WILMETTE PARK DISTRICT

 

MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF THE

BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS OF THE WILMETTE PARK DISTRICT

HELD IN THE COUNCIL ROOM OF WILMETTE VILLAGE HALL

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2003

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________

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

PRESENT: President Richard Marcus, Commissioners Cecelia Carlson, Diana Cohen, Jim Crowley, David Miller, Dennis O’Malley, Henry Wolff, Secretary/Director Terry Porter, Treasurer/Business Manager George Kush

VISITORS: Mark Rolfes, Harry Zander, Superintendents Grisamore and Lambrecht

APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Commissioner Wolff moved and Commissioner Cohen seconded a motion to approve the minutes of the October 13, 2003 Regular Board Meeting.

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

 

COMMUNICATIONS & CORRESPONDENCE:

President Marcus acknowledged receipt of the following:

. . . Letter dated October 21, 2003 from Tom Bonnie, 411 Vista Drive regarding observations and comments about the golf course.

President Marcus noted that Mr. Bonnie’s letter had been reviewed by the Golf/Restaurant Operations Committee at the annual users meeting.

. . . Letter dated October 14, 2003 from John McGovern, Executive Director of the Northern Suburban Special Recreation Association thanking the Board for honoring Tom Balzer at the October Board meeting and commending the Wilmette Park District for setting a great example with services offered to residents with disabilities.

 

MALLINCKRODT PROPERTY:

President Marcus announced that he was moving the Mallinckrodt issue up on the agenda. He noted that 116 e-mails had been received on Friday, November 8, all containing the following message: "We firmly believe there should be a vote and while reserving judgment on whether we approve or disapprove, before proceeding with the sale of the Mallinckrodt property and building, we request the Wilmette Park District and the Village of Wilmette obtain the approval of the voters of Wilmette, via a ballot referendum pursuant to Section 10-7 of the Park District Code."

 

President Marcus noted that the majority of the e-mails which had been received contained only the form letter statement However, there were some which included additional comments from the senders expressing various concerns with the proposed sale of the Mallinckrodt Building to the Village, and President Marcus acknowledged that correspondence from the following residents:

Dorin, Margaret & Raul Robert Babolea, 313-C Ridge Road

Frank Boudart & Merle Gleeson-Boudart, 314 17th Street

Terrel Bressler, 1307 Gregory Ave.

Jim & Judy Caruso, 852 Park Ave.

Christine Crosh, Richard Arthur, Eric Arthur, 2339 Thornwood

Stephanie & Robert Denby, 612 Lake Ave.

Lora Dubin, 1001 Cherokee Road

Ray Fitzgerald, Toril Johnasen, 827 16th Street

Dorothy Fusco, 718 11th Street

Ronald Greenwood, Angeline Stotis, Katrina Greenwood, 2148 Chestnut

Jeff Later, 1009 Elmwood

Alan Minoff, 521 Meadow Drive East

Dan & Sara Rudrud, 1620 Washington

Judith B. & Lloyd B. Urban, 1047 Miami Road

George & Mimi Vandervroot, 1601 Spencer Ave.

Joel Weiss, 936 Illinois Road

Anne & John Whittlesey, 428 Illinois Road

President Marcus stated that he felt that a response to some of these comments was necessary in order to clear up misinformation that he felt has prompted certain concerns regarding the Mallinckrodt issue. He pointed out that the Park District is not going to sell the building for less than was paid for the property. As a matter of fact, the Park District will receive in excess of what was paid for that portion of the purchase. He also noted that there will be no subsidized housing involved by any local, State or Federal agency. With regard to certain zoning issues, President Marcus explained that these would be in the Village’s purview. President Marcus added that the balance of the property, which will be in excess of 13 acres, will be developed into park land, much of it for passive use. The Park District will hold public hearings to take input from the community regarding the development of the open land as soon as the building issue is concluded. He also stated that he was disturbed by some of the insinuations that there was a hidden agenda or that the Park District had not been open and above board about the project.

Director Porter added that it was his impression, based on certain comments received, that some people have the misconception that the Park District plans to sell the entire 17 acre Mallinckrodt site to a developer. He stated for the record that this is not, and has never been, the plan.

President Marcus recognized Mark Rolfes, 2240 Kenilworth Ave.

Mr. Rolfes noted that he operates the "We Want A Vote.Org" website from which the e-mails were transmitted to the Park District. He presented a petition with the same language to the Board containing an additional 30 signatures. Mr. Rolfes stated that he respects the work that the Park Board has done with regard to the Mallinckrodt property, and he regrets that some of the correspondence which the Board received from his website made allegations against the Park District. He explained that some of the mail was received before it became public knowledge that the plan is to sell only two to three acres of the Mallinckrodt property, which is essentially the footprint of the building. He noted that the original information in a developer’s proposal, which was posted on the Village website, stated that approximately six acres of the land would be sold to a developer which is why there was a misconception that the Park District was selling the property for less than was paid. Mr. Rolfes stated that he understands the Park Board’s position on the issue, however, in his opinion, according to the research he has done, another referendum is required prior to selling the building to a developer. He added that the public should have the option of voting on whether the building should be sold to a developer for the purpose of building condominiums or be retained by the Park District to use for community purposes. He felt that by not going to referendum again, the Park District and the Village are setting a precedent that they can sell or dispose of any piece of property without consulting the public.

President Marcus responded that while he appreciates Mr. Rolfes’ interest in the issue and the research he has done, the Park District is not required to hold another referendum prior to conveying the building to the Village. The language in the March 19, 2002 referendum seeking bonding authority was to buy "all or a portion" of the land and was reviewed and approved by legal counsel. In addition, all through the process, the public was encouraged to provide input and there were special meetings held for that purpose alone with substantial community turnout in addition to correspondence relating to the Mallinckrodt issue, all of which was presented to and reviewed by the Board of Park Commissioners. Early in the process, the Park District established criteria which any proposal would have to satisfy, and at this juncture, these criteria have been met by Oculus/Pickus, the developer chosen by the Village from the three finalists to purchase the building. President Marcus noted that these criteria have been stated many times at previous meetings, but stated that he would outline them again: 1) Compatibility with the neighborhood; 2) Compatibility with the park land; 3) Community access to portions of the building; and 4) Value to the community, specifically purchase price.

Commissioner Miller commented that one of the objectives of holding the 2002 referendum was for the purchase of property and to save a historic building, if possible. It was always made very clear that there was no consideration given to use the building for Park District and/or Village purposes. The Park District always stated that if no developer was found for an adaptive re-use of the building, it would be demolished as the District has no use for a 170,000 square foot building.

During further discussion with Mr. Rolfes, President Marcus asked him what he would like to see done with the building.

Mr. Rolfes responded that he had heard many suggestions and that he did not feel that it was particularly important what his preference was. However, as a personal choice, he would like to see a community/cultural center in the building.

President Marcus recognized Harry Zander, 1525 Lake Ave.

Mr. Zander stated that he agrees with the Park Board’s position on the referendum and the Mallinckrodt issue in general. However, he feels that for whatever reason, there is a lack of communication with the public on this issue and he doesn’t feel the message is getting through to certain segments of the community.

Director Porter agreed with Mr. Zander that there seems to be some lack of understanding regarding the Mallinckrodt plans which may partially be attributed to the fact that there were so many proposals from developers which were considered and discussed at public meetings. Also, there has been some incorrect and misleading information that has been circulated in the community.

President Marcus noted that the Park District will make an even greater effort to get the facts regarding the issue out to the public. He then asked Director Porter to explain what options are available for the building if it is not sold to a developer and to outline what the costs to the community would be.

Director Porter set forth the following alternatives:

Alternative #1 - Demolition of the Building

This is an option that was considered as part of the referendum and became the basis for the referendum question asking for up to $25 million, based on an estimate of land acquisition costing approximately $20 million, building demolition costs of $2 million, and up to $3 million for development of the 17 acre park site. This option would require issuance of $8.5 million in additional General Obligation debt, which would then be added to the property tax bills. The $8.5 million represents $5 million in General Obligation Bonds to retire the taxable debt certificates, $2 million for building demolition, and $1.5 million for park development. The Park District already has the authority to issue the additional $8.5 million in tax exempt debt as a result of the March 2002 referendum.

Alternative #2 - Retention of the Building

There have been suggestions that the building be retained and used as a community asset. Ideas which have been previously considered and rejected have been relocation of Village and Park District Administrative Offices, creation of a second community center, creation of a cultural center, or some combination of these uses. The building has no sprinkler system, will need significant electrical and HVAC upgrades, and a complete interior remodeling. Based on current information, estimates for remodeling the building in its entirety are at least in the $15 to $20 million range. Any major remodeling would require an additional referendum. Additional debt in excess of $25 million would have to be issued above the $16.5 million in debt issued to date.

In addition, it would not be possible to operate the building with the Park District’s current tax capabilities. As an example, $250,000 in taxes is required to partially underwrite the operation of the approximately 100,000 square foot Community Recreation Center. Conservative estimates to underwrite the cost of operating a 170,000 square foot community center at the Mallinckrodt building would be approximately $500,000 per year. In order to fund this type of expenditure, it would be necessary to seek a tax rate increase via a second additional referendum.

The current parking configuration includes approximately 175 spaces. The Village Ordinance requires one parking space per 200 square feet of building. Using these numbers, the code would require 850 parking spaces. Using a shared parking concept, which was used at the CRC, a variance could be requested for relief from the Zoning Ordinance because not all operations of the building would be used at the same time. At the CRC, the Zoning Ordinance would have required 395 parking spaces for a 100,000 square foot building. The Village granted a 65 car variance based on the shared use concept and experience has shown that the current 330 spaces is the correct number at the CRC. There has not been overflow parking in the neighborhood, but there have been numerous occasions when the parking lot is at or near capacity under the existing configuration. Applying a similar ratio to the Mallinckrodt Building, there would probably be a need for parking for 550+ cars. Calculations indicate that approximately one acre of land is required for each 150 parking spaces. Were this building to become a community center, it would most likely be necessary to use an additional three or four acres of existing green space for asphalt parking. The addition of the impervious surface would therefore increase storm water retention requirements at the site, further reducing the amount of usable green space on the property.

Director Porter stated that the bottom line is that while the building serves no purpose for general public use, it has tremendous potential when retained at somebody else’s expense without causing a loss of the open park land. Director Porter added that the opportunity to acquire and maintain this open land was one of the Park District’s primary considerations when it put the purchase of this site to referendum in 2002. He noted that the option of selling the building to a developer is the most advantageous for the community as it recoups $3-4 million of the purchase price of the property, saves the taxpayers approximately $2 million in demolition expenses, requires no financial subsidy from the Park District or the Village of Wilmette, preserves the historic facade of the building on the Mallinckrodt property consistent with the Village’s Comprehensive Plan, provides senior housing at the site consistent with the Village’s Comprehensive Plan, retains the maximum amount of green space possible on the property without removing the historic building, does not impact the schools in the community, and for the first time, puts the building on the property tax rolls.

Commissioner O’Malley requested that Director Porter briefly outline the projected costs to the community of all three alternatives.

Director Porter listed the projected costs of the three options for the Mallinckrodt property as follows:

Option 1 - Sale of the Building to a Developer -- $14.5 to $16.5 million

Option 2 - Demolition of Building -- $25 million

Option 3 - Retention of Building -- $43 to $45 million

 

APPROVAL OF VOUCHER LIST:

Commissioner Miller moved and Commissioner Carlson seconded a motion to approve the Voucher List in the amount of $2,472,728.03, 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 Carlson, Cohen, Crowley, Marcus, Miller, O'Malley, and Wolff; voting No -- None. Motion carried.

 

COMMITTEE REPORTS:

Parks and Recreation -- Committee Chair Carlson reported that the Committee met on October 20th. At that time, the Committee reviewed policies regarding staff and commissioners’ fees for programs. The Committee also reviewed the summer camp programs and the winter storage of boats at the lakefront, which has increased over last year.

Commissioner Carlson further reported that Commissioner Wolff suggested that consideration be given to allowing parents of School District 37 and 39 students who live out of the District to pay resident rates at the fitness center. Director Porter suggested consideration of reducing the non-resident fee at the fitness center, which would probably accomplish the same goal of adding new patrons without setting a precedent for other programs and facilities. Staff will look into the matter.

Commissioner Carlson also reported that the Committee reviewed a memo from Superintendent Lambrecht regarding the costs associated with field maintenance for the Wilmette Baseball Association. At the present time, the cost of field maintenance totals close to $80,000 per year, and the WBA contributes $20,000 per year. After discussion, it was agreed that the Association should be required to pay $30,000 next year, $40,000 the following year, and thereafter cover fifty percent of the direct expenses related to their use of field space. It was also agreed that if the WBA desired to provide additional improvements to the fields, they should consider seeking donations to pay for improvements, as is done at New Trier High School.

Commissioner Carlson added that the Committee reviewed the Proposed Fiscal Year 2004 Corporate Fund and Motor Pool. She noted that improvements to tot lots and the Vattmann Park tennis courts will be deferred at least one year due to the financial position of the Park District. After discussion, the proposed budgets were approved as presented by the Committee.

 

Golf/Restaurant Operations -- Committee Chair Crowley reported that the Committee held a regular meeting and the annual Golf Users Meeting on October 25th. There were many golfers in attendance and issues regarding Unlimited Play, course layout, improvements to the golf course, and the golf clubhouse fire were discussed.

Commissioner Crowley stated that Superintendent Lambrecht reported on the clubhouse fire situation at the meeting. He explained that the insurance company has hired an architectural firm to develop detailed schematic plans of the part of the building that was destroyed. This is being done for pricing purposes to determine the value of the claim. At this time, drawings are being prepared and the company will meet with Park District staff to make sure that they have the correct interior and exterior finishes, mechanical systems, electrical systems and other items that were destroyed that were part of the building. Superintendent Lambrecht noted that the various reports being submitted by the Village’s consultants will also be reviewed and it is possible that the insurer will hire a code evaluator to review the Village’s requirements. As soon as the requirements are agreed upon, the required code upgrades will be added to those base costs. Plans then will be provided to W.B. Olson to cost out so that the District has an equal basis of comparison. Once the cost estimates are complete, serious negotiations will begin to settle the claim. It is anticipated that the Park District should be in a position to negotiate by the end of the year.

 

Centennial Operations - Committee Chair Cohen reported that the Committee met on October 13th. She stated that a letter was reviewed from a resident thanking the Park District for the season-long 8:00 a.m. Sunday reservation for his tennis group. Superintendent Grisamore explained that the reservation was not authorized by the Committee or management staff, but that an employee not following directions given by the Tennis Manager booked the reservation for the group on a weekly basis. Superintendent Grisamore noted that appropriate disciplinary action was taken and this will not happen again.

Commissioner Cohen further reported that the Committee heard managers reports. Tennis appears to be on target for reaching and possibly exceeding its budgeted surplus. Ice Manager Terry Juliar reported that registration for the first session of skating lessons was down eight percent from last year. However, neighboring rinks are reporting decreases in the twelve to fifteen percent range and some rinks have turned to coupon books and discounts to attract skaters. Staff will investigate the success of such ventures.

 

Financial Planning & Policy -- Committee Chair Miller reported that the Committee met prior to this evening’s Board meeting. There was discussion of budget related issues, the tax levy, and a tax abatement ordinance.

Commissioner Miller moved and Commissioner Cohen seconded a motion to approve Resolution 2003-R-6. TRUTH IN TAXATION, as recommended by the Financial Planning and Policy Committee.

 

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

Commissioner Miller moved and Commissioner Wolff seconded a motion to approve Ordinance 2003-O-7, AN ORDINANCE ABATING THE TAX HERETOFORE LEVIED FOR THE YEAR 2003 TO PAY THE PRINCIPAL OF AND INTEREST ON $564,000 GENERAL OBLIGATION LIMITED TAX PARK BONDS, SERIES 1996, OF THE WILMETTE PARK DISTRICT, COOK COUNTY, IL as recommended by the Financial Planning and Policy Committee.

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

 

NEW BUSINESS:

President Marcus stated that he has served as president of the Board of Park Commissioners for the past two and a half years, and it has been a very interesting experience. He said that he appreciates the support he has received from his fellow commissioners. However, he is running for judge in the Ninth Circuit Court, which in addition to his law practice, is very time consuming, and he feels that he can no longer devote the time it takes to be president of the Board. Therefore, he will be submitting his resignation as president at the December Board meeting, but he will remain as a commissioner. He thanked Director Terry Porter, Business Manager George Kush, Superintendent Tom Grisamore, Superintendent Bill Lambrecht, and Communications Manager Shelagh Donoghue for all their dedication and their extra efforts with regard to the Mallinckrodt project and the golf clubhouse fire issue.

Commissioner Wolff stated that he wished to thank President Marcus for his leadership, his thoroughness, and his willingness to allow everyone to express their opinion during these very contentious times. He stated that his extra efforts with respect to the Mallinckrodt issue are very much appreciated.

Commissioner Carlson moved and Commissioner Miller seconded a motion to approve Resolution 2003-R-7, A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING INTERVENTION IN A PENDING PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENT APPEAL BY CARSON, PIRIE SCOTT & CO.

 

In response to a question from Commissioner O’Malley, Director Porter explained that the Park District participates in an intergovernmental cooperative with New Trier High School, the Village of Wilmette, School District #37 and School District #39 to share the cost of challenging property tax assessment appeals from some of the larger properties in the community.

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

Commissioner Carlson moved and Commissioner Miller seconded a motion to approve Resolution 2003-R-8, A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING INTERVENTION IN A PENDING PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENT APPEAL BY THE HARRIS BANK.

 

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

 

Commissioner Wolff reported that he had attended an Intergovernmental Cooperation Committee meeting on November 6th. He explained that this is a group of local governments including the Park District, the Village, the Library, School Districts #37 and #39, and the New Trier School District, which meet twice a year to report on and discuss community issues. He stated that this meeting was very informative and that he updated the group on the Mallinckrodt issue and the status of the golf clubhouse. He noted that the Village reported on the plans for the new configuration of Lake Avenue and there were many other interesting topics of discussion. Commissioner Wolff stated that the next meeting is scheduled for April and he encouraged the commissioners to attend if possible.

Commissioner Wolff moved and Commissioner Cohen seconded a motion to adjourn to executive session for the purpose of discussion of minutes of prior meetings lawfully closed under the Open Meetings Act, for the purpose of review, approval or release of such minutes in accordance with Section 2(c)(21) of the Open Meetings Act.

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

 

The meeting was adjourned to executive session at 8:50 p.m.

The Regular Board Meeting was reconvened at 9:06 p.m.

Commissioner Carlson moved and Commissioner Miller seconded a motion to approve the minutes of the executive session of May 12, 2003.

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

Commissioner Carlson moved and Commissioner Miller seconded a motion to release to the public the executive session minutes of December 9, 2002 and May 12, 2003.

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

There being no further business to conduct, the meeting was adjourned at 9:08 p.m.

 

Minutes approved on December 8, 2003.