Minutes of June 16 NWSNA Meeting

Peter Dorfman called the meeting to order at 7:04 PM, virtually over Zoom, facilitated by Olivia Dorfman.

Olivia Dorfman, Peter Dorfman, Karen Duffy, Jenny Stephens, Bill Baus, Alan Balkema, Tom Payne, Jennifer Ryan, Cheryl Sweeney, Vernon Sweeney, Natalia Galvan, Michael Shermis, Joe Neukam, and Wylie Hoover were in attendance.

The first order of business was the introduction of the new officers:

  • President – Peter Dorfman
  • Vice President – Alan Balkema
  • Secretary – Jennifer Ryan
  • Treasurer – Bill Baus

Old business included a return to a previous initiative to contact MC-IRIS to consult about
invasive species in the neighborhood. Alan Balkema will follow up on returning to this issue which had been put on hold during the pandemic.

Treasurer’s Report: Bill Baus reported that the association has a balance of $472.24.

The association welcomed Neil Kopper, Interim Transportation & Traffic Engineer from the City of Bloomington, as a guest to discuss the current road construction at Adams and Kirkwood. The construction was planned to address a number of issues:

  • The addition of a sidewalk on the east side Adams and south side of Kirkwood near the cemetery
  • Replacing outdated traffic signal equipment
  • Addition of crosswalk on the south side of the intersection
  • Correcting the split phase of east- and westbound traffic
  • The addition of bike lanes that will be physically separated with planters from the traffic for both bike safety and storm water control

The work is expected to be completed by early August. In the meantime, there will be no sensors so the signals will be on an auto cycle.

Our second guest was Madison Silvers, from Monroe County United Ministries. MCUM is conducting a food and necessities drive to stock their self-sufficiency center. They are looking for volunteers to collect items at their homes for dropoff or for MCUM to pick up. MCUM will provide a yard sign and flyers for anyone who would like to volunteer. She can be reached at msilvers@mcum.org and more information can be found at their website mcum.org.

Peter Dorfman reported and led discussion of the progress of the Guidelines Committee, which is compiling suggested future guidelines of the Conservation District. Several topics were discussed:

  • Some current suggestions include seeking the committee’s permission to demolish a property or reconstruct more than 50% of an existing property and general guidelines for homeowners and prospective developers for how to develop in the area.
  • The aim is to guide new construction so that it “fits in” with the character of the neighborhood and “looks like it belongs here” with regard to aspects such as relative size, placement on the lot, and orientation to the street.
  • Thus far, the committee has used the guidelines from Maple Heights as a model, in addition to those of the other 12 historic districts in the city.
  • In addition, committee members including Olivia Dorfman and Karen Duffy have conducted research into what makes the NWS historically significant and special.
  • According to their research, advocating for preserving the neighborhood dates at least back to a fight against urban renewal projects in the 1970s by NWS neighbors.
  • One particular difference the NWS has from some other historic districts is the inclusion of West Kirkwood Avenue with its combination of residential and commercial property, which was addressed in a 2002 study by Rosenbarger and Cornett still being used by the committee.
  • Bill Baus offered some background on the historic district. In particular the main purpose of this district’s creation, and indeed the founding of the NWSNA is the protection of single-family housing. This history was connected to discussions currently underway in our city government.
  • The views of our current District 1 City Council Member Kate Rosenbarger expressed in a recent meeting as well as the guest opinion column recently published in the Herald Times by our former city council representative Chris Sturbaum were compared. Rosenbarger supports loosening the zoning in the NWS to include multiplexes as a way to provide more affordable housing and increase density. Sturbaum strongly advocates for preserving the character of the neighborhood by conserving current housing stock and single-family housing in general. It was noted by Peter Dorfman that not all neighbors agree on this topic.

The final agenda topic was the NWSNA website. Peter Dorfman noted some recent cleanup and several proposed changes were addressed.

  • An official Facebook group separate from the NWS Neighbors general group was proposed and thought of generally favorably.
  • Peter proposed removing the “neighborhood issues” section (or linking to reporting authorities) and the “property for sale or rent” section, since it was rarely updated.
  • There were a number of proposals for ideas to appeal to renters such as welcome information for the neighborhood and information on the website that explains that the neighborhood association is open to any resident. Peter invited specific suggestions on web site content and NWSNA initiatives of interest to the neighborhood’s renters.
  • There was discussion of making the “about” page act as home page rather than the news section.

There was a return to discussion of zoning with Wiley Hoover’s question requesting clarification about the in-between nature of Kirkwood and whether it could be developed with multi-plexes. There was more discussion of the current zoning and the city’s UDO. The history of the neighborhood has included both plexes and commercial businesses within the NWS. The current single-family housing zoning has only been in place since the 1990s. Existing plexes have been grandfathered in. Since then the NWS and other “core” neighborhoods have been zoned R3 – single family. The NWSNA board believes it is likely that a proposal will be made to make it R4 and allow new plexes. Peter Dorfman noted that it is likely more controversy will follow. It was noted that better access to information about the contribution of properties as well as map information about the conservation district might be helpful to include on the NWSNA website.

Jenny Stephens unveiled the new Little Free Library that will replace the original one near the school at 8th and Fairview. She has finished painting it and it includes a picture of the cat sculpture in front of the school.

The meeting adjourned at 8:18 pm.

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