Minutes of Regular Meeting of the
Board of Park Commissioners
Monday, September 12, 2016
7:30 p.m. - Village Hall Council Chambers
Amended October 10, 2016

Attendees Present
Commissioners: President John Olvany, Vice President Amy Wolfe, Gordon Anderson, Bryan Abbott, Stephanie Foster, Ryrie Pellaton and Shelley Shelly

Secretary/Executive Director Steve Wilson
Staff: Jeff Bowen, Bill Lambrecht, Ken Eppelheimer, Marlon Rodas, Kathy Bingham, Libby Baker, Steve Holloway

Attendees Absent

I. Meeting  Called to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:30 p.m.
A. Roll call taken.

II. Approval of Minutes
A. August 15, 2016 Regular Minutes
Commissioner Shelly moved and Commissioner Foster seconded a motion to approve the minutes from the August 15, 2016 Regular Board Meeting. All voted yes; motion carried.

III. Communications and Correspondence
President Olvany acknowledged that additional communications were received after the packet was distributed.

IV. Recognition of Visitors
President Olvany addressed the visitors and reviewed the procedures for public comment.

Sara Schmidt – noted that she owns property across from Gillson which is landscaped with native Illinois plants and is a habitat for birds and butterflies.  She has significant concerns about the project; the scope is massive, it will dramatically change this portion of the park, and is concerned the park district won’t be capable of maintaining it.  She does not feel the park district is prepared to make it look as beautiful as it could be and wonders why it has to be in this part of the park.  She does not want to lose all the green space that she described as her front yard.  Ms. Schmidt expressed her disappointment that the plan went through so quickly, without asking the neighbors for input.  She asked the park district think about scaling back the plan.

Todd McCarthy –described his encounter at the park with Heidi Natura of Living Habits and expressed that he was not pleased with her attitude.  He questioned the number of volunteers and wondered if there will be enough.  He would like to see the park district scale back. He added that he welcomes the enhancement, but asked that it be spread out.

Amy Keller – in support of the bird habitat. She wants the park district to stick with the plan and can’t understand changing at the 11th hour.

Edie Rowell – heavy user of Gillson and representative of the Little Garden Club, one of the volunteer groups. She is in favor of the program as it is currently planned.  She understands and respects the issues people have raised, but feels Living Habitats has done a good job in picking plants that will provide the necessary tiers and support the birds.

Gerald Ginsburg - complimented the district for the planting, and feels the north end seems to be the least used area of the park and having a flower and plant garden will draw people there, has registered to volunteer, volunteers do make a difference and do produce results.

Dan O’Bara – he and his wife support the idea of a bird habitat but would like to see it spread throughout the park. They have concerns with the density and height of the plants.  He feels the park district should showcase the view of the lake whenever possible.  His specific requests include; relocating the beds and spreading them throughout the park, keeping the plants below 3 feet, downsizing and maintaining greenspace.  He feels that area east of the fence on the bluff face is overgrown and could be improved as part of this bird habitat initiative.

Mary Shea – thanked the board for considering making an adjustment to the bird habitat plan.  She is in favor of replacing plants and trees that have been removed.  She urged the park district to adopt the remaining portion of the habitat plan but feels it should be in the larger landscape plan for the entire park. She referred to the park district organizational chart and budget which shows an emphasis in recreational programming over park management.  She urged staff to consider correcting the imbalance of staffing in order to provide the stewardship the parks deserve.

Sara Cotter – expressed her concern that the densely planted nine beds will concentrate the risk of West Nile, and limits to the efficacy of the pesticides.  She doesn’t want more spraying and urged the board to consider spreading the plan across the large acreage of Gillson.  She added that she wished the neighbors had been informed as part of the process.

Cathy Pratt – Gillson is a treasure in Wilmette.  The Ouilmette Foundation, for whom she is the Treasurer and Board Member of, is raising the matching funds for the grant. She noted that there are already over 200 volunteers for the planting project.  She would like the park district to keep with the plan and hopes the district can come to terms with everyone.

Karen Glennemeier – explained that all the issues being raised by neighbors were already addressed and are part of the plan; they were addressed by Heidi during her presentation to the Lakefront Committee in July. Ms. Glennemeier expressed her concerns with delaying the project and hopes the board will think of the unintentional consequences of making changes to the plan.

Duke Riggen - volunteers with the Cook County Forest Preserve District and does not think recruiting will be hard. He supports the plan and feels changes would be disruptive and encouraged the park district to move forward.

V. Approval of Voucher List
Commissioner Anderson moved and Commissioner Foster seconded a motion to approve the Voucher List in the amount of $1,886,111,07 , a copy of which is to be attached to and become a permanent part of the minutes of this meeting.

By a roll call vote, voting Yes: Commissioners: Abbott, Anderson, Foster, Pellaton, Shelly, Wolfe, Olvany; voting No: None; motion carried.

VI. Executive Director’s Report
Director Wilson reported on the following topics:

  • Reached end of aquatic season, pool and beach closed.
  • Staff and board are focused on the budget process, each committee will review there section of budget in October and November – final budget will be approved in January.
  • Review of upcoming action items.

VII. Committee Reports
A. Financial Planning & Policy Committee:
Commissioner Anderson reported on the following topics:

  • The Financial Planning & Policy Committee met on August 22nd.
  • The Committee discussed the timeline for review of health care costs.  If the Board decides to not continue with PDRMA for health care coverage, the district will need to notify PDRMA by October 4.  The committee reviewed a draft resolution to PDRMA that will need to be approved in the event that the Board makes that decision.
  • Requests for Proposals are out to potential health care brokers to determine possible savings.  A special meeting may be called first week of October to make a determination, based on the results of the RFP’s.
  • Discussed the uniform budget increases.  Staff are tentatively using a 3% increase to fees, 2.5% increase in wages and benefits are flat.
  • The goal for 2017 is to maintain the cash reserves, fund the lakefront project, continue the operating surplus, fund capital needs.
  • In response to a question from Commissioner Olvany, Superintendent Eppelheimer noted that it may be possible to petition PDRMA for an extension, but feels we should have the information needed to make a decision within the timeframe.

B. Golf Operations Committee:
Commissioner Foster reported on the following topics:

  • The Golf Operations Committee met on September 10th.
  • The Committee discussed the conditions of course after the July and August rain events that closed the course. Due to rain, cart use was limited. Staff has been re-seeding and will continue to work on the course.
  • The practice bunker near driving range is being reconstructed and is out of service for rest of season.
  • Rounds are down this year, mainly due to August rain.  Other area courses have expressed the same.
  • Camp was a success with numbers the same as last year.
  • The new Women’s league was a success – 17 ladies attended on the last night.
  • The course is still busy with events. The local high schools are using the course for their match play.
  • Staff is trying out different types of golf carts in order to be well educated when we start the bid process for replacement of the old carts.  Carts are available for people to test drive and patrons are being asked to fill out a survey to share their input.

C. Parks & Recreation Committee:
Vice President Wolfe reported on the following topics:

  • The Parks & Recreation Committee has not met yet this month.

D. Facilities Operations Committee:
Commissioner Shelly reported on the following topics:

  • The Committee met prior to the regular board meeting.
  • Wilmette Hockey Association is finishing tryouts.
  • New Trier is hosting the Quad-Header Event at the rink November 19.
  • Fall Freestyle skating is prepping for regional competition.
  • The park district hosted a successful garage sale on September 10. Am vets took away many of the items that did not sell.
  • Facilities are working on budgets.
  • Great closing weekend at the pool – Labor Day was one of the largest attendance days of the summer.
  • Tennis permanent court time started this week. There is a sale in the pro shop through the end of September.
  • Paddle camps started September 12th and are full. Practices start next week.  There are 17 men’s teams and 8 women’s teams.
  • There was a lengthy discussion on the paddle league/drill structure and fees.  The committee would like staff to put together guidelines for players that want to move up.  We need to have specific plans in place as the program grows.
  • Discussed the possibility of additional courts.

E. Lakefront Committee:
President Olvany referred to the memo in the packet that gave additional background on the bird habitat project, including a timeline of the process to date. He also reminded the audience that the Board has already approved Beds 0-9 with a 5-2 vote and the plan stands as approved. The Board discussion tonight is taking place as a result of hearing from neighbors.

Commissioner Pellaton reported on the following topics:

  • The Lakefront Committee met on September 7th.
  • There was a fairly large turnout, those for and against the bird habitat plan, with emotional people on both sides addressing the committee. The Committee made a recommendation to have staff look at possible revisions to the existing plan, with consideration of time and budget, to accommodate concerns of neighbors while still fulfilling the goal of the bird habitat.
  • The sailing beach will close on October 16.  An email notification went out to boat owners that boats need to be off the beach at the season’s end if owners don’t have a winter storage contract.
  • Superintendent Lambrecht presented information on cost estimates related to the review of construction costs for the beach house/parking lot.  This will provide the Financial Planning & Policy Committee with more concrete numbers on how it will be funded. The Committee concurred to move ahead with W.B. Olson who will review the costs at no charge.
  • The Request for Qualifications (RFQ) was mailed to 12 firms and two additional firms have picked up a packet since the mailing.  The proposals are due next week.

Director Wilson reported on the following:

  • In response to the motion from the Lakefront Committee, Director Wilson asked Heidi Natura for feedback on the feasibility and impact of changing the approved plan for the bird habitat, specifically to:
    • Downsize some beds to leave more grass space and utilize the plants that are eliminated from the current bed designs elsewhere in the park that had been identified as locations for other beds, or on the face of the bluff.
    • Relocate a bed, or multiple beds, to leave more grass space and utilize the plants that would have been in these beds in other locations in the park that had been identified as locations for other beds, or on the face of the bluff.
    • Downsize all beds to leave more grass space and utilize the plants that are eliminated in the currently contemplated beds in either other locations in the park that had been identified as locations for other beds, or on the face of the bluff.
  • The options presented in the board packet addendum were developed based on the information received this morning from Heidi Natura.  Director Wilson reviewed the options:
    • Option 1 – make no changes and proceed as planned – no cost.
    • Option 2 – cancel the project – financial impact - $84,000
    • Option 3A – relocate 1 or 2 beds from their current location to the bluff face – financial impact - additional $1,800-$2,000 (approximately), plus staff time.
    • Option 3B - Reduce beds 6-9, currently south side of old beach entrance by 4500 sq. ft. – financial impact - additional $2,000.
    • Option 3C -Relocate 1 or 2 beds from their current location to other areas of the park – financial impact - cost $2,500.
    • Option 3D - Reduce all beds 1-3 ft. all the way around – financial impact – from $5,000-$6,500 – most costly option.
  • The redesigns options may not be done in time for the originally scheduled planting and would require a lot of staff time for planting at a later date

In response to questions from Commissioner Foster, Ms. Natura explained that the bluff face is plantable, but preparation work would need to be done to ensure success.  She added that by spreading out the plantings the synergy is lost.  The birds need all the layers provided by the proximity of the plants.  Maintenance also becomes more difficult. 
In response to a question from Commissioner Pellaton, Ms. Natura described the maintenance and time involved, which could be a few hours per bed, noting that it is dependent on the initial and ongoing care provided.    She went on to explain the process of planting and growing which should reduce the need for additional irrigation in the spring.  Fall planting was targeted to reduce the need for watering.
Ms. Natura also added that given the number of plants and the volunteers, the work could be accomplished in the timeframe.  Relocating beds could have some consequences for volunteers and redesign. Superintendent Lambrecht noted that seasonal staff will assist as needed once the planting has been completed.

In response to a question from Commissioner Anderson, Ms. Natura noted that the garden may attract mosquitos, but added that birds are vast consumers of mosquitos and converting the existing turf to vegetation can be a deterrent to stagnant water which propagates mosquitos.

In response to a question from Commissioner Olvany, Ms. Natura explained that the identified area for the bird habitat was chosen after many meetings with staff and several redesigns, all taking into consideration that current programming and other aspects of the park not be disrupted. She complimented staff for their involvement.

Commissioner Abbott emphasized his interest in keeping Ms. Natura involved.  He hears widespread support and understands there are concerns but his top priority is to get to a yes on the bird habitat this fall. He has concerns about the size of the beds and thinks the idea of opening views is a good idea.

Commissioner Abbott moved to direct staff to reduce the size of the beds by 10-20%.  The motion was not seconded.
Commissioner Pellaton moved and Commissioner Abbott seconded a motion to relocate beds 2, 4 and 7 to either the bluff or some other area of the park.

At the request of Commissioner Olvany, Commissioner Pellaton explained his rationale for choosing those beds; the beds will only be one deep from the street view, it reduces the overall blockage, and it will make it less dense. Commissioner Wolfe commented that currently there is no view from the sidewalk. Commissioner Pellaton stated that views do exist in winter when leaves are down and this relocation would reduce the thickness and push the plantings back slightly from the neighbors.

Commissioner Shelly commented that moving forward it is important to make sure we notify surrounding neighbors of projects.  In her opinion, the bird habitat and clearing the bluff are separate projects.  She is not in support of reducing the beds and does not feel that safety is a problem.  She would prefer not to incur additional costs and would like to proceed as planned.

Commissioner Wolfe also expressed her support, and feels that, changing plans contradicts what we have been selling to the community.

Commissioner Anderson stated that he is not in favor of moving beds but does have concerns about maintenance.  He stated that money needs to be in the 2017 budget to provide the necessary maintenance.

By a roll call vote, voting Yes: Commissioners: Abbott, Pellaton; voting No:  Anderson, Foster, Shelly, Wolfe, Olvany; Absent: None; motion is lost.

Commissioner Olvany commented that the Board and staff have committed to improving communication with the community.  For clarification he also stated that as a result of the vote, the previously approved plan will stand as is.
VIII. Unfinished Business

IX. New Business
A. Ordinance 2016-O-13, Authorizing Sale of Surplus Property

Commissioner Abbott moved and Commissioner Wolfe seconded a motion to approve Ordinance 2016-O-13, authorizing and providing for the disposal of surplus property of the Wilmette Park District, Cook County, IL.

By a roll call vote, voting Yes: Commissioners: Abbott, Anderson, Foster, Pellaton, Shelly, Wolfe, Olvany; voting No: None. Absent: None; motion carried.

B. Bid Approval for Paving Projects
Commissioner Wolfe stated that due to timing, this did not go through Committee.

Commissioner Wolfe moved and Commissioner Shelly seconded a motion to accept the bid from Evans & Sons Blacktop with a price not to exceed $305,287.00, for paving projects to include:  Hibbard tennis courts, Green Bay Trail, and the road at the golf course.

Following a discussion regarding soil remediation and the benefits of the   concrete curbing and geotextile fabric, the Board directed staff to include the bid alternates at a cost not to exceed $319,000.

Commissioner Olvany moved and Commissioner Abbott seconded a motion to amend the previous motion to read “with a price not to exceed $319,000”.  By voice vote, all approved.

Commissioner Wolfe moved and Commissioner Pellaton seconded a motion to accept the bid from Evans & Sons Blacktop with a price not to exceed $319,000, for paving projects to include:  Hibbard tennis courts, Green Bay Trail, and the road at the golf course.

By a roll call vote, voting Yes: Commissioners: Abbott, Anderson, Foster, Pellaton, Shelly, Wolfe, Olvany; voting No: None. Absent: None; motion carried.

X. Adjournment
There being no further business to conduct, the meeting was adjourned at
9:23 p.m.