Meeting Minutes 06/04/2003

Minutes from the June 4, 2003 Meeting of The Friends of Dicken Woods

We opened the meeting with introductions by all members present. Erik Stalhandske then reviewed the most recent updates:

  • Our 5/16/03 meeting with the Diocese of Lansing (DoL). We learned that Crosswinds Communities has backed out of their purchase agreement with the DoL; that the property is still on the market and that there are two other developers interested; that the price in the Crosswinds agreement was $500,000; and that the Diocese was going to give us time to prepare a viable plan for the perservation of Dicken Woods. We have until June 27th to submit that plan to the Diocese.
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  • Erik and Naela Jenkins spoke at the May 19 meeting of the Ann Arbor Parks Advisory Commission, and Naela submitted a letter to Ron Olson (as requested) on June 3. Olson will distribute the letter to the Commission. There will be a meeting of the Parks Acquisition Subcommittee meeting at 4:30 on Thursday June 5. A number of Steering Committee members will speak there as well.
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  • Erik, Jim Boyd and Jack Eaton spoke at the Sunday June 1 City Council Caucus session. Beth Loesch prepared very well received packets of information including the brochure, the first press release, the environmental assessment report, and a Friends of Dicken Woods button. Council members studied the information and asked interested questions.

Stephanie Hunter reported that she and Deb Norbotten distributed approximately 700 brochures and garage sale flyers over the past weekend! Our neighbors all over the area were eager to hear more and were generally very pleased at what the Friends are doing.

Discussion continued on outreach options, and it was decided that we would order another 50 yard signs. Most of the first 100 signs have been distributed and they continue to have a positive effect. We also decided to investigate bumper stickers. They can be taped inside the window if people don't want to apply stickers.

Next, Jim Boyd discussed the first Dicken Woods Clean-up Day, this past Saturday, May 31. Despite yucky weather, we had approximately 20 people, from the ages of 6 to 80 (thanks MaryLou!), and cleared out approximately 18 bags full of trash. The Ann Arbor News sent a photographer as well as Cathy O'Donnell to report. We expect the story in the paper in the next few days.

Erik then reviewed the 5/31/03 press release which was sent to the Ann Arbor News, as well as WAAM, WUOM, WEMU and WTKA radio stations. The web site now has a 'press room' for press-related information.

Erik also discussed plans for a benefit concert at the Ark on either Thursday 8/21 or Friday 8/22. We have received incredible help from David Barrett, who has recruited very talented musicians for us. The Ark sits approximately 400 and it will be important for us to pack the place. Mark the date on the calendar and plan to buy tickets. Bring some friends and family too!

Naela reviewed plans for the massive garage sale on 6/27 and 6/28. The sale will be at Naela's, 1430 Dicken, from 9:00 - 5:00 both days. If rain is a problem, an alternative date will be set. Naela is ready to begin accepting items now. Please don't wait to bring items in good, clean, working order. They can be dropped off on the porch. Pick up can be arranged for larger items. Contact Naela at naelajenkins@comcast.net or 327-1051. We will have informatin about Dicken Woods at the sale, including sign up sheets to join the Friends, brochures, and a donation bucket. Cookies and lemonade will be for sale, possibly by a Brownie Troop.

Jim Boyd then reported on our non-profit status. The Friends of Dicken Woods is now an incorporated non-profit organization in the State of Michigan. We are still working to determine if we should get our own tax exempt status (501c3) or if we should rely on another non-profit organization (possibly the Washtenaw Land Trust or the Ecology Center) as a fiduciary sponsor. Naela spoke with WLT and Jim will call the Ecology Center to investigate further.

We reviewed expenses to date. While not complete, expenses to date have included $500 for the environmental assessment, $390 for yard signs, roughly $120 for buttons, $50 for meeting space, $35 for the web site, $25 for non-profit filing, and $20 for printing, totaling over $1,100.

The next agenda item was election of officers for the newly incorporated organization. Jack Eaton led this discussion, encouraging comments and discussion on any issue, but especially on the slate of officers that was proposed by the Steering Committee. It was decided that these first officers would be elected for 2 year terms, and one of their first responsiblities would be to draft by-laws which would be brought back to the group for discussion and a vote. Marian Williams offered very nice comments on the dedication of the steering committee so far and said from her experience with other grass roots efforts, this one was quite effective. Jim Boyd noted that any individual who has an interest is encouraged to step forward, that we are an open group and that our members are encouraged to play any role they choose.

Jack identified the proposed slate as: Erik Stalhandske for President; Naela Jenkins and Tom Ivacko as Co-Vice Presidents; Jim Boyd as Secretary; and Deb Norbotten as Treasurer. The Steering Committee will also serve as the Board of Directors. Leslie Westbury moved that the slate be elected as proposed, and Helen Barr seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous and the first officers were set.

Erik then reviewed the next steps:

  • We need to submit our plan of action to the Diocese by 6/27. Erik suggested that anyone who would like to participate in crafting that plan is welcome. We hope to get letters of support from other organizations. Letters have been sent to the citizen's oversight committees for both Allen's and Malletts Creeks, the Washtenaw Land Trust, the Ecology Center, the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society, and the Huron River Watershed Council. Judy Burgess noted that many St. Thomas students and families live in our neighborhood, and that they probably would be willing to submit letters of support. Judy will contact them. It was also suggested that we approach Peter Allen (local developer and faculty at UM) for further advice on the property, as well as the Dicken PTO for letters of support.
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  • On fundraising, Erik noted that in the first two weeks, pledges totaling approximately $19,000 have been received. This has come so far from a small number of people, ranging in size from $5,000, to $1,000, to a few hundred dollars. Our goal is to raise $50,000 in donations, and possibly more from other fundraising efforts. It is important to note that two other efforts similar to ours are currently underway in Ann Arbor. The citizens on the Sunset Ridge project have already raised $78,000 in pledges (with a goal of $100,000) and the citizens on the South Pond project have already raised $26,000. Our $19,000 raised at the start represents 38% of our goal.

Next, Amanda Humphrey reviewed the draft logos that she has designed, which are wonderful. The graphics were passed around the room for comments. We hope to use the logo on the web as well as on brochures, flyers, letterhead, etc.

Eason Chun then discussed his offer, as President of the Ann Arbor Western Kiwanis Club, to host a speaker from the Friends at the next weekly lunch meeting of his group. Max Ziegler, with the downtown Kiwanis Club also discussed his group. Fund raising possibilities were discussed and it was decided that the Steering Committee would followup.

Finally, Jim Boyd noted that the Ann Arbor Observer is interested in covering our story and that Jim will followup with them. Erik noted that the next meeting of the Friends will be on July 14 at the Trinity Lutheran Church at 1400 West Stadium Blvd (across from Greenview), at 7pm.

The meeting ended at 8:30 pm

Action Items

  • Steering Committee/Board members will attend the 6/5/03 meeting of the Parks Advisory Commission's Parkland Acquisition Subcommitee
  • 50 more yard signs will be ordered. Tom Ivacko will place the order; Kay Holsinger and Doug Wood offered to pay for this batch.
  • Judy Burgess will investigate options and costs for bumper stickers.
  • Once the Ark concert date is set, Erik will create a press release for the Ann Arbor News and others.
  • Anyone with good items for the garage sale should take them now to Naela Jenkins, or contact her for info.
  • Naela will send another message to the 'all' group with logistics info for the garage sale.
  • Laura Hawkins will investigate if the Brownie Troop will be able to sell cookies/lemonade at the sale and will coordinate with Naela
  • Jim Boyd will contact the Ecology Center regarding tax exempt sponsorship. If things don't work out there, Jim will file the paperwork to get our own tax exempt ID.
  • Naela will investigate tax implications of possibly getting donations back after taxes have been filed.
  • The new officers and the Board of Directors will draft by-laws for review and approval by the Friends.
  • Tom will send a letter to the local Nature Conservancy office, requesting a letter of support for our plan to the DoL.
  • Judy will contact St. Thomas families and teachers to request support for our plan to the DoL.
  • Erik will re-contact Peter Allen for further advice and assistance.
  • The Board will consider approaching the Dicken PTO for support.
  • Erik will followup with Max Ziegler and Eason Chun regarding possible Kiwanis support.
  • Jim will followup with the Ann Arbor Observer regarding a possible story about the Friends.
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