Minutes February 2019 SRG Board Meeting

February 20, 2019

Soulard Station

The meeting was called to order at 7:08 by President Scott Plackemeier.

Present: Beth Bennett, Luann Denten (via phone), John Durnell, Scott Plackemeier, Neil Putz, Chris Schwarz, Stephen Shuman, Billy Tomber, Wade Weistreich

Absent: None

Welcome to newest Board members, Megan Gooch and John Durnell!

Pontiac Square Park Upgrades (Richard Eaton)

·   Met with Commissioner of Parks Department and Maintenance Manager, asked to submit and discuss following wish list.

o    1. Improvement in entrance from Shenandoah and 10th Street, hard surface instead of gravel

o   2. More trash containers within the park (specifically, 2 more)

o    3. Water source, “farm spigot” that is lockable (used for irrigation)

o    4. Bringing electricity to the park (highest priority)

·   Parks Department will determine best spot for electricity. Then, Board of Public Service will determine if this is good suggestion and if not will determine alternate solution.

·   After, we will meet on site together to see determined spot.

·   Check made payable to City of St. Louis

·   Concern about neighbors and electricity: there would be 2 keys accessible to electrical usage, parks department would have one key and SRG Beautification would have other key. Permit process involved in holding events, city would contact SRG. Neither City or SRG anticipate concerts being an issue.

·   Total Wattage similar to that of Market Park.

·   We will pay 25% and city will pay 75% of installation. We give a check, they handle rest. Cost is dependent on Board of Public Service

·   They are very pleased with what Beautification does with Pontiac Square Park!

·   Neil was able to present $6,000 check to Treasurer/Beautification for Sidney Triangle Project from Missouri Sewer District

SBA Neighborhood Clean-Up Partnership (Jill Weissgerber)

·   Partnership involves crew of gentlemen working towards more stable housing and employment.

·   This crew of 4 gentlemen goes out twice a week, Sunday and Thursday, to pick up trash with a compensation of $10/hr.

·   Would like SRG to join in project, more money equals more manpower and more trash being picked up off the street.

·   Current system: problem areas reported and go on a list for next pickup.

·   Luke Reynolds is donating his golf cart to crew so they have larger range of neighborhood to cleanup.

·   So far $5000 contributed from SBA for program, looking to increase amount of money, would like matching fund from SRG.

·   Wade moves to match funds up to $5000. Neil seconds.

·   Discussion:

o   Does twice the money truly equal twice the presence and manpower? Yes, we want to support more men in the program, circulating more men into this position.

o   Is there a separate fund set aside or is this going to SBA directly? The check would be going to St. Peter and Paul.

o   Is more money being sought due to a threat of no longer being able to pay the workers? No, we want to get more organizations involved to give back to their community. We would essentially be supporting St. Peter and Paul’s charities.

·   All were in favor, motion passed.

Location of Future SGA General Meetings (Scott Plackemeier)

·   Originally Legion was a good move because it was ADA accessible, but we’ve outgrown the location.

·   Other location option that is ADA accessible at same cost is Mad Art Gallery. Location has microphone and projection mount.

·   This new option is being presented to the board to gain input. Plan is to have next meeting at usual location and ask general membership their thoughts on this move.

·   Discussion:

o   Sound is not always good at Mad Art, Legion is a smaller location and therefore unable to compare.

o   There is also a problem with too big of a room. May be best to wait and see how many members continue coming to upcoming meetings.

o   Suggestion made to set up room (Mad Art Gallery) close to the front to ensure people sit closer to speaker.

o   If meetings continue at the Legion, a suggestion was made to close the bar during the meeting. This was countered with a statement that the bar is what draws some members in and keeps them around but should be addressed, with the dramatic meetings, smaller room and standing room only can discourage members from sticking around.

o   Suggestion to shut bar for entirety of meeting and set up for specific headcount which addresses both specific problems and will provide more information with which to make decision.

o   Bottom line, we need to figure this out before membership drive.

Soulard Station Updates (Neil Putz for Tracey Laxton)

·   SMART Station is exploratory at this time

·   Door options- looked at 3 different types of doors (presented at February general membership meeting).

·   Of the 3, only the full lite meets historical requirements

·   Still questioning mail slot option. Secure mailbox or P.O. box, we thought there were no vacancies for P.O. boxes but received input that there may now be vacancies

·   Regarding SMART Station, a rundown of costs that committee feels would be important to station presented in handout.

·   Concern that this wouldn’t be money well spent.

·   Counter statement that while it is significant money, it would be great for committee to be able to control this remotely.

·   Suggestion of hardwired camera system for cheap alternative to see if lights are on or if alarm is set. Wi-Fi accessibility, couple hundred dollars. 

·   Neil will take all input to committee.

·   Committee wants checklist for accountability.

·   Addressing the solar panels- Billy Tomber owns the solar panels outright as a private citizen and has donated the usage to SRG. No costs to SRG, any maintenance is handled by Billy. Billy is compensated by SRG the exact amount of dollar savings for SRG from the Net Metering on the Ameren bill per an agreement on file from 2012. It was suggested that this agreement be presented to general membership.

·   Billy, on behalf of MGI, thanks the committee for providing building to volunteers for pet parade.

Communications Committee Update (Billy Tomber)

·   Thanks for allowing Comm Comm to take a deep breath, assess and make recommendations on improving policy.

·   Based on research from other non-profit organizations and general best practices, Comm Comm decided on specific policy recommendations:

o   1. SRG official @soulard email accounts (ex: secretary@soulard.org) will be set up on individual’s computer so members know it is official communication from SRG personnel with automatic CC to President and President Elect.

o   Upgrade Mailchimp account which costs $20/month, previously free Mailchimp account was used.

o   Mass communication sent from Mailchimp will have unsubscribe option and members will know it is a mass email from SRG.

o   Ask that each committee appoints secondary person to be copied on each email account.

o   A board@ email was created to receive communication to the board. Committee recommends that if anyone abuses communication, they are suspended and will then have informal hearing with Comm Comm.

o   We (the committee) feel Comm Comm should be cheerleaders of neighborhood.

·       Motion to approve recommended changes to policy, Chris seconded.

·        Discussion

o   Clarification that these consequences will not be retroactive.

·       Chris moves to vote. All in favor. Motion passes. Board sets policy on committee level.

Historic Signage Project (Michael Pastore and Dana Hunter)

·   Nervous about what’s going on with board due to recent resignations.

·   Sent open letter to past presidents to gain response. One issue that kept coming up amongst them was historic signage project. Felt strongly enough to address the board.

·   This group feels the reputation and effectiveness of SRG board is in danger.

·   Resignation letter of Vanessa was very concerning to them, specifically her statement about $30,000 being used inappropriately and the failure to provide bids.

·   An interjection (from the board) corrected that many bids were presented and Precision Engraving came in significantly lower than any other business. Residential Promotions Committee voted without Luanne. Was included in meeting minutes.

·   Presenters said it is about the process, not the actual result, and the process tainted the project. Perception matters more than reality. Doesn’t doubt that committee arrived at right result, but the perception is bad. Suggests committee rethink bylaws and regulations.

·   Presenting group stated this project is perceived poorly and as a “scam deal” to the neighborhood

·   Nancy Kelley said something similar came up during her time on the board with Billy’s solar panels.

·   The neighborhood could have perceived this poorly. Suggested solution was to throw it out to the board, no one had any green ideas besides Billy. Which “let everyone know that it wasn’t a ‘get rich quick’ scheme for Billy.”

·   It was then pointed out that the historical signage project has been a discussion for 2-3 years and is mentioned at all general meetings. This project has been very open to the public and doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been talked about if others don’t ask questions or attend the reception.

·   Michael says that the president resigned with serious allegations that should be addressed publicly and quickly.

·   Dana says Bill Shelton’s comments should be taken very seriously and there should be signed contract with Precision Engraving for liability purposes to prevent being sued.

·   Presenters want to make sure there is still transparency with board and committees, and everyone knows what is going on with each other. More detail should be put out with secretary’s meeting minutes.

·   They want proper permits and insurance to prevent liability issues and protect our bank accounts, selves, and neighborhood.

·   They would like their letter to Scott added to minutes.

·   Response from board members:

o   First and foremost, thank you to all past presidents for attending and your service to neighborhood.

o   Project has been in the works since 2015 with many presentations and public viewing in November. Info regarding project has been in blaster and Renaissance.

o   Large piece of information missing: board has suspended historic signage project for the time being. Nothing will go forward until this is all answered at the board level

o    Board did pass 5-point resolution at last meeting, third party licensed contractor will look at, approve, and pass.

o   Perception needs to meet reality, fully expects board to work towards this.

o   Chris moves that we thank past presidents and move on, Billy seconds.

Brief Recess

Beth Bennett Updates

·   Communications with SBA need improvement, and it is unclear if we have a liaison.

·   Previous President was the liaison, but it is suggested we should have a liaison attend who is not the President.

·   There has been some miscommunication resulting in several issues.

·   Wade moves for the addition of liaison to board. Billy seconds.

·   Move to amend- president’s discretion that member of SRG can attend SBA meetings. SRG will make a point that at least one member of the board can attend every meeting. If president can’t attend, appoint someone else. MOTION WITHDRAWN.

·   We have quite a bit of money and station is not being used much. Thinks the option to sell should be explored and use money to buy bigger space for meetings with apartment or offices above to defray cost.

·   Sale was not an option on Tracey’s survey from last general meeting (Beth did email Tracey to apologize).

·   Original goal of the station was to have an anchor for SRG to store and keep our history.  

·   For this to happen, would have to be extremely well thought out and organized and may take a year or more to reach a point where this would be possible to present to members.

·   Important to look at current costs compared to future possible costs.

·   Downfall is that we would lose this corner lot. Could pay off building and then maintain control over this corner lot.

·   We need to layout what the organizations goal is.

·   Leasing to small business while maintaining ownership is very viable option.

·   Concluded that this was good brainstorming for the future possibilities of the organization, but too early to act.

·   Money from MGI/Foundation- unhappy with the process of requesting money and not necessarily receiving it towards something that benefits all.

·   Billy reminds that Mardi Gras Foundation is 501c3, MGI is 501c4 and not always tax deductible. Cannot by law take money from liquor companies, 2 biggest checks come from liquor companies.

·   MGI is operational side and budget is not huge. Mayor’s Ball created as weather proof source of money where money gets split between downtown and Soulard.

·   Suggestion that neighborhood comes up with common goal for Mardi Gras money usage that we (SRG) can even contribute to.

·   Multi year, dedicated project is wonderful and welcomed. Billy will work with Beth to create/write this grant.


Treasurer Report Christopher

·   Final count not received, but Parlour Tour expenses are fairly accurate

·   Mardi Gras being determined.

·   Vices and Virtues Ball is not yet final either

·   Received $6000 in return for triangle project (Neil to Richard).

·   Waiting on Carrolton, moving checking account into AECU

·   Everything going well so far, hopefully committees will be coming up with means of spending money soon.

·   No questions. Billy moves to approve, Stephen seconds.

·   Chris getting through taxes, then doing an audit through same company previously used, looking at potential of new companies to use for audits.

·   Addressing the issue of getting signers. Bank only requires one signature, 2 signatures required by organization. Adding secretary to signature card to appease the bylaws.


Liaison Reports



·   3 rowhouses next to coffee garden, plans approved




No changes from general meeting

Res Promo

·   Backing up to past president presentation:

o   Inaugurated in 2015 and moved forward

o   Ceased project on 1/19

o   Presented at multiple meetings, was included in budget binder and presented at meeting

o   Signage project presented many times including in Renaissance, SRG Blaster and general meetings

o   Recused self from all conversations and votes based around the project

o   Packets (passed at board meeting) address all questions from previous meeting

o   Installation included in all quotes

o   Trying to remediate all issues to best of committee’s ability

o   Liability/insurance policies- gifting signs to home/property. By gifting, remediates all liability

o   Additional license agreement reviewal with some addendums

o   Board feels they may need to digest all the extensive information, motion can’t be made at the time, but amazing we have addressed all issues from last time

o   Need to read, digest, and make sure perception and reality can meet

o   Not unpausing previous motion- 3rd party is still needed to round edges and fix issue. Point of 3rd party is that work would have to continue under different contract than it was started

o   Treasurer (as lawyer) did review a copy of license agreement but felt it did not meet his approval. Did not see or personally approve final copy of agreement

·   Discussion:

o   SRG previously gifted plaques which removes liability and control from the organization, let res promo have the opportunity to amend the problems

o   Only the four signs on post should be addressed with 3rd party person. Don’t immediately take contract away from person who started this without giving them the chance to remediate

o   Luanne- believes 12 or 13 signs are out, only 1 person has complained. Only signs installed are ones that have been made.

o   Signs on poles and public, which signs are accessible to public? Potentially pull signs on poles for the time being while kinks are being worked out.

o   Let’s make sure current president has signed copies of contracts.

·   Wade makes motion that A.) all signs on poles both public and private (with consent of homeowners) are to be removed. B.) Precision Engraving be given opportunity to present solution that board and committee must approve before anything gets reinstalled. John seconds motion

o   Discussion: have not officially “gifted” signs, so still liable if someone hops a fence during Mardi Gras and injures self on sign

o   if homeowner doesn’t consent, we can’t be held liable.

o   Redesign all contracts to be reworded that signs are being gifted.

o   Signs going to public property have to be gifted to city, and city has to approve.

o   Only addressing urgency of next 11 days, after that let’s come together and fix this. John seconds motion. Part c does not necessarily need to be included.

o   Discussion of which parts of the motion are pertinent to the current timeline with Mardi Gras coming up

·   Chris makes amendment, since lawyer has already looked at this, have Luanne redraft agreement to be a gift rather than a license. Continue using same lawyers. If someone doesn’t want to accept gift, pull the sign. Amendment rejected

·   Bottom line: Remove the signs by 23rd using original contractor, Precision Engraving.

·   Vote- all in favor.


No updates


Membership (Stephen)

·   Reminder that membership drive is coming up

·   Prospective locations include Biergarten, Preservation Hall, Mad Art, cheaper locations than ITap was last year

·   Julie doing great job with membership!


Ad Hoc Committee (Stephen)

·   Four committee members already!

·   Marty Murray already has access to some studies that were originally unavailable to Stephen which will be helpful

·   Will likely have to purchase some studies, approximately $40 a study but probably not more than $200 in total


Parlour Tour (Neil)

·   Restart cycle of Parlour Tour for 2019, waiting until after Mardi Gras to prepare

·   Jeanie working on budget for next cycle

·   Three firm homes committed for Parlour Tour in December with number of others interested


Vices and Virtues (Luanne)

·   Great success, thank you to all!

·   Way to go Taylor on raising $4300 in silent auction!


Holiday decoration

·   Richard will be taking station’s holiday decorations

·   Billy offering to store them in meantime until Mardi Gras calms down

·   Luanne noted an entryway sign was found on craigslist for sale ($600). Luke Reynold, with help of police, found and retrieved sign to return to neighborhood


Communications Committee

·   Meeting on Monday, recruited four new members

·   Hoping to recruit more members for social help

·   Renaissance editor- comm comms position.  Won’t need to have admin access on Social platforms, but Comm makes no recommendation on personnel appointments.

·   Obligation to STL Programs: Renaissance provided to us at no cost. Contract since 2007

·   Editor gets compensation directly from STL Programs for  for editorial services, as does Distribution Director for taking delivery, warehousing and arranging distribution of Renaissance via private contract from 2007 that was approved by the Board at the time, over time the assumption that everyone knows of this contract has potentially led to bad perception. Bringing this back to light in interest of transparency

·   Only contract between SRG andSTL Programs is $0.

·   Pointed out that if there is a paid position, it should be open to all members of organization and published to general membership, approving editor via board

·   Position always been open but typically few people are interested, possible that the position and its compensation has not been advertised well enough

·   Believed that the amount of money being handed over is not enough to cause alarm, it has been public info just not reiterated properly

·   Let’s reiterate to the general membership that this position exists and that all positions are open to everyone. Let’s keep reminding everyone of the existing information.

·   Along with presenting to general membership, let’s construct one-page information sheet to membership to help explain better


Executive Session


Neil moves to adjourn, billy seconds. Meeting adjourned at 10:53 pm.