Lakefront Committee Meeting Minutes
Monday, September 7, 2016
6:30 p.m. – Mallinckrodt Community Center


Attendees Present
Commissioners/Committee: Chair, Ryrie Pellaton, Shelley Shelly, Bryan Abbott
Staff:  Kathy Bingham, Bill Lambrecht

Commissioners: Gordon Anderson, Stephanie Foster
Staff: Director Wilson, Ken Eppelheimer, Jeff Bowen, Holly Specht, Libby Baker
Attendees Absent
I. Meeting Called to Order
Meeting called to order at 6:30 p.m.
Commissioner Pellaton addressed the audience and reviewed the guidelines for addressing the Board.  He also inquired of the audience who might be interested in addressing the Committee during “Recognition of Visitors”.  He explained that questions would be addressed at the end of the comments.

II. Approval of Minutes
. Superintendent Bingham explained that she reviewed the recording of the July 1, 2016 meeting and revised the minutes to include the additional information that had been requested. Commissioner Abbott moved and Commissioner Shelly seconded a motion to approve the minutes from July 1, 2016; all voted yes, the motion carried. Commissioner Abbott moved and Commissioner Shelly seconded a motion to approve the minutes from August 8, 2016; all voted yes, the motion carried.

III. Recognition of Visitors
The Attendance Sheet will become a permanent part of the record.

Todd McCarthy, 845 Michigan, Wilmette – Mr. McCarthy expressed his displeasure with the way that he found out about the bird habitat project and questioned why he had not been informed earlier. He is not against a bird habitat, but has concerns about this specific project.  He described his encounter with Heidi Natura at the proposed location and expressed his displeasure with her attitude.  Mr. McCarthy continued by stating his concerns with the project; safety, lack of communication, cost, required maintenance, staffing.  He inquired if there is an irrigation plan for the area.   He stated that he is not against enhancing the area but feels that the plans are too aggressive and extensive and does not feel that the  project has  been given due diligence.

In response to Mr. McCarthy’s comments, Commissioner Shelly stated that there were over 19 meetings regarding the topic, the papers reported on it numerous times, and representatives have been at the Farmer’s Market.

Mr. McCarthy expressed his disappointment that the Park District did not reach out specifically to the Michigan Avenue neighbors.

On behalf of Living Habitats, Judy Pollock explained that the area will be a layered habitat, using the existing canopies. She went on to explain that Heidi Natura’s approach was to make the park beautiful and human friendly as well as encourage birds. The current plan incorporates native materials; wildflowers and plants that are lower in stature.

Patrick Duffy, 932 Illinois, Wilmette – Mr. Duffy expressed his support of the project and of Karen Glennemeier and her work on securing the grant. He feels this will improve the area for migratory birds and will be a nice draw for school kids. He hopes others will voice their support.

Beth Drucker, 2500 Greenwood, Wilmette – Ms. Drucker is one of the founders and President of Go Green Wilmette and has been following this process.  She feels that there have been a lot of opportunities for people to learn about this project and provide feedback over the last 18 months. Ms. Drucker commended the Park District’s openness to add a native habit to Gillson Park. 

Karen Glennemeier, 719 Laurel, Wilmette – Ms. Glennemeier stated that the Wilmette Park District is the entity that applied for the grant.

Sara Cotter – Ms. Cotter stated that the neighbors are not against the concept of a bird habitat.  She feels that currently the Langdon bluff and the Gillson bluff are the only two places that residents and public can enjoy the views and is not sure this is the right spot for such a large scale project.  Ms. Cotter stated that the Park District needs to demonstrate that they can maintain this area and wants to preserve the beauty of this area and would like to see it somewhere else.

Edie Rowell, 1625 Sheridan Rd, Wilmette – Ms. Rowel came to speak in support of the habitat. She is the current President of the Little Garden Club.   She explained the positive effects of the proposed plants and stated that it is a plus to the community. Ms. Rowel expressed her appreciation for the time that the Park District has put into this project. She is actively recruiting volunteers to help with the planting.

Margaret Cartier, 731 Washington, Wilmette – Ms. Cartier commended the Park District on the communication of the planting.

Scott Waterbury, 825 Michigan, Wilmette – Mr. Waterbury agreed with many of the comments of the other neighbors, but feels that the communication is a big problem. He wishes the Park District would have reached out to the residents right across the street. Mr. Waterbury is not against the project, he just questions the placement, planning and maintenance, and would like to understand the long term plan for how it will be maintained.  He stated that parking and traffic on the weekends are horrendous and this will add even more.

Tom Nathan – Mr. Nathan is the President of Ouilmette Foundation for the Parks. In his opinion the Park District did a great job of communicating, He stated that the project has been thoughtfully done, with attention to detail and he is confident that this is a good project. It will be a wonderful addition to our environment. The Foundation has already begun raising money.  He also noted that there are already many groups signed up to volunteer.

Marcia Heeter, 910 Tenth, Wilmette – Ms. Heeter stated that we are doing something positive for the next generation of teenagers and this will give them a sense of tending to the environment.

Amanda Nugent, 500 Lake, Wilmette – Ms. Nugent is the Chair of the District 39 school gardens and outdoor classrooms. She is lending her support to the program. She stated that the bird population is plummeting and this is an incredible birding community.  This will put us on the forefront of the movements across the country.  Ms. Nugent expressed her understanding of the neighbor’s concerns and does not want to create an environment where kids are going to hang out, but feels the safety issues are there anyway, and the habitat is not going to dramatically increase crime in the community. 

Julie Wolfe – Ms. Wolfe is a Trustee for the Village of Wilmette.  She compared this project to Elmwood Dunes, saying that community involvement has been great and this is also a great opportunity to encourage community involvement and has the potential to be an amazing project.

Sara Lyke, 819 Michigan, Wilmette – Ms. Lyke and her husband attended the February informational meeting and the last meeting of the Lakefront Committee.  They have asked for additional plans but have not gotten the information they requested. They would like to see the grassy area expanded.  They would also like the height of the plantings to be confirmed.    Ms. Lyke expressed her dissatisfaction that she did not receive good follow through from either Director Wilson or Ms. Natura.  She would like a compromise and asked if staff and the Committee could agree to keep the height of the plantings low.

Dan O’Bara, 819 Michigan, Wilmette – Mr. O’Bara expressed that he would like to have a better understanding of what is going to happen across the street.  He still does not have a sense of what the heights of the plants are, what the elevations will be now and in five years.  Mr. O’Bara feels that there are a lot of questions regarding maintenance; what herbicides will be used and will trained personnel be needed.  He does not want to waste the plants but would like to see the project delayed so the plans could be explored more.

Charlotte Adelman, 232 Lawndale, Wilmette – Ms. Adelman is in favor of this project. She stated that she can sympathize with people’s feelings, but some feelings need to be set aside and change needs to happen.   This project needs to be looked at as a community project and she feels we have an obligation to continue. This area is a flight path of the migratory birds and we need to plant to sustain these living creatures.

Mary Shea, 735 Michigan, Wilmette – Ms. Shea is in favor of trees, and birds and shrubs, her desire is for the Park District to think of the park as a totality and have a landscape plan.  She feels this plan is being dictated by the grant.  She feels that programming has taken over the philosophy of Gillson Park. Ms. Shea would like the Board and staff to work on a budget item for park development and develop a comprehensive landscape plan.

Todd McCarthy – Mr. McCarthy thanked the audience for their comments of support.  He reiterated his desire to have some input on the plan since it directly affects the families on Michigan Ave.

Chairman Pellaton commented that meetings regarding the lakefront have been well attended. He hopes with future projects to avoid to some of these issues that have been raised and wants to keep everyone appraised. He invited Judy Pollock to address the Committee and discuss the sustainability and origin of the plants as well as the maintenance requirements.

Judy explained that she was not comfortable discussing the sustainability of plants since that is not her area of expertise.  Regarding maintenance, Superintendent Lambrecht commented that Ms. Natura suggested it would require spending approximately three hours per bed every few weeks.  Judy explained that all the plants and trees are native, and almost all are native to the Chicago region. She noted that in each bed there will be 2-3 clumps of plants that will be over 15 feet and 3-4 clumps of shrubs that will be 8-9 ft. The design of the plan is to be able to look through the plantings, not have walls of vegetation.  There will be varied heights with varied site lines.

Ms. Lyke asked for a description of where the high shrubs will be planted.  The design plans were put up on the screen for the audience to view.  Judy explained what each drawing represents.

Commissioner Abbott commented that he is in support of the bird habitat, although he originally voted down the design and had concerns with the size.  He expressed his agreement with some of the concerns raised but thinks the plan can be strengthened.  He also added that he supports the idea that the views at Gillson need to be enhanced.  Commissioner Abbott thinks it’s important to come to an agreement and supports a motion for staff to look at revisions and bring recommendations to the Board.

Commissioner Shelly stated that she has always been in favor of the bird habitat and thinks it’s important to hear both sides and to look at the safety issues raised. She does not feel this is going to make a big difference in the safety of the area.  She also commented that this particular project is about the birds, not about clearing the views, which is a separate topic that should be addressed at a later time.  Commissioner Shelly also added that the Board has already approved this project, but is willing to look at the amount of ground being covered and to possibly scale back a little, within reason.

Commissioner Pellaton shared his thought and concerns, stating that he has had some concerns since this first started and wanted to be sure that this wouldn’t interfere with programs already going on at Gillson. Beds 0-9 were identified as the starting point because they don’t interfere with programs.  He also added that an overall landscape plan for Gillson would be an advantage.  Commissioner Pellaton reiterated that plants have been ordered and troops have been organized.

Commissioner Abbott suggested asking staff to recommend revisions to the design, which would allow for more discussions.

Commissioner Shelly suggested that in the best interest of what has already been done/ordered, that there be no more than a 10% reduction in planting and possibly relocate some of the plantings.

Director Wilson explained that it is probably not an option to have a redesign ready by Monday.  Also, according to Ms. Natura there could be restocking fees, additional design fees, and the planting would probably need to be postponed until next fall.

Commissioner Anderson noted that he would be supportive of giving leeway to the existing plan to make whatever changes would be beneficial, but would not support a redesign or deferral.

Commissioner Abbott moved and Commissioner Shelly seconded a motion to ask staff to recommend revisions to the design and present these recommendations to the full Board on Monday, September 12, 2016; all voted yes, the motion carried.

IV. Communications and Correspondence
Correspondence was included in the packet and an addendum was distributed at the meeting.

V. Unfinished Business
A. Bird Habitat

This was discussed as part of “Recognition of Visitors”

B. Lakefront RFQ
Superintendent Lambrecht informed the Committee that the Request For Qualification (RFQ) has been mailed to 11 firms and a press release was sent out.  Three firms have already contacted him with questions.

Superintendent Lambrecht informed the Committee that he has received cost estimates from four different firms regarding getting updated beach house/parking lot construction costs: W.B. Olson will not charge, Henry Bros. will charge $5,500, Lamp Incorporated $6,000 and Corporate Construction Services was not interested in providing an estimate.  These firms interviewed originally for the project.  The Committee concurred to move ahead with W.B. Olson.

VI. New Business
A. Elmwood Beach

Superintendent Bingham reported that Elmwood has had little traffic until this past weekend, specifically Monday. Staff received push back from people wanting to boat and have access to water.  Staff will continue to talk with Village about monitoring space.  The Park District will invoice the Village at the end of the summer for staff costs.

VII. Manager’s Report
Holly Specht, Lakefront Manager reported on the following topics:

  • The swim beach officially closed September 5. The sailing beach will remain open and staffed until September 25 and then unstaffed until October 16.
  • It was a great summer. The beach was closed one day in August due to high surf and rip currents. 74% of the days this summer had above normal temperatures.

VIII. Adjournment
There being no further business to conduct, the meeting was adjourned at 8:42 p.m.