to manage the redevelopment of the hospital site, and that there will be future meetings connected with this. Also, MC-IRIS, the Monroe County Invasive Species control group will present at the July 14th meeting of CONA.

A brief discussion followed about moving forward. We projected that the June meeting would probably also be virtual. Stay tuned for more info on that.

The meeting adjourned at 7:30.

After the official meeting had ended, several attendees had an informal conversation. We discussed exploring ways to make sure we reach everyone in the neighborhood, particularly those who aren’t on Facebook or the Listserv. We also discussed how we might help people in the neighborhood who have been impacted by the pandemic get connected with City programs and social services they might need. Peter suggested we might invite a member of the City government to address our June meeting.

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NWSN Association Minutes February

Near West Side Neighborhood Association Meeting Minutes February 18, 2020

Introductions: Fiona Taggart (secretary), Vernon Sweeney, Cheryl Sweeney, Olivia Dorfman, Alan Balkema (president), Bill Baus (treasurer), BJ Ferrand, Joe Neukam, Karlyn Grise, Robert Grise, Sheri Benham, Sita Cohen, Tom Payne, Jodie Payne,  Angela Van Rooy, Jean Graham, Karen Duffy, Michelle Henderson, Rob Henderson

Kate Rosenbarger: City Council Representative, lives in Prospect Hill

Angela Van Rooy: new Program Manager for Bloomington neighborhood associations

Neighborhood Cleanup Grant: Did the event 2 years ago in April and it was a huge success. The City provided a wood chipper, recycling, trash, they took hazard waste, tires, and scrap metal basically anything households didn’t want.

Neighborhood would like to do it again. Angela explained it will be more competitive this year because they will only do three neighborhoods and five have written letters of intent so far. If selected NWSN would like to do May 2nd. March 9th application deadline. Alan volunteered to write letter of intent and to do the first draft of application.

Other small neighborhood grants available (Simple grants for $500). When/If become a full historic district interest expressed to have street sign toppers to indicate historic neighborhood, the green signs that go on top of the street signs.

Treasury report: $354.24

Conservation District Update:

Olivia updated group on conservation district. The group met with Conner and NWSN and they are using Maple Heights and Prospect Heights guidelines as a sample. The committee was able to get ½ way through the first draft. They are meeting with the planning commission so conservation district guidelines fit with UDO and the two aren’t contradicting each other. They committee is happy with the progress.

Thursday night is the Bloomington Restoration Annual Meeting in the Fountain Square Ballroom. They give an award for Preservation Activism and NWSN will receive an award for work they did in becoming a conservation district. The award is a brick with a plaque on it. The Annual meeting has a membership meeting which is open 6:45pm and at 7:15 is keynote lecture on “Perplexing Zoning in Duplexes, Triplexes, and Quadplexes, and Past and Present Density in Core Neighborhoods.” The lecture will be shown on CATs as well.

Kate Rosenbarger our City Council member: Shared where city is in process for the 2nd St. Hospital site and mayor’s proposed Economic Development tax he’s calling a climate tax.

  • In the last few months the city has met with five different developers about proposals and big picture ideas for hospital site. The mayor’s team will pick final one.
    • All of the companies are pro-environment and have strong public engagement components and would have a local person on the team and someone who knows our neighborhoods. The city would like to develop site into a place people want to visit and live and are hoping it will be a sustainable energy district. They want a mix of standard residential housing, office space and retail. Will likely start public engagement after spring break.
  • In the mayor’s inauguration speech Mayor Hamilton talked about a ½ a percent (0.5%) income tax, so a house hold making $50,000 would be taxed an additional $450 a year. He would like to spend the money on something climate related and make our city a model city in the Midwest. Some ideas include extending the city bus service on the weekends, and more frequent buses in general. They’ve also talked about make making bus free which other cities have done. The Bloomington bus service costs $8 million a year and generates about $600,000.
    • The city and county can’t necessarily ear mark the fund for specific things they can approve or deny budget. The city and county would have two separate pots of money from the tax.
    • It’s an Economic Development Tax but Mayor called is calling it a climate change tax.
    • Monroe is one of the lowest taxing counties in the state.
    • County needs jail so possible that tax could be used on that.
    • The tax would come out of each paycheck.
    • The City does have trust and transparency problems that they’re working on.
  • Constituent Meeting: Tuesday Feb 25 6pm Hooker Room City (RM #245) 1 hour to meet with Kate Rosenbarger.
  • Kate contact information (o:) 812.349.3409
  • Comment neighborhood: Flashing lights to cross Rogers at 6th Kate will look into it she thinks the City probably put the ones in at 4th and Rogers and was not a neighborhood grant.

Alan highlighted Herald Times article from Feb 12th  titled “Helping Nature Thrive” reporting on Monroe County Identify and Remove Invasive Species (MC-IRIS) efforts to enlist neighborhoods in the control of invasive species. MC_IRIS will host workshops on March 21 from 1-4 at Karst Farm Park and March 27 from 12-3 at Ivy Tech and has toolkits available to assist in their 2020 goal to “Take control of Asian bush honeysuckle.” More info at

Postcard came in the mail: “Notice of Public Hearing to Adopt a Replacement Zoning Ordinance” March 9th  5:30PM  Council Chambers. Many from neighborhood vocal about not wanting plexes, the meeting is about mapping zones and is the process to formalize the map.

NWSNA dues of $5 per household are due in April.

The Citizen’s Academy is free Every Thursday August27-October 22, 2020 6pm -8pm, registration deadline July 6th.

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NWSN Association Minutes January 21, 2020

Near West Side Neighborhood Association Meeting Minutes January 21, 2020

7:03 Meeting called to order and introductions followed: Fiona Taggart (secretary), Vernon Sweeney, Cheryl Sweeney, Peter Dorfman, Olivia Dorfman, Sandi Clothier, Alan Balkema (president), Bill Baus (treasurer), Jenny Stephens, Charles Reifsnyder, Karen Duffy, Michelle Henderson, Rob Henderson, and

Conor Herterich, City Historic Preservation Manager and NWSNA resident who has been working with the previous Historic Committee in the process that led to the neighborhood vote, and (later)

Jennifer Perry, Banneker Center Outreach specialist.

Only agenda item is to form two committees: 1. Guidelines Committee and 2. The Design Review Committee

  • In December 2019 the Bloomington City Council unanimously approved the Near West Side Neighborhood Association’s application to became a Conservation District.
    • This is a three year designation after which there will be a vote to become full historic or remain a conservation district.
    • The Guidelines Committee must develop guidelines for new construction in the district.
    • The Design Review Committee must review applications for demolition and new construction in the district.
    • Anyone from the neighborhood can join and participate in one or both committees.
    • The guidelines only apply to:
      • new structure construction (building a house or detached garage etc.)
      • full demolitions (tearing down an entire structure)
      • Moving a structure
    • Conservation District guidelines do not include guidelines for partial demolitions (less than 51% of a structure being demolished), or altering of a structure.
  • Conservation District Review Committee: They receive from city staff the application for the proposed demolition, new construction, or moving of a structure and the committee comes up with a recommendation to the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC). This is an ongoing commitment.
    • Connor prepares the materials for the committee to review (no more than two weeks before the City decision meeting)
    • Applications fluctuate through the year but it’s an ongoing committee.
    • Need to set up process for committee to operate. Do they have to meet in person or is email fine? What the minimum number of members etc.
  • Conservation District Design Guidelines Committee: Creates design guidelines. This committee will write the guidelines and then dissolve.
    • Connor can be of assistance to vet and insure correct and also that it aligns with the UDO.
    • Current volunteers for the committee are Alan, Bill, Jenny,  BJ, Sandy, Michelle, Nate, Olivia and are open to more participation.


  • Decided to form one committee to work on Guidelines with the expectation that as applications for demolitions or new construction come in, some members of the Guidelines Committee will assume responsibility to review those applications.
  • Discussion of committee meeting times. Decided that starting in February the meetings will take place on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month until the Guidelines are submitted to the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) for approval. Asked Conor to reserve meeting space in city hall on Feb 4th 5:30pm and at same time on subsequent 1st Tuesdays for the future. The 3rd Tuesday meetings will take place in the Banneker Center kitchen starting at 6, an hour before the regular NWSNA monthly meeting. The next meeting is Tuesday Feb 18th at 6 pm.
  • At the first Guidelines Committee meeting Conor will have edited out of the current draft guidelines those sections that discuss façade renovations and other technical flaws.
  • Members will have access to documents on Google Docs. Members will be able to review and edit documents in folder that includes guidelines from other neighborhoods to use as examples.
  • We anticipate that the experiences of the Maple Heights Conservancy District, coming to fruition after a year of effort, will serve as examples.
  • Regarding applications requiring design review: With other neighborhoods Connor gets responses via emails from the review committee and he’s not sure if they meet in person.
    • He has neighborhoods that only have two people on the review committee and he doesn’t recommend that few. He’s also gotten five separate emails from different people rather than one email from the review committee and that is also not ideal.
  • The HPC has received three demolition applications (two 9th properties and one on Kirkwood) since the City Council approved our district.
  • The Guidelines will focus on properties listed in survey as contributing or a higher classification.
  • Guidelines need to align with UDO, zoning restrictions and National Trust for Historic Preservation regulations.
  • Need to keep in mind Kirkwood Corridor is part of our neighborhood and operates under different restrictions.
  • Until our guidelines are completed the HPC must adapt to standards in other historic district.

Jennifer Perry: Banneker Center Outreach specialist, introduced herself and asked if the Banneker Center could do anything to support the neighborhood:

  • The garden needs work and there’s a grant from the city available. There was talk about moving it to the front of the building so it would be more visible and have more sun but this growing season it will remain where it is. A program with Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard involves preschoolers working on it, and in the past they’ve talked about a teen program to work in there more often.
  • The Center’s immediate focus is planning to use a grant from the Regional Opportunities Initiative to renovate the center starting in March during Spring Break. The mechanicals in the building will be upgraded and modernized to make the building more functional.
  • They will host the annual block party on July 24 from 5-8 pm, a community event and everyone welcome. They grill out and have a bounce house and talent show. Would like to have more informational booths at the block party as well. Volunteers always welcome.
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Minutes from Nov 19, 2019 NWSN Association Meeting

NWSN Association Minutes Nov 19, 2019

Attendees: Fiona Taggart, Vernon Sweeney, Cherye Sweeney, Olivia Dorfman, Alan Balkema, Bill Baus, Jean Graham, Michelle Henderson

Treasury report: $354

City council scheduled vote on Conservation district is Dec 4th

December 5th Conservation District Celebration: intended for everyone on committee, or who spoke at public meeting. Plan to have at Crazy Horse: Michelle seeing if room available

Discussion about UDO amendments and City Council and updates:

  • Several neighbors spoke in opposition to proposed amendments to densify core neighborhoods
  • Worst amendment saying build whatever you want withdrawn.
  •  Others allowing duplexes and triplexes anywhere on corner lots voted down
  • Comments made that Bloomington is densifying there are many apartments and our neighborhood has a healthy density.
  • At meeting only allowed 1 minute to speak.

ADU (Accessory Dueling Unit e.g. garage apartments, in-law house etc.) need to go to neighborhood association meeting for approval.

  • Short discussion on how city could help home owners build ADUs: special loans, affordable pre fab houses etc.
  • ADU proposed changed to increase allowed size.
  • Must be owner occupied.

Invite new in January council member Kate Rosenberger to January meeting

Holiday Party: Pot Luck December 17th

Bill Baus Hosting at his home 6:30 PM

City will print flyers intending to go door to door with flyers.

Banneker Community Center received grant to enhance facility for $199,600. Will use Grant to change rooms to make the building more functional.

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Minutes of September 17 NWSNA Meeting

Present: Rocky Festa, Jean Graham, Bradi Heaberlin, Bill Baus, Alan Balkema, Beth Ellis, Tamera Theodore, Fiona Taggart, Nate Johnson, Olivia Dorfman, Peter Dorfman, Sheri Benham, Bob Grise, Karlyn Grise, Cheryl Sweeney, Karen Duffy, Vernon Sweeney

Meeting minutes by Fiona Taggart.

Speaker Kirste Lindberg from city of Bloomington to talk about storm drains

  • There are many through out the city including on properties.
  • Adopt a drain program. Become a steward. Storm Drains can have issues with blooms and sometimes grass clippings and leaves cause problem which reduce water quality and increase chance flooding.
  • There’s a grant available in January for Green Storm Water.
  • Comments from group:
    • Grates that are in the green area between road and side walk, also a good idea to make sure are clear.
    • Water ponds contribute to mosquito issues.
    • Part of the mosquito problem old sewer system is ideal mosquito nursery-an issue that can’t really be solved.
  • Leaf clean up, leaves should be in between road and side walk as close to curb as possible but not in the street.
  • Information for the storm water plan and fall leaves can be found on City of Bloomington website

Treasurers report $301.79

Bradi Heaberlin: Bloomington Co-op progress

  • Summary of Co-op
    • 501c3 non profit
    • Communal and affordable living.
    • Plan to buy and renovate 921 9th -7000 square ft building still working on project.
  • Where currently are in the process:
    • Coop still getting the use variance and bids for renovation.
    • Co-op is about 6 weeks from final offer.
  • UDO: cannot speak for co-op, but individually: UDO affordable housing still scale up alternative that’s not as affordable as something like the co-op
  • If people interested in being involved- there will be openings to let people help-every hour of volunteer work makes the housing project more affordable.
  • The city definition of Co-op different than Bloomington Co-op, and the only co-op in town doesn’t fit the city’s current definition.
  • bloomingtoncoop@gmail to contact Bradi.

Alan meeting with Shray regarding the building

  • Alan got a phone call from someone named Shray and met him at the property 921 W 9th St property (the one the co-op is planning on buying) and Shray had the keys to the house.
  • Shray explained his company does high end corporate short term rentals.
  • Alan said the neighborhood not zoned for that purpose.
  • Alan showed him around town and found out he owned another property at 501 W Rogers.
  • Shray wanted to meet with the neighborhood, which Alan tried to make happen, but then never heard from Shray again.

NWS Historic Designation committee

  • Submitted application for NWS Conservation District on September 16.
  • District includes 324 properties, nearly three-quarters of which were rated as having historic value of Contributing or higher.
  • The application includes a 47-page photo appendix. Thanks to Christine Lovelace for formatting the photos and captions.
  • Committee was surprised how old houses are on 6th
  • At its September 26th meeting, the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) will approve or reject neighborhood committee’s application. The City mailed notification of the meeting to NWS property owners. Neighborhood attendance at HPC meeting optional but appreciated. If HPC approves application,City Council will vote on whether Conservation District is approved. Neighborhood attendance at City Council meeting will be important

[Update: HPC did approve the application and forwarded it to City Council with recommendation to approve. Date for City Council hearing has not yet been set.]

 UDO Concerns

  • Public comment periods nearing an end on UDO. Next phase is City Council process to revise the final document and then approve it.
  • Housing complex for students update: made building smaller and it was approved.
  • Group discussion about concern for people currently living at (to be demolished) Motel 6.
  • UDO planning commission going to recommend duplexes and triplexes as conditional use in the core neighborhoods. This will be reviewed by City Council and more public comments may be necessary.
  • Concern developers move quickly.
  • Historic designation makes it harder to demolish structures, would like to see less demolition.

Proposed Neighborhood Initiative on weed removal.

  • If interest from neighborhood, start an initiative for weed removal. Maybe get Duke Energy involved. Are grants available for hauling away the yard waste? Comments that Duke doesn’t gently trim.
  • People have invasive plants.
    • Ttalk to people about winter creeper climbing & eventually killing trees.
    • Hhoneysuckle fine before is starts fruiting, important to remove berries.
    • Poison ivy growing into sidewalk 7th has a spot so does Fairview.
    • Comment don’t use Round Up- causing cancer.

Other discussions

  • Meeting about Adams St. physically protected bike lane September 23 6pm City Council chambers.
  • Plan to extend B-line past Adams
    • You’d be able to bike to YMCA.
  • Head stone restoration work shot this Saturday (9/22) Rosewood cemetery also dedicate refurbished archway.
  • Discussion dog owner not picking up after pets.
    • City has signs, can we get some signs or bags. City signs look official.
    • Contact animal control.
    • Sophia following up about city signs.
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Minutes of June 18, 2019 NWSNA Meeting

Near West Side Neighborhood Meeting Minutes- June 18 2019

Present: Peter Dorfman, Olivia Dorfman, , Joe Neukam, Karen Duffy, Alan Balkema, Vernon Sweeny, Rocky Festa, Jean Graham,  Fiona Taggart

Melanie Venslage- Harm Reduction Educator Monroe County Health Department

Secretary Election: Fiona Taggart as secretary for 1 year

Treasurers Report: Bank account remains the same since big surge last month

Presentation by Melanie Vekman- Monroe County Health Department

Harm reduction educator here to talk about syringe disposal

  • What to do if you find sharps?
    • You can get a sharps container from the Health Department to dispose
    • You can put the syringe in a puncture proof container (such as laundry detergent bottle) and put in trash
    • You can call 1-812-567-2337(Indiana Recovery Alliance) or the Health Department
    • There’s a sharps container at the Butler Community Garden as well
    • Interactive map on public disposal option
  • Question if step sharp what to do? Answer: go to physician to be assessed they can do rapid anti body test and can test viral load
  • According to CDC no HIV has been transmitted to community via found syringe. HIV fragile virus doesn’t survive long, Hep C more robust
  • Syringe exchange service program provide clean syringe and place to dispose
  • If in exchange program and found with a syringe individual won’t be prosecuted Member are giving a card with a volunteer code to show police.
  • Other services can do naloxone training if someone would like it.

 Historic Designation Committee Report: provided by Olivia Dorfman

Over the last six months, the NWS Historic Designation Committee held public meetings in February and April, and assembled  information (including videos and PowerPoint presentations from the public  meetings) on the webpage  Now the Committee is preparing for the Final Public Meeting: June 28, 7 pm, Council Chambers, City Hall, 401 N. Morton St.

Using the property owner address list provided by the City, yesterday (June 17) we mailed a postcard to Near West Side property owners that announces the upcoming meeting and vote.  Today, we also posted a Facebook event about the meeting, and an announcement on the Listserv. A letter to the Herald Times has been submitted.

At the June 28 Public Meeting, we will present a recap of the prior public meetings, followed by a Town Hall style community discussion.  The meeting is an opportunity to build community, ask questions, and register preferences: “in favor of” or “against” Local Designation and, if the majority vote “in favor of,” for which district type (Full Historic or Conservation).

The purpose of this vote is to determine if there is support in our neighborhood for submitting an application to the City for some form of Local Designation.  Please note: Applying does not guarantee that Designation will be granted.

At the final Public Meeting, we will distribute a voting information letter including the ballot and e-voting instructions.  After the discussion, we will begin collecting votes from neighborhood property owners.

Following the final Public Meeting, we will mail the voting information letter to neighborhood property owners who did not attend the meeting.  Any Near West Side property owner who does not attend the meeting should look to receive the voting information letter by July 8, and should contact the committee at  if they do not receive their letter.  Voting will continue through July 31.

Historic Designation Discussion

  • Name on the deed is who gets to vote, so if two names on deed both get to vote. Each person only vote one time, even if own multiple houses.
  • Do not have to pay dues to vote
  • People count as votes not the building, because that’s how the city does it
  • 12 neighborhoods gone historic
  • No other group has tried to do it as democratic as NWS
  • talk it up and encourage people to come to final public meeting June 28, 7pm Council Chambers, City Hall, 401 N Morton St.

Picnic Social Gathering

  • August 18th 4-6 PM
  • Alan will book shelter
  • Announce list serve and Facebook
  • July meeting Tuesday 16th Send list who brings what

Other Items

  • Jean and Alan did neighborhood day at farmers market. Alan showed 8am got shady spot
  • Vicky Provine liaison all association she’s retiring at end of year

The meeting was adjourned before 8 pm.

Minutes submitted by Fiona Taggart, Secretary NWS Neighborhood Association

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Final Public Meeting: NWS Historic Designation Committee

The NWS Historic Designation Committee is preparing for its Final Public Meeting: June 28, 7 pm, Council Chambers, City Hall, 401 N. Morton St.

Beginning at this June 28 public meeting, the committee will be conducting a vote among property owners to gauge the level of support for submitting an application to the City for Local Designation as either a Conservation District or a Full Historic District.

The committee held public meetings in February and April, and assembled  information about what  Local Designation might mean for the Near West Side. This information (including videos and PowerPoint presentations from the public  meetings) is on the webpage

This Town Hall-style meeting is a special opportunity to build community, ask questions, and vote. Voting begins at the meeting, and continues via mail or online through July 31. Property owners not in attendance will receive mailed voting information. If not received by July 8, contact

Using the property owner address list provided by the City, on June 17 a postcard was mailed to Near West Side property owners announcing  the upcoming meeting and vote.  If you are a property owner on the Near West Side and do not receive this postcard, please send an email with your name, your NWS property address, and your correct mailing address to:

Look for a Facebook event post on the Near Westside Neighbors – Bloomington Facebook group page, and an upcoming letter in the Herald-Times.

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Minutes of May 21, 2019 NWSNA Meeting

Near West Side Neighborhood Association Meeting Minutes – May 21, 2019


Alan Balkema, Sandi Clothier, Olivia Dorfman, Vernon Sweeney, Cheryl Sweeney, Michelle Henderson, Jean Graham, Rocky Festa, Peter Dorfman, Zandro Pleimann, Bradi Heaberlin, Geri Cowell, Tim Clougher, David Walter

The meeting was held in the kitchen of the Banneker Center. Alan Balkema called the meeting to order at 7:05 pm and began by asking for introductions from those present.

Treasurer’s Report –

Treasurer Bill Baus was not present, however he told Alan that we have $662. in our bank account and twenty members of the Neighborhood Association who have paid their dues.

Call for Candidates and Election of NWSNA Officers –

Alan said that he would run for another term as President.  Sandi Clothier said she would not run for another term as Vice President.  Bill Baus told Alan that he would run for another term as Treasurer.  Olivia Dorfman said she would not run for another term as Secretary because she is busy with Historic Designation activities.  Alan asked those present if there were any new candidates for any of the offices, and there were none.  Michelle moved that Alan be reelected as President, someone seconded it and all in favor said, “Aye.” There were no “Nays.” Alan was reelected as  President.  Alan moved that we continue with Bill Baus as Treasurer and Michelle seconded it.  All in favor said, “Aye,” and there were no “Nays.”  Bill was reelected as Treasurer.

Geri asked what the Vice President’s duties are and Alan explained that the Vice President runs the meeting if the President can’t make it.  Also, the Vice President attends the Association meetings and has a vote on the Board.

Since there were no candidates for Vice President, the office remains open.

Since there were no candidates for Secretary, there was a discussion about how we could handle not having a Secretary. Rocky suggested that perhaps the NWSNA should not meet as often.  Peter disagreed and said that would diminish the association.  It was suggested that the duty of taking minutes could rotate. Sandi said the rotating secretarial role could follow Robert’s Rules of Order and only record the group’s actions, rather than a narrative.  Cheryl said that members should have the right not to take a turn at keeping the minutes.  Alan moved that the Secretary office would rotate, with members having the right to decline. Olivia said she would continue to post meeting minutes and she would still be contributing to the website in connection with the Historic Designation Committee.  Olivia also said she should probably become an At-Large member of the Board since she, like Karen, Chairs a committee, but this was not formally voted on.

Request to Build Garage at 9th & John St. –

Zandro Pliemann presented his plan to build at garage behind his forthcoming residence. the garage would have an apartment above it.  Construction will begin in August.  Local high school building trades students will gain hands-on job skills by working on this project.

Fairview United Methodist Church Student Center and Residence –

Dave Walter spoke as a representative of Fairview United Methodist Church about their plan to remodel a portion of the church as a Wesley Foundation Living Learning Center.  This is in response to declining membership in the church, which will likely be closing at some point in the future. The residence would house 4 – 8 university students who are interested in the mission of the church and who would do student ministry work within the university and the community. The church needs variances and approvals to convert the building for housing.

Report of Bloomington Cooperative Living Project at 921 W. 9th St. –

Bradi Heaberlin reported that the Planning Commission on May 13 voted to recommend that their project should be approved by the Board of Zoning Appeals on May 23 at 5:30, which will give the final approval.  A few changes to the proposal were recommended, including the removal of some trees.  BCL also got support for having an on-site bicycle repair facility to promote use of bicycles.

Historic Designation Committee Update –

Olivia Dorfman reported that video of the April 26 Public Meeting has been added to the group’s website  Since then, Olivia and Karen Duffy have had two meetings related to the upcoming Public Meeting which will take place June 28, 7 pm, Council Chambers, City Hall. The first meeting was with Deb Hutton of Matlock Heights, who worked on her neighborhood’s designation as a Conservation district.  The second meeting was with Conor Herterich, who discussed various methods for recording the community’s level of support for historic designation.  Olivia and Karen are planning a meeting of the Historic Designation Committee in the first week of June to coordinate plans for the Public Meeting.

Questions/Comments –

Sandi reported that the Bloomington has appointed two neighborhood resource specialists who will respond to concerns, patrol neighborhoods, engage the community, check on elderly or disabled residents, and respond to nuisances, suspicious activities, or parking violations. They are not police officers, but they can alert the police if necessary. Their names are Gabriela Esquivel and Frankie Presslaff and they can be reached at (812) 339-4477

Old Business –

Alan mentioned again that the June 1 Farmers Market will have neighborhood representatives. Rocky and Jean had volunteered at the last meeting to do this, but Rocky will be unable to do so.  Alan said he would attend.

Bradi said that, if all goes as planned, BCL would like to meet with the neighbors in August or September to discuss ideas for cooperative projects between BCL and the neighborhood.

Questions/Comments –

There were no questions or comments.

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Minutes of SPECIAL NWSNA Meeting May 2, 2019 on BCL Variance Petition

At the May 2 meeting, the NWS Neighborhood Association decided to send a letter supporting Bloomington Cooperative Living’s Variance Petition for the property at 921 W. 9th St.  Minutes of that meeting follow. In some cases I was not always able to identify who asked which question. I have also abridged some of the questions and answers for clarity.  To listen to a recording of the meeting click this link: recording

The BCL Variance Petition goes before the Planning Commission on May 13 at 5:30pm.

Minutes of SPECIAL NWSNA Meeting May 2, 2019 to Discuss BCL Variance Petition

 Present:  President Alan Balkema, Vice President Sandi Clothier, Secretary Olivia Dorfman, Board Members at Large Rocky Festa and Karen Duffy. Representatives of Bloomington Cooperative Living Bradi Heaberlin and Hugh Farrell. People from the neighborhood: Vernon Sweeney, Tim Clougher, Leslie Skooglund, Jon Wunrow, Jean Graham, Karlyn Grise, Peter Dorfman, Nate Johnson, Glorianne Leck, Mark Turner, Sara Colvard, Kel McBride, Joe Neukam, Zandro Pliemann, Fiona Taggart

The meeting was held in the kitchen of the Banneker Center. Alan Balkema called the meeting to order at 5:00 pm. Alan Balkema explained the reason for the short notice in calling this meeting, i.e., that the Near West Side Neighborhood Association (NWSNA) had a very narrow time window in which to have the NWSNA response the Bloomington Cooperative Living (BCL) Variance Petition included in the packet of materials provided to the Planning Commission on May 3, ahead of their meeting with  BCL on May 13.

Representatives of BCL Bradi Heaberline and Hugh Farrell explained their involvement with the group and the nature of their organization. They described the group’s proposed project to reconfigure the structure at 921 W. 9th St. into an affordable, cooperative living house that would accommodate families as well as individuals.

Alan Balkema explained that single-family zoning is eliminated in the new Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) and that the NWSNA’s endorsement of the variance might suggest that the neighborhood supports this sort of increased density throughout the neighborhood.  He then invited discussion.

Q: In your petition you are requesting a variance for parking: what is the current restriction on parking and what would the variance on parking gain?

A: Hugh Farrell: We are asserting, based on experience, that our members tend to have fewer cars. We are planning for 2/3 of the normal parking, and we’re also planning on putting a permeable parking lot in back of the property, so we will be adding parking.

Q: Rocky Festa: So how many parking spaces are you asking for?

A:HF:  Six to eight.

Q: Were you going to ask the city to designate street parking for you or are you just talking about parking on your land behind the house?

A:  The only parking we are asking for as a designated spot is for a handicapped parking spot in front of the house to be sure that there’s access to the ramp we’ll be putting in.

Q: So you won’t have any designated spots on 9th St.?

A: HF: No. And the handicapped spot won’t be designated Co-op parking.

Comment: The parking’s really awful there with the baseball. I have a house there, and sometimes my tenants have to drive in circles because they can’t find a place to park.

Q: Peter Dorfman: That was a concern I have, and also because of Girls Inc.  In the summer time, Girls Inc. is extremely busy, so it’s not just parking, it’s also a huge amount of traffic. And as I read your petition, you have five spaces in the back and the application spells out 8 street parking permits.

A: Tim Clougher:  So there’s only permits to Maple, there aren’t permits past Maple in this direction, Maple is where it ends.  And Girls Inc., I agree that you have traffic but theirs is “drop off and go” because the girls are there during the day in the summer.  There’s also a parking lot by Butler park, which maybe in the time I’ve lived here I’ve seen full a couple of times.

Comment: Christine Lovelace: [Statement of positive support for the proposal]. I’m hoping we can all frame the conversation into identifying the things that might be hard or problematic and resolving them.

Comment:  Jon Wunrow:  The house has been a horrible eyesore and I can only imagine it will look better than it has. I hope that part of your plan is to make it look nicer because the value of all our homes goes up.

[Discussion of the history of the property]

Comment: Olivia Dorfman: Some comments in response to the message sent out on the Listserv–this comment is from Beth Ellis:  “I don’t take issue with having a local, well-managed Co-op in the neighborhood. However, I am concerned about the building…it was in terrible shape.  I am concerned that it can be made habitable, and if they do an okay but not great job with the rehab, I’m worried about who would be willing to live there.

A: HF:  We are trying to be careful structuring our petition to move in reference to the Co-op zoning designation that was made for our first owned property on Madison. So basically the City created a Co-op designation and specified that it could only be employed as a variance.  So it would not open up this neighborhood or any other to private, and especially unaffordable development. [Explanation of property owner’s previous for-profit plans. Explanation of architect and builder they are working with.  Explanation of financing.]

Q: Olivia Dorfman: BCL owns the building, so the people who live there are not true Co-op owners?

A:Bradi Heaberlin: There are Equity and Non-equity Cooperatives: In an Equity Cooperative you have a financial, long-term stake that you can put in and pull out, but in this situation this is localized, this will be here as people flow through it, people can make it a better place and stay there for as long as their membership, but it’s not an equity.

Q: What’s your requirement to live there?

A: BH: There’s a membershipping process.  People self-select and we work to make sure it’s a good fit.  We put out an open call, but we’re also wise about it.

Q: Is it adults only or are children allowed. Does the 19 include children?

A: HF: The 19 includes children.  The plan is to create suites that are family specific spaces, two bedrooms, a bath, and  a private living space.

Q:  How many suites will be in the building?

A:HF: There’s six suites.

Q: Is there a requirement for membership or will this be transient?

A: HF: Generally, one year.

Q: What happens to the building if the Co-op doesn’t work?

A: BH: We make it work.  We’ve had moments when a house is in a transition, but we know there will times when there are things we have to figure out. [Explanation of how the oversight of the Board works]

Q: How many people that are on the Board live in the Co-op?

A:  The Board is, maybe, 9 people, and all but 3 live in a Co-op.  I’m staff and I have lived in the Co-op and will live again in the fall.

Q:  What happens to this asset if the Co-op dissolves?

A:HF: If we were to collapse, the zoning would be specific to our 501 3C, so it would have to go through another zoning variance or someone would have to buy it as a single family house.

Q: I want to go visit your other properties and talk to the neighbors. I’m concerned about property values adjacent to or nearby.

A: The Madison house is surrounded by commercial properties, and the other two [which are rental properties] are close to campus and the landlord has been very happy with the relationship–he’s not receiving any complaints.

Q:  So the adjacent housing is also rental properties. This will be the first one where you’re actually going into a single family neighborhood.

A:BH:  Yes, and it will be lots of families as well.  The ones that have been close to campus have been largely students.  This one will be very intentionally family-oriented.

Q:Rocky Festa: This isn’t really a single-family neighborhood, because I live across from a triplex and we have students renting all up and down Maple St.  What about pets?  There’s cats all over this neighborhood, I don’t mean to offend anybody, and also dogs. Barking dogs can be really irritating.

A:BH: With the other houses, people in the house collectively make that decision.  Given that the 921 property is family-oriented, it will need to have guidance from the Board to answer questions such as this.

Comment: Alan Balkema: We do have to be out of here at 5:45. We have three options: be on record for this, against this, or nothing. And anyone in here has a right to show up at the Plan Commission. I would like to get a reading from the people that are here–I’m going to call this a representative sample of the neighborhood–where we are as far as this particular 921 project. I’m going to ask for a show of hands.

Q: Before we do that, Olivia, what about the comments and questions submitted from people online who couldn’t be here?

A: Olivia Dorfman: There were not a lot of questions, mostly comments, mostly positive. The one concern is that the variance will be specific to cooperative living, because people don’t want to see the building suddenly turn into a market-rate, multi-unit apartment house.

A:BH:  I just want to emphasize that we share that interest, we don’t want to see that happen.

Q: Sandi Clothier: Is there an intent to have a neighborhood group that you would work within the neighborhood if there were issues that came up?

A:BH: We would try to respond to that. We have some experience inviting people in to mediate, having the Board do a mediating role. We want to have a strong sense of being able to talk to each other. One example, we’ve been hosting community dinners at one of our houses, which allows the Co-op to interface and engage with anyone who wants to come. It’s a positive version, but we also have mediation if we need it.

Q:Sandi Clothier: One of the issues I have is how this gets used when the UDO comes up. Having spoken with the council people running for and already in office, to get a sense of whether they would consider this precedent setting for the proposal in the UDO to create duplexes on the corners. That is my only concern is how it gets applied.

A:BH: There’s something in there about living together sustainably and being affordable and based on community.  It’s not a precedent, in that we will still be fighting for affordable housing and not something that would be luxury housing, condos.

C: Peter Dorfman: Do you have an engineering assessment that this building is structurally sound?

A:HF: We’ve not gone to an engineer. [The architect and builder’s] evaluation is that the bones are solid. There will need to be an extremely serious scraping and gutting of the inside.

Alan Balkema: So we’re going to go ahead with the vote now.  Who wants the neighborhood to send a letter in favor of this?  That looks pretty much like [yes].

Olivia Dorfman: But this does not mean that we will not go to the meeting with public comments to make sure the City follows your intention that this will be affordable cooperative living.

Rocky Festa: Do we have enough Board members here to do a motion?  I move that we write a letter in favor.

[Unclear]: I second it.

The motion passed. Rocky Festa agreed to write the letter to the Planning Commission. The meeting adjourned at 5:45.

Submitted by Olivia Dorfman

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