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RNA Moves Towards Filing for Non-Profit Status

by Sonya Jongsma Knauss / based on minutes by Eryn Moris

In its first meeting of the year, the Riverwest Neighborhood Association (RNA) made strides towards filing as a non-profit organization, a move that could allow it to expand its work in the neighborhood and apply directly for grant funds. “This is an important step for us to take right now,” said RNA co-chair Shawn Smart. “One goal is to empower residents to make decisions, and one way to do that is to directly apply for grants for programs that residents want.” At the Jan. 14 meeting, residents were hard-pressed to keep from commenting on a preliminary copy of the bylaws and reluctantly tabled the discussion for the Feb. 11 meeting. The bylaws, which are relatively boiler-plate fare, outline the way the organization will operate. Members of RNA mail, the 200-plus-strong neighborhood e-mail list, will receive an e-mail copy of the bylaws prior to the meeting so they have plenty of time to review them ahead of time. (To join the mailing list, send an e-mail to or complete this online form). In other RNA business: • Residents approved a new membership form for the organization. Members have to fulfill one requirement: that they be residents of the neighborhood. Membership is free, but attendees are asked to fill out a membership form listing their contact information. They can also give voluntary donations to defray costs of mailings. Membership forms will be available at the opening of each meeting (similar to the way a sign-in sheet has been passed around in the past). • Development committee chair Jerry Patzwald presented a gentrification position paper for possible approval by the RNA. It was moved that the paper, which was distributed just before the meeting by RNA mail, would be voted on at the Feb. 11 meeting. • Patzwald also presented a position paper on Freeway Expansion. The paper was approved unanimously by all present and will be sent to Milwaukee County Transit Authority, county supervisors, state representatives, the governor, and the Story Hill neighborhood association (for background on the work that neighborhood has done to fight freeway expansion, see their website at: http://storyhill.net/SHNAHoodHappenings.htm.) • Vince Bushell, chair of the Guardians of Green Space, reported that Benjamin Timm, Environmental Project Coordinator for the Milwaukee Department of City Development (DCD), has applied for a brownfield to greenspace grant in conjunction with Milwaukee Urban Gardens (MUG) to do pollution abatement work on Garden Park at Locust and Bremen. (MUG is a land trust that provides insurance.) The City is working with MUG and residents to acquire Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) approval for long term use of the land as a Garden and Market. MUG would own the land, and Riverwest residents would be responsible for its care. • Concerns were expressed by some residents about possible environmental problems resulting from vehicles on the flood plain of the river (litter, construction debris, etc.) • Residents discussed the YMCA’s intent to close the CDC office and the possibility of a co-tenant. Residents also expressed concern over the YMCA’s use of money allocated to Riverwest by the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) fund. Residents suggested forming a YMCA CDC advisory committee to work more closely with the YMCA on how money is used in the neighborhood. • Tom Stocco accepted nomination for RNA treasurer. • Next meeting set for Tuesday, Feb. 11, 7 p.m., at the CDC office at 604 E. Center St. • Numerous residents adjourned to a local watering hole for good conversation and good beer. The RNA meets on the second Tuesday of each month. Meetings are held at 7 p.m. at the CDC office at 604 E. Center St. Everyone is welcome, and all neighborhood residents are eligible to vote. Riverwest Currents – Volume 2 – Issue 2 – February 2003
by Sonya Jongsma Knauss / based on minutes by Eryn Moris