From the Neighborhood
by Mark Allen Maser, president
Blackstone Neighborhood Association
Neighbors & Friends Join Forces for Fundraiser: Historic Blackstone Revealed Architectural Tour Oct. 8 & 9
While we are working hard to mount our preservation project, we will first be doing a fundraising project, Historic Blackstone Revealed, in early October.
Our fundraising goal is $25,000. With the money raised, we plan to work with neighborhood residents and supporters to identify a priority list of properties that could be in danger of demolition or being significantly altered in the future. Once identified, proceeds from the fundraising tour will pay the professional fees to protect the properties by locally landmarking them. Currently, local landmark status is the only reviewed protection that saves a building from immediate demolition.
Join your neighbors as we blend our voices in guiding the direction of our district. Just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can chat about how you’d like to get involved or how to get on the e-mail list. Let’s get busy.
New Website Launched
This newsletter is one of the ways we hope to better communicate with our neighbors and friends. But now we are announcing and introducing our brand new website at www.HistoricBlackstone.com. We hope you will check it out and offer suggestions and feedback to make it better.
All Hands on Deck
Staging such a large-scale project is going to mean all hands on deck. This will take all of us working together, like we always do, to make this a success.
Please volunteer during the tour Saturday, Oct. 8, and Sunday, Oct. 9. See below for details:
Historic Blackstone Revealed Tour Volunteer Form (google.com)
Please join us for a volunteer appreciation and sign-up event Saturday, Aug. 20, from 3:00 to 5:00pm hosted at The Nest by Nite Owl. Stop by for a cool beverage, meet and join other volunteers!
Besides volunteering, another way you can help is to purchase tickets to the tour. A ticket allows you to tour Blackstone neighborhood properties that are usually off limits. Also, special events surrounding the tour give you a chance to learn more about the history of the neighborhood from those who lived it. See below for more information:
Historic Blackstone Revealed – Blackstone Neighborhood Association
Thank You to our Major Sponsors
We have had good support for our project as well. Our project wouldn’t be successful without such widespread support:
- Kimpton Cottonwood Hotel
- City of Omaha
- Steve Martin & Amy Haddad
- Maser Family Foundation
- Lund Corporation
- Midtown Neighborhood Alliance
- Dundee Bank
- GreenSlate Development
- Tim Reeder/Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate
- Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate
- Mutual of Omaha
- John Fox Design
- Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation
If you can help support our efforts, please donate at this link:
Preservation Project – Blackstone Neighborhood Association (historicblackstone.com)
Special Thanks to our Hardworking Historic Blackstone Revealed Steering Committee
- Kristine Gerber | Chair
- Mark Maser | Chair
- Barb Farho | Sponsorships
- Kate Grabill | Events
- Nicole Malone | Logistics
- Rhonda Stuberg | Logistics
- Curt Snodgrass | Treasurer
Historic Blackstone Revealed Updates
by Kristine Gerber
The Historic Blackstone Tour committee has been hard at work planning the October 8 and 9th tour. Marketing for the tour has begun. See below for a flyer that you are welcome to save and share.We also encourage you to like and share the Historic Blackstone Revealed Facebook page. On the new Blackstone Neighborhood Association page, HistoricBlackstone.com, you can now purchase tour tickets and sign up to volunteer.
There are several ticket options, including our Golden Ticket that offers:
- One ticket to either the Sept. 19 luncheon or the Oct. 9 brunch (details below and on the website)
- 2 tickets to the Oct. 7 Patron Party in the newly-renovated Cloud Room on the top of the Blackstone Plaza building
- Free reserved tour parking, and
- A fast pass to get you in the front of the tour line at any of the tour locations
Don’t Miss these Special Events
As part of the tour, we are planning two events to share the history of the Blackstone neighborhood.
“We are pleased to present two extraordinary events surrounding the Historic Blackstone Revealed Tour.” said Special Events Chair Kate Grabill. “The history of the Blackstone Neighborhood will be brought to life with our notable speakers, Mary Creighton McDermott Maxwell and Mary Schimmel Bernstein.”
A Luncheon with Mary Creighton McDermott Maxwell*
Monday, Sept. 19, 2022
Kimpton Cottonwood Hotel
11:30am to 1pm
Ticket Price: $100
“Mary Maxwell was raised in the Gold Coast Neighborhood amongst Omaha’s industry and civic leaders,” Grabill said. “Her family was visited by dignitaries, even U.S. presidents. Mary’s stories, always humorous, will be a treat for guests at the luncheon.”
*Includes a special behind-the-scenes tour of the former Blackstone Hotel by those who helped restore it.
Cottonwood Hotel Brunch and Tour with Mary Schimmel Bernstein*
Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022
Kimpton Cottonwood Hotel
10:00am to 12:30pm
Ticket Price: $100
“As a young woman, Mary Bernstein’s father was named executive chef at the Blackstone Hotel,” Grabill said. “She will share her experience and memories of the Blackstone, now Kimpton Cottonwood Hotel, during its first heyday and her own career as a professional event planner.” A Schimmel through and through, Mary will delight guests with her stories of celebrities, events and even the Reuben sandwich at this event.
*Includes a behind-the-scenes tour of the hotel.
Kate Grabill is chair of the Events for Historic Blackstone Revealed. Her committee includes:
- Jennifer Bettger
- Fatima Basith
- Kate Brownrigg
- Jessica Covi
- Victoria Halgren
- Stephanie Hansen
- Angie Hempel
- Jeanie Jones
- Suzanne Kotula
- Cydney Koukol
- Beth Kramer
- Gabby Mormino
- Karen Nelsen
- Christine Nikunen
- Rhonda Wachholtz
Tickets can be purchased at www.historicblackstone.com.
Our goal is to get as many people as possible from the Blackstone neighborhood to volunteer the weekend of the tour. The tour provides a wonderful opportunity to get to know your neighbors and support the neighborhood association.
We need people to work a three-to-four-hour shift in one of the tour homes, taking tickets and guiding attendees through the spaces. All volunteers working a shift will get a free tour ticket (a $25 value). To sign up to volunteer, join us Saturday, Aug. 20, from 3:00 to 5:00pm for a fun, social event at Nite Owl. Sign-up here or e-mail us at email@example.com.
This is going to be an incredible event to support the neighborhood. Thank you in advance for considering playing a part in helping make it happen.
Nicole Malone is chairing the logistics committee for Historic Blackstone Revealed. Members include:
- Judy Alderman
- Dana Flint
- Nathan King
- Norita Matt
- Sherri Moore
- Deb Peterson
- Rhonda Stuberg
It Takes a Village
Our villagers have been busy lately. Thanks are due to them for volunteering and making our neighborhood better.
Yard waste collection is over for this season. During the collection period yard, waste is collected and turned into OmaGro. But now your options are limited:
- Buy special stickers to place on these bags so that garbage collectors will place them in the truck for hauling to the landfill
- Place the bags into your black garbage bin so they can dump them into the garbage truck for the trip to the landfill
- Take the bags and drop them off at the city’s composting site south of Offutt Air Force Base.
And all our thanks to the Blackstone Neighborhood Association Executive Committee. Their generosity of service to our neighborhood must be noted. You will find them listed in this newsletter.
Our thanks to Teresa Gleason at Polecat Communications for her help with this newsletter. Find her at www.facebook.com/polecatcommunications.
We need your help. We can always find a way to work together, but we especially could use you if you have experience with:
- Graphic design
- Website updating and technical wizardry
- Social media expertise
- Newsletter article & story writing skills
- Historic research
- Social events
- Beautification projects
- Preservation projects
Please become a member of the Blackstone Neighborhood Association. You will get updates on what is happening, and your voice can be heard. Find more information about how to join at the bottom of this newsletter or the link below:
Membership – Blackstone Neighborhood Association (historicblackstone.com)
Farnam Fest to Return This Fall
- Second Saturday, Oct. 8
- 3:00pm until late
- Live music
- Pub specials
- Watch for details here
Street Calming Controls a Success on Farnam Street
The City of Omaha recently installed changes to the Farnam Street Business District. This has proven to be effective in slowing down the automobile traffic on Farnam Street and allowing pedestrians to cross the streets more safely. Traffic is now one lane in both directions. The middle lane is for turning only and includes posts near the crosswalk. You’ll find this softscape in place between 36th and 40th streets. With upcoming development, including the streetcar, these temporary changes will become permanent.
* * * *
Neighbors – stay on the lookout as construction continues in abundance in the neighborhood. Exciting projects are under way as our neighborhood grows. Yet that involves growing pains. Prolonged street closures can be especially annoying. Some neighbors have reported that illegal parking is an issue. Do not hesitate to contact the Mayor’s Hotline when you see scofflaws.
Omaha Mayor’s Hotline | 402.444.5555
Street Construction Problems & Complaints | 402.444.5220
Blackstone Neighborhood Association General Membership Meeting
July 26, 2022 | 6:00 pm
People Present: 12
Mark Maser, president, called the meeting to order at 6:03 pm on Zoom.
Minutes of the last meeting:
Approval was moved by Jim and seconded by Cathy and approved unanimously.
Curt stated that the balance is $3297 in unrestricted funds and $2121 in the beautification fund. Income from the tour project has come in. The current net amount in that fund is $14,732. He has received a few more dues. Curt reminded the group that dues are $20 per household, payable to the treasurer.
Maser asked that members encourage their neighbors to join or to provide contact information to Maser or Stuberg to be contacted for membership.
A bylaw change was proposed. The following bylaw change was proposed by Curt Snodgrass and seconded by Jim Farho. It passed unanimously.
ARTICLE 4 – MEMBERSHIP
Section 1. Eligibility for Membership
Any individual (at least 18 years of age) or business, who resides or owns property within or near the association boundaries is eligible for membership in the association. A member is any eligible individual who has paid the annual dues for the current calendar year.
Section 2. Fees and Dues
Dues: Annual dues, in amounts set by the Board of Directors, shall be payable by households and business members each calendar year. Dues will be collected by the treasurer. Dues shall not be prorated for a partial year membership. Dues shall be used by the association to cover the costs for postage, printing, photocopying and other such expenses necessary in carrying out the day-to-day business of the association or any special projects approved by the executive board.
Neighborhood Construction Developments:
- No current report on the properties at 517 and 521 S. 38th Avenue.
- The eight story GreenSlate development on Farnam between 37th and 3rd Street has begun. It is expected to take more thantwo years to complete. Expect the crane to arrive soon.
- Noddle Development continues to close 38th Street between Dewey & Jackson. They have stated that it will open again in August.
- The Burlington Development at 38th & Leavenworth Street’s closure will continue to at least year end.
- Maser reported that Dundee neighbors attending a committee meeting were very interested in our “locally landmarking” project, as they are seeing an increase in construction incursions into their neighborhood.
Rhonda reported that the planters are in full bloom. Thanks to those neighbors who are caring for the containers they have adopted. Be sure to water in this summer’s heat. Pinch back the sweet potato vine, as it is growing well, in spite of the heat.
Mark gave updates on the home tour, including that the brand new website is now live. He gave us some dates to save:
- Monday, Sept. 19, a lunch with Mary Creighton Maxwell, a local humorist who grew up in the neighborhood.
- Saturday, Aug. 20, will be a volunteer recruitment event at the Nest, part of Nite Owl on Farnam.
- Oct. 7 – a patron party in the Cloud Room of the Blackstone Plaza.
- The tour is set for October 8 and 9th (10-4 on the 8th and 12-4 on the 9th). There will be a brunch on the 9th with Mary Shimmel Bernstein, whose father owned the Blackstone Hotel.
Maser reported that the BNA has received about $18,000 in grants and sponsorships as well as in kind support of about $15,000. The steering committee believes it is on track to meet its goal of $25,000 net proceeds from the tour and events.
Ten properties will be on the tour. Advance tickets are now on sale. $20 tickets are available on the website. Tour weekend tickets will be $25 at the door. Many tickets have already been sold. We need more volunteers. Sign up is on the website.
Benefits of the tour project include the creation of an association website, a bimonthly newsletter and the ability to take payments on line, all which will help to better communicate with neighbors and the community.
We still need a social chair. We will assess a holiday gathering after the tour project.
Midtown Neighborhood Alliance:
Kathy reported that the last MNA meeting focused on pedestrian safety as a result of the example set by the BBID and its attempts at calming traffic on Farnam. A committee devoted to such will be formed. MNA is also working to better share with the community the work that it does – tree planting, mini grants and more. MNA will be our fiscal agent for purposes of the tour. MNA is taking nominations for their good landlords award.
Blackstone Improvement District:
Jim Farho and Matthew Oberst reported for the BBID.
- A pilot project to reduce traffic lanes from 36th to 40th on Farnam Street started in May and has proved successful. Pedestrian safety drove the change. The BID funded the engineering of the change for the city to implement. This pilot will run until the final project’s hardscape changes are funded. The goal is to be part of the 2023 construction cycle. BID requested $2M in infrastructure funding from Rep. Don Bacon’s office – should know if approved September or by year end.
- BBID has created a mechanism for feedback on this project and would appreciate your response.
- The Streetcar project and the BBID street project are cooperating as both plans move forward.
- The streetcar is currently planned along Farnam Street, traveling in both directions in the traffic lanes. It will run from 10th to 42nd streets, possibly to Saddle Creek if the Med Center is persuasive in its efforts to move the terminus farther west. There will be two stops in Blackstone – possibly at 36th and 40th streets. At 10th Street, it will also service the baseball park and arena/convention center.
- Safety is paramount for the BBID. It currently funds patrols in the area but may be moving to an off-duty police officer. The City of Omaha’s SE Precinct has suggested it will be placing mounted and bike patrols in the area, but have not yet been seen.
- Bids are now being taken for the Christmas lights project on Farnam Street. Lights are expected to in place by Nov. 1 and remain lit through the winter season.
- The BID has approval for smaller banners for acorn lights. The smaller banners can be changed by the BID and reflect events – Farnam Fest, 2nd Saturday events, Maha events, neighborhood tours, etc.
- All street lights have been upgraded to LED to promote safer, well-lit sidewalks and streets.
- A new mural will be created on the upper west exterior wall of the Mula building.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:26pm following a motion by Jim, seconded by Ron.
Mark Maser for Scott Jones
Secretary, Blackstone Neighborhood Association