Wilmette Park District
Lakefront Committee Meeting Minutes
Monday, December 1, 2014
6:30 p.m. – Mallinckrodt Community Center

Attendees Present

Commissioners/Committee: Chair Bryan Abbott, Gary Benz, John Olvany
Commissioners: James Crowley, Amy Wolfe, James Brault,
Staff:  Kathy Bingham, Bill Lambrecht, Holly Specht, Steve Wilson, Ken Eppelheimer,
Cindy Felicicchia, Jeff Bowen, Shelagh Donoghue

Attendees Absent 

None

I. Meeting Called to Order

Meeting called to order 6:33 p.m.

II. Approval of Minutes

A. Commissioner Olvany moved to approve the minutes from November 3, 2014, seconded by Benz; all voted yes, the motion carried.

B. Commissioner Benz moved to approve the minutes from November 12, 2014, seconded by Olvany, per changes in Section III, first paragraph, first sentence from, them to him. Commissioner Olvany also commented on Tom Scanlan’s comments stating that Wilmette Park District representatives “randomly approached the citizens…” Commissioner Olvany stated that a tent was set up that day for Staff and Commissioners and they were not randomly approaching citizens.

III. Communication and Correspondence

Commissioner Abbott acknowledged an email from Therese Heyek and Beth Drucker regarding a nature trail at Gillson Park. Commissioner Benz commented on their ideas and would like to endorse their suggestions. Commissioner Abbott stated he will give their comments to Staff for review.

IV. Recognition of Visitors

Commissioner Abbott thanked the visitors for coming (see attached list). He stated the Committee depends on the collective wisdom of the community. He asked visitors to limit their comments to three minutes. Commissioner Olvany stated that he had many conversations both publically and electronically in the past twenty days with people in the community about the Lakefront Master Plan.

Commissioner Olvany suggested Commissioner Abbott should get a sense of visitors’ interest with a poll. Commissioner Olvany asked the audience a few questions for a show of hands: (1) who is in favor of the entire plan as is, 0; (2) who is here for information, 8; and (3) who is against specific aspects of plan, mostly all raised their hands.

Tom Scanlon, 1005 Chestnut, Wilmette – He stated his dissatisfaction with the Langdon component of the Lakefront Master plan. He asked the visitors to raise their hand if they were opposed to the Langdon plan. Almost everyone in the room raised their hand. He believes there has been a communication issue in the public forum. He stated in the Board minutes in January that Commissioner Abbott suggested pulling out the Langdon component if it is too controversial. Mr. Scanlon would like to see this component removed from the Lakefront Master Plan.

Bill Hart, 1004 Ashland Avenue, Wilmette – He stated that the new plan proposed for Langdon does not protect the natural resources. He would like to see Langdon removed from the plan.

Peter Bauger, 1310 Sheridan Road, Wilmette – He stated that Langdon is functioning very well in its natural, small, unspoiled state. He stated that as a user of the park he wants to preserve it as it is. He believes consultants and staff are making the decisions and not the Wilmette residents. He commented on how lake levels will change over time and putting a building in that location does not make sense. Commissioner Abbott stated that the Board did come up with this plan along with Staff.

Fred Wilson, 1330 Sheridan Road, Wilmette – He stated that as an architect, he felt this plan is mundane and does not enhance the character of the beach. He stated the plans of a green roof will be hard to maintain. He asked if there was a way to open this up to competition for design input. Commissioner Abbott stated that W.B. Olson has been hired as the project construction management firm.

Amy Boyer, 1028 Sheridan Road, Wilmette – She stated that Langdon lost thirty feet of beach in 1986. She stated that Langdon should be separate from the rest of the plans.

Tom Scanlon spoke and asked former Lakefront Commission members to speak.

Beth Beucher, 1420 Sheridan Road, Wilmette – She stated that the boat was missed on the whole thing, not just Langdon. She stated that the Commission was never given any instruction. She felt that the Commission was never heard. She stated the organization failed to incorporate input from the people of Wilmette. She stated it was Staff, Consultants and Board that had input and that was it.

Richard Houszagh, 1619 Elmwood Avenue, Wilmette – He stated that the amount of money being spent on the small piece of land at Langdon is overkill. He does not like the schematic designs. He feels it should be open and natural. Commissioner Abbott stated that he wanted to assure Mr. Houszagh that he is keeping an eye on the spending.

Mary Shea, 735 Michigan Avenue, Wilmette – She feels that all the input on Langdon and Gillson came from Staff. She stated that the new beach house at Gillson will be 3 to 4 times the size of the old one. She commented about how she believes the District will be fencing in the lakefront beach areas. Commissioner Abbott stated that additional fencing has been voted down. She would like the District to have a contest on design input. She emphasized to the visitors to pay attention to the Gillson plan as well as Langdon.

Richard Prohov, 2435 Pomona Lane, Wilmette – He commented that the Park District needs to communicate better with the public. He stated that the project at Langdon is too expensive and is not a desirable design. 

Laura Born, 1200 Greenwood, Wilmette – She stated she is against the Langdon portion of the project. She commented that it is too expensive and unpredictable with the water levels of the lake. Safety was also another concern due to her belief there will be increased use at Langdon and the crossing of Sheridan Road for parking.

John Powers, 500 Maple, Wilmette – He commented on a walkway/underpass to be built from the Canal Shores Golf Course to Gillson. He asked Committee how the referendum vote gets on the ballot. Director Wilson stated that the Board would have to approve the language before January 20th for the April ballot.

John Golenty, 720 Ashland, Wilmette – He commented that he agreed with all the comments from the visitors in regards to Langdon. He also stated his concerns for safety due to crossing Sheridan Road for parking.

Elizabeth Cochran, 621 Park Avenue, Wilmette – She commented on the esthetics of the proposed Langdon project which is out of context. She asked if it was too late for citizen input. She asked where the WOW factor was for the cost of Gillson.

Margaret Tilson, 1144 Chestnut, Wilmette – She commented on Ms. Cochran’s statement of citizen input. Margaret Tilson stated that it is never too late for citizen input. She commented that she is very active and involved in the community. She stated she would like to respectfully request that the Langdon portion be completely removed from the referendum. She stated that she would like to keep the natural resources.

Elissa Morgante, 1537 Washington, Wilmette – She commented on a design contest for Langdon. Commissioner Abbott stated that a construction firm has already been selected for the designs. She asked if the District is putting the cart before the horse when the community has not agreed.

Michael McGuire, 2225 Greenwood, Wilmette – He stated the Park District should respectfully withdraw Langdon from the plan. He emphasized to not destroy the tranquility of the park.

Daron Romanek, 1716 Washington, Wilmette – He stated that any structure on the beach at Langdon will destroy the look.

Lurene Thomas, 2228 Elmwood, Wilmette – She agreed with most people speaking in regards to Langdon. She stated she would like it removed from the proposal.

Marilee Cole, 822 Central, Wilmette – She stated, “It’s a no-brainer.” Eliminate Langdon completely from the proposal. She asked to start from square one with something that will enhance the park and be unique. 

Ann Mueller, 1009 Ashland, Wilmette – She asked what it would take to eliminate Langdon out of the project. Commissioner Olvany stated that it is never too late for public comment. He thanked public for their dialogue and input. He commented that social media such as Facebook and twitter are ways to get the word out to see what the community wants.

Bill Jeffers, 812 Central, Wilmette – He commented on the fact that Gillson will be shut down for renovations, which he does not prefer.

Joe Tilson, 1144 Chestnut, Wilmette – He stated that it is a mistake to make Gillson and Langdon one package. He would like to see Langdon’s natural look preserved. He suggested respectfully dropping Langdon from the referendum question. 

Sara Cotter, 831 Michigan, Wilmette – She asked what the size of the beach house will be. Commissioner Abbott stated that it will be nominally larger, approximately 4,500 square feet. She stated that the parking lot should have greenery and islands of shade. Commissioner Abbott welcomed those ideas.

Kurt Mueller, 1009 Ashland, Wilmette – He asked if the plan will limit access to Gillson Park. Commissioner Olvany stated no.

Piper Rothchild, 1046 Elmwood, Wilmette – She asked at what point does the Park District no longer take public input. Commissioner Benz stated that getting public input is never too late. She asked if there was a vote on these plans or are they a concept. Commissioner Abbott stated that changes, tweaks, and design alterations will happen throughout the project.

Bradley Peacock, 809 Elmwood, Wilmette – He asked to pull out Langdon portion from the referendum question. This plan will only increase traffic and create safety issues.

Tom Scanlan, 1005 Chestnut, Wilmette – He commented that the next meeting will be the Board meeting on December 8th at 7:30 p.m.

V. Manager’s Report

Holly Specht reported on the following:

  • 10 rentals happened in November for Lakeview.
  • Interviewing for an Assistant Lakefront Manager.

VI. Lakefront Master Plan

Commissioner Olvany asked Superintendent Lambrecht if there was a reason construction-wise that two questions cannot be on the referendum. Superintendent Lambrecht stated he could not see a reason why two questions could not be on the referendum. Commissioner Abbott commented on the option requested by some visitors with a competition for design. Committee agreed it cannot be an option. The Committee discussed different options in regards to two different questions on the ballot or taking Langdon off completely.  The Committee agreed that the full Board should be updated on this meeting at the Board meeting and then a discussion can follow.

Commissioner Benz moved and Commissioner Olvany seconded a recommendation from this committee to go to the full Board to discuss referendum options and putting two questions on the ballot.  All agreed.

VII. Unfinished Business

None

VIII. New Business

None

IX. Adjournment

There being no further business to conduct, the meeting was adjourned at 9:08 p.m.