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, SEPTEMBER 12, 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, Secretary/Director Terry Porter

STAFF: Business Manager George Kush, Superintendent Lambrecht

VISITORS: Mark Furse, Margo Turner, Jack & Jeanne Siegel, George Karagas, Larry & Marlo Goldstein, Tony Reynes, Tyler Oberlin, Grant Oberlin, Alex Litin, Mark Litin, Joel Rosenthal, Graham Crosh, Ty Frost, Mark Weyermuller, Tim Frost

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:  Commissioner Crowley moved and Commissioner Cohen seconded a motion to approve the minutes of the Regular Board Meeting of August 22, 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 acknowledged receipt of the following:

. . . Letter dated September 6, 2005 from Michael Earl, Village Manager advising that the Village will host an Intergovernmental Cooperation Committee meeting on December 1, 2005.

. . . Letter dated August 25, 2005 from Pat Cuevas, 408 Skokie Court and Fay Paras, 416 Skokie Court  outlining reasons why a skate park should not be located at Hibbard Park.

. . . E-Mail dated August 27, 2005 from Helmi Ludwig, 418 Skokie Court objecting to a skate park at Hibbard Park.

. . . E-mail dated August 25, 2005 from Sylvia A. Berger, 807 Hibbard Road objecting to a skate park at Hibbard Park.

. . . Park District Comment Form dated September 8, 2005 from Henry Jaeger recommending Vattmann Park as a location for a skate park.

. . . E-mail dated September 12, 2005 from Kent Nusekabel recommending that the skate park be placed near an industrial or commercial type area and stating concerns regarding the equal weight given to younger speakers’ comments during public comment.

. . . E-mail dated September 12, 2005 from Louella Levy regarding keeping lap lanes open at Centennial Pool during safety breaks.

President Miller referred the e-mail to the Centennial Operations Committee.

RECOGNITION OF VISITORS:

President Miller recognized the following visitor:

Mark Furse, 1025 Ashland St. stated that he was in attendance to represent the Wilmette Baseball Association.  He noted that in Superintendent Lambrecht’s September 7th memo to Director Porter, it was reported that the construction of the new Elam Field is scheduled to begin this fall.  He stated that the Baseball Association appreciates that the Park District is working on the new field and thanked the Park District for the commitment to have Elam Field ready for the beginning of the next baseball season.

SKATE PARK:

President Miller referred to the August 22nd Board meeting at which time, the Board voted unanimously to provide a skate park in the community.  He explained that after many months of discussion, two public hearings, and the review of a commissioned analysis by 3-D Design of all the parks in Wilmette identifying which parks would be feasible locations for a skate park, the Board selected two sites which it was felt met the most criteria for the facility – Community Playfield and Hibbard Park.  President Miller noted that there had been votes on both of these sites at the August 22nd meeting, and neither was approved.  He asked for Board discussion.

Commissioner Marcus stated that he had asked Director Porter to contact the City of Evanston to ascertain if there was any interest in entering into a joint venture to construct a skate park at Lovelace Park in Evanston, which is located very close to Wilmette and would actually be a central location for Wilmette residents.  He noted that Lovelace Park is large enough to accommodate a skate park and the location and configuration would fit most of the criteria for a skate park which were identified in the analysis by 3-D Design.

Director Porter stated that he had contacted Doug Gaynor, the Director of Parks/Forestry and Recreation in Evanston.  Mr. Gaynor could not commit to the concept, but stated that he didn’t feel there would be funds available at this time for such an undertaking.  He explained that such a project would be a board level decision, and suggested that if the Board was interested in pursuing the idea, the appropriate officials should be contacted.

President Miller recognized Jack Siegel, 2406 Meadow Drive North who stated that he is the Corporation Counsel for the City of Evanston.  He said that he would be willing to attempt to put this topic on a committee agenda if the Board requested his help.

After further discussion, Commissioner Marcus moved and Commissioner Wolff seconded a motion to contact the appropriate City of Evanston officials regarding the possibility of a joint venture to construct a skate park at Lovelace Park.

By a roll call vote, voting Yes -- Commissioners Cohen, Marcus, and Wolff; voting No --  Commissioners Brault, Crowley, Miller, and O’Malley.   Motion failed.

Commissioner Cohen stated that she would like the Board to consider Centennial Park as a possible site for a skate park.  She noted that in the analysis, Centennial had met eight out of the ten identified criteria for a skate park  She pointed out that Centennial is centrally located in Wilmette, has a large amount of open space, has some natural buffers so no trees would have to be removed, and is visible from a main street.

Commissioner Cohen moved to consider Centennial Park as a site for a skate park in Wilmette.

The motion died for lack of a second.
Commissioner Crowley moved and Commissioner Marcus seconded a motion to reconsider Community Playfield as a site for a skate park in Wilmette.

Commissioner Crowley stated that after re-evaluation of the available sites for a skate park, he had concluded that the skate park should be located in one of the District’s larger parks,  and should be where the majority of the users would be.  He noted that the skate park analysis had identified Community Playfield as the best choice, and that it is close to the Junior High and Middle School, which makes it very convenient for most of the user group.  Commissioner Crowley added that he had been quite surprised by the negative response from the School District after Director Porter contacted the Superintendent to apprise him of the possibility of a skate park at Community Playfield.  He stated he could not understand their objections that this facility would be disruptive to the educational process when the park already contains tennis courts, a tot lot and  various athletic fields, which are used for baseball, soccer, football, etc.   Commissioner Crowley pointed out that the purpose of Community Playfield is to provide a place for games and other recreational activities for the entire community, and it is not a  neighborhood park. 

Commissioner Marcus stated that he agreed with Commissioner Crowley and had noted his preference for Community Playfield at the last Board meeting.  He added that he would like to have the opportunity for discussion with the School District to learn more about why they object to a skate park.  He felt that perhaps some of the issues could be resolved, such as by providing storage space for skateboards and skates at the facility so that the children would not bring this equipment to school.

Commissioner Brault stated that in his opinion, the School District’s position should be respected as the School Board mission is to oversee the educational process and there must be valid reasons for their objections.  In addition, he has stated previously that Community Playfield is an overused park and a skate park would add to the congestion and parking problems.

Commissioners Wolff, Cohen, and O’Malley agreed with Commissioner Brault’s position that the Park District should respect the School District’s objections to the site.  Commissioner Cohen noted that the Park District and the School District have an excellent intergovernmental relationship, and that the Park District uses School District facilities for certain programs, such as summer camps, etc.  She would not like to see that association jeopardized.

President Miller stated that he feels Community Playfield would have been a good place for a skate park due to its location and several other criteria that it meets.  However, since the School District specifically wrote a letter asking that a skate park not be located at Community Playfield, the Park District should respect their request and find another location.

By a roll call vote, voting Yes -- Commissioners Crowley and Marcus; voting No – Commissioners Brault, Cohen, Miller, O’Malley, and Wolff.  Motion failed.

Commissioner Brault moved and Commissioner Wolff seconded a motion to rescind the action taken at the August 22, 2005 Board meeting regarding the construction of a skate park at Hibbard Park.

By a roll call vote, voting Yes -- Commissioners Brault, Marcus, Miller, O'Malley, and Wolff; voting No – Commissioners Cohen and Crowley.   Motion carried.

During discussion on whether to put Hibbard Park to a vote as a possible site for a skate park at this meeting or to defer the vote until a later meeting, Commissioner O’Malley pointed out that the Board had voted in favor of providing a skate park in the community and it was time to make a decision on the location.  He noted that these discussions had been in progress for many months and at this point, all options had been considered. In order for the project to proceed, a location must be chosen.

Commissioner O’Malley moved and Commissioner Wolff seconded a motion to approve Hibbard Park as the location for possible construction of a skate park.

Commissioner Wolff stated that his first choice for a skate park would be at Gillson Park and his second choice would be West Park.  However, he realized that neither of these locations would garner enough Board votes to make them viable, so he felt he would have to compromise.  Commissioner Wolff stated that he wished to amend the motion on the table prior to voting on Hibbard Park as a location for a skate park.

Commissioner Wolff moved and Commissioner O’Malley seconded a motion to amend the motion to approve Hibbard Park as the location for possible construction of a skate park with an expenditure of up to $250,000 for construction, that the hours of operation be restricted to daylight hours only, and that the Park District provide supervision of the skate park.

Commissioners Crowley and Marcus stated that they were not supportive of the amended motion because they didn’t like the idea of restricting the expenditure and it was not clear what Commissioner Wolff meant by “supervision of the skate park.”  Commissioner Brault pointed out that the preliminary 2006 budget already includes an expenditure of $300,000 for the skate park.

By a roll call vote on the motion to amend, voting Yes – Commissioner Wolff;   voting No – Commissioners Brault, Cohen, Crowley, Marcus, Miller, and O’Malley.  Motion to amend failed.

Commissioner Marcus moved and Commissioner Brault seconded a motion to amend the motion to approve Hibbard Park as the location for possible construction of a skate park, which will be operated during daylight hours only.

Commissioner Crowley stated that in his opinion, it would not be fair to restrict the operation of the skate park to daylight hours only. He noted that there could be some favorable weather in the winter when it gets dark very soon after school hours and the users would be unable to use the skate park.

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

By a roll call vote on the original motion with an amendment, voting Yes – Commissioners Brault, Marcus, Miller, O’Malley, and Wolff; voting No – Commissioners Cohen and Crowley.  Motion carried.

Commissioner Marcus stated that even though he had voted in favor of Hibbard Park as a location for the skate park, he felt that the rescinding of the original negative vote on Hibbard Park reflected poorly on the Park Board and that an apology was owed to the Hibbard Park neighbors.  Commissioner Marcus noted that as it turned out, after revisiting all the other sites which were identified in the skate park analysis, Hibbard Park presented the most feasible locale for a skate park, but it was unfortunate that the process had evolved in this manner.

Commissioner Brault disagreed with Commissioner Marcus’ assessment, and stated that in his opinion, the process had been successful.  He stated that there had been very extensive discussion and evaluation regarding the possible sites for a skate park, and the Board had not taken their task of selecting a location lightly.  Many alternatives had been considered, and the final choice was the result of careful consideration by the Board.

President Miller stated that he understands that many of the neighbors of Hibbard Park will be unhappy with having a skate park at that location.  However, the Park District always strives to be a good neighbor.  He pointed out that the neighbors will be invited to participate in the design of the facility and that the Park District will do its best to build a skate park that will be minimally intrusive in the neighborhood.  President Miller added that the proximity of the Community Recreation Center is a factor in favor of Hibbard Park as the location for a skate park.

APPROVAL OF VOUCHER LIST:

Commissioner Crowley moved and Commissioner Cohen seconded a motion to approve the Voucher List in the amount of $1,853,695.41, 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 August 22nd.  At that time, the Committee reviewed estimates prepared by staff for expanding the swimming beach to include the overlook area at Gillson Park.  After discussion, Commissioner Wolff stated that he would favor continuing to hire off-duty policemen to patrol the overlook area and Commissioner Crowley recommended that the overlook area be opened to swimming, which would develop more revenue.  Commissioner Marcus further reported that the Committee also discussed including Langdon Beach as part of the swimming operation.  It was agreed that the situation at  Langdon was more urgent than the overlook area.  Superintendent Lambrecht reminded the Committee that in both locations, because of fluctuating lake levels, the beaches are usable now, but neither beach could be usable when lake levels begin to rise.  Staff was requested to reevaluate the cost estimates of opening the beaches for public swimming  on a line by line basis to determine where costs could be reduced.   Commissioner Marcus also requested that staff gather information on funding and noted that perhaps a public hearing could be held in October regarding the potential changes.

Golf Operations – Committee Chair Crowley reported that the golf course looks very good and he feels that the new irrigation system is responsible for that due to the very dry summer being experienced.   He added that the new clubhouse is being very well received by the golfers.

Financial Planning & Policy --  Committee Chair O’Malley reported that the Committee met on September 7th.

Commissioner O’Malley moved and Commissioner Brault seconded a motion to accept the audited financial statements for the year ending December 31, 2004 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 reported that the Committee reviewed uniform budget increases for the 2006 year.  He explained that staff will prepare proposed budgets using the guidelines approved by the Committee.

Commissioner O’Malley further reported that the Committee  discussed the possibility of an additional ice rink at Centennial Park.  It was agreed that in all likelihood, after value engineering, an additional ice rink would probably cost in the $9-10 million range.  Commissioner O’Malley stated that the Committee determined that the Park District does not have the funding resources to construct an additional ice rink, and that this is not an issue suitable for a referendum. He explained that the Committee is recommending that a task force be formed consisting of members of the Park Board, Park District staff, and representatives from key user groups to determine whether there is a desire to undertake a fund raising effort to construct an additional ice facility.  After discussion, it was agreed that Commissioners O’Malley and Wolff would act as Board liaisons to the task force.

DIRECTOR’S REPORT:

Director Porter reported that the beach and pool have concluded seasonal operations.  It was a successful season, especially in light of the lack of rain this summer. 

Director Porter further reported the golf course is looking wonderful and comments about the clubhouse and the food service have been very positive.  Staff is working on speeding up the time it takes for orders to be delivered to the customers by the wait staff.  Director Porter also noted that the Pro-Am Golf Tournament will take place this year on September 28th and a community open house for the new clubhouse will probably be scheduled for later this fall.

NEW BUSINESS:

Commissioner Wolff expressed concerns about declining membership numbers at the Center Fitness Club.  He suggested that staff formulate some marketing plans.  He felt that if non members were allowed to use the walking track, it would showcase the facility to a new group of people who might decide to become members.

During discussion, Director Porter noted that there are some special promotions planned and staff is looking into ways to market the facility.  It was also noted that originally, the target membership number was approximately 2,400, and membership now stands at 2,100.  At one time, membership was close to 4,000 and it was felt that the facility was overcrowded and the size of the fitness center could not accommodate that many people.  It was noted that the 4,000 membership figure was before several other fitness centers opened in the area.

It was agreed that the Parks and Recreation Committee will look into the issue and discuss marketing strategies for the fitness center.

There being no further business to conduct, the meeting was adjourned at 9:15 p.m.

 


APPROVED ON OCTOBER 10, 2005