Hello to our wonderful Old Town residents. As I watch the sun slowly sinking beyond the western horizon, I realize the number of daylight hours are slowly diminishing. Autumn is here.
This has been a challenging year for the OTTA. Much of what represents the essence of our organization has been sidelined. Other than the outside work being taken care of by our unfailing NIC and the area rehab work being carefully monitored by our HD/PZ committee, along with Zoom meetings being held with the new Planning Board Commissioner, Maurice Cox, and meetings we’ve attended at city hall with a multiplicity of preservation stakeholders, we’ve been limited by the city’s guidelines as to what we can offer in the way of programs. These guidelines have had a distinct impact on our association’s activities and revenues. You will find the treasurer’s FY 2019-20 summary report in this issue.
The Board has projected a budget for FY 2020-21 that is very lean. The Board is moving forward under the assumption there will be no Art Fair in 2021. We have put on hold, most of the discretionary spending which would typically be a part of our normal budget. We are looking for ways to decrease expenditures. One of those ways is to pivot from a printed newsletter to a digital one. This issue will be the last of our printed newsletters. While many will miss receiving a printed issue, the cost to produce our newsletter is beyond what is affordable for us now. Unanticipated benefits are that we can be more creative with a digital format. It seems there are no limits to digital possibilities.
While this year has been nothing but worrisome, if we look back over the past couple of years, we have a lot of accomplishments of which to be proud.
We made a 100% improvement to our lighting and acoustics in the north room. Through Alan Lougee’s on site diligent management we made needed chimney lining repairs, boiler repairs, roof repairs (a new roof coating and sealing all the stack areas) and assessing our handicap accessibility needs for all areas. We established facility protocols that meet the city’s guidelines. We laid out diagrams for proper social distancing. We purchased a contactless thermometer which was used routinely before people could enter the center. Our cleaning crew followed stringent procedures for the city’s strict Covid sanitizing requirements. The equipment was sanitized after each class ended. We were able to offer 3 limited classes during the summer. And, once again we will serve as the polling place for 2 precincts from the 43rd Ward.
In the last 2 years, NIC has planted more than 10 new trees, maintained the pocket parks, the Old Town Triangle Park at Clark & Wisconsin, the Fern Court area, and the small triangle park at LaSalle and Clark. Beginning in 2019 we re-instituted the brick sidewalks and parkway replacements programs. We hope to continue this infrastructure improvement in 2021.
HD/PZ works continuously through each successive year. Their work never ends. We have been attentive to working with the 18th District and the Alderman’s office to resolve particularly important security issues within our neighborhood. The CPD was able, with the Alderman’s office’s help and the involvement of several resident neighbors, to make an arrest of an individual who was a criminal threat to our neighborhood. The CPD continues to ask residents to install security cameras as they have been instrumental in identifying arrestees.
We need your help in bringing new members into our association. We are a volunteer organization, and without volunteers we cannot succeed in achieving our goals. In 2016, there were close to 460 voting members and 660+ total members. As of our last board meeting, voting membership had dropped to 373. The Membership & Communications Committee chaired by Chris Nelson and Sachi Kubo needs volunteer help from members. Please consider joining their committee. All recruiting suggestions from membership at large will be greatly appreciated and accepted.
Finally, it is important for all of you to know that the OTTA exists to help our neighborhood families and residents live in a safe and secure environment. We do not and will not always have solutions for the various problems that come up. All we can do is listen to your concerns and do the best we can to address them.
It is my sincere hope that for the children’s sakes we can enjoy wonderful weather for Halloween. Please stay safe—social distance—wear masks—and be well.