WHEATON PUBLIC LIBRARY
WHCA President Norris Thigpen called the meeting to order at 7:39 pm, noted we had a quorum, and went over the agenda.
PRESIDENT’S REPORT: Norris reminded attendees that at the last meeting on December 10, the Association elected officers and organized committees, which then had brief discussions on priorities. Norris commented that priorities should promote both civic engagement and fun.
WHCA President also reminded the group that at the last meeting Jared Hautamaki and Michael Marriott had been named to represent WHCA on the County’s Bus Rapid Transit Board, and he noted there will be other opportunities from the country for WHCA to make such “fast track” nominations. Jared and Michael will provide Liaison between the BRT Board and WHCA, represent WHCA views, and report back to the Association.
Norris also reported an official action for WHCA in informing the county on snow-clearing issues, which the Mid-County Services Center will look into, as a result. Norris stressed that we should all feel empowered to report such complaints to 311 and call back to track them. Sean Corbett assured the group that 311 carefully monitors and tracks all calls, which allows them to provide status updates.
TREASURER’S REPORT: Treasurer Randall Spadoni informed the group that he will be looking into opening a bank account for WHCA business, creating a simple budget for activities such as printing, or a neighborhood event like last year’s block party (which was self financed), and establishing transparent financial procedures. He will report on WHCA finances each year and provide tax information to the Government, as necessary. Randall then went over the pros and cons of becoming incorporated as a 501C3 non-profit organization, which would take some two months to accomplish and cost $170. There was discussion of the issue with the group deciding that the pros of having a status with outside institutions, being able to accept tax-deductible donations, and the financial transparency required outweighed any cons. The motion to decide on the issue, and not table it for the next meeting, was made and seconded. Attendees approve forming a 501C3 non-profit by a unanimous vote.
REMAINING AGENDA ITEMS: None
- BUS RAPID TRANSIT BOARD (Jared Hautamaki and Michael Marriott): There was little for Michael to report, as the Board will form in “early 2015.” Jared Hautamaki will represent WHCA on the Veirs Mill Road committee and Michael will serve on the Georgia Avenue, south off Connecticut Avenue committee.
At a future meeting, WHCA will invite a speaker to explain the status of BRTB planning.
- CITIZEN’S ADVISORY COMMITTEE UPDATE: Sean Corbett informed that as a member of the Mid-County Advisory Board, he will also be involved in transportation issues, as the Advisory Board’s mandate is to give advice and recommendations to the County Executive and the Council. Sean briefly went over the structure of the Committee and the various committees under the Board that deal with a wide variety of county issues issue, including transportation. Sean is eager to advocate for Wheaton, which he noted has been absent from discussions in the past. There was also comment that the Wheaton Urban District Advisory Council (WUDAC) can also contribute to WHCA initiatives.
Sean also noted the County Executive’s upcoming budget forum, which will seek citizen input on spending priorities (Jan. 22nd). He indicated budgets may be tight and stressed that organizations such as ours should develop focused priorities. Sean suggested we push to get forward movement on the delayed redevelopment of the Wheaton Recreation Center and Library, since there was already a budget for a combined facility. Norris and Sara will attend the forum to make sure our voice and requests are heard.
Advisory Committee meetings are held every third Tuesday of the month at the Mid-County Services Center, and Sean invited community involvement at these open meetings.
- WHCA PRIORITIES FOR THE COMING YEAR: After soliciting priorities from the membership and committees online, Vice President Sara Auchincloss Goberdhansingh led us through a strategy session to discuss and come to agreement on two major priorities which the WHCA would present at the County Budget Forum for funding assistance for our immediate Wheaton Hills area. The group focused on areas for which we needed county support, rather than projects WHCA can do independently. After discussion and refining of priorities with similar goals, the membership chose to focus our county requests to Walkablity/Pedestrian Safety (16 votes) and Code Enforcement (10) as its top priorities. [Addendum: WHCA Officers have decided to frame this as “quality of life issues” rather than “code enforcement” to emphasize that the WHCA is not a punitive organization. To the WHCA “quality of life issues” relate to litter, parking, and maintaining the neighborhood’s residential character.] Development and Improvement of the Wheaton-Claridge Park received 4 votes. Leadership reminded the group that WHCA is not restricted to these two priorities and can and will continue to work on other important issues.
WHCA to request an update of the status of the Wheaton-Claridge Park project at a future meeting
UPDATE ON NEXT MEETING (Norris): Beginning with the next meetings we will invite speakers to update us on issues of interest, as noted above. There was some discussion on frequency of meetings, with the group deciding for now to hold the next meeting in one month, due to the timing of the County budget process. Wednesday, February 18 was suggested, and the meeting was adjourned at 9:00 pm.
NOTE: To help pay the library room rental fees, a voluntary-contribution box was set up at the meeting. Members contributed $45 in cash and $50 by check.