Affordable Housing Advocacy Group Meeting Minutes ~ Jan. 6, 2022

Date: January 6, 2022

Location of meeting:  Via Zoom

Time meeting was called to order: 7:00pm

Attendees:  Kristin Berg, Nan Parson, Melani Kaplan, Jeanne Wells, Kathy Rosling, Kate Kerin, Karen Banks-Lubicz

Agenda Items:

  1. Nan and Kristin met with Drew Awsumb, the new CP&D Director on Monday 10/11.  Drew told us that the Comprehensive Plan was a major part of his job interview with Park Ridge.  They specifically wanted someone with experience with comprehensive plans.  Drew has worked on plans in 2 communities prior to joining the Park Ridge city staff.  He wants to see an open process in development of the Comp Plan.  Coming from Highland Park, Drew has a lot of experience with the tools to create affordable housing.  He stated that it is a complex topic and that he can help “unpack” it for city officials.  Nan and Kristin gave him some of the background regarding the 2 CP&D positions that opened up last spring due to the departure of Jim Brown and John Carlyle.
  2. Jim Argionis has left he PZC.  Jim Hanlon is the new Chair.  There are 2 new commissioners, Larry Ryles (military background and formerly a School District 64 Board Member) and E.J. Paprocki (local artist).  There is one vacant spot due to be filled in the first quarter of 2022.  Kristin noted that the meetings are more efficiently run since the departure of Mr. Argionis (Rebecca Mills ran a couple meetings before Mr. Hanlon’s appointment) and there is now almost 100% participation by the other members.  It is hoped that with the new Chair and membership turnover, the Comp Plan and especially the Housing Chapter, will get a fresh look when taken up again in March.
  3. Nan and Kristin met with Ben Colllins, principal of MSHS and Jenne Dehmlow, Chair of the MS Social Science Department.  Dr. Collins was asked about overcrowding at District 207 high schools.  He denied that any of the schools were overcrowded and did not predict any overcrowding.  He advised contacting the district office for enrollment information.  That information was received and distributed to the group.  Student enrollment is flat/slightly declining.  Dr. Collins stated that the district looks to the elementary schools as predictors for future high school enrollment.

Kristin exchanged email with Adam Parisi, Chief School Business Official of District 64.  He could only easily obtain enrollment data for the entire district going back over time but was able to verbally give data for the Park Ridge elementary schools for the 2021-22 school year.  Based on slightly declining enrollment, Mr. Parisi predicts flat enrollment in the district for the next 5 years.  It is only  a prediction, and he did mention in telephone conversations that COVID19 played a role with reduced enrollment as some parents chose to send their children to religious schools that remained open during the beginning stages of the pandemic.  Mr. Parisi  mentioned that some of the elementary schools do have capacity (Carpenter) and that the additions to the elementary schools are for All Day Kindergarten.

The information from the school district will help us counteract any claims of school overcrowding as an objection to slightly increasing density to add affordable housing in Park Ridge.

  • The Glenstar housing development of 297 units on Higgins Road was approved by the Chicago City Council (33 to 13) despite the objection of Alderman Napolitano.  The project will have 59 units of affordable housing, right across the street from Park Ridge.
  • Jeanne Wells updated us on her efforts to contact social service agencies regarding their support for affordable housing efforts.  She learned that the Ministerial Association does not speak in “one voice”, but instead each member speaks on their own organization’s  behalf.  In reaching out to the Center of Concern, Jeanne spoke with Kathy Rosling.  The suggestion was made for this group to write a statement or letter that agencies, religious organizations, and possibly businesses could sign onto.  The attendees all thought this was a good idea.  Jeanne and Kathy volunteered to work on that. 
  • Upcoming events/updates:
    • WTTW “First Hand” documentary series, featuring Nan and Chris Parson in one of the episodes may start streaming in February.  We will continue to provide updates on the schedule.
    • The next Action Ridge meeting is 1/12 and is the 5th Anniversary Celebration.  There will be a presentation of the final organizational structure that the working group created last summer.  Each committee head will discuss accomplishments in 2021 and goals for 2022.
    • Action Ridge’s Diversity Discussion Group will be discussing the book, “The Day the World Stopped Shopping”, on 1/11.  AR is collaborating with other groups in these meetings.
    • The AR food drive is 1/9 – 1/15.  Food to stock “Love Fridges” can be dropped at 3 different locations:  530 N. Ashland, 422 Lake, and 410 S. Fairview.  A flyer with more information was sent out by AR.

Time Meeting Adjourned:  8:10pm                                                              

Next Meeting Date:  Thursday, February 10th at 7:00pm via Zoom

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