Wilmette Park District
Minutes of Special Meeting of the
Board of Park Commissioners
Monday, January 18, 2016
7:00 p.m. – Village Hall Council Chambers
Commissioners: President John Olvany, Vice President Amy Wolfe, Shelley Shelly, Bryan Abbott, Stephanie Foster, Ryrie Pellaton, Gordon Anderson
I. Meeting Called to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m.
A. Roll call taken
President Olvany commented on the agenda and schedule of the Board meeting and how it will continue. He highlighted that today being MLK Day the Wilmette Park District ran as usual and does every year. The Board will attempt to have an extremely transparent process for the community to evaluate the opportunity, proposals from Staff and consider alternative proposals from the public. Emails from the community have been received in regards to the harbor. He stated the Board is not considering the harbor that is in the hands of Wilmette Harbor Association. This meeting and the lease have nothing to do with the harbor. This meeting is in regards to a parcel of land referred to as 20 Harbor Drive. Currently there is a building on that piece of land that is owned and operated by the Sheridan Shores Yacht Club (SSYC).
President Olvany acknowledged an email regarding taxes for Wilmette residents on this particular piece of property. He thanked the resident for the email. He commented that the email will provide the Board with some incremental information that was not part of the original Staff memo.
I. Communications and Correspondence
President Olvany acknowledged that the communications and correspondence email in the packet has been received. He asked if anyone else had any additional communications or correspondence. Commissioner Wolfe highlighted that she has spoken to people in the community who are not in favor of this property. Commissioner Wolfe commented that after going through all the information she does not feel that this is something that is worth pursuing. President Olvany acknowledged the memo from Director Wilson regarding SSYC and Staff’s due diligence that has been completed. Commissioner Pellaton commented on some clarification in the Metropolitan Water and Reclamation District (MWRD) lease agreement regarding consumer price index for inflation which is not the case for this lease.
II. Recognition of Visitors
Dave Hanna, 1033 Greenleaf, Wilmette commented on the large cost of this property. He also pointed out that as mentioned above he feels is not a separate piece of land from the harbor. This building is the center of what happens. He stated that he is not a member of Sheridan Shores but uses the facility and lakefront area. He commented to have the voters weigh in on this. Commissioner Pellaton stated that with the turnaround for the bid there is not enough time.
John Bowman, 321 Washington Avenue, Wilmette commented that whoever would get the lease there will be a lot of research and coordination with the other entity being the harbor.
James Egan, 1618 Walnut Avenue, Wilmette commented that he feels that the best way to ensure the best uses would be to place that bid and get some control of it. He commented on putting in a lower bid. He feels that showing an interest is important.
Nancy Prial, 1049 Chestnut, Wilmette commented that if the park district takes on another property it will dilute the Park District from accomplishing its other goals.
Gale Roberson, 3140 Sprucewood, Wilmette commented that he feels that the District should not pursue this because there are too many other things to concentrate on.
Bruce Nesvig, 3115 Sprucewood, Wilmette commented that he feels that the District does not really have a vision for this. He feels that as a tax payer he does not want to fund the entire metropolitan sanitary district for this property.
Phil Serwich, 444 Ridge Road, Wilmette commented that taking on something like this without community input would be a big mistake.
Chris Wright, 3 Canterbury Court, Wilmette commented that he did not think it was prudent to bid on the property due to the renovations and low revenue it would generate for the District.
Joe Shipley, 117 Maple, Wilmette commented that if the District wins the bid he hopes that they would respect the history component.
Mark Weyermuller, 208 Lawndale, Wilmette commented that he is concerned about spending the money and being a tax payer.
Tom Scanlan, 1005 Chestnut, Wilmette commented on negative feedback he is receiving regarding the community wide survey and the question of the Sheridan Shores Yacht Club lease not being on the survey.
III. New Business
A. Discussion of PROPOSAL TO LEASE FOR THIRTY SIX (36) YEARS APPROXIMATELY 0.535 ACRES OF Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (“MWRD”) REAL ESTATE LOCATED AT 20 HARBOR DRIVE IN WILMETTE, ILLINOIS; NORTH SHORE CHANNEL PARCEL currently leased by Sheridan Shores Yacht Club
President Olvany commented that the piece of property is right at the entrance of Gillson Park. President Olvany commented that he feels it is a rare opportunity that the park district gets in order to broaden the facilities and programming for Wilmette residents and other patrons. President Olvany highlighted on the history of facilities. In 1994 the Community Recreation Center was purchased by the District from Alter Group after they had sold it to District 39. In 1972 the District purchased the Wilmette Golf Course from Northwestern University. In 2002 the District purchased Mallinckrodt from Loyola University.
President Olvany commented that MWRD put out the bid process on January 6th with a turnaround date of January 26th. This short time frame does not give the District the opportunity to go to referendum. He stated he reached out to the SSYC leadership team with an invitation this past summer to discuss ways to work collaboratively. The leadership team declined the invitation. He pointed out that the lakefront property, access, and amenities are limited. He stated that having access to Lake Michigan without needing a private membership is precious. There is no equivalent resource available on the lakefront for the public to enjoy. He feels that it is important as Board members to consider the entire constituency of 27,000 residents of Wilmette when we consider opportunities that are long term in nature. The Wilmette Park District runs an efficient operation with operating surplus from year to year.
President Olvany asked the Board members for their input. Commissioner Abbott stated that for him to be behind this bid it has to make financial sense. He commented that by putting in a bid it allows the District to be part of the decision process with WMRD. He commented that based on his initial walk-through that the building needs considerable improvements.
President Olvany moved to approve a bid for the subject lease for 20 Harbor Drive from the MWRD, and due to the state of the building and the lack of clear language in the bid documents regarding both the existing easements and well as the responsibility for real estate property taxes the annual lease payments in the Wilmette Park District bid are not to exceed $50,000 annually. Commissioner Abbott seconded the motion.
Commissioner Shelly stated that it is in the best interest to pursue any and all opportunities. She commented that there is no parking on this property, the water is not part of the lease, and the District will never own the property. The cost analysis for this building isn’t favorable at all and the ideas for use of it were not clear. Commissioner Foster agreed that it is for lease only and not for sale which is a whole different thing. Commissioner Anderson stated he does not see any compelling reason for the District to pursue this based on the financials. Commissioner Pellaton commented that he suspects that MWRD already has somebody they have targeted as the organization that they want there. He stated otherwise it would make sense to have a longer bid period. He commented that the drawbacks of entering into this lease agreement substantially outweigh the potential benefits. Commissioner Wolfe agrees with not pursing this lease agreement at this time and agrees with the comments already made. She commented that the short time did not work. The Board agreed that the building could be a useful addition to the park district but the short time frame did not work out. President Olvany pointed out that there is land that the District currently leases from MWRD.
By a roll call vote, voting Yes: Commissioners: Abbott, Olvany; voting No: Foster, Anderson, Pellaton, Shelly, Wolfe. Absent: None; motion denied.
There being no further discussion, the meeting was adjourned at 8:16 p.m.