Boulevard Neighborhood Association
Steering Committee Meeting
September 13, 2011
Present: Carole Holmes (At-Large member); Melissa Link (Preservation/Environmental Quality); Charles Apostolik (At-Large member); Dan Lorentz (Chair); Matt Elliot (Vice Chair); Eric Heil (At-Large member); Kristen Bergman Morales (Standing Comm. Chair, Newsletter/Publicity); Janet Geddis (Standing Comm. Chair,
Programs/Events); Jeff Cymerman (Neighborhood Watch).
Here's a summary of discussions and decisions. Some agenda items were discussed via email, and involved steering committee members not present at the meeting.
Updates on old and continuing business:
GA power substation light pollution. Dan reported that he and District 5 Commissioner Jared Bailey discussed this problem. Bailey asked that residents nearby who are bothered by the light please supply either him or Dan with further details about which lights are a problem and when. This request was conveyed to a few residents who had brought this up. Once more detailed information is gathered, Bailey will gladly ask GA Power to address the problem.
ACC vehicles on Nantahala Ext. Dan reported that he and Commissioner Bailey talked about how some official ACC vehicles still take the Nantahala Ext. route in and out of the Pound St. facility. Bailey has told the managers at the facility that neighbors are still concerned about this issue. He's been told that ACC has asked drivers not to take this route.
Adopt-a-highway program. Matt reported BNA's next participation in an "Adopt-a-Highway" street-cleaning program would happen on Sept. 18. [And it did: 20 volunteers filled 9 bags of trash, 1 bag of recycling and collected on tire. Streets cleaned included Boulevard and Chase St. between the tracks and Prince Ave. Pound Street got cleaned, too, and so did portions of Naocoochee Ave.]
Pedestrian crossings on Prince Ave. (police enforcement). Dan reported that, in response to a question from the steering committee, the Athens-Clarke Co. Police Department (ACCPD) said they would continue "enforcement functions in the area of Prince and ST. Joseph's for vehicles failing to yield to pedestrians" on a random basis as time and personnel permit.
Pedestrian crossing on Prince Ave. (flags). In response to a suggestion from Janet, we agreed to investigate having BNA purchase flags for pedestrians to use to increase their visibility as they cross Prince Ave. Dan will see if we need ACC permission to do this.
Prostitution on Barber St. Dan reported that, in response to a question from the steering committee, ACCPD said: "The prostitution problem is one that persists despite our efforts to keep it abated. They move from MLK to Boulevard/Barber St. and back depending on where we are moving them. We have [had] a planned operation on September 9 to address them, the night before the first UGA game. Until then, we increased our patrols in the area to try and keep them away. It would be beneficial if residents would call 911 when they see them actively soliciting "Johns" in the area. A good description and location are very helpful." In response to a suggestion from Melissa, Dan will investigate whether it would be possible for BNA via its listserve or website to publish mug shots of prostitutes known to be working in the area. This could help in identifying repeat offenders. We also decided to consult with ACCPD and issue an email to the listserve with instructions/encouragements about how neighborhood residents can help the police in their efforts to abate prostitution along Barber St. and Boulevard.
BNA signs. Via email Jane reported that efforts to recreate the stencils for the Historic Boulevard Neighborhood signs are underway. The new stencils will be used to refresh the signs which are looking a bit weathered these days.
Historic preservation guidelines. Several steering committee members have reviewed the new historic preservation guidelines that Athens-Clarke County's planning department has circulated for comment. Carole, head of a special committee charged with reviewing the guidelines for BNA, said that for the most part, the new guidelines were clarifications of existing rules--not new rules. The new guidelines now run to 150 pages, and include many more illustrations and more explanatory text. While those of us who had reviewed the new guidelines appreciated the new emphasis on clarity and illustration, we thought the document--150 plus pages--might be intimidating to homeowners. We decided to recommend to ACC that they explore re-packaging the guidelines in shorter, more user-friendly formats, and consider creating a searchable online database as well. Dan will draft an email addressed to the Mayor and Commission about this. Also we decided to survey neighborhood residents about the historic preservation guidelines. The purpose of the survey would be to provide the Mayor and Commission and ACC staff with information about neighborhood concerns, questions and attitudes about the guidelines. Carole, Dan and others will work on developing and conducting the survey.
Buena Vista historic designation. Kristen reported that she is currently making changes and corrections to a draft document that describes the boundaries and properties and their historic attributes and features. Once this is finalized with ACC staff, ACC can then begin the process of officially asking property owners and residents about whether they support historic designation.
Membership/Finance. Via email Jane reported that BNA currently has: 87 total memberships (76 household and 11commercial); no student memberships; 26 one-person household memberships; 125 two + person households; 125 total members (not counting kids); 8 members registered without providing and email address. This year we had 14 new household memberships and 3 new commercial memberships. Discussions about how to recruit new members continue via email at this writing.
Boulevard Woods. Dan reported that ACC Leisure Services is now working with park project organizers to develop a proposal to convert the relevant empty lots on Barber and Boulevard into a small neighborhood park for presentation to the Mayor and Commission in February 2012. Discussions about what role BNA may play in creating and maintaining the park continue via email at this writing.
Newsletter. Planning for the next newsletter, which will come out before the annual membership meeting, continues via email at this writing.
Membership meeting. The annual membership meeting will take place Sunday, Dec. 4, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Heirloom Cafe and Fresh Market on Boulevard and Chase St. Planning for events and activities continues via email.
Traffic calming at Nantahala and Wynburn. A resident living at the corner of Nantahala and Wynburn emailed in advance of the meeting to ask that the steering committee consider taking action to calm traffic at this intersection. Several steering committee members agreed that traffic problems are mounting there as traffic to and from the Chase Street Warehouses increases. We agreed to pursue the issue further. Dan will gather more information and request attention from Commissioner Bailey and ACC's traffic engineering department.
Crime. Based on concerns expressed in the listserve and on an email from a resident, we asked ACCPD to tell us whether they are recording an increase in reported crime incidents in Boulevard. They reported back to us: "As you will see [from an attached report on reported crimes in Boulevard] crime through July 2011 is running below the numbers for the previous two years." They also suggested that we occasionally check www.crimereports.com to see exactly what is happening in our area. We decided that Jeff will update BNA's website pages with current information about how to report crimes to the police and which officers are assigned to our neighborhood and that Dan, after consulting with the police for advice, will send out an email to the listserve with suggestions about how residents can help prevent and report crimes.
Redistricting. After a discussion about redistricting, we decided to explore working with other neighborhood groups to express an Athens-wide concern that the state legislators who draw maps that change local district lines please give priority to the preferences of local communities.
Website/Facebook page. Kristen will develop a proposal for using a new platform for the neighborhood website--one that will allow more people to edit and contribute to it. She'll also make a recommendation about whether to create a Boulevard page on Facebook.
Nomination slate for membership meeting. Dan has agreed, if elected, to serve as BNA chairperson for another term. And it looks like most other officers and at-large members are happy to continue serving. Marie Woods will be stepping down as secretary, so that position will be open. Matt will prepare a nomination slate for the membership meeting and invite others who may be interested in serving to let us know.
Next steering committee meeting. Will be held in conjunction with the Dec. 4 membership meeting at Heirloom.