SRG Board Meeting Minutes

Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016 at Soulard Station, 1911 S. 12th St.

The meeting was called to order at 7:06 p.m. by President Mike Ziemann.

Members present: Mike Ziemann, Beth Bennett, Sean Cochran, Bill Clendenin, Luann Denten, Jeremy Mehrle, Jackie Parker, Steve Parker, Gary Toribio

Members absent: Alicia Stellhorn

Guests: Author Jim Merkel and Sue Jackson of the German-American Heritage Society of St. Louis.
Proposal for honorary renaming of a block of South 7th Street as Bismarck Street:
Jim Merkel (author of “Scrubby Dutch” and “Beer, Brats and Baseball”) and Sue Jackson made a presentation on behalf of an honorary renaming of a block of South 7th Street between Lami and Barton Streets as Bismarck Street. The German-American Heritage Society is seeking honorary street status for six St. Louis City streets that had their original German names changed during World War I. The city has granted honorary designations for three streets: Knapstein Place (Providence Place), Habsburger Avenue (Cecil Place) and Kaiser Street (Gresham Avenue). The original Bismarck Street, created in 1881 and 1882, no longer exists, but was close to the 7th Street location. Merkel provided copies of City Ordinance 68937, which provides for designating honorary street names. He said that 60 percent of registered voters or business owners in the affected area would have to approve of the proposal, and that the German-American Heritage Society of St. Louis would pay the cost of the signs and installation by the city Streets Department.
Luann Denten noted that because Soulard is a Historic District, the plan would need review by the city’s Cultural Resource office. She also noted that when the Soulard entry markers were installed recently, proof of liability insurance was required. Merkel said that the city ordinance did not mention those areas. 
After making the presentation, Merkel and Jackson departed and the SRG Board discussed the proposal. 
President Ziemann noted that as a courtesy, Alderman Jack Coatar had asked the Society to make sure the SRG didn’t object to the proposal. Bill Clendenin suggested that the SRG Board contact Jay Gibbs to determine if this issue has come up before and if the Code and Zoning Committee has adopted any policies regarding such signs.
Luann Denten cautioned that a wave of requests for honorary street names could result, and Ziemann added that future SRG Boards should not regard approval of this one request as a precedent.
The Board voted to approve a motion stating that it doesn’t oppose the proposal for the honorary Bismarck Street designation provided that the German-American Heritage Society of St. Louis seek approval from the Cultural Resources office, and that there’s no history of any previous street renaming effort that was rejected, and that the SRG would in no way be liable for any insurance required. 

Treasurer’s Report: 
The Treasurer’s Report was reviewed.

Old Business:Improvements at Soulard Station:Vicki and Jay Morris made a presentation on behalf of two proposed improvements at Soulard Station: the extension of the concrete sidewalk around the rear of the building and a single-zone HVAC system to improve cooling in the main room of the building. Three bids were presented for the sidewalk extension and four bids were presented for the air-conditioning proposal. The Morrises answered some logistical questions posed by the Board. The Board approved a bid of $1,650 for the sidewalk project and a bid of $3,800 for the HVAC work, which includes the unit, installation, running electric, finishing and drywall repair and upgrading existing ductwork.

Board Elections:
The Board went into executive session to discuss nominations and prospective candidates for the April 6 Board Election. A President-Elect, Treasurer, Secretary and two Directors are to be chosen.

Spending Projects Update:
Three Board members provided updates on proposals for spending surplus SRG funds.
Historic street lights: Beth Bennett said it would cost about $200,000 per block to convert to historic street lights. While that would make the project cost-prohibitive, she said grants for such projects are available.

Historic markers: Luann Denten said she had received two bids and was awaiting three others for signage to mark historic sites in Soulard for a walking tour. Board members discussed possible sizes for the signs and the merits of cast lettering vs. lasered lettering. It was suggested that any walking tour and signs might include some newer structures as examples of new construction that can be done in a historic context.Security cameras: Clendenin gave an update on the new security cameras to be installed in Soulard. He said that the new cameras that are up now are temporary and were placed there for Mardi Gras. 

A contractor for installing the new cameras has been selected, a walk-through will be conducted and a meeting with city officials will be held, after which the proposal will be refined. The goal is to finalize a contract in March and then commence installation as soon as possible.

New Business:

Mardi Gras Debriefing:Board members said some traffic stops by security personnel in the Yellow Zone were conducted in a lax manner. Overall, behavior in the Red Zone was civil. Board members said they had heard concerns about the logistics of the Grand Parade. Gary Toribio said Mardi Gras Inc. Board members would be discussing a proposal for more marching groups in the parade, the timing of floats, and replacing the volunteer coordinator who left.

MGI’s public forum on this year’s Mardi Gras will be March 3 at the Mardi Gras Inc. building, 2200 Dolman St.

March Board Meeting:

President Ziemann said he remains uncertain whether work commitments might prevent him from attending the March 16 SRG Board meeting, or whether they might block alternate dates in March as well. President-Elect Bill Clendenin will run the meeting if Ziemann is unable to  attend.

Committee Reports:

Beautification: The Art in the Garden tour is scheduled for June 25. Amy Grove is in training to chair the event next year. 

Communication: No report.

Code and Zoning: A sign on the front of the renovated Lafayette School apartments will be smaller than what was originally proposed. A larger sign will be on the garage but it will not be backlit as originally proposed.  The garage will have two vehicle openings, including an entrance on the front of the building to make traffic flow more efficient.

Fundraising: Smarty Gras Trivia Night on Feb. 20 grossed about $5,800. Attendance was down to 15 tables of 10 players each, but revenue generated through raffle tickets, balloon pop and the silent auction all increased.
A cheer station is again planned for the GO! Marathon on Sunday April 10.

Membership: The committee hopes to increase the number of events it holds this year. A field trip to the Fox Theatre is being planned for a Saturday in July and will include a visit backstage.  A terrarium-building workshop is under consideration.  The committee also may hold a wrestling night event at the Broadway Athletic Club, 2301 S. 7th St. A lunch may be held at the Fountain on Locust, 3037 Locust St.

Residential Promotion: Soulard flags were reordered and are available for purchase. Sales of the Soulard Star sterling silver earrings and necklaces have been good. With the restaurant Franco out of business, the fashion show during Bastille Days will have to relocate. One possibility is the South Broadway Athletic Club, 2301 S. 7th St. In addition to the fashion show, Bastille Days events may include a Run for Your Cake, and a dance with a DJ. A bicycle race, as was done years ago, is also a possibility.

Safety: Clendenin said committee members gained some insight at a sentencing hearing Friday, Feb. 19, for a parole being sentenced for stealing an air-conditioning unit. The judge noted that while signatures on neighborhood impact statements are useful to the court, residents don’t have the right to speak at sentencings. Victims do have the right to speak and it’s important for them to show up to demonstrate the impact of crime on their lives, the judge advised.

Mardi Gras Inc.: No formal meeting was held in February.

It is expected that the Executive Director’s contract will be resolved by April. The post-Mardi Gras public forum is Thursday, March 3, at the MGI building, 2200 Dolman St.

Renaissance: The deadline for the next edition, the Garden Tour edition, is May 13.

Soulard Station: Nothing besides the sidewalk and air-conditioning projects approved earlier in the meeting. It was noted that some events at Soulard Station are booked more than a year in advance. In the interest of ensuring that the neighborhood has first rights to the building, it was suggested that bookings for more than a year out not be allowed. 

Adjournment: The meeting adjourned at 9:47 p.m.