President’s Message

The role and value of strategic planning.

The work done by the MBRA Board of Directors is guided by a framework of ensuring the “day-to-day” activities of the neighborhood are handled in a coordinated, deliberate way.

However, a key piece of our work is how we look at our future aspirations as a neighborhood – how we ensure the legacy of Moss Bradley for future generations.  We must begin to create a road map that tells us where we are going and what kind of neighborhood we are going to be.  We simply cannot continue to hold on to the ways of the past and hope we remain a vibrant neighborhood.  This presents a great challenge for us.

The first step in this process will soon be implemented.  We are getting ready to launch a short survey which will provide us some insight into what you believe are important issues about our neighborhood.  It’s not going to ask about renters/landlords or traffic/speed as we know those are very real and present issues that have plagued us for quite a while.  What this survey will do is help us identify issues that are important to you – finding out attitudes and reactions, to measure your satisfaction and to gauge opinions about various issues.

We will post the survey online for those of us who utilize the internet as our preferred means of communication.  Notification will be made via email and our Facebook account.  For those individuals who prefer, we will have hard copies available at both the March and April Membership meetings.  Our plan is to also have individuals canvas the neighborhood and reach those individuals that are not currently members.

The results of this survey will provide the Board of Directors a better understanding of its membership and their concerns.  It will also serve as a guide for how we approach the coming years in a strategic manner.

 

 

 

 

2018 MBRA Volunteer of the Year Award and MBRA Beautification Award

Call for Nominations

Nominations due no later than March 31st, 2018!

Nominees for the awards should meet the following criteria:

Volunteer of the Year Award:

  • Resident of the Moss-Bradley Residential Neighborhood or member of the Moss-Bradley Residential Association.
  • Record of neighborhood involvement i.e., past service on the MBRA Board*, member of the MBRA Social Committee, contributor to the MBRA newsletter, volunteer for the Moss Avenue Sale, 4th of July Celebration, Neighborhood Clean-up, Christmas Party, Tri-Corn Park, or Annual Meeting, etc. Record of community involvement which serves the interests of the neighborhood i.e., Bradley University liaison, West Bluff Council, Peoria Historical Society, Westminster Food Drive, River City Marathon, Historic Preservation Commission, City Council, Moss-Bradley Revolving Fund, etc.

Past Award winners include Paul Masick and Ed Bannon & Joanne Tarbuck

Beautification Award:

  • Property within the Moss-Bradley Residential Neighborhood.
  • Exterior improvements that have enhanced the appearance of the property and of the surrounding neighborhood.
  • Exterior maintenance that enhances the appearance of the property and of the surrounding neighborhood.

Past Award winners include Andrew & Mary Muir, and Wayne Johnson

 

Photographs are encouraged.  If possible, submit a photo with your nomination.  Current MBRA board members are not eligible for nomination. Submit the nomination form to the chair of the MBRA Award Committee by March 31st, 2018 by clicking here.

Winners of both awards will be announced at the Annual Meeting

Councilman Chuck Grayeb

With the vernal equinox and Spring upon us, it behooves us to look at the opportunities ahead.

First, the Chase Bank Building downtown will be restored with historic tax credits. It will become the headquarters for roughly 18 OSF hospitals and a further testament to the strong commitment of the Sisters of the Third Order to our great city. When retrofitted, it will house 750 OSF employees who will be a stone’s throw from our neighborhood.

Great things are happening! I see a vibrant corridor of opportunity stretching from Western and Main and extending to the new OSF development as well as Warehouse District.

Many additional high paying union jobs will be created during the retrofit stage, complementing the work at Bradley’s Convergence Center site.

A built out NEW Bradley student housing development at Main and Garfield will enhance the vibrancy of West Main as we approach the Main and Sheridan intersection and result in even more jobs! A new cross signal will soon be installed to help residents and shoppers cross a very busy and vibrant West Main Street and facilitate a safe crossing for the Central Illinois Ballet students.

The work on West Moss Brownstones is commencing,  and we will have a new Douglas A. MacArthur Bridge by November.

On a different note, we must again beat back the reckless and grossly irresponsible recommendation

to close the Science Lab on North University. Two hundred government scientists must be allowed to continue their life saving research. Working with our Congressional and Senatorial delegations, we can win this battle again.

We also have a new Acting Police Chief.  Loren Marion III has assumed the position, and I will continue to work closely with him to assure that he has a complete understanding of some of our security challenges.

I wish all of you the best and will see you soon.

 

 

An Open Letter

From Rod Lorenz

Peoria Public Schools Proposal

At the Moss Bradley Residential Association February 7 membership meeting representatives from Peoria Public Schools (PPS) presented a proposal to utilize the Westminster Parish Hall for a new PPS program.  The new program, called a “wrap-around center,” would be installed in the Parish Hall, the building next door to the church.  The basic concept is that PPS serves many children and families that need a variety of social services currently provided by as many as 10 different agencies.  In a wrap-around center each of these agencies would maintain a presence so that an individual family could be served by multiple agencies at the same location, i.e. a one stop shop for social services.  The appeal of this concept is partly related to the belief that most families who might benefit from these services lack a vehicle or other means of transportation; thus, it is difficult for them to get access to multiple agencies.  PPS Superintendent Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat was careful to indicate the proposal is in early stages of discussion after Westminster Church offered access to the Parish Hall that is mostly unused today.

The proposed center at Westminster would serve children (and families) directed to it from PPS primary schools throughout town though most of the children would be residents of South Peoria, or zip code 61605.  The children served at the proposed facility would be those with problems that severely impact their learning and need lots of assistance.  The wrap-around center might also include rooms for “respite” instruction, i.e. a substitute schoolroom for a child that “just needs a break” from the usual classroom setting.  A wrap-around center for older students is already planned or in operation at Manual Academy.  PPS staff expects that most families using the Westminster facility would get there by school bus, or by City buses that stop at the intersections of Moss with Western and University Avenues.

At first look the wrap-around center concept seems logical.  Anyone who interacts frequently with young children from central Peoria understands the magnitude of the problems they may have and the potential benefit of easing access to helping hands.  PPS is to be commended for their genuine desire to help overcome the barriers to academic success, and for having the courage to step into what they could easily regard as someone else’s job.  We should also admire Westminster’s commitment to serve their community.  This proposal’s potential for positive impact on the future of certain children is not proven but could have important benefits for this community and should be taken seriously.

Unfortunately, many questions were not asked or couldn’t be answered at the meeting.  How many children/families would be expected to access the center each day, week, or year?  How many might be at the center on a given day, and how would the volume be regulated?  Exactly where in the city would these families likely reside?  What will be the operating hours?  Have the social service agencies committed to having staff at this facility, and who will bear those new costs?  Who will be responsible for the cost of operating and maintaining the facility? What will be the cost to the PPS budget for furnishing and operating the facility?  Has there been a search for suitable facilities for this program and is Moss Avenue the best location?  What impacts of wrap-around centers have been observed in other communities and how have impacts been measured?  It is hoped there will be opportunities to hear answers to these and many other questions before decisions are made.

The February 7 meeting was disappointing because of the small number of Moss Bradley residents present—probably less than 10% of owner-occupied residences in the neighborhood were represented.  It should be understood that Moss Bradley remains a vulnerable neighborhood.  The fraction of residential properties that are rentals, mostly owned by landlords who live elsewhere, is thought to be approaching half.  Most of these properties are not maintained to the same standard as owner-occupied homes.  We cannot take for granted that the positive trajectory seen in Moss Bradley over the past 15 -20 years will continue automatically.  Residents must remain involved for this neighborhood to thrive and keeping themselves and their neighbors informed about proposals such as this one is an important first step.  Attending MBRA meetings is one way to do that.

Stay tuned and ask questions.

 

 

 

 

President’s Message

The new year will be upon us and people make all types of resolution. Here are some resolutions I’d like to suggest we all consider for our neighborhood. Some of these ideas for comes from the Better Block project and from writer Sarah Goodyear.

Plant something…or plant more
Green, living things can radically change people’s moods and health. A tree or a flower brings great happiness, and it can connect you to the people in your neighborhood.

Pick up litter
This one is easy. Sadly, no matter where you live, there’s likely to be litter. Maybe it’s blowing around on the sidewalk. Maybe it’s dumped by the side of a street. If the debris not too horribly disgusting — some newspaper, a chips bag, a plastic bag, an empty bottle — just pick it up and dispose of it properly. This is probably the single easiest good deed to perform in any place in the world.

Get to know your neighbors
Really, even the irritating ones. Say hello and get a conversation started.

Find out who your government representatives are.
All of them. State, federal, county and city. Then, when you have a problem, you know who to go to to get it fixed.

If you see something, say something.
Something doesn’t look right? Properties in disrepair? Trash not being picked up? The city of Peoria has a service and app called Peoria Cares. Download it or call 309.494.CARE. Call the Peoria Police Department non-emergency number, 309.673.4521 or call 9-1-1 in emergency situation. Not sure who to connect with? Visit the Heart of Illinois 2-1-1 website at 211hoi.org.

Shop locally
The vitality of neighborhoods exist in a number of amenities including neighborhood business. We have a variety of local business along Main St. and in West Peoria that add to the vitality of our community and the wealth of our city.

Go for a walk
We have a great neighborhood with runners and bikers and dog walkers. Get out and enjoy what we have!

Build a Little Free Library
Build a Little Free Library next to the sidewalk that runs alongside your house to the park. Little Free Libraries are free book exchanges that promote literacy and a sense of community.

Visit a Senior or Shut-In
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 11 million people over the age of 65 live alone. While living alone doesn’t necessary mean that someone is socially isolated, far too many older adults are. Isolation can affect physical and mental health, make seniors more vulnerable to elder abuse, and make them more vulnerable during natural disasters, dangerous weather, and other crises too.

Councilman Chuck Grayeb

As we conclude 2017 and ring in 2018, we have much to be thankful for!

A new brownstone development on West Moss, the Central Illinois Ballet in the old Foster/Jacob building, and more projects just around the corner.

We have concluded a biennial budget which has a human face,  and we will continue to work hard to rectify the many difficult issues in Springfield and Washington, D.C., which impact our local budget. These influences are extrinsic to us but impact us all.

In 2018 the new Douglas A. MacArthur Bridge project will begin.

We also will continue to bear witness to the erection of The Convergence Center on the Bradley Campus — a lasting legacy for Peoria and Bradley University. Just as importantly, we will make plans to rebuild Main Street, making it more pedestrian friendly and the continued focal point for our vibrant West Bluff and Peoria area.

The 650 million dollar multi-year federal defense contract will continue to mean many jobs for Central Illinoisans who work at the East Peoria defense facility. I want to thank all of you for making us a great neighborhood and want to thank Brian Buralli, our dedicated President, and our NPO, Adrian Aguilar, for their tireless efforts to make our neighborhood one of the best in our nation.

Finally, we are fortunate to have Councilors Jensen, Rand, and  Ruckriegel as dedicated public servants who assist us in the maintenance of a high quality of life in the Moss/ Bradley area.

From my Family to yours, I wish you Happy Holidays and a very prosperous New Year!

 

Key HVAC Maintenance Tips for Fall and Winter

During those cold winter nights, your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system becomes the most valuable commodity in your home. But if it’s running poorly, that means less comfort and higher energy bills for homeowners. Heating your home and producing hot water are generally the largest energy expenses for any homeowner, so you can ensure your home heating bill remains as reasonable as possible by supporting your HVAC system and keeping it running properly.

Change the Air Filter and Clean the Vents

Changing the air filter every month is one of the most important things you can do to support your HVAC system. It’s also one of the easiest. The filter should be checked every month and replaced if it is dirty. Filters should be replaced at the very least every three months – no matter what. Keep up with this simple project by choosing a regular day to check the filter, such as the first or last day of the month.

Have It Inspected

Yearly service of your HVAC system ensures it runs properly. Homeowners should have the system inspected in the fall to best prepare it for the demands of winter. The Department of Energy website offers a list of helpful instructions to help homeowners find the right contractor for their needs.

If Your HVAC System is Ancient, Replace It

Replacing the home’s HVAC system is an expensive proposition, but if your system is old and inefficient, the added comfort and financial benefits of a new system can be very real. If your system is more than 10 years old, you should ask a service technician’s opinion on the longevity of your system. Replacing it with an Energy Star model could reduce your home’s annual energy bill by as much as 30 percent, per EnergyStar.gov.

Sufficiently Insulate the Attic

One of the easiest ways to help your HVAC system operate at peak performance is to lighten its load. Insulating the home’s attic keeps warm air in the home and prevents it from escaping outside. This allows your HVAC system to do less and still maintain the home’s proper temperature. Per EnergyStar.gov, a simple visual test will determine whether the home’s attic is sufficiently insulated. According to their recommendation, insulation in the attic should be high enough to obstruct the view of the floor joists. If this is the case, additional insulation will offer little to no benefit.

Install a Programmable Thermostat

Installing a programmable thermostat provides the technology to allow you to set the temperature in your home for every hour of the day, and it will keep to that schedule, day after day, week after week. Plus, depending upon the device, you can even adjust the temperature from your smartphone, meaning you can tweak the settings of your home thermostat wherever and whenever you might be.

 

Winter Care for Older Adults

Winter is an important time to check on older adult family members, friends, and neighbors to ensure they stay safe throughout the season. In addition to colder temperatures and snow, winter weather can bring an increased risk of health problems and injuries to older adults.

The Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness offers tips to consider when helping older adults this winter:

  • Falls are a concern for everyone, especially for older adults. Putting road salt, cat litter, or sand on sidewalks, steps, and driveways will make these areas as slip-free as possible. Non-slip shoes are also a great way to help older adults navigate slippery conditions.
  • Cold temperatures make older adults susceptible to hypothermia, a dangerous drop in body temperature. Learn the warning signs of this weather related illness and how to prevent it.
  • Shoveling can put too much strain on the heart. Older adults, especially those with heart disease or high blood pressure, should leave snow shoveling to others.

If you do not live near your older adult family members, it may be helpful to create a plan about how you’ll connect with them during an emergency. Download and complete the Family Emergency Communication Plan from America’s PrepareAthon! and share it with your family today.

Source: U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

 

President’s Message

Reflections on a year that has passed us by all too quickly….

It feels like we were all just gathering for our annual July Fourth celebration, which by the way had 183 people in attendance according to Paul Masick, our resident statistician.  But we all know better than that to assume time has stood still for us.

The one topic that continued to dominate our conversations this past year was traffic.  Speeding, in particular.  The city has installed a number of traffic calming devices throughout the neighborhood over the past 24 months.  Yet we still see people driving with no regard for safety or courtesy to others.  We continue to have conversation with our city councilors and staff in hopes of slowing down those who view residential streets as their own expressway.

Our summer started in a grand manner with another great tradition, the Moss   Avenue Sale and Festival, which celebrated its 37th anniversary this past June.  It was a warm, sunny day that saw strong attendance, bringing visitors to our neighborhood to experience our hospitality and lifestyle.  The net proceeds from the sale will be put to use to help fund the Hanging of the Greens and a number of other neighborhood initiatives to help improve the quality of life found in our neighborhood.

In late August, Scott Lewis Construction approached us all with a concept for developing the vacant land at the corner of Moss Ave. and Union St.  His vision, at that time, was to build 8 brownstone townhouses, the first truly new construction in the neighborhood since the rebuild of Westminister Presbyterian Church. Scott and his team continue to work with the city on the development of their plan to best fit the character of our neighborhood.

Thank you to all who make this neighborhood a great place to live.  From our board of directors to the many volunteers who invest their own personal time, we are blessed to have neighbors who care about the neighborhood we all live in.

Happy Holidays!

 

 

 

Councilman Chuck Grayeb

As the clocks fall back, it is time to look to our future.

The Council must settle the EPA lawsuit and carve out a responsible spending plan to carry our City forward. The budget should fund what YOU want. One of my predecessors spoke often of the primacy of core or basic services. Councilman Sandberg even opined that most folks don’t mind paying taxes if they can see a palpable and meaningful difference in their neighborhoods and lives. I agree wholeheartedly.

As we move forward with the balancing of the budget, we must look to public safety first. Police, Fire, and Public Works absorb most of the money, as you would expect. But building and environmental codes, IT, and all ancillary support positions are vital as well. Our City has shed hundreds of jobs over the past decade. The City is making do with less. But… we dare not jeopardize lives by cutting the basic services any deeper.

Soon the ice and snow will return. Make no mistake about it — those big yellow trucks which fight the elements and rebuild our infrastructure are critical as well.

I have long felt that I was fortunate to be a Peorian and I feel the same now. I have had a great deal of confidence in most budgets we have carved out in my seventeen years on the Council. I will fight hard to reflect your values and work for a budget which has a human face— a budget which does not stop all the progress WE have made together in District Two.

An additional issue of great concern to me is the amount of litigation still unresolved, which existed when the City was  self-insured. A successful wrongful imprisonment claim can make our 7.9 million dollar shortfall look like a picnic in the park.

My other great worry is the action of a malignant player which often cannot be predicted. Our police work hard to preempt criminal conduct but no one knows when the next outrageous act will be committed. This uncertainty extends throughout our troubled world. As your Councilman, I am working with our authorities to identify threats in the neighborhoods and shutter malignant properties before they damage us. Our Neighborhood Service Unit is designed to preempt problems and alert property owners of their responsibilities under our laws.

We will continue to rebuild our West Bluff and our City, and I remain cautiously optimistic that the Brownstone Development on Moss is viable and will be great for all of us. I hope all of you have a great Thanksgiving as we enter a beautiful holiday season. See you soon.

 

Annual Holiday Party – 2017

President’s Message

November is here and soon we will embark upon a 6-week venture thorough the holidays of friends, family, parties, and an excessive amount of food.  Food is closely tied to almost everything we do these days.  The fitness industry counts on use over eating during this time.

However, there is a large segment of our population that goes hungry – daily.  Here are some disconcerting figures about Hunger in the Peoria area from the Peoria Area Food bank:

  • 90 percent of individuals served in the Peoria Area Food Bank service area are “food insecure,” meaning they lack regular access to safe and nutritious food
  • 32 percent of the members of households served by Peoria Area Food Bank are children under the age of 18 years old
  • 90 percent of individuals served by Peoria Area Food Bank have a high school diploma or higher education
  • 87 percent of individuals served by Peoria Area Food Bank report purchasing the cheapest food available, even if they know it’s not the healthiest option

Hunger affects people we see daily.  Some are recognizable, most are not.  We once considered those who earned low wages as individuals most likely to suffer from hunger but that has changed over the years and now affects people from all walks of life.

As it relates to children, the Peoria Area Food Bank states:

  • Research shows that children who experience hunger face significant stress and challenges that can have a lasting effect on their physical, cognitive and behavioral development.
  • Hunger affects a child’s ability to learn and perform well at school. Children who experience hunger come to school ill-prepared to learn, are more likely to have trouble focusing in class, and may struggle with complex social interactions and adapt less effectively to environmental stress.
  • Children who rely on free and reduced-price school lunches are at even greater risk of hunger during evenings, weekends, extended school breaks and other times when school is out. For many, the meals they receive in school are the only regular meals they can count on receiving.

We have a number of resources available to us to help curb the problem of hunger, many of which are close to or in our neighborhood.  Here’s a quick list of Food Pantries and Soup Kitchens close to us:  WestMark Food Pantry, Sophia’s Kitchen, Salvation Army, Bread of Life Food Pantry, Southside Mission and many larger institutions including Peoria Area Food Bank, Midwest Food Bank, Heart of Illinois Harvest.

Take a moment, not only this holiday but every day, to consider helping those who are hungry – through donations of food, money or time.  Make a difference in the lives of those who need help.

 

 

Councilman Chuck Grayeb

At recent meetings on the West Bluff, I realized the great change in conversation as various developments are announced and indeed go forward.

On the Bradley University anchor side of the West Bluff, we have a 100 million dollar school project and investment which will forever change us. The new Business/ Engineering Convergence Center is a huge legacy project for one of our top community employers. Bradley’s academic atmosphere adds so much to the West Bluff,  and the students and faculty contribute much to our local community. Town/ Gown Relations have never been better.

At the Hale Memorial Church, much work is occurring under the Yaku Cultural Center banner. This development is potentially transformative and is near our great hospital and medical school anchors.

We are also blessed with a great Renaissance Park Community Association with its members’ great civic engagement on West Main.  Add to this mix a potential Brownstone Townhome Development across the street from the thriving Buddhist Temple, and one begins to see another sign of great and continued prosperity for our neighborhoods.

Millions of dollars have already been spent repairing the West Bluff infrastructure, with even more work coming with the soon to be rebuilt Douglas A. MacArthur Bridge.

As Thanksgiving approaches, we have much to give thanks for, as we continue to work on the preparation of our 2018 and 2019 biennial budget. This will be my 17th budget process as your City Councilman. I am reminded of the late Councilman Gary Sandberg’s admonition:  a community’s budget is oftentimes the embodiment of a community’s values— or at least the values of those sitting around The Horseshoe at that time.

I can assure all of you that, wherever I go, I am hearing that we must continue the rebuild of the heart of our City and dare not reverse course. Property values are rising once again and energy is returning to the heart of our City.  It is the place where our young people and

Creative Class want to live. I will not acquiesce in ruinous cuts which will detract from the resurgence in our neighborhoods. We have fought too long and too hard to turn back. We will cut unnecessary spending and look for a revenue source that will be helpful to all of us. We cannot spend or tax our way out of the current 7.9 million dollar deficit. We must work with scalpel like precision to forge a new biennial budget.

I hope to see all of you soon. Thank you, Councilors Jensen and Ruckriegel, for helping me deliver for District Two— a district second to none!