WILMETTE PARK DISTRICT
PARKS AND RECREATION COMMITTEE MEETING


Date: October 17, 2011

Place: Park District Conference Room

Time: 6:30 p.m.

Attendance:
Commissioners: Murdock, Graham, Benz, Olvany, Shelly
Staff: Lambrecht, Bingham, Bowen, Specht, Groves; Wilson, Eppelheimer
Visitors: See attached sheet
     
Topics for Discussion:
1) Meeting Called to Order
2) Approval of minutes
3) Recognition of Visitors
     a) Holly Gilson & Craig Strong (Precision Multisport)
     b) James Ferguson (Wilmette Baseball Association)
4) Communications and Correspondence
     a) Katie Wilson, Tamara Tangney (Dogs off-leash in parks)
     b) Randal Cohn (Fitness Center)
5) Manager’s Reports
     A) Lakefront
     B) Recreation
6) Proposed FY 2012 Corporate Fund Budget
7) Proposed FY 2012 Motor Pool Budget
8) Proposed FY 2012 Lakefront Budget
9) Proposed FY 2012 Recreation Fund Budget
10) Old Business
11) New Business
12) Adjourn

Discussions/Decisions made:
1) The Committee reviewed the minutes of September 26, 2011 and they were approved by general consent.

2) Under Recognition of Visitors, Chairman Murdock recognized Holly Gilson and Craig Strong from Precision Multisport who are proposing to stage a triathlon in Wilmette in September 2012. Ms. Gilson stated they chose Wilmette because the facilities and locations would be great for staging the events that include swimming, running and bicycling. They are requesting that the event be staged in mid-September 2012, most likely on a Sunday morning. She added that there would be a limited field of participants this year to see how successful the event is.

Commissioner Graham asked what the benefit to the Park District would be. Superintendent Bingham responded that it would be a good addition to programming and there would be revenue-sharing for the event. It would also be heavily marketed to Wilmette residents and Mr. Strong indicated there would be preference given to Wilmette residents during registration. Commissioner Graham expressed concern about the route for the running and bicycle portions and the impact it might have on residents. Mr. Strong replied they have looked at Green Bay Road for the bicycle course and have already discussed the matter with the Winnetka Police who have been supportive. If the Committee approves the event, they will begin to develop the plans in more detail. The running course might so south into Evanston but that is currently just a concept. All portions of the event would begin and end in Gillson Park. They have also discussed off-site parking for participants and bussing them to the park.

Commissioner Murdock asked how staff felt about the concept. Ms. Bingham replied that they are in favor as long as the event is staged on a Sunday and that the Village and especially the Police are supportive of the event. Commissioner Graham asked what the costs would be to the Park District. Ms. Gilson responded that those discussions had not yet that far since they first wanted to determine if there was any interest on the part of the Committee before getting into more specific details. Commissioner Murdock asked if the group had staged many other events. Ms. Gilson replied that their group has experience in staging events like this and that Mr. Strong himself has been involved with many other events in the area.

Ms. Bingham stated she had concerns about swimmer safety. Mr. Strong replied that one of the reasons they like the site is that the water is fairly shallow and people could stand in most cases. There would be assistance on the water and spotters on the shore to help when needed. Ms. Specht added that they had “open water” swim starting this past summer which included extensive training about handling different situations. It might be even more popular in 2012 if the Triathlon is scheduled.

After further discussion, staff asked the Committee if they would agree to allow further discussions and to start refining the details and coordination efforts with the various jurisdictions. They would also be in a position to come back with more detailed information for final approval. Commissioner Graham expressed concern that he would like to know what the extent of demand for the event is since he is afraid that residents might push back given all of the other races that go through the Village. He would also like to get further information about the possible benefits to the Park District and what costs would be involved. The Committee agreed that staff could have further discussions with this group and refine the details and answer all of the Committee’s questions.

The Committee recognized Jim Ferguson representing the Wilmette Baseball Association. He has come to ask for additional financial support to recover some costs incurred at the Pony and Elam fields at Community Playfield. He went on to say that the support provided by the Park District also has not changed over the last couple of years. When the Elam field was relocated five years ago, work was not done correctly and the infield had to be rebuilt. The Baseball Association incurred $24,000 in extra costs and they are looking to recover half of that amount. Executive Director Wilson responded that staff has already included a three percent increase in the proposed 2012 budget. Commissioner Murdock asked what determines who pays for what. Superintendent Lambrecht replied that typically the Park District has been covering the costs of infrastructure improvements such as backstops; fencing, concrete, bleachers, player’s benches and storage boxes. After further discussion, the Committee agreed to raise the annual payment to the W.B.A. by five percent and that it would be reviewed on an annual basis. 
 
3) In Communications and Correspondence, the Committee reviewed communication received about allowing dogs off-leash in the parks. Commissioner Graham asked who made the request since he feels that dogs remaining on-leash make sense since not everyone can control their pets off-leash. Commissioner Shelly interjected that she knows the group is looking for a limited amount of time at Thornwood Park in the morning. Commissioner Graham replied that it would be difficult to maintain that when the Park District already gets complaints about dogs being in the parks in general. Commissioner Shelly asked about trying off-leash at Mallinckrodt Park. Executive Director Wilson replied that there is a resident near that park that calls constantly complaining about dogs off-leash since she is terrified of dogs. The Committee has to take into account that a lot of children don’t know how to act when approached by a dog and any park that has a tot lot could be a problem. Superintendent Bingham added that having specific times at locations makes it much more difficult for the police to enforce the rules. Commissioner Murdock asked that staff evaluate the different sites. Superintendent Lambrecht replied that there is an off-leash area under the ComEd power lines at West Park. Staff has been trying to negotiate a lease with ComEd to allow an area to be fenced but the negotiations have been slow. Staff added that the dog beach is also available. Holly Specht reported that they constantly get complaints about dogs off-leash in Gillson and a lot of times from other dog owners. Commissioner Murdock stated he agreed with staff that designated times would not work. He went on to ask that staff keep working with ComEd to see if an area could be fenced as a dog run/play area.

Staff presented a communication from Randall Cohn who had concerns about the decision to close the Fitness Center at this time for remodeling. He was also upset that the decision had been made to stop supplying water cups. Staff pointed out that no other fitness centers provide cups. They also have no intention at this time of removing the water/ice machine and have ordered water bottles that will be available at the front desk. After further discussion, the Committee agreed with staff’s recommendation.

4) Under Manager’s Reports, Holly Specht reported that Parks Department staff has been cleaning up lots of seaweed at the dog beach due the high wave activity last month. The Sailing facility is officially closed for the winter. Staff has begun taking down masts and putting them into storage. So far 220 boat owners have signed up for winter storage. There have been 11 rentals in Lakeview for the month so far.

 Jeff Groves reported that fall sports are coming to an end. Soccer is done except for a few make-up games and Eagles Football is also almost completed. Saturday Basketball evaluations are on October 29 and November 5th. The martial arts classes continue to grow in popularity. Mulan Jr. opened this past weekend to large crowds. Halloween Happening will be held at the Community Recreation Center again this year from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on October 28.

5) The Committee reviewed the Proposed FY 2012 Corporate Fund budget. Superintendent Lambrecht gave overviews of those over-budget line items in FY 2011 including the uniform increases approved by the Financial Planning Committee. They included a lot of sod for repairs at Gillson and Community Playfield. Also, the cost for fuels was higher than anticipated. The 2011 budgets were based on Energy Department projections from Fall 2010. After some discussion, the Committee agreed to recommend the budget as submitted with the exception of raising the contribution to the Wilmette Baseball Association from 3 to 5%.

6) The Committee reviewed the Proposed FY 2012 Motor Pool budget. Superintendent Lambrecht stated that the uniform increases were again used in preparation of the budget. This budget accounts for support of all facilities within the District and includes two workmen, a foreman, electrician, carpenter and the shop foreman who oversees maintenance of all Park District vehicles and equipment at all locations except Golf. The area also covers purchases of all custodial supplies for the Park District and refuse collection. After some discussion, the Committee agreed to recommend approval to the Park Board.

7) The Committee reviewed the Proposed FY 2012 Lakefront Budget. Superintendent Bingham explained that the uniform increases approved by Financial Planning were used in the preparation. Due to poor weather in 2011, the Lakefront Operation will only be able to make $54,000 of its transfers for Capital Projects. The fee increases for 2012 average 3.5%. However, there are two exceptions: Aquatics Camp and Sailing lessons will both increase an additional 1.5% to cover the costs associated with those programs. Commissioner Murdock stated that the lesson programs in sailing are apparently going very well considering the increased revenue from the past summer. Superintendent Bingham responded that the budget includes buying extra sailboats for the two programs. Commissioner Shelly asked if better planning could be done for Aquatics on days when they are not in the water. Staff replied that part of the problem was the lack of equipment due to the failure of the boat used for Aquatics. There were times when they could not use the patrol boat due to other commitments. Commissioner Shelly also asked if the non-resident fees could also be raised. Staff replied that if the fence is extended all the way to the south, then staff would prefer to keep the fees as recommended in order to encourage people to move to the guarded beach. She added that if the fence is extended and the swimming area is enlarged, then there might be additional unbudgeted costs.

 Commissioner Benz expressed concern about the safety of the pier. Staff stated that the pier is not currently the Park District’s responsibility and is leased by the Harbor Association. However, staff did spend a lot of time chasing people off the pier at the end of the season. Commissioner Benz also asked about the number of staff needed in swimming areas. Staff responded that generally speaking there are three people on hand for each guard chair due to rotating staff. After further discussion, the Committee agreed to recommend the budget as presented.

8) The Committee reviewed the Proposed FY 2012 Recreation Budgets. Superintendent Bingham stated that the fund will be able to cover all of its transfers to Capital Projects Fund. Commissioner Murdock asked how demand for financial assistance was going. Executive Director Wilson replied that staff recently overhauled the guidelines for allocating the scholarships. Commissioner Murdock asked about the drop-off in dance programs. Staff explained that some long-term teachers had recently left to start their own programs and many students followed them. This has happened before and the program is expected to rebound. Commissioner Graham asked about the apparent increased participation in Early Childhood. Staff stated that registrations are up and the budget also reflects a portion of the increased fees that were previously approved.

 Commissioner Benz stated he was surprised that Fitness was not doing better. Superintendent Bingham replied that when the facility opened, it was the only fitness center around. Since then Skokie and Glenview have opened fitness centers, the Winnetka Community House renovated their space, and Lifetime Fitness opened. Our center is not very large but it does well for its size. Commissioner Murdock stated he was surprised with the number of new members. Superintendent Bingham responded that a large part of that was due to the closing of the Curves facility which brought their members to us. The opening of the spin and circuit training studios did bring in more people but staff should have done a better job of monitoring labor costs.

 Commissioner Murdock asked about the apparent decrease in Girls Softball. Staff replied that due to the expansion of Lacrosse and other sports, the participants are merely changing sports. Commissioner Murdock asked about why the Wolves Basketball program brings in $23,000 and expenses total $20,000. He asked that staff come back with a better breakdown of the programs costs, etc. Commissioner Murdock commented on the apparent decline of program participation especially in some baseball programs. Staff replied they are monitoring that trend and have discussed changes in the programs with the contractor who provides them. Commissioner Benz asked if programs are ever dropped. Staff replied that some programs are tried but do not get started because of a lack of interest. Some programs have been stopped only to be resurrected with good participation. After further discussion, the Committee agreed to recommend the budget as presented.

9) Under New Business, Commissioner Murdock asked that staff be prepared to discuss the following topics at the next Committee meeting in November:
• Lakefront sailing safety guidelines and closing the operation during certain times.
• Reviewing where food is allowed which may be an issue if south beach is fenced since a number of families go there to picnic in the evening. Staff replied that the biggest issue is the seagulls who go where the food is. Food is not allowed on the swimming beach.
• Review of the paddle tennis report that was prepared by staff including the survey results received.

Commissioner Benz expressed concerns about the length of time the Lakefront Commission is taking to complete their work when there are obvious infrastructure issues that will need to be dealt with imminently. Executive Director Wilson stated that the Commission had extensive discussions about moving forward at its last meeting. Park Board President Brault addressed them and encouraged them to move ahead on a timely basis. Chairman Porter also did the same and one of the Commission members put together a list of topics as a guideline at the last meeting which seemed to help. He went on to state that they hope to finish their work after a couple more meetings and then present a report to the Park Board in November. Commissioner Murdock added that the consultants must be frustrated because the project has taken longer than anticipated.

The Committee discussed the status of the fence separating Langdon Park from the property to the south. The neighbors had presented a petition earlier in the year to remove the fence. Executive Director Wilson responded he had a discussion with the homeowner and they are currently of a mind to keep the fence for another year. Commissioner Murdock stated he is uncomfortable removing the fence. Executive Director Wilson replied that the purposes of the fences are typically to protect the neighbors’ properties and/or keep children out of traffic near the tot lots. After further discussion, the Committee agreed to leave the fence in place for another year.

 There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 8:18 p.m.

Minutes taken by Bill Lambrecht

MINUTES APPROVED NOVEMBER 21, 2011.