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RNA Minutes

by Eryn Moris

The Riverwest Neighborhood Association (RNA) welcomed a number of new faces at its monthly meeting, Tuesday, March 11. Nathan Grasse from the city’s Environmental Services Committee presented a public art project involving the beautification of urban hardware- in particular, the ugly transformer boxes found in the medians of city streets and boulevards. The transformer box on Humboldt and Auer was chosen as one of three pilot sites for the project. The RNA voted on the embellishments for the box, choosing between the two most recently designed Riverwest neighborhood posters. The design chosen was the poster depicting a signature Riverwest Polish flat. The design on the poster will be enlarged and applied to the sides of the box facing traffic. In subsequent RNA proceedings: • There was a brief discussion on the future of the former Biopak building adjacent to Gordon Park on Humboldt and Center. In addition to the proposal presented to the RNA last month for a restaurant and retail facility, there was a new proposal for a gallery space and multi-cultural center with space allotted for for-profit businesses to cover the costs of the lease and any necessary renovations. • After three months of revisions and much debate, the RNA Gentrification Position Paper was finally approved and will be sent to relevant city officials. Gentrification is defined as the restoration and upgrading of deteriorated urban property by middle-class or affluent people, often resulting in displacement of lower-income people. The discussion at the March meeting addressed questions of whether gentrification can occur by individuals moving into “distressed” properties and making renovations thereby increasing property value; or whether gentrification is more a result of developers demolishing existing housing and building luxury housing available only to high-income tenants. The statement was designed and passed with the intention of letting developers know that the RNA would like some input on development projects occurring in Riverwest to maintain affordable rent and property taxes for current and prospective residents with fixed incomes. • As a follow-up to last month’s approval of the RNA Freeway Expansion Position paper, the RNA voted to become affiliated with Citizens Allied for Sane Highways (CASH). CASH is an organization whose mission is to find reasonable and affordable solutions to Milwaukee’s freeway problems. • On Saturday, April 12, there will be a Riverwest Spring Cleanup. Those interested in participating may meet at the YMCA Holton Youth Center at 510 E. Burleigh St. at 8:45 a.m. to pick up bags and gloves. For more information please contact Community Partner Mark McInerney at 263-8383 ext. 141. Late in the evening the group finally arrived at the meeting’s main objective: the passage of the remaining RNA bylaws. The bylaws are necessary for the RNA to be able to apply for status as a non-profit organization. The first issue to be decided, regarding the eligibility of RNA members to vote, had been tabled at the February meeting. It was decided that constituent RNA members must attend two meetings in order to vote on an issue. A long discussion regarding the necessity and responsibilities of an elected board preceded the passage of the remaining by-laws. Some concern was expressed that a board divides the group into two unequal parts; however, a board must be present for the RNA to function as a legal, non-profit organization. The group approved an elected board of between three and five representatives, whose duties will be defined at a later time. Any RNA member who opposes a part of the newly approved bylaws may propose an amendment at a monthly meeting. The next step is for the RNA to submit a 501(c)3 form requesting non-profit status. The next RNA meeting will take place Tuesday, April 8, at 7 p.m. at the YMCA CDC office at 604 E. Center St. Riverwest Currents – Volume 2 – Issue 4 – April 2003
by Eryn Moris