WILMETTE PARK DISTRICT

MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF THE 

BOARD OF PARK COMMISSIONERS OF THE WILMETTE PARK DISTRICT

HELD IN THE COUNCIL ROOM OF WILMETTE VILLAGE HALL


MONDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2005
_____________________________________________________________________

 

Written notice of said meeting was given to the Commissioners and the Wilmette Life in accordance with the Wilmette Park District Code, Section 2103, and Section 2.02 of the Open Meetings Act.

President Miller called the meeting to order at  7:30 p.m.

PRESENT: President David Miller, Commissioners Jim Brault, Diana Cohen, Jim Crowley, Richard Marcus, Dennis O’Malley, Henry Wolff, Superintendent Tom Grisamore

STAFF: Business Manager George Kush, Superintendent Bill Lambrecht

ABSENT: Director Terry Porter

VISITORS: See attached.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Commissioner Crowley moved and Commissioner Cohen seconded a motion to approve the minutes of the Regular Board Meeting of September 12, 2005.

By a roll call vote, voting Yes -- Commissioners Brault, Cohen, Crowley, Marcus, Miller, O'Malley, and Wolff; voting No -- None.  Motion carried.

COMMUNICATIONS & CORRESPONDENCE:

President Miller announced that Director Terry Porter had undergone back surgery on the previous Friday and is already home and doing very well.  On behalf of the Board, President Miller wished Director Porter a speedy and complete recovery and stated that  everyone looked forward to having him back on the dais at the next meeting.

 President Miller acknowledged receipt of the following:

. . . Letter and information dated September 12, 2005 from Charlotte Adelman, 232 Lawndale regarding plantings.

. . . Letter and information dated September 22, 2005 from Mark Weyermuller, 208 Lawndale regarding the Park District dogs in the parks policies and the skate park.

. . .  Letter dated September 16, 2005 from Michael Earl, Village Manager thanking the Park District and Lakefront Manager Bill Miller for the use of Lakeview Center for a Village Board meeting.

. . .  E-Mail dated September 15, 2005 from  Pat Cuevas, 408 Skokie Court objecting to a skate park at Hibbard Park.

. . .  E-mail dated September 16, 2005 from Linda Liebling  expressing disappointment in the Board  for rescinding their original vote on the skate park at Hibbard Park.

. . .  E-mail dated September 16, 2005 from Adina and Danny Torchman, 3000 Hill Street expressing disappointment in the Board’s decision to locate the skate park at Hibbard Park.

. . .  E-mail dated September 16, 2005 to Commissioners Cohen and Crowley from Adina and Danny Torchman, 3000 Hill Street thanking them for their “no” votes on Hibbard Park as a location for the skate park.

. . .  E-mail dated September 17, 2005 from Fay Paras, 416 Skokie Court objecting to the procedure used at the September 12th Board meeting to vote in favor of Hibbard Park as a location for a skate park.

. . .  E-mail dated September 19, 2005 from Deena and Frank Mitchell stating that Hibbard Park is not the best location for a skate park in Wilmette and recommending either Howard Park or Community Playfield as better locations.

. . .  E-mail dated September 21, 2005 from Hans Geyer, 2036 Central objecting to spending taxpayer funds for construction of a skate park.

. . .  E-mail dated September 21, 2005 from John Vita, 1391 Gregory stating that he doesn’t support a skate park in Wilmette due to the hidden costs.

. . .  E-mail dated October 6, 2005 from Phil Childs, 2000 Elmwood Ave. regarding Mallinckrodt Park.

. . .  E-mail dated October 10, 2005 from Daniel Lichtenstein, 318 Beverly Drive objecting to a skate park at Hibbard Park.

Commissioner Marcus reported that a resident had contacted him and told him that several residents were very disappointed with the procedure that the Board followed to vote in favor of a skate park at Hibbard Park.  He also reported that Debra Ebner, a neighbor of Hibbard Park, voiced strong objections to a skate park at Hibbard Park.

RECOGNITION OF VISITORS:

President Miller recognized the following visitor:

Jeff Eigel, 1205 Central stated that he was in attendance regarding the planned expansion of the Ronald Knox Montessori School. 

President Miller noted that this topic was listed on the agenda under New Business, however, Mr. Eigel was welcome to speak to the issue at this point.

Mr. Eigel explained that the Ronald Knox Montessori School is in the process of rebuilding on the School’s current site, which adjoins the Mallinckrodt property.  He stated that the plan calls for acquiring the current property plus approximately 16 feet immediately to the west of the school from the Sisters of Christian Charity. The plan calls for demolition and complete rebuilding of the school and would include off street parking and off street pick-up and drop-off for the students.  Mr. Eigel noted that the Village ordinance requires only the placement of a fence on the school property, and that no greenery would be required. However, Ronald Knox proposes that the School  put up a split rail fence and plant screening at their expense on the Park District property to provide a more attractive buffer between the school property and the park property. Mr. Eigel stated that the construction plan was reviewed by the  Zoning Board of Appeals on October 5th and the application has been continued to January.  If the plan is ultimately approved by the Village Board, Ronald Knox would like to work cooperatively with the Park District to make the area as attractive and unobtrusive as possible.

Superintendent Grisamore noted that he and Director Porter had met with representatives of Ronald Knox and seen the proposed plans.  They felt that the fence and landscaping plan would  be fine.

There was discussion by the Board and Mr. Eigel answered questions regarding the plans. It was noted that the School would do the plantings at their expense and maintain them for a one year period. After the first year, it would be the Park District’s responsibility to maintain the trees and shrubs which would be planted on the Park District side of the fence.  It was the consensus of the Board that the Park District would be willing to work cooperatively with the Ronald Knox Montessori School if the plans are approved by the Village.

SKATE PARK:

President Miller opened the meeting for comment.

Andre Marcos, 3022 Hill Street stated that Hibbard Park is too small of a park for any additional facilities, and that currently there is little green space left.  He added that there are many toddlers playing in the park and a skate park would present a danger to them, and he also noted that the parking situation on Hill Street is a problem now and a skate park would make it even worse.  He said that there are times when due to activities at Hibbard Park, he has difficulty getting out of his driveway due to the traffic and parking congestion.  He asked the Board to reverse their September decision.

Judith Lazar, 3030 Gregory stated that Hibbard Park is a large part of her life and a skate park would negatively impact her use of that park.  She noted that at a meeting regarding the Mallinckrodt property, someone had presented the idea of a skate park at that site and it was her understanding that originally that was going to be location for a skate park.  Ms. Lazar stated that she could not understand how the skate park wound up at Hibbard Park and Mallinckrodt has not even been mentioned in the discussions of location for the facility.

Fay Paras, 416 Skokie Ct explained that she lives across the street of where the proposed skate park would be located.  She pointed out that there are 38 townhomes in that area and a number of homes on Hill Street, Wilmette Avenue, and Kilpatrick which would be negatively impacted by a skate park at Hibbard Park.  She noted that in the site analysis, it was stated that one of the criteria for a skate park at any location would be that only residences on one edge of the park would be impacted, which is not the case at Hibbard Park.  Ms. Paras stated that at the last Board meeting on September 12th, when very few residents were in attendance, the Park Board “dumped” the skate park at Hibbard Park.  She requested that the Board rescind that decision and respect the rights of the Wilmette citizens who live in the area.

Debra Ebner, 300 Kilpatrick stated that she is very angry over the Board’s decision to place a skate park at Hibbard Park.  She said that about ten years ago when the community center was being constructed, the Park District made promises to the neighbors on Kilpatrick, which was at the time, a side street which did not have much traffic, that the CRC would not negatively affect the street.  Ms. Ebner stated that this was not the case and in her opinion, her street has been negatively impacted by the traffic at the community center, and furthermore, the neighborhood has deteriorated due to the traffic problems and increased acts of vandalism, which have occurred over the  last several years.  Ms. Ebner feels that the addition of a skate park at Hibbard Park will make the traffic and vandalism problems significantly worse for the residents in the area.  She urged the Park Board to reconsider their decision about locating a skate park at Hibbard Park.

Pat Cuevas, 408 Skokie Ct. stated that she was in attendance to protest placing a skate park at Hibbard Park.  She noted that in the site analysis, 3-D Design recommended Community Playfield and Centennial Park as the number one and two best locations for a skate park.  Ms. Cuevas stated that Hibbard Park is a neighborhood park and a skate park could cause conflict with the playground, create additional noise in the area, and would change the culture of the park.  She requested that the Park Board reconsider their decision.

Etty Dolgin, 2937 Greenleaf stated that Hibbard Park is much too small to handle a skate park.  It is also too close to a busy intersection to be an appropriate location.

Mike Melnick, 305 Kilpatrick stated that he agrees that Hibbard Park is too small to add a skate park and would be dangerous for the young children using the playground and the park.

Adina Torchman, 3000 Hill Street stated that at the August meeting, she had felt the process was fair and honest.  She noted that she has become very disappointed and discouraged with the process now that the original vote against a skate park at Hibbard Park has been reversed.  Ms. Torchman stated that if the Park Board cannot find the right location for a skate park in Wilmette, perhaps there shouldn’t be a skate park in Wilmette.  Hibbard Park is much too small a park for this type of facility and the Board should rescind their vote to locate a skate park in that park.

Myriam Abrams, 248 Valley View Drive stated that as a mother of two small children, she finds it very difficult to walk past the CRC because of all the traffic, and a skate park will not allow children to walk safely to school.  She added that she would no longer feel comfortable walking in the neighborhood if there was a skate park at Hibbard Park.  She is very concerned with the safety issues involved.

Yaniv Dolgin, 2937 Greenleaf expressed concerns that if a skate park is located at Hibbard Park, the park will become a hangout and the neighborhood will become the “slums of Wilmette.”  He noted that there is a gas station nearby on Wilmette Avenue that is open very late and the teens will congregate there.  He also stated concerns that a bad element will come to the skate park bringing dangers to the neighborhood.

Esther Raibman, 237 Thelin Court stated that she loves to go to Hibbard Park.  However, if a skate park were located there, she would not feel safe walking in the neighborhood in the evening because of the new dangers presented by this type of facility.

George Karagas, 319 Kilpatrick stated that Hibbard Park is too small to add a skate park.  He noted that it would be like “putting 20 pounds in a 10 pound container.”  He said that he liked Commissioner Marcus’ suggestion at the September meeting to look into a cooperative venture with Evanston to put a skate park at Lovelace Park, which has a great deal more open space than Hibbard Park. However, the Board rejected that proposal  He further stated that at the last meeting, there was no opportunity for the residents to offer further comment on a skate park as people were not aware that there was going to be another vote on the location of the skate park at that time.

Morris Liebling, 3006 Hill Street stated that when the Board voted against a skate park at Hibbard Park at the August meeting, it was inferred that there would be a thorough review and another look at alternate locations for the skate park.  He did not feel that the Board did any further reviews and this is a disservice to the residents in the Hibbard Park area.  Mr. Liebling stated that Hibbard Park is not a community park, but a neighborhood park and many residents in the area will be adversely affected by the noise, traffic, parking, etc.  He expressed extreme disappointment in the way the issue has been handled by the Board from the beginning of the process.

Commissioner Cohen stated that even though her mind has not changed regarding her “no” vote for locating a skate park at Hibbard Park, she felt that the Board had gone through the process correctly.  Commissioner Cohen added that she would still like to see Centennial Park reconsidered as the site. 

President Miller stated that there is always a problem with adding new activities to any park, whether it be Gillson, Centennial, Community Playfield, Hibbard, etc.  It is difficult for people to accept change.  However, he feels that the Park District is committed to working closely with neighbors of the park, the user group, and the designer of the skate park, to develop a facility that will alleviate the concerns that have been expressed.  He assured those in attendance that the best equipment and design features would be used to minimize noise and to make the skate park as unobtrusive and safe as possible.

Martin Cohen, 327 Kilpatrick stated that he and many of the residents would have nothing to do with planning a skate park at Hibbard Park.  He feels that the Board has “turned a deaf ear” to what the residents had to say and he has no confidence that a skate park can be constructed that will not have a very negative impact on the neighborhood.

Commissioner Brault noted that the Park District will have to go through the Village zoning process before construction of a skate park could begin.  He encouraged the residents to continue to follow the process and to express their concerns during the zoning hearings.  He stated that the Park District will continue to listen very carefully to input from the community with regard to the design of the skate park.

Commissioner Marcus stated that from tonight’s testimony, it was obvious that the people who spoke felt they were “blindsided” by last month’s vote to rescind the previous vote and construct a skate park at Hibbard Park.  He felt it is important to make clear that the Park District is going to make every attempt to include the neighbors in the design process.

President Miller referred the skate park project to the Parks and Recreation Committee, and stated that the Committee will begin the design process and ultimately will bring their recommendations to the Board for approval.

Commissioner Brault moved and Commissioner O’Malley seconded a motion to authorize staff to seek at least three proposals for design services for a skate park.

By a roll call vote, voting Yes -- Commissioners Brault, Cohen, Crowley, Marcus, Miller, O'Malley, and Wolff; voting No -- None.  Motion carried.

The meeting was adjourned for a recess at 8:32 p.m.  The meeting was reconvened at 8:37 p.m.

APPROVAL OF VOUCHER LIST:

Commissioner O’Malley moved and Commissioner Cohen seconded a motion to approve the Voucher List in the amount of $1,365,971.31, 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 Brault, Cohen, Crowley, Marcus, Miller, O'Malley, and Wolff; voting No -- None.  Motion carried.

COMMITTEE REPORTS:

Parks and Recreation – Committee Chair Marcus reported that the Committee met on September 19th.  The Committee reviewed correspondence from Northwest Passage requesting permission to build a kayak storage facility at the south end of the overlook near the pier and to run lessons and rentals from that location.  After discussion, the Committee declined the request. 

Commissioner Marcus reported that the Committee again discussed opening the overlook area in Gillson and Langdon Parks as fee-charged swimming operations. Commissioner Brault, who was in attendance, explained that the Financial Planning Committee had reviewed the cost estimates and determined that funds were not currently available to do the projects considering the long list of capital expenditures on the five year plan.  After discussion, the Committee directed staff to work with the Police Department on how to better enforce Park District ordinances prohibiting swimming in those areas. 

Commissioner Marcus further reported that there was discussion regarding opening the track to non members in hopes of stimulating membership at the Center Fitness Club.  Staff pointed out the problems associated with opening the track to non members and explained that in a survey of members of the senior walking club, it had been overwhelmingly stated that the walkers were not interested in using other equipment at the fitness center.  There was discussion of other marketing strategies and it was noted that the one month memberships have been selling well and some people do convert to annual  memberships.  Several other marketing plans were discussed, such as the ten year anniversary open house which is being planned, a general mailing, a mailing to new residents, and the development of an e-mail data base of users to send out news of promotions.

Commissioner Marcus noted that under Managers Reports, Lakefront Manager Bill Miller reported that the year end total attendance for the beach was 85,902 as compared to 46,787 in 2004.  He also reported that room rentals at Lakeview are going very well, and that the Lake Michigan Federation Beach Sweep had been held and the participants picked up a record amount of trash.  Recreation General Manager Kathy Bingham reported that this was an extremely successful camp season and that enrollment for fall programs is going very well.

Commissioner Marcus concluded his report by noting that the Committee has asked the Financial Planning Committee to review all of the Park District’s software to determine if there is a need to modernize the registration and accounting software.

Golf Operations – Committee Chair Crowley reported that the Committee met on September 24th.  He stated that he was pleased to report that the clubhouse is almost complete, the parking lot has been completed, and all of the landscaping is in the process of being finished.

Commissioner Crowley reported that for the year, there will be approximately 40,000 rounds of golf played at the course, which is about 704 over last year.  The seasonal club storage area is now open.  There are a total of 129 lockers, 76 of which have been contracted. 

With regard to the food service operation, Commissioner Crowley reported that there are eight events scheduled for October.   Superintendent Grisamore explained that the restaurant has two options for outside parties.  The room can be rented for a fee of $400.00 to $800.00 depending on the size and type of event, using a caterer brought in from the outside.  There is also the option of restaurant staff providing various types of buffets.   The banquet room will be able to accommodate 144 people.   It was noted that during the golf season, food will be served until 8:00 p.m., and that lunch will be served year round.  Due to popular demand, Friday Night Dinner will be reinstated.

Financial Planning & Policy --  Committee Chair O’Malley reported that the Committee  last met on September 7th.  The Committee heard an overview of the published audited financial statements prepared by KPMG.  During discussion, Commissioner Brault recommended that the Park District conduct periodic reviews of its internal controls every three to five years.  The Committee concurred with Commissioner Brault’s recommendation and will include funds for such a review in the 2006 budget.

Commissioner O’Malley moved and Commissioner Cohen seconded a motion to approve the engagement of KPMG LLC for audit services to the Wilmette Park District for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2005 for a fee of $41,000 as recommended by the Financial Planning and Policy Committee.

By a roll call vote, voting Yes -- Commissioners Brault, Cohen, Crowley, Marcus, Miller, O'Malley, and Wolff; voting No -- None.  Motion carried.

Commissioner O’Malley further reported that staff presented a mid-year financial review of operating results and staff anticipates that the total operating surplus before capital expenditures and transfers will be $175,096 less than budget.   This was mainly attributable to the Golf and Ice operations.

Centennial Operations --   Committee Chair Wolff reported that the Committee met immediately prior to tonight’s meeting.  Staff reported that tennis lessons are up four percent this year, and that repairs to the roofs over tennis and the roof mounted air handlers will be done later this fall.  He noted that the repairs to the air handlers should come in significantly below budget   Commissioner Wolff further reported that ice revenue was down during the summer due to other ice rinks in the area being open. 


DIRECTOR’S REPORT:

In Director Porter’s absence, Superintendent Grisamore reported that the committees will be reviewing budgets during the month of November. 

Superintendent Grisamore further reported that there was a burglary attempt at Lakeview over the previous weekend.  However, apparently the perpetrators were frightened off and left everything they had attempted to steal.

NEW BUSINESS:

President Miller referred to a letter and drawings from Sam Judlo & Judith M. Yablong and John T. Miller requesting that the Village vacate the right-of-way adjoining 2447 Birchwood Lane and Community Playfield.  He explained that this is currently open land owned by the Village, but maintained by the Wilmette Park District.  The petitioners have filed an application with the Plan Commission requesting that the Village vacate the property.  The petitioner is requesting that the Park District look favorably on this request. 

During discussion, President Miller noted that  it is the Village’s decision whether to sell the property to the petitioners.  He explained that the property involved is a 66 foot lot, 33 feet of which would go to the Park District if the Village agreed with the request.  He added that the Park District would be glad to receive the property for no charge if the Village decided to vacate.

Commissioner Cohen inquired if the Park District has a plan in place for a catastrophic event. 

Superintendent Grisamore explained that after September 11th, the Village, Fire Department, and  Police Department set up a plan for emergencies

There being no further business to conduct, the meeting was adjourned at 9:05 p.m.

MINUTES APPROVED NOVEMBER 14, 2005