Thursday, December 17, 2009

Historic Neighborhoods Alliance Meeting Minutes November 11, 2009

Attendees: Alisa Palmer (Fulton Heights), Sue McHugh (North Main), Betty Carli (West Square), Gwen Matthews (Ellis Street & HSF), Andrea Anders (Ellis Street), Andrew Pitner (Fulton Heights), Jack Thomson (HSF), Jim Carli (West Square), Shelley Smith (Salisbury Post and West Square), Gary Birdsey (Park Avenue), Edward Clement (West Square), Christine Wilson (Fulton Heights).

The Historic Neighborhoods Alliance met on Wednesday November 11th at the historic John Steele House in the North Main neighborhood. Our meeting began with the Neighborhood Reports - concise updates from each neighborhood. There were 5 of Salisbury’s 10 historic neighborhoods represented at this meeting.

• North Main Street (NMSHD): Sue McHugh said they had a great neighborhood party with double the attendance of last year. They also met recently with Downtown Salisbury, Inc and had a great discussion with them. Although DSI cannot provide money to the North Main Neighborhood Association (NOMA), they will help in other ways to support NOMA in their efforts and want to work together. They also commented that HNA is a great vehicle to get things to happen in the city because of different neighborhoods helping each other and carrying a common voice on issues. Showing that the many historic neighborhoods support improvements in North Main carries more weight with City Council. NOMA is planning a parade and celebration when the Miller St. sidewalk and North Main St. crosswalk project is finished.

• Fulton Heights (FHHD): Andrew said they recently had a general meeting followed by a board meeting. The Halloween celebration was a great success. They are finalizing a calendar fundraiser for the neighborhood association. The color calendar will feature neighborhood homes and will sell for between $10-15. They have sold all the monthly photos and most of the available daily message space. They hope to make this an annual fundraiser. They are working with Quick Copy to design and publish the calendar.

• West Square (WSHD): Betty Carli said they had over 100 attendees at their Halloween party. They will have a Christmas party in December. The West Square board passed along thanks and support for the recently held HNA city council candidate forum and they hope HNA will continue having forums during future elections. They continue to have problems with the House of Hope and she said there is now a second location open(ing) on South Main Street. Sue McHugh asked, “Why is the House of Hope a bad thing?” Betty said it is a halfway house but for more severe crime issues. Their board is doing more research and will provide more information soon. Ed asked for a copy of the board of directors for House of Hope.

• North Ellis Graded School (NEGSHD): Gwen Matthews said they recently had a great ‘Alley Cat’ party with lots of food and fun. They had a TV set up near the party and this was a great success because those who wanted to attend but still had a football game to watch could participate and it helped to show who in the neighborhood are big football fans. They are focusing mostly on doing social events right now to get folks to know one another before they get to more formal neighborhood association things. They are excited though to have a core group of neighbors and that they are adding neighbors who have children to the events.

• Park Avenue (PAHD): Garth Birdsey said he is now on the board for the Park Avenue Redevelopment Corp and that they are making progress toward addressing problematic issues that plague the neighborhood. They are having a kids Christmas party in December. He passed out information on VITA tax preparation services and asked if anyone was interested in helping others with tax prep to contact Marjorie. He plans to volunteer again this year and said it is a worthwhile experience.

Historic Salisbury Foundation updates: Jack Thomson and Gwen Matthews

• Jack asked that the neighborhood associations send their correct website address or blog address to HSF. He is working toward having the neighborhood websites linked through the HSF website.

• He attended a meeting with city staff where they presented ideas for changes to the historic preservation guidelines for local districts. The changes were mostly in regard to timelines for completion of projects that have been given Certificates of Appropriateness (COAs) and how to audit the completion of approved COAs. The Code Enforcement department will be the ‘enforcers’ of the COAs.

• At this meeting they also discussed signage for Historic Preservation Commission hearings or COA applications (similar to what is posted with Zoning hearings).

• They are looking to develop some type of placard that would be displayed on the house of an approved project.

• They are talking about exterior paint colors and possible regulation/deregulation.

• They are discussing that grants through HPC not be awarded to home owners who are in violation of guidelines at any property they own in the historic district.

• Gwen passed out fliers that list the properties for sale at HSF. She said they were thrilled with the response to 321 East Bank project.

• She was very thankful that they Rowan Board of Realtors helped her to advertise a brokers open at 321 East Bank.

• She introduced a new idea that is still in its infancy stage. She called it the Shoulder-to-Shoulder project that would help to bring volunteers with home improvement skills together with homeowners in historic neighborhoods that need assistance but cannot afford the cost of an entire project. She has several volunteers with skills in the paint, carpentry, masonry, and plumbing areas that want to help. Most of the volunteers would need to donate time on weekends or evenings. She’d like the neighborhoods and HNA members to help identify potential homeowners and to work with HSF to verify the legitimacy of the projects. Homeowners would need to help where they can and provide the funds for supplies. She said they are still working through some of the legal issues with this idea but she wanted to know what HNA members thought. Betty Carli said it is a wonderful idea and that folks need help. Sue McHugh said the North Main Association has had plans to begin a similar 'helping hands' team and liked that it could be a bigger program. Gwen said it needs a good name so if anyone has a suggestion for a name, let her know.

Updates/action item review and next steps:

• Candidate Forum: Sue said the forum was a huge success and she has received many positive comments. Many said it was the best-attended candidate event, the most sophisticated, and best organized. Susan Kluttz told Jack that the event was the best-attended forum in her history. Sue stated that the time the HNA sponsors a forum that the planning phase needs to begin much earlier. We had great volunteers but could have used more time to pay attention to detail and more people on the planning committee to distribute tasks more evenly. Andrea said the use of Facebook to promote the event was great. Despite the fact that there were many other events scheduled in Salisbury on the same night, attendance was still phenomenal, indicating our community's interest in preserving our historic neighborhoods. Sue did a great job with communication to the candidates and leading the forum planning committee. Christine will review the video from the forum and transcribe the answers given by those candidates that won a council seat (Kluttz, Blackwell, Kennedy, Miller, and Woodson). Christine has also organized a folder with materials from the event and feedback that she has gathered so that we can use this at a future forum.

• Housing Commission: Garth said the Neighborhood Leaders Alliance has formed a housing subcommittee that will meet twice in the next month to formulate a suggested approach for a housing commission to be discussed by Council members at their February 2010 retreat. He will attend the meetings and asked if anyone else from HNA would like to attend that they contact Lynn Raker with the City of Salisbury.

The Historic Neighborhood Alliance will not meet in December, but will begin the 2010 year with a brain-storming and kick-off meeting on January 13th.  Stay tuned for more info!  Happy Holidays!

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