Meeting Minutes: September 2019

Date: Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Location: Epiphany U.C.C. Fellowship Hall, 2911 McNair Avenue

Meeting Brought to Order: 7:05 PM

BPNA Board Members Present:

  • Don Morgan (President)

  • Colin Clark (Secretary)

  • Kay Parish (Membership Coordinator)

  • Jim Gau

  • Jillian Clark

  • Katherine Leonard

  • Dan Guenther


1. Welcome by Don Morgan, President

2. Crime Report – Officer Jack Khoudian, SLMPD

  • Updated crime statistics distributed

  • Larcenies up significantly year-over-year through August

    • Keep personal items out of view in vehicles and take valuables inside overnight

    • Bicycles are particularly attractive to thieves

    • Please notify SLMPD if you see anyone going in or out of vacant properties so City can re-seal entrances, exits and windows as needed

  • Two recent burglaries in the neighborhood

    • Be sure to keep windows and doors locked

  • Hosting community gathering at 2832 Arsenal – September 12 @ 7PM

    • Drag show, door prizes, and talks by community leaders

  • Google “SLMPD calls for service” to find out what is happening in your area

  • @POliaison group on Facebook

  • Reach out to Officer Khoudian if you need gun locks – free locks are available

3. Treasurer’s Report – Don Morgan

  • Fairly even through the year so far

  • Still waiting on some late sponsorship dollars

  • Will be submitting insurance payment soon

  • Able to cover all bills so far this year

4. Alderman’s Report – Dan Geunther

  • Another successful year for Benton Park Classic leg of annual Gateway Cup – biggest turnout ever

    • Towed approximately 25 cars on morning of 9/2/19 prior to beginning of race – also issued $25 fines for first time this year

  • Next Saturday (9/7) – Taste of Brazil @ Missouri & Pestalozzi

  • Weekend of 9/14 – Taste of St. Louis

    • Dan in talks to bring BPNA back in for fundraising opportunity – staffed beer booth for several years before event was moved to St. Charles, but event has moved back to Soldier’s Memorial in Downtown STL

  • 9/21 – Venice Café Street Festival @ Pestalozzi & Lemp

  • New Board season is about to begin; major issues include:

    • Airport privatization

    • Crime – particularly gun violence in St. Louis

      • 1688 gun seizures this year – 1400 are being prosecuted federally

      • Approximately 1700 non-fatal shootings

      • Looking into introducing “Cure Violence” neighborhood program in a few different areas of the city, which has contributed to significant reductions in gun violence in other major U.S. cities

    • Working on adding new mobile cameras that can be deployed to different areas as needed

  • Dan working with Joel’s Shell at Lemp & Arsenal to serve as a package drop-off destination in order to avoid package thefts, especially during the upcoming holiday season

    • Will serve as drop-off location for UPS, FedEx, USPS, etc. in exchange for small fee

    • Other current drop-off destinations include Nebula on Jefferson and Vincent’s Market in Soulard

  • Dan meeting with parties interested in developing lot at Lynch & Jefferson

5. Presentation by DeSales Community Development

  • Not for profit community development corporation focused on use of low income housing tax credits to spur neighborhood redevelopment

  • Has previously worked in nearby neighborhoods like Fox Park to prime neighborhood for future private redevelopment

  • Exploring redevelopment of space on southwest corner of Jefferson & Arsenal for use as senior multi-family housing

    • Would require relocation, but not removal, of existing community garden

    • Would include retail space along corner at intersection

    • Current vision is 50/50 split between 1 & 2 bedroom units

    • Rent structure is consistent across the board (No sliding scale – $590 for single bedroom; $700 for two bedroom – would accept vouchers for housing assistance)

      • In order to qualify to live at property, residents must have income no greater than 60% of area median income – currently around $30,000

    • Units would be independent living, but certain assistance may be available

    • Per current rules and regulations, property must be used for low income senior housing for a minimum of 15 years

    • Currently finalizing application for low income housing tax credit – only federal credits available, so awards will be competitive

      • Will require schematic, but not final construction, architectural plans

        • Design plans would be finalized pending grant of low income housing tax credits

6. Parks Committee – Dan Guenther

  • Still looking into adding dedicated pickleball courts to Benton Park in area near the southeast corner of the tennis courts, which formerly held shuffleboard courts

    • Seeing widespread support from residents of Benton Park and surrounding neighborhoods who use Benton Park

    • Dan still looking for input regarding court location, functions and other park improvements

  • Round pond in Benton Park

    • MSD is putting approximately $500,000 into Benton Park

    • New drain being installed with float mechanism to cut off fresh water when water reaches certain maximum or fill with new fresh water when level falls below certain minimum

    • Installing new fountain mechanism

    • Pond has been drained completely

  • Other pond is not being drained but improvements will be happening

7. Garden & Cave Committee – Bill Kranz

  • Working on plan for exploratory drilling in English Cave Community Garden to search for lost cave

  • Presentation by Jim from Geotechnology

    • Will drill a series of holes approximately 6 inches in diameter to look for cave – holes would be sealed after work is completed

    • Work would be completed during the winter – sometime between November and February, depending on availability of Geotechnology

    • Equipment used for drilling should not cause any significant damage to garden property

    • Probe will be dropped down drill holes to examine dimensions of any open cave space

    • First day of drilling will be completed pro bono by Geotechnology – will take a couple of days to drill all of the holes, but getting through subsurface rock will take a couple of days using current equipment

    • Risk of flash fire due to presence of methane is low based on subsurface composition, anticipated depth of drilling and surface topography (i.e., lack of sinkholes)

  • Need to address concerns regarding safety

  • Garden committee proposes that BPNA split the cost of drilling with the committee

    • Three days of drilling will cost approximately $4,500, so BPNA’s portion of the contribution would be capped at $2,750

8. Events Committee – Brittany Nelson

  • Tunes on Tap – October 5

    • Tickets available on Eventbrite

    • Finalizing houses and bands for tour

    • Need volunteers to help with check-in and golf cart owners to help direct and/or transport participants between houses; email events@bentonpark.org if interested

    • Bluewood Brewery will serve as check-in location and have music

    • Other check-in location at Benton Park, same as last year

  • Benton Park Holiday Party

    • Don Morgan working with Yemanja Brazil on party plans

    • Currently looking at Wednesday before Christmas (12/18) as date for party

9. Marketing Committee – Katherine Leonard

  • Check website for news and events

  • Need new signs to advertise monthly member meetings

10. Dog Park Committee – Barb Vindiola

  • Have applied for new grant to extend garden and install new plans; will complete work on October 5, 2019

  • Currently have 90 members

  • Planning “Pup” Crawl around Benton Park bars

  • Still have bricks for sale for $50 each – visit bentonparkdogpark.com for more information

11. Building Review Committee – Tim Mulligan

  • Proposal to redevelop building at southwest corner

12. Barb Potts, Neighborhood Improvement Specialist for Ward 9 & Ward 20

  • Help spread the word about safeguarding belongings in vehicles, especially those parked on the street

  • Moving into portion of the year when the most robberies occur

  • Do not be afraid to report potential crimes or activities of concern – can use police non-emergency line

  • October 1 is National Night Out – get out and participate, get to know your neighbors

    • Free permits available online to block off street for block party

13. Nathan Jackson, St. Louis History and Architecture

  • In October, will host special tour for Benton Park, which is home to lost cemetery

  • Several other upcoming tours in different neighborhoods

14. Comments from the Floor

  • Saturday, September 21 – Better Family Life sponsoring Operating Clean Sweep in The Ville; second date in October in Walnut Park

  • 5th Ward Committeeman Rasheen Aldridge visiting – Democratic nominee for vacancy in Bruce Franks’ former State House seat

  • New house plates have been ordered – will be $220 each because of materials; email Don Morgan if interested (president@bentonpark.org)

  • National Night Out is October 1 – NO BPNA MEETING

Meeting Adjourned – 8:40 PM
/s/ Colin C. Clark
Secretary