Minutes of the September 15 NWSNA Meeting

Peter Dorfman called the meeting to order at 7:00 pm. Tom Payne hosted the meeting on his Zoom account.

Alan Balkema, Bill Baus, Sita Cohen, Sandi Clothier, Peter Dorfman, Karen Duffy, Natalia Galvan, Jean Graham, Conor Herterich, Steve Mascari and Tom Payne attended.

Old Business:

Peter reported that the Banneker Advisory Council proposal to paint a Black Lives Matter mural on Elm Street, outside the Banneker Center between 7th and 8th Streets, will go before the City Council on September 23 and the Board of Public Works on the 29th. If approved, the Banneker Advisory Council will announce a date for the project.

Treasurer’s Report:

The NWSNA account contains $494.74; that includes dues from 39 paying members.

The main agenda item for the meeting was election of the Design Review Committee for the Near West Side Conservation District, to evaluate applications for new construction, demolition of existing structures, moving of structures and any application to do something to a house designated as “contributing” to the historic character of the neighborhood (or better), and that alteration would result in the house losing that status.

The intention was to elect five members for the committee, including three members who have been members of the existing committee that is drafting the district’s Design Guidelines document. Peter explained that the Design Review Committee will apply those Guidelines when reviewing applications for new projects in the District. That committee’s formal role is to advise the Bloomington Historic Preservation Commission on whether the HPC should grant a Certificate of Appropriateness for each project it reviews. (The HPC has the final say.)

Since the Conservation District came into existence, there have been several such applications. The members of the Guidelines Committee served ad hoc to review those applications, but it is time to establish the Design Review Committee.

Conor Herterich (Historic Preservation Program Manager for HAND) indicated that many of Bloomington’s 13 historic districts have had “self-appointed” Design Review Committees, but in the interest of transparency and broad public participation, the NWSNA prefers to have an elected committee.

The intent was to elect members with staggered two-year terms, with members leaving and joining the committee each year. Peter had proposed having three members who were Guidelines Committee members elected to two-year terms, and two members who were not involved in drafting the Guidelines elected to one-year terms; from September 2021 on, all members’ terms would be two years. A member dropping from the committee will be replaced by appointment by the other members of the committee, followed by a special election.

Alan Balkema moved to elect five individuals who volunteered to serve on the Design Review Committee:

  • Sandi Clothier
  • Karen Duffy
  • Bill Baus
  • Sita Cohen
  • Tom Payne

However, several volunteers indicated they preferred to commit only to one-year terms. Conor indicated the workload would be small, at least for as long as the neighborhood remains a Conservation District – perhaps one or two applications to review every three months – although it would increase in the event the neighborhood is elevated to a full Historic District in 2022. The committee will elect a chairperson who will present the committee consensus on each application and decide how to conduct meetings. Sandi pointed out that the committee is likely to hear from other residents of the neighborhood about certain applications and may take those comments into account.

It was agreed that all terms on the committee would be for one year. Alan offered the amended motion; Steve Mascari seconded the motion. The volunteers were elected with 10 yes votes and one abstention.

The senior members of the committee will provide training and orientation to the Guidelines.

Peter reported that the Guidelines Committee is meeting Thursday, September 17, and is nearly finished with the document. Once completed, the Guidelines will need to be approved by the BHPC, and shared with the public. Media for sharing include the NWSNA website and the District’s page on the city’s website. Sandi asked whether the city has money in its budget to print copies of the Guidelines for distribution; Conor said no, but that it is conventional to provide the Guidelines in PDF format for download. A link to the Guidelines will go out via the neighborhood’s email list.

Sandi called attention to the current proposal to tear down the South Walnut Street building housing the former Players Pub (replacement structure still to be proposed), and suggested anyone with strong opposition to the demolition to convey them to the HPC, which will evaluate the proposal on September 24; HPC has until September 30 to decide on it. Conor can convey residents’ opinions. He has written a history of the Mitchell Brothers building that housed the pub and before it the former Boxman’s Restaurant. The lot has a long history but is not protected by any type of historic designation.

Sandi also suggested anyone interested in executive committee or officer positions for the Council of Neighborhood Associations (CONA) contact the organization and volunteer. Sandi is ending her attendance as neighborhood representative for the Near West Side this fall.

The meeting adjourned at 8:11.

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