BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS OF THE WILMETTE PARK DISTRICT AND
THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE VILLAGE OF WILMETTE
HELD IN THE COUNCIL ROOM OF WILMETTE VILLAGE HALL
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2002
Written notice of said meeting was given to the Commissioners, Trustees, the Wilmette Life and the New Trier Times 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 7:35 p.m.
PRESENT: Park Board President Richard Marcus, Commissioners Cecelia Carlson, Diana Cohen, Phyllis Cossarek, David Miller, Henry Wolff, Village President Nancy Canafax, Trustees Daniel Carter, Yip-Wah Chung, Patrick Hughes, Mary E.(Beth) Lambrecht, George Pearce, Frank Whitehand
ABSENT: Park Board Commissioner James P. Crowley
VISITORS: See attached sheets.
Park Board President Marcus welcomed those in attendance. He noted that the purpose of this special meeting is to hear comments from residents regarding the proposals submitted by potential developers seeking to reuse the Mallinckrodt College Building. President Marcus stated that this is the first step in an in-depth review process to be conducted by the Park District and the Village of Wilmette. The Park District and the Village Board will be considering those proposals which meet the standards set forth in the RFP - specifically options for reuse of the existing building. He noted that no new construction is anticipated and the park land that currently exists is expected to remain as park land for general public use. President Marcus stated that the Park District and the Village of Wilmette have been working in an extremely cooperative manner, and it is the collective hope of both boards that an adaptive re-use of the building will be found which would benefit the entire community. He noted that this is an historic event, since it is the first time in recent memory that the boards of the Park District and the Village have held a joint meeting.
President Canafax thanked President Marcus for his comments. She stated that she was glad to see so many people in attendance and that she looked forward to hearing from the residents of Wilmette regarding this very important issue. She noted that this date marks almost exactly the one year anniversary of the town hall meeting held on the Mallinckrodt issue with representatives of Loyola University President Marcus acknowledged receipt of the following correspondence:
. . . E-mail dated December 3, 2002 from Elizabeth Peterson Hall, 1948 Elmwood.
. . . E-mail dated December 3, 2002 from Leslie Loughnane, 2100 Elmwood.
. . . Press release dated December 3, 2002 from Linden Realty, 460 Winnetka Ave., Winnetka, IL.
. . . Letter dated December 3, 2002 from Sharon and Fred Egloff, 2035 Greenwood.
. . . E-mail dated December 3, 2002 from Heather M. Kaspar, 2002 Elmwood .
. . . E-mail dated December 3, 2002 from Bob Horton, 2024 Elmwood.
. . . Letter received December 2, 2002 from "Anonymous Senior".
. . . E-mail dated December 3, 2002 from Olga Domchenko
President Marcus thanked all those who wrote and encouraged anyone who was unable to attend the meeting, or did not wish to speak, to communicate their comments by e-mail, fax, phone or letter to either or both boards.
The meeting was opened for public comment.
Eric Marshall, 1739 Washington asked the Village Board to insure that it has the authority to incur expenses to "rescue" the Mallinckrodt building, and he suggested that the Village hold a referendum to obtain funds for that purpose. He recommended that none of the proposals for re-use of the building be accepted, that the property remain as a park and the building be demolished.
David Youngerman, 1016 Ridge Road stated that he is Chair of the Wilmette Community Relations Commission, and he noted that he is speaking on behalf of that commission. He thanked and commended the Park Board and the Village Board for their leadership in making sure that the Mallinckrodt property remains a Village asset, and for how well the two entities have worked together on this project. He stated that the Request for Proposals was excellent and very accurately reflected the community's values. The Community Relations Commission strongly recommends that the Mallinckrodt building be used for affordable housing, with the emphasis on senior housing. There are seniors who have been Wilmette residents for many years and want to stay in the Village, but cannot afford the housing costs. The Commission also recommends that in order to encourage diversity in the community, there should be some provisions for affordable housing for people who work in Wilmette, such as firefighters, police, Village and Park District employees, etc., who cannot afford to live in Wilmette. The Commission encouraged the Village Board to be as flexible as possible on working with prospective developers on zoning issues.
Bob Johnson, 1615 Walnut stated that he is a third generation Wilmette resident who lives very close to Mallinckrodt. He regularly walks through the Mallinckrodt property and is very grateful that this beautiful area is going to be saved for the community to enjoy. With regard to the building, he is a member of MUM (Mixed Use for Mallinckrodt). He is convinced, after reading the proposals, that a very respectable, attractive affordable housing structure could be made out of the current building. He agrees with the Community Relations Commission that it would be an asset for Wilmette to have housing for Wilmette seniors and Wilmette workers who cannot afford now to live in Wilmette. He looks forward to this becoming a reality and would welcome such a facility in his neighborhood.
Ann Jonaitis, 814 Park Ave. stated that she is the mother of a disabled son and she worries what will happen to him when she is no longer here. There are agencies which provide housing for disabled people, but it is almost impossible to get into these facilities due to the high demand. Her son has a low paying job in Wilmette and would like to be able to find affordable housing in the Village. She encouraged the boards in their deliberations to consider the idea of mixed use housing at Mallinckrodt to accommodate Wilmette residents like her son.
Betty Jacobs, 625 Maple stated that she was speaking on behalf of Mixed Use for Mallinckrodt, commonly referred to as MUM, which has been involved in this project for over a year. This organization is very gratified that proposals have been submitted for affordable housing. MUM believes that it is absolutely necessary that development of the Mallinckrodt building include truly affordable housing. She stated that currently there are 1252 households in Wilmette which earn less than $30,000 per year according to the last census, and according to that same census there are 623 people in Wilmette currently living below the poverty line. This is a problem that must be addressed. Ms. Jacobs noted that MUM has reviewed the proposals with three goals in mind: Commitment to provide a substantial number of truly affordable housing units; the preservation of the building and grounds in as pristine a condition as possible; and a team of developers, architects, and builders with deep experience in historical preservation, affordable housing, and knowledge of financing packages necessary for this type of housing. Using these criteria, MUM eliminated any proposals which call for demolition of the building or the addition of any structures on the property. They are especially enthusiastic about the proposals from Brinshore Development, LR Development Company, and Senior Lifestyle Corporation. Ms. Jacobs urged the boards to work with these developers and to secure advice from the best possible consultants to determine the best proposal. MUM feels that there is a great need for senior housing in Wilmette, and the provision of certain amenities for seniors in the proposals is appropriate. However, it is felt that it is important to include affordable housing for the disabled and for others with strong community ties, such as those who work in the Village, but cannot afford to live in Wilmette. MUM does not feel that the price offered for the property should be the primary consideration, but that the boards should base the choice on which proposal best meets the criteria recommended by MUM. She also emphasized that it is important that the chosen developer has a long term commitment to the project.
Clara Flentall, 3513 Lake Ave. stated that she is a senior who would like to stay in Wilmette and would appreciate having affordable senior housing available. She feels that the location of Mallinckrodt would be ideal for seniors.
Gail Schecter, 2233 Lake Ave. stated that she is a Wilmette resident and a member of MUM. However, tonight she is speaking as the Director of the Interfaith Housing Center of the North Shore, which is a 30 year old housing agency. She commended the Park District and the Village for their stewardship of the historic Mallinckrodt property and for listening to the community about preserving this valuable property for the Village. She stated that the Interfaith Housing Center urges the boards to continue on this path and to work to remove any zoning or other obstacles to re-adapting the Mallinckrodt building to accommodate affordable housing for both seniors and others in the community who are in the lower income category. She noted that Wilmette could be a leader in serving the housing needs of the lower and moderate income people in the community. She added that her organization agrees with the criteria that was outlined by Betty Jacobs of MUM and also agrees with the recommendation that the boards consider the three proposals MUM recommends.
Fred Egloff, 2035 Greenwood stated that he is in attendance as a private long term resident of Wilmette, not a member of any organization. He expressed concerns about hidden agendas. He noted that "affordable housing" is another term for "low income housing", which causes concerns about the effect on property values, the school system, crime, etc. The purchase of the Mallinckrodt property has caused property taxes to be increased, which will force many residents out of Wilmette, especially seniors. Mr. Egloff expressed concerns about the changing of zoning regulations and the inability to sell or rent all the units in a seniors building to Wilmette residents. He cautioned the boards to be very careful with regard to "subsidized" housing as this could bring in Federal or State government regulations and the Village could lose control of the property.
Ed Gubman, 1046 Greenwood thanked the boards for their hard work and vision on this issue. He stated that he found that MUM is a small group of dedicated people who did not have any "sub rosa" agenda, but rather a group which wants to provide housing for people who want to live in the community, but can't afford the market rates. He stated that his main concern is helping seniors who want to stay in the Village, but due to the escalation of taxes and cost of living in Wilmette, have very little choice but to leave. He found the three proposals mentioned earlier by MUM to be very creative and he felt that some of the amenities offered to the seniors would be excellent.
Beth Beucher, 1429 Sheridan Rd. stated that she is a member of MUM, but originally did not support the referendum. She had hoped that Loyola would be able to work with the Village to save the building for community uses as it was exiting Wilmette. However, she felt that a wonderful opportunity was created for Wilmette when Loyola decided to sell the Mallinckrodt property, and the people of Wilmette mobilized for a variety of reasons to save the property from private development. There were advocates for open land, historical preservation, and adaptive re-use of the building for senior and/or affordable housing. Ms. Beucher advised the boards to work with the various commissions, such as the Senior Resources Commission, the housing commissions, and people involved in the various grass roots community groups to find the best use of the building for the community. She also urged the Village to be flexible on zoning issues. She felt if there is sufficient communication and education, the community will come together and support whatever use is decided upon.
Heather VanDeventer, stated that she is the assistant rector at St. Augustine's Church. She commended the boards for holding the joint meeting and allowing the public to have its say, even people like her who do not live in the Village. She has worked with MUM and agrees with the three proposals, Brinshore Development, LR Development and Senior Lifestyle Corporation, which were recommended earlier in the meeting. Ms. VanDeventer encouraged the boards when negotiating with potential developers to use their negotiating skills to insure that the building be open not only to seniors, but also would provide housing opportunities for those who work in Wilmette, but cannot afford to live in the community. She also encouraged the boards to pick and choose amenities offered in various proposals which would enhance the development.
Walter Reed, 422 Forest stated that he is not a member of any group, but has been following the issue. He noted that there are very few in attendance at this meeting who have expressed any negative feelings about the use of the Mallinckrodt building for a form of senior and/or affordable housing. However, he feels that the referendum for Mallinckrodt has "reached into the taxpayers pockets", and there are many in the community who do not want the building used for such a project. As long as the referendum passed, the boards should give serious consideration to the one proposal that would benefit the entire community. He added that he is in favor of housing for seniors and the disabled, as he is a senior and does have a disabled son. However, the civic investment of more than $20 million should serve more than a small segment of the public. He recommends that the boards consider the Linden Realty proposal for a cultural center, which would benefit all segments of the population and would fit in with the many excellent Park District programs. It would also add another attraction to living in Wilmette.
Lurene Thomas 2228 Elmwood stated that she cannot support any of the proposals. In her opinion, it is a question of density. She does not feel that the Mallinckrodt building could support a development with the possibility of 237 units. She also pointed out that the area is zoned R-1, which is for single family homes. Ms. Thomas further stated that the referendum question made no mention of the building, but asked for bonds to use the land for "park purposes." She added that in talking with other residents, she had heard comments that they felt they were deceived with regard to the referendum question and some feel that there should be another referendum regarding what to do with the building. There were also suggestions that the property be given back to James for the development of about 37 single family residences. She also expressed concerns that the residents did not have enough time to review the 13 proposals. She did not think the two week period was enough time for this process, and that prior to when the executive summaries were released, there was nothing to discuss so many residents did not participate in the process up to this time. In her opinion, many residents are still not totally aware of what the possible plans are for the Mallinckrodt Building. Ms. Thomas also stated that she did not think this one hearing on the issue is enough.
Park Board President Marcus noted that the proposal which Ms. Thomas referred to that had 237 units called for demolition of the building, which is not an option.
Lali Watt, 811 Chilton Lane stated that she is speaking on behalf of CALM (Citizens Action League for Mallinckrodt). She stated that it is wonderful to have 13 proposals to consider rather than just one plan, and she noted that the original James plan for the Mallinckrodt property called for 67 homes. She explained that CALM has reviewed all the executive summaries of the 13 proposals, and is very pleased with the extreme high quality of many of the plans. CALM looked at these proposals with their mission statement in mind, which was to preserve the open space of the land and to preserve the look of the historic building. CALM is very concerned with parking. It is felt that if as much open space is preserved as possible and parking is minimized, traffic will also be minimized. In addition, CALM is very concerned with the long term solution for the property. They do not want the community to deal with the problem the Sisters had with Loyola when they thought they had a permanent commitment for the property and then Loyola pulled out within a few years. CALM urges the boards to make sure that whoever purchases the property commits to the long term. There was also discussion about the chapel and the plans from the various developers. It is also very important that the developer who is chosen will work very cooperatively with the Village and the Park District regarding parking, zoning, etc. CALM understands that there will be no subsidies involved with this transaction. The Village is acting only as an agent and once the building is sold, the Park District and the Village have no involvement. Ms. Watt noted that the adaptive re-use of the building would save the taxpayers money and would also be the first time in the history of the building that the Village would realize tax revenue from this property. With all these points in mind, CALM recommends that the proposals of the Belmont Corporation, Franciscan Sisters of Chicago, Centrum Properties, Inc., and Oculus Development LLC be eliminated from consideration as they do not meet CALM's criteria or the requirements outlined in the RFP. CALM would like to get more information in particular for Lincoln Property, Brinshore Development, RRG Development, Linden Realty, and Mallinckrodt Limited Partnership as there are many points in these proposals that require clarification. CALM is most impressed with Mallinckrodt Condominiums, Active Living of Wilmette, LR Development, and Senior Lifestyle Corporation, and would like to explore these particular proposals in depth. Ms. Watt noted that CALM looks forward to receiving more information on all those proposals mentioned, and will continue to work with the Village and the Park District to provide their input.
Bruce Lyon, 2210 Elmwood stated that he does not believe that the people in attendance at tonight's meeting are actually representative of the feelings of the entire community. He noted that the Park District's mandate is to be involved in parks, not in land development He expressed concerns about the changes that would be required in zoning and the many variations that developers would need. This property is currently zoned R-1 for residential use. Mr. Lyon stated that the proposals that are being considered are at least double to eight times the number of units that were in the James proposal. He recommended that there be another referendum for the community to vote what should be done with the building as the original referendum was passed because voters thought they were voting for development of park land only. In answer to a question from Ms. Canafax, Mr. Lyon stated that all 13 proposals should be rejected.
Regina Quintana, 809 Leamington Ave. stated that about a year ago when she heard Mallinckrodt was going to be sold, she found a group of people that were all interested in one thing - saving the beauty of the Mallinckrodt property for the community to enjoy. There were no hidden agendas and no particular plans. She stated that she is very concerned about some of the comments she had heard regarding the Mallinckrodt issue and that some of these remarks smack of bigotry. She noted that she agrees with CALM's preference for the proposals of Mallinckrodt Condominiums, Active Living of Wilmette, LR Development Company, and Senior Lifestyle Corporation.
Ian Watt, 811 Chilton stated that he wanted to address the people who complained that the community had been misinformed or not informed regarding the plans to attempt to save the Mallinckrodt building. He recalled that prior to the referendum, the Park District sent out a community-wide mailing in which it was stated that if the referendum passed, the Park District and the Village would attempt to find an appropriate adaptive re-use of the building. If this was not possible, the building would be demolished. This same point was emphasized throughout the entire process beginning with the very first Park District meetings that CALM attended.
Arthur Solomon, 1318 Isabella stated that he and his wife are members of CALM and worked to get the referendum passed. He noted that CALM's literature clearly stated that their main objective was to preserve the open land at Mallinckrodt, and if feasible, save the building. He also noted that there was a televised town meeting where a very open discussion and debate was held and the desirability of preserving the building was discussed in depth. Therefore, he felt that it is hard to believe that people were not aware of any plans for saving the building when they voted for the referendum.
Dave Thomas, 2228 Elmwood stated that he thought the purpose of tonight's meeting was to discuss the proposals that were before the public. He felt that the proposals of the Belmont Corporation and the Franciscan Sisters could be dismissed immediately because they call for demolition of the building. He found the Linden Realty proposal for a cultural center to be interesting, but he felt that it probably would not be the way the Village wants to go. He noted that most of the proposals call for senior assisted housing and he felt that they should be considered on the basis of which would have the least impact on density and traffic in the area. He felt that the Mallinckrodt Condominiums proposal which calls for 77 to 85 units would be one to consider. However, in his opinion, any use of the building for housing would greatly increase the density and traffic in the neighborhood.
Rose Dubin, 323 Vine Street stated that she is a member of the Wilmette Housing Commission. She feels that the building should be looked at as more than use for senior housing. The chapel could certainly be put to good use and there could be a child care center and a variety of services which could serve many segments of the Wilmette population.
Sherry Egloff, 2035 Greenwood stated that she feels that this property was overpriced to begin with and she does not want any more taxpayers money go into this building. She does not want to see any subsidies for this property for low income housing from the local government, State or Federal government.
Joanne Aggens, 1915 Highland stated that she is a member of CALM. She would support the proposals of Brinshore, Senior Lifestyle Corporation, and Active Living, and LR Development Company because they propose using the least amount of property. She added that the Mallinckrodt property is a very valuable asset for the community and she hopes that whatever developer is chosen will have a long term commitment to the Village.
Bertha Hernandez, 809 Leamington stated that she likes the idea of using the building not only for seniors, but also for people who work in Wilmette, but cannot afford the housing.
Colette Cooper, 118 Broadway spoke in favor of the Linden proposal for a cultural arts center. She felt this would be a great asset for Wilmette.
Pamela Mae, 700 Illinois stated that she is artist and an art therapist. She felt that the building would make a wonderful arts center. It would also be a way to help seniors and to bring people in from other communities.
Walter Horn, 1747 Lake stated that he is the Director of Music at St. Joseph Church. He recommends the Linden proposal for a cultural arts center.
Barbara Baran, 920 Greenwood stated that there is a question of the legality of the Park District considering the sale of property for any use other than for park purposes. The referendum was put on the ballot by the Park District and there is a substantial question of the legality of calling for bonds for anything other than use for park land. The only proposal which would relate to park purposes would be the Linden proposal for a cultural center.
John Thompson, 116 Maple Ave. stated that there are a significant number of people in Wilmette who feel that the referendum allotted money for park purposes only. At this time, the economy is not conducive for this type of project.
Mary Alice Lyon, 2210 Elmwood noted that traffic on Ridge Road is very congested now and she feels that any development of the building for housing would make the situation much worse. She also expressed concerns about the re-zoning and variations that would be necessary to accommodate a multi unit building as the Kenilworth Gardens neighborhood area is zoned R-1 for single family homes. She felt that it would be too much density and would totally change the neighborhood in addition to setting a bad precedent.
John Adler, Director of Community Development, noted that there would have to a zoning hearing for any proposed development. All residents who live within 250 feet of the property would be informed of the hearing and would be welcome to attend.
Park Board Commissioner Henry Wolff commented that at this point, the boards have come to no conclusions about what to do with the Mallinckrodt building. The 14th option is that the building will be demolished and the entire property will be used as park land.
Park Board President Richard Marcus thanked everyone for attending and expressing their views. He assured all who spoke that their ideas and concerns were valued and would be taken into consideration. He encouraged people who were unable to attend, or did not care to speak in public, to contact either or both boards with their opinions and concerns. He added that the Park District and the Village will exert due diligence when investigating all the options and are dedicated to doing what will be in the best interests of the entire community. There will be discussion about how to proceed in evaluating the proposals at the next Park Board meeting scheduled for Monday, December 9th.
Village President Nancy Canafax thanked all those who attended and noted that this was the fourth public hearing held on this property. She encouraged all those who are interested in this issue to participate in the process.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:40 p.m.
Minutes approved by Park Board 1/13/03