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, MARCH 12, 2012
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.
PRESENT: President James Brault; Commissioners Gary Benz, James Crowley, Darrell Graham, Michael Murdock, John Olvany, and Shelley Shelly; Secretary/Director Stephen Wilson; Assistant Secretary Judy Ostrem
STAFF: Superintendents Bingham, Bowen, Eppelheimer, and Lambrecht; Communications Manager Donoghue
APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
Commissioner Murdock moved and Commissioner Graham seconded a motion to approve the minutes of the February 13, 2012 Regular Board Meeting.
By a roll call vote, voting Yes – Commissioners Benz, Brault, Crowley, Graham, Murdock, Olvany and Shelly; voting No -- None. Absent – None. Motion carried.
VISITORS: See attached list.
COMMUNICATIONS & CORRESPONDENCE:
President Brault stated the Board had received numerous letters and emails this month in regard to the proposed lakefront fence and each Board member received a copy of every email and letter. He then asked if anyone in the audience wished to speak to the Board on a topic unrelated to the proposed lakefront fence.
Jerome Kujawa, 2145 Washington Avenue stated that as a Wilmette resident he is opposed to a fence at the lakefront. It has been at least 25 years since the pier was taken over by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) who placed boulders on it to discourage people from going there and which is now an eyesore. He felt the Board should be addressing the pier and open it up again for walking.
President Brault clarified that the pier is owned by the MWRD and is leased to the Wilmette Harbor Association. The Park District does not own, manage or have any rights to it. He also asked if the Park District was going to have money in the budget to build an indoor swimming pool since he is sorry that didn’t happen. Having worked at Mallinckrodt he is very happy that it went into Park District hands and that the land was not turned into “McMansions”.
President Brault added the Board will be limiting visitor comments on the proposed fence to three minutes due to the number of people who wish to speak at tonight’s meeting.
Andrew Yeager, 1750 Washington Avenue stated he has lived in Wilmette for 17 years and understands a lot of people are here tonight for an issue that is near to their hearts. He would also like the Board to consider a new source of revenue and a new way to enjoy the lake as residents and he asked the Board to consider a formal way for stand-up paddling to be done at the beach which he thinks would be a great way to generate additional revenue. A stand-up paddle board is a floating device and currently he must go a different park district beach and pay the non-resident rate but would rather pay the fee in his own community. This is the fastest growing sport in the world and he looks forward to the Board’s comments.
Superintendent of Recreation stated that the Park District allows paddle boards and spots at the beach and some racks have been added so that more people can participate in that activity. Staff is also looking into some future programming possibilities for this sport.
President Brault referred this issue to the Parks & Recreation Committee for their review.
John Notch, 627 Maple Avenue stated he has lived in Wilmette for 30 years. One of the reasons he moved here was because of the Wilmette Harbor. He asked for an update on the current situation between the Wilmette Harbor and the Park District and he encouraged the Board to take it over just like Chicago did with their harbors which were much improved. He added the Wilmette Harbor is currently in a decrepit state and could be vastly improved and expanded upon. It is a real gem on the lakefront and the North Shore.
President Brault replied that the current lease between the Wilmette Harbor Association (WHA) and the MWRD comes to maturity at the end of this year. A couple of years ago the MWRD asked the Park District to take a look at the possibility of becoming the operator or partner at the harbor, either in conjunction with or separate from the WHA. At the beginning of this year the Park District commenced a due diligence investigation of the potential costs of being involved in the Harbor and the potential opportunity for the role that the Park District might play. At this point we are continuing that investigation and a Request for Proposal (RFP) was sent out for a study of the seawall itself. We have not yet selected an engineer to conduct that study for us but we are in the process of doing so. There is no other direction for us at this point other than to study the issue.
President Brault also stated that in regard to the fence proposal being discussed tonight, one of the questions he has received is how the Board got to where we are now. He stated that over the course of the last couple of years the Board had a Lakefront Master Plan to study what was expected out of the beach over the course of the next 50 years. Items reviewed included looking at our infrastructure, roads, uses, and determining how we could change or improve it for future generations. A Lakefront Commission was then appointed in 2010 and the role of the commission members was to study some of the questions and issues raised including the south beach area and how to enforce the prohibition of swimming on the south beach. They also were to consider how to contain the overcrowding not only on the beach but also within the park and the parking of cars. A total of 15 members were appointed which then dropped to 14 and they met on several different occasions. There were several different public forums and letters were sent out to residents asking them to bring their ideas to the Commission to assist the Board in creating a master plan. As a result, there were 125 people who provided input to the Commission on these issues. The Commission then came back with several recommendations, two of them specifically related to the south beach area. The first recommendation was made in November 2011 and of the 14 voting members, 9 voted to install a temporary fence to replace the existing tall metal fence that would only be there on a seasonal basis. Five of the members voted to only have increased enforcement. By a 9-5 vote, the recommendation was made based upon the input received from the community which was to install a temporary fence.
The Board has been thinking about this issue for a long time and there were two previous lakefront studies done in 1980 and 1999. Since then, the two primary issues continue to be about swimming on south beach and the overcrowding of the parking. The current discussion about the proposed temporary fence was based on the input we received, first from the community and then from the Lakefront Commission. In terms of moving forward, we have not taken a vote on what we should do with the fence. At our last meeting we asked staff to price it and provide the Board with an idea of what it would look like as well as review the other issues.
President Brault asked that those visitors who have petitions for the Board to please approach the podium.
Jamie Gilson, 777 Michigan Avenue stated she lives across the street from Gillson Park and has signed petitions from Wilmette residents who oppose the fence being erected along our lakeshore. After having heard about the possibility of a fence and seeing the discussion of color and timing, he created a petition on posted it on his web site. As a result, people started passing it around which resulted in 52 signatures that were turned into the Park District to be included in the meeting packet. Some petitions also arrived electronically. As a result, she currently has 827 signatures from people who indicated their opposition. She also spoke to friends, neighbors and strangers about the issue and met several people who indicated they needed to learn more about the issue. However, most people indicated they did not want the fence and were angry that it had even been proposed. She believes the Board did not realize the kind of passion that people have for that open beach and they don’t think a fence is the answer no matter what color it is.
Jeanette Whisler, 1211 Chestnut Avenue, stated she has been a resident since 1968 and has a lot of experience with petitions. She and her husband along with a lot of other good people were able to get petitions circulated in one week and she has never seen people make up their minds so quickly on an issue. It was amazing how they were all in total agreement that they cannot stand the idea of a fence at our beach.
Richard Huszagh, 1619 Elmwood Avenue stated he has lived in Wilmette for more than 30 years and also signed a petition. He thanked the Board for each member’s volunteer time. The residents appreciate what the Board does as stewards of this precious resource and is sure they realize that everyone here tonight appreciates them accepting public input since it is an important part of any decision-making process. He stated that he is against the proposal as it is written at this time. He acknowledged that no one can deny there is a problem with overcrowding, garbage and safety at the beach. However, he is not personally in favor of a fence at this time as it is presently formulated because of the aesthetics of it and the timing of the decision by the Board. It was done relatively quickly before the upcoming season and he is afraid of what it would do to the public trust and confidence in the Board. There is also a large amount of opposition from the public. If the Board decides to install the fence then a little more time is needed for the public to weigh those concerns which would make the decision look better. He has friends on both side of the issue and they put a lot of time into thinking about it. He is against the idea of putting up a fence on the full length of the beach especially so close to the waterfront. If there is a realistic alternative and if it does not involve having this fence so close to the lakefront and be a visible obstruction, he feels that would help. This is the jewel of the crown of the parks system in Wilmette and he would hate to see that area put into a cage.
Mary Shea, 735 Michigan stated she and her husband Charles have lived across the street from Gillson for the past 35 years. The issue being considered tonight on whether to erect a fence south of the current swimming beach is the result of the success of the Park District in serving the larger metro community for the past 35 years in its programming. For 30 years the so-called overuse at the beach was managed by Park District employees who patrolled the beach and told people to get out of the water. For the past few years the no-swimming ban has not been enforced. An inappropriate black metal fence was erected south of the swimming beach several years ago. This new portion of expanded paid beach has not been well utilized and is mostly empty in the summer. In 2009 the expansion of the swimming beach was listed in the Wilmette Lakefront Plan summary as follows: “The District desires to expand the swim beach toward the south. Amenities could be provided with a satellite building, toilets, and shower”. In 2011 after months of public sessions and citizen meetings, members of the Lakefront Commission stated their unanimous recommendation as follows: No permanent fencing at the beach and no new buildings in the park. As a result, seeking to fence in the beach is directly contrary to the Commission’s recommendations. The metal fence or a temporary fence with permanent poles set in concrete would be a blight on our lakefront. Overuse is going to be increased, not diminished, with the potential acquisition of the harbor and additional parking on the upper road that the staff also desires. She hopes the Board will come to see Gillson as a finite resource that has already reached and exceeded its capacity. The problem of traffic conditions in the park and parking on nearby streets needs to be addressed by the Park Board, the Village and the Police Department together for the benefit of the citizens of Wilmette. The Park District needs the Board’s leadership in resolving this very long-standing problem. It must be done without sacrificing the beauty and enjoyment of the beach.
Richard Sobel, 507 Lake Avenue, stated he saw petitions from not only Wilmette residents but also from other communities. In fact, there was a non-scientific poll in The Beacon about this issue and the results to the questions indicated the public’s intensity against the fence for both aesthetic and financial reasons. As a result of this non-scientific poll, it indicates that people really care about this issue. Mr. Sobel stated he and David Nelson commend the Park District for the many contributions made for parks and recreation in the community and they respectfully request the Park District keep Gillson open and unfenced in the future. This splendid stretch of beach had already been reduced by 400 feet in 2009 and is a resource for the community and the wider Illinois neighbors. Beaches belong to everyone and should be widely accessible to as many people as can reach them. Fences and gate guards would also interfere with the public trust and the right to walk freely on the wet parts of the beach in the shallow waters. Walking along the lakeshore is inherent in the exercise of traditionally protected public rights and our public trust doctrine permits pedestrian usage of our Great Lakes up to and including the land below the ordinary high water mark (Michigan State Court decision). Moreover, as others have suggested there needs to be a full public hearing of the Board on the proposal for keeping the beach unfenced, not just options of fence construction which would cost $100,000. In reviewing the agendas and minutes since the Board accepted the Lakefront Commission report in December, there has not been a public hearing regarding a fence. Accepting an unofficial Lakefront Commission report is not the same as approving all these recommendations, particularly the most controversial one which is the fence.
As the Chicago Tribune reported and repeated last week, last year the Park District’s Lakefront Commission discussed installing a fence at the beach. Originally, it was not recommended by the panel but absent members were later allowed to submit their votes via email and overturned the outcome which is a violation of the Illinois Open Meetings Act (OMA). The Board and Parks & Recreation Committee both need to schedule public hearings on this issue. I believe the original vote which is reflected in the October minutes of the Park Board and after a public discussion, it was a 5 to 4 vote to recommend no fence. That vote was then overturned by emails and questions about how the procedure was raised. Additionally, the beauty of the open beach raises the issue of the need for an environmental impact statement for this major quarter of a mile construction project and delicate eco-system. The very impact on enclosing such a large area and the insertion of a 100 concrete foundations of fencing and vegetation would have detrimental outcomes.
Mr. Sobel previously sent a letter about the photo ID system a couple of years ago and he is still opposed to that and would at least like the option to have passes that do not have photos or pass codes and does not record attendance at the beach. He had previously asked for a written response but no response has yet been received. The public trust and environmental beauty of the dunes require the free beach at Gillson remain open to the public. Addressing this issue and the no-fencing on the beach would fit with the Board’s commendable record of protecting our parks and open spaces.
Jean Graham, 228 Maple Avenue, stated the Board indicated the Lakefront Commission recommended that a temporary fence be installed to replace the tall fence. President Brault clarified they were talking about the metal fence. Ms. Graham asked how did that “morph” into a big fence.
President Brault replied the recommendation made was for the temporary fence to run from the existing fence at the south end of the swimming beach to continue to the north end of the dog beach.
Jim Lidbury, 836 Sheridan, stated our community is the only one on the North Shore that makes our beach, which is supported by our tax dollars, the only completely one available to everyone free of charge. He is very happy that people enjoy it and it is a gem. However, he is concerned about the overcrowding that occurs there in the summer months since parking is tight and access to the beach becomes difficult. It seems as if we are making the beach available through our tax dollars without having appropriate restrictions. He remembers the day he learned about the drowning last summer and thinks safety is very important.
President Brault stated that since the majority of visitors at the meeting tonight seem to be against the fence, maybe everyone could help the Board tonight by providing suggestions on how to address the issues at the lakefront such as safety, overcrowding and parking. We do not own or control the area where the child drowned last summer but that issue could be addressed as well.
Annie Aggens, 515½ Ridge Road indicated she did not have any great recommendations or solutions since she came to speak out against the fence. But if she comes up with any ideas, she will share them with the Board. She also thanked the Board for recognizing that many people are against the fence and that the Board has asked for recommendations.
Jerry Gilson, 777 Michigan Avenue stated he is not prepared to offer any recommendations but there is a point which is very important. Everyone received their summer Leisure Guide which shows several photographs as well as the mission statement which talks about the quality of life and wholesome activities in Wilmette. Everyone applauds the Park District for their efforts and all of this is subject to protecting open space and natural resources for future generations. The fencing contradicts this phrase. In order to preserve the integrity of the mission statement and to avoid amending it he asked that the fencing project be dropped. In regard to the temporary fence, we need to look at the posts and materials which indicate the fence would be very tall and the posts would be imbedded in concrete and therefore would not be removed and stay there year-round. As you walk down the beach every 8 feet people would see the 7-foot posts imbedded in concrete for a total of 168 posts. The Board’s decision tonight will have a profound impact on the lakefront and the community as a whole. He suggests postponing the vote and taking a walk on the beach.
President Brault stated that in terms of the proposal to date, the fence posts are 7 feet, 2 feet of which are designed to go below the sand. So the fence posts actually are designed to be the same height as the fence. In terms of the distance between the posts, part of what we asked staff to do is provide a cost recommendation on how expensive it would be to take some or all of the posts out in the off-season.
Mari Terman, 941 Sheridan, stated she has lived in Wilmette since 1968 and she appreciates the work the Board and staff provides to this community since she also had the opportunity to serve in a volunteer and elected position and understands what the Board is dealing with. Ms. Terman stated she and her husband have enjoyed the beauty of Gillson Park and its beaches season after season and is speaking in opposition to the fence. Having listened closely to the many discussions among our Wilmette residents, many of whom are here tonight, and having read the materials she has concluded that she does not understand the nature of the problems for which the installation of fence is an appropriate resolution. Therefore, she respectively asks that the Board does not make a decision about the fence this evening and instead table this discussion due to the concerns that have given rise to this proposal. It is in the interest of the public good of this community that there be a series of well-published meetings of the Board and the Parks & Recreation Committee during which a thorough analysis will be made of these issues that will carefully and clearly define the nature of these problems. She believes that everyone feels sympathetic to desiring a better understanding of the beach, its needs and the preservation of this beautiful spot for generations. Citizens would enjoy the opportunity to come forth with their concerns and solutions that may benefit us all. She likes the idea that people were asked to bring forward their suggestions and looks forward to future meetings.
President Brault explained that a vote on whether or not to approve the fence is not on the action list for tonight since the objective of this meeting was to take public input.
Dr. Walter Whisler, 1211 Chestnut Avenue, stated he and his wife moved to Wilmette in 1968 and when looking for a place, one of the first things the real estate agent did was drive us down to the beach. They also raised two children who played at the beach and we now take our grandchildren there as well. They have a strong desire to keep that as a place of solitude where one can go down every season which probably saves him a lot of money in psychotherapy. He admires the Board’s desire to solve the problems with safety which is always something that has to be on the top of the list. This is obviously a difficult problem and if the Park District does an exhaustive study he would like to know how many people we are able to pull out of the water, how many arrests, were made, how well patrolled the area was, and what the other lakefront communities do. All of these things should be part of the solution. Once that is done, the Board will be able to decide on a solution or conclude that there is no solution. He currently does not have enough data to make a decision but thinks the Board should do more data research to find out what is going on. He thanked the Board for their time and consideration and hopes the problem will be resolved.
President Brault stated that in terms of background and the number of tickets issued by the police, again enforcement is sporadic. The police are not at the beach all the time nor do we desire that. In 2009 there was a little over 600 tickets written at the beach for a variety of offenses, the majority of which were for parking but also for swimming in the no-swim zone, alcohol, etc. By 2010 that number was up to 750 in part because of the increased use of the south end of the beach. Social media is a great thing and it alerted people to come to the “free beach on the North Shore” which is why there is increased usage in terms of the number of citations issued. On another point, a child died there last year and from his personal point of view that is something we must to everything possible to prohibit in the future. Again, the Board is asking for ideas on how we can address these problems.
Chris Bischoff, 1239 Lake Avenue stated this was his first Park Board meeting and asked how a fence would alleviate safety or parking issues. Also, how would a fence alleviate the number of people coming into the park.
President Brault replied that in terms of the Park District’s experience of controlling and not controlling the beaches, there is some historical perspective in that regard. In terms of our experience with the beaches we have a very relevant data point. Langdon Park (SandLo) was uncontrolled until 2005. Prior to that, there was the free beach in Wilmette where our young people gathered and some problems occurred. Because of that, it was decided to make that area a controlled beach which is now Langdon Park. People now need to buy a pass for entry and lifeguards are present. Since those changes at Langdon, the behavior patterns have improved substantially in the more controlled environment. That does not mean it is the perfect solution but it did help. It is a fact that when there’s an open area, people park closest to it. This is a complicated and complex issue but because of the very obvious safety issues, we will be looking into taking a step to improve things.
Bill Shapiro, 406 Wilshire Drive West, stated he moved to Wilmette in 1968 as well and at that time high school and college students patrolled the beach with their red polo shirts. When they saw people swimming illegally they were told to leave. If they were repeat offenders staff called for law enforcement. It was not a perfect plan but it did control illegal activities on the beach rather effectively. I suggest the District does that in the future since it would help with the problems and also provide employment for that age group. As far as far as enforcement goes, he goes to the beach very frequently and has started to count cars that do not have lakefront stickers and most of the time it is between 20-30% who do have them. There really is an opportunity for more enforcement of the rules at the beach but the fence is such a radical proposal which would affect the summer pleasure of so many of our residents.
President Brault stated that in regard to counting cars with Wilmette stockers, in 2010 a total of 750 citations were issued and 85% of that total came from Wilmette residents.
Alan Golden, 2516 Laurel Lane stated he has been sailing at Gillson for 30 years and living in Wilmette for 25. He suggested buying one more lifeguard stand, place it in the middle of south beach, put one lifeguard in the stand with a bullhorn and a whistle, and maybe have a radio in case things get rowdy. When someone walks into the water, they blow the whistle and tell them to leave the water. When they turned Langdon into a paid beach, they had lifeguards there. You also do not have to allow swimming and all the lifeguards need are a whistle and a bullhorn.
Peter Nussbaum, 2547 Laurel Lane, stated as a taxpayer and from what other people have stated, it is apparent none of them want the fence. So let that be advisory to you and forget about talking about a fence. It is a matter of freedom for us to access the beach whenever we want. That is why we pay our taxes and that is why we live in Wilmette and the United States.
Joe Rickard, 208 Golf Terrace, stated he is a 16-year resident and he proceeded to read a brief response to the the Trib Local article of February 23. As a parent of teenagers and a Gillson Park neighbor, he was very upset about the drowning last summer. Both of his children were at the park that day when the drowning occurred. When a horrible event such as this happens the community naturally wants to search for an immediate solution to prevent a recurrence. Before we as a community overreact, we need to step back, identify and think through our objectives. If our objective is to prevent drowning, building a fence would miss the mark. Adding the fence might allow us to feel like we have done something positive but the kids will still just go around it or over it. So the painted aluminum fence would just sit there and obstruct our beautiful lakefront views. Also to be considered is the maintenance and additional parking as well as staff and police enforcement. The fence just does not make sense. If the Park District wants to collect more fees to support the park, he is all for that. However, we do not need fences to achieve this. Most waterfront communities achieve revenues via parking decals sold daily and annually. We currently have this at Gillson but the rates could be much higher. Additionally, the streets around Gillson should be for residents only with those parking enforcement proceeds being credited toward the Park District. The best way to prevent drowning is to educate children on lakefront safety. Sheridan Shores sponsors a fantastic youth sailing open to residents and non-residents. In addition, the Park District offers a summer aquatics camp. Installing fences will not prevent accidents like last summer’s drowning.
Rick Sweitzer, 219 16th Street, stated he is a 58-year resident of Wilmette and doesn’t need to reiterate so much of what has already been said. There is no question that the south beach is the crown jewel of Wilmette. The fence is a reactive response and similar to prohibition which was put into place by the Congress. It was not a good idea in 1920 and it will not help solve the lakefront problem. Most importantly, he doesn’t think this issue has been talked about enough in terms of what this fence might do to activities that are currently allowed at the beach such as canoeing, kayaking or paddle boarding. Wilmette has been in the forefront of safe, healthy recreation since that beach was created. Wilmette had also offered the first and arguably safest paddle board instruction in the Chicago metro area. As a result, he would like to discourage the fence.
President Brault asked Mr. Sweitzer if he had any potential solutions to the safety issue and if he had any ideas, to please let the Board or staff know.
Suzie Van Cleave, 730 Ninth Street stated he knows that solutions are what the Board is asking for but she has some questions first. The fence being discussed here tonight indicates four walk-in gates so will there be swimming allowed on the south beach and will there be lifeguard stands all the way down. There is no need for fence if that area is going to be supervised and no one will walk in the water if they’re not allowed to. Currently at the southern part of the swimming beach, there is hardly anyone there even though it was extended and there was rarely anyone sitting in the lifeguard stand. Her children have worked at the beach and they spend a lot of time there so they know the comings and goings of people. The fence would require hiring more people so why not just hire the additional staff to monitor the beach. Trying to keep people out of the water and who do not pay a fee is another issue. Some people also go down to the south beach because “floaties” and balls are not allowed in the paid swimming beach. In addition, no picnics are allowed on the pay beach so they go to the south beach instead. Also if someone is there, maybe people would throw their trash away.
President Brault replied that part of your comments highlight what we experience when we have some people who ignore the warnings and then there could be confrontational situations where people say they can do whatever they please which puts our staff who are 16 to 18 years old in potentially dangerous situations. That is part of the challenge which is to figure out how to have strict enforcement and keep our younger employees safe.
Marcia Heater, 910 10th Street stated she has lived here for about 20 years and had moved from Winnetka. She is familiar with our wonderful beaches and feels that people love this area and enjoy walking down to the beach. They chose to live in this community and are paying taxes to keep this beach a beautiful place. We need to continue to care of and respect this area and it is a privilege to share it with those who visit and inform them that this is a sacred space, provide them with a garbage bag, and ask them to be sensitive to the ecology.
President Brault stated that of the many different components of this proposal, all of them included the fact that we wanted to keep the beach open for people who wanted to walk or jog or just basically enjoy it. We were not trying to restrict people from walking along the shoreline but rather we were trying to control the bad behavior of some people. It would be great if our patrons could help us with the concept of keeping the beach open and available for those you just want to enjoy it but at the same time change the bad behavior.
Noel Kirsch, 126 Woodbine stated he is a retired former teacher. He thinks the key to this issue is what the Board expects from the community and the public. He has been down at the beach in recent years and there is never any information provided except for a sign. He respectively disagrees with putting teenagers in a situation where they are the enforcers and thinks we need different lines of defense which the signs fail to do. The expectation the Board has laid for me is a very low expectation and they need to increase it.
Marla Freedman, 333 Sheridan stated that the Baha’i temple has set the tone for Wilmette and all are welcome. As a solution, why not open the south beach for swimming. Why not use that lakefront and then just extend it rather than try to offer people the lakefront but then turn around and prohibit them from using it. If you have a lakefront then make it available for some sort of use rather than say you cannot enter the lake.
Paul Plotnick, 3133 Hill Lane, stated he has been a resident since 1983. He and his wife drive their classic sports car down to the beach almost every summer. He does not want to be looking at a fence. If the Board thinks that the fence will protect people, they will be wrong since injuries could occur near the fence as well. According to basic tort law, if you do nothing you are not liable. But if you do something you are liable. His daughter worked at the beach when she was a teenager and recalls security guards had radios in the summer. He understands that people do not always listen to teenagers but if they have a radio they could call the police which is something we ought to consider. He thinks putting up a fence and blocking off the view is wrong and asked that the Board reconsider the fence.
Mimi Ryan, 3136 Sprucewood Road stated she and her husband have lived in Wilmette for over 50 years and moved here because of the beautiful lakefront. She was a Park Commissioner a long time ago so she has been aware of the business of the Park District for many years, not only as a Commissioner but also as a Village Trustee. She is very proud of how well the Park District has taken care of and enhanced our parks and facilities. However, at no point did we need a fence although she does recall some difficulties with teenagers in the park and serious drug problems. Somehow we got through all that and she credits the Park District for its help in taking care of that problem. There was a death that she remembers in the 1960’s or early 1970’s wherein a child died even though it was at the bathing beach where there were lifeguards. We will never be able to protect everyone. The lakefront is our most marvelous asset so please do not fence us in. No additional meetings are needed on this subject, just eliminate the idea. She also agrees with many of the comments made tonight about other possibilities for improving safety and she likes the one about using the $100,000 to instead hire additional staff for cleaning up the park and keeping people out of the water.
President Brault stated that part of the specific issue on the south beach is that the environment continues to change. When the park was originally constructed in 1919, the water came right up to the edge of where the rubble deposited into the lake. It was essentially a man-made part of the park. Over time the lake levels have gone down and the sand has pushed in from the north which created a beach where there originally was none. Since then it is thought that the sand has receded and the problem we are dealing with now has not been here for a long time. The original construction of the park did not consider this area as part of the beach. It is certainly a beautiful area but is not designed for what it is being used for now.
Dan Fogel, 2729 Hawthorn Lane stated he is a frequent user of the dog beach and suggested that the problems and solutions described so far do not take into account the full problem. People are addressing this as if it was only a Memorial Day or Labor Day issue but it is actually a greater problem than that. When talking about adding lakefront area to the south beach it does not address anything since when the weather gets warm the kids are jumping off the rocks and they do this when it’s warm through October. If the Park District is going to have lifeguards or additional police, they should be present for a longer period of time than just from May to October.
Jeanette Whisler, 1211 Chestnut Avenue, stated she had asked Director Wilson about the sandy beach and the pier and what happens there. The question is how deep is it there, does it vary, and are there materials that are dangerous to people. She also asked why all that concrete has been piling up. Secondly, in regard to the correction to the beach years ago, there was some kind of sharp metal put in the ground which is still down there and could result in people getting their feet cut.
Director Wilson responded that the metal sheet piling is still there and that we try to grade the sand over it to make it safe. On the beach there is sand which covers the concrete. He has been told that historically there had also been concern of rubble in the water. We are all talking about people swimming there but so far no reports of injury. However, maybe we have just been fortunate that no one has yet been hurt.
Howard Sandroff, 1008 Greenleaf stated he and his wife have lived here for 40 years. He scuba-dived in that area extensively from the jetty to the brick wall and from the beach all the way out to the pier and stated there are absolutely no obstructions in the water. The deepest the water is 100 feet off the beach and probably 8 feet deep. There is no steel or concrete, just sand. However, on the inside of the harbor it is a different story since there are all kinds of obstructions. But moving along the north side toward the breakwater as far as you can swim, there are no hazards.
Lizzy Ware, 1023 Ashland stated she has lived here for 40 years and asked what the basis was for not allowing swimming in an unsupervised beach like the south beach and was it an ordinance or rule. Director Wilson replied the Park District ordinances state that swimming is only permitted in designated areas. Ms. Ware added they walk down there a lot and most of the people who live here actually do not go into the lake. She enjoys the beauty of the area and thinks that if there is a bona fide rule, she has not seen that rule posted anywhere about not swimming. And if a rule is posted, then the District must inform those who might be patrolling the beach that they need to let people know this is an ordinance and therefore they are not allowed to swim.
President Brault stated that there are actually nine signs on the south beach, two of which are MWRD signs on the jetty. The other seven signs are Park District signs that typically run along the dune line but are not at the water’s edge. Director Wilson stated that last summer staff tried to institute sandwich signs at the water’s edge but those were often thrown into the water and used as water toys.
Jace Battrell, 150 Laurel Avenue has lived in Wilmette for over 30 years. He doesn’t think we should consider the fence because we live in a democracy and in order to pass laws or motions you need at least a 51% percentage. However, the packet provided to us tonight looks like there is at least 98% of people who are against putting up the fence so it should not even be on the table which is why he is against the fence and should not even be considered. He thinks a solution might be a combination of lifeguards and other people to patrol the beach. He is a lifeguard and has never had any issues with people not listening to him. There might be people who say I want to swim on “my” beach but they will listen to a lifeguard. The fence will not save a life but people who are trained to save lives do and we know how to help people. A person is more viable and capable than a fence is. Looking at the lakefront situation from an economic standpoint, it makes more sense to give a few thousand dollars to a 21-year-old college student who would work for the summer. This money would be put to work more efficiently if you give it to a young person like himself who is capable of saving a person’s life. It even helps the community if he spends his money in Wilmette. Economically, it makes more sense to hire lifeguards who are in college or high school.
The meeting recessed at 9:10 pm.
The meeting reconvened at 9:23 pm.
Dale Roberson, 1351 Ashland stated a great point had been made earlier that this is not a new problem. We used to have a free park and also a free beach and he feels strongly that we should continue to allow non-residents to come into our community. The District now has an existing beach which is controlled so if we are going to have a new beach, he would recommend that it not be a swimming beach. Lifeguards and patrols are a good solution to enforce “no swimming” on what is now the new beach. A fence would prohibit that option. The tragedy that occurred last year cannot be erased but we know it wasn’t caused by a lack of a fence. He thinks the solution is the wrong one and that the democracy the previous speaker mentioned speaks for itself. Keep it open to non-residents, no fees, and no swimming but have increased patrols.
Jane Graham, 228 Maple stated she came to the beach for the first time in 1969 as a non-resident and enjoyed it immensely and eventually moved back to Wilmette. She agrees with the lifeguard that there are a lot of people of all ages who are out of work who would like a summer job. We would need authoritative figures that can move people out of the water. She is not sure what the rules are for music and radios that people bring to the beach but maybe prohibiting music in the open space would be a good idea. In addition, people have asked her to mention that the Board consider removing that fence on the extension of the swimming beach area since no one really uses its.
Alexa Hand, 603 4th Street, stated she lived in Evanston for 13 years and moved to Wilmette four years ago. She has been visiting both beaches many times for 17 years and feels she has the pulse of the place and unfortunately there had been a drowning. She was there that day and was appalled to see the children on the jetty. Her understanding from talking to people is that they were warned by a police officer to get off and when he left, the children went right back up on the jetty. The jetty is a safety issue and not the under the Park District’s purview but she wants to prevail upon the MWRD or the harbor that if there was a way a barrier could be erected around that jetty. That drowning also took place on one of the most dangerous places to be that day and very few people were in the water. She admitted she has been an offender in that she has gone into the water at the south beach. Only a few of her group have done that and when we do, it is very hot and they just take a dip and come right back out. They are aware they are not supposed to that and not proud of it but she is stating it as a person who is part of this experience. She is also aware that over the last four years, this beach has become more crowded. She is not quite sure what to do about the over-crowding but as someone who enjoys the beach it is an issue. There should also be some way to better regulate the usage via parking so that all people must buy passes or stickers. She feels her Wilmette sticker entitles her in some way to the lakefront more so than a non-resident. It’s just like when she goes to the Evanston beach where she pays a higher fee since she doesn’t pay Evanston taxes. She doesn’t have any solutions except that she believes the jetty is the most important issue and is not sure about safety elsewhere on the beach since she hasn’t seen any problems there. If parking were somehow regulated for the use of the beach she would be for that.
President Brault stated that historically the jetty had been independently fenced and was one that went all the way around the jetty and into the water. However, it did not survive the winter so that strategy has been tried and did not work. With regard to the comment about non-resident usage at the beachfront, when the land was granted to Wilmette from the State of Illinois it was granted with the condition that it be held in trust for all people in Illinois, not just Wilmette residents. This doesn’t mean that we can’t charge a differential price between residents and non-residents (fair-share) but it does mean that part of the mandate is to allow the beach to stay open for all people.
Tanja Chevalier, 789 Michigan Avenue stated she lives across the street from the park. She had previously lived there when she was young, left for awhile, moved back and has been here for over 20 years. She has seen the evolution over the years of this park. She has three children and they are also concerned about what they see at the park, especially about the pollution since they are very in tune with being environmentally friendly and concerned about all the garbage laying around. Last summer they came up with a plan that every weekend they would distribute garbage bags to all the different groups in the park. They did that last summer and might do it again this summer since it really bothers them. It is wonderful that we have a free beach and park for all to enjoy but it does come with certain expectations. Possible solutions for keeping the area clean could be additional garbage cans. If people do not use them, they should be fined. There could also be park patrols who could watch out for those who do not throw their trash away correctly. She asked to which entity does money go when people are ticketed – the Park District, Village, or the Police. Maybe a park patrol could give out tickets which could result in revenue going back to the Park District. It would also be nice to let residents actually use the parking spaces closest to the beach. Patrons parking on Michigan Avenue or streets on the other side of Sheridan Road would have easier access to use that space. There could be parking meters every 100 yards which could also be a source of revenue. She lives on the corner of Washington and Michigan and they see these cars all the time – especially in the off-hours – going into the park the wrong way which is something the police need to control. In addition, after hours the cars continue to go into the park through that way. As a result she asked if there was any way a gate could be installed when driving into the park which would also include people who should not be there with their cars. People are also always turning left even though signs prohibit that.
President Brault stated that each year the Park District pays slightly over $50,000 as security expenses.
Theresa Karpel, 1928 Highland Avenue stated she has lived in Wilmette for the last 18 years and raised two daughters. She agrees with the idea of having lifeguards at the south beach and thinks college-age staff would be able to handle any issues with boards, whistles, and radios. New Trier High School has a set of professional staff who are able to issue parking tickets around the school and do not have to be police officers. The Park District could hire people to do that at the lakefront in regard to parking as well removing people from the beach if they are not obeying the rules. She likes the idea of having patrols around the park or handing out free garbage bags for patrons to use. She also likes the idea of having an open beach at the south end that is not a swimming beach. She enjoys walking along the beach, sitting on the benches, and sticking her toes into the water and not be charged a fee. She cannot imagine looking out at a fence. She thanked those older residents who came out to speak tonight and that they want to keep the park open to all people, not just Wilmette residents. She believes public spaces should be shared by all Americans or anyone else who wants to come into our park. As far as the fence being able to save lives, accidents will happen because people take risks. She doesn’t think there is anything we can do if someone elects to take that risk and there was anything anyone could have done that would have saved that child’s life.
Mindy Heidekat, 1013 Linden Avenue, stated she appreciates the Board’s patience and it must have been frustrating working on this issue all these months while many of us didn’t know about it. And when the Board came to a conclusion, all of us showed up tonight to say it was not a good idea. She stated that the last two bullet points on the sheet are confusing. One states that pass-holders or daily fee users will be allowed in but the bullet point below states there would be unrestricted access for walking or running at no charge.
President Brault stated that currently on the paid swimming beach patrons have to pay to get in. However, if someone wanted to walk the beach at the southern end they would be allowed to walk through and use it as an access point. What the Board is describing here is that this would prohibit people from bringing in their cooler and chairs, etc.
Ms. Heidekat asked that if someone pays a fee to go into the south beach would they then be able to swim. She feels that this is a gray issue and hopefully we will not have to worry about it since there will not be a fence. She also asked that when people spoke about the extension of the fenced-in area south of the current swimming beach was the Board talking about the area that was fenced-in for the day campers to use.
President Brault replied that this area is known as the Aquatics Beach and the area being contemplated was the area starting from the current south end all the way down to the dog beach.
Director Wilson added the Park District extended the fence in that area and one of the benefits of that was it provided a separate space for the campers away from the regular beach patrons due to the large number of children in our camp programs and also for better control and safety.
Ms. Heidekat stated she hopes that when the Board addresses this problem they listen to what the various people have suggested which is to do something that is less extreme and permanent as the fencing would be. She asked that the Park District try to have extra lifeguard chairs filled with people who have whistles and bull-horns to see if that would work before going to the extreme of putting up a fence. If that doesn’t work, we would have the winter to come up with other ideas and work together as a community. And maybe the answer would be the fence but at that point you might have a lot more support.
Doug Harness, 2024 Highland Avenue stated he moved here 1965. He has also lived in Winnetka, Highland Park, Evanston, and Glencoe and in his opinion Wilmette is the best city of all and we should be very proud of the fact that we have an open beach. He thinks it is sad and shameful that other communities have closed their beaches which has resulted in our overcrowding problem. When he was five years old there were no fences anywhere along the lakefront. There is now a fence which should be taken down and allow the children to play. He understands about the drowning and thinks that we have a very good record since it is very rare. He is adamantly opposed to the fence since it would ruin the beach. He suggested the Board think about opening up more areas for recreation. We should be proud that so many people use our areas and we should encourage other communities to open up their areas as well.
Jim Holland, 610 Maple has lived in Wilmette for the past 46 years. They came tonight to talk about the unintended consequences of this fence and secondly to complain about the lack of information that the Park Board provided to us. For instance, the Wilmette Life has provided no information whatsoever about this fence. Thanks go to the Beacon and Chicago Tribune who have covered this topic. He looked at his property tax bill this evening and noted that our schools take up about 65% of our taxes, the Village is second with 11%, and the Park District is third with 6.4%. The first two entities are fairly transparent but where was all the information about the fence or other information. He stated that if the Park District puts up a fence you will be inviting risk-takers to challenge it. He asked if the gates would be locked and what would happen if there was an emergency in the lake. He believes the Board has lot of things to consider in the way of unintended consequences and that a much better job of providing information to the electorate must be done.
President Brault replied that in regard to the availability of our information, all of our Board meetings are televised and recorded. In addition, all of the Board meetings are available for viewing on our web site as are all our meeting agendas and approved minutes.
David Terman, 941 Sheridan Road stated he has lived here for 43 years. He wanted to comment on what he thinks is a distortion of values. The anxiety and concern about safety distorts the understanding of the situation. The value of “safety” which is equivalent to every death over 50 years cannot be done as others have said. The anxiety of safety has trumped and obscured all the other values that all of us are talking about such as openness, the aesthetic use, and the calm and beauty of the beach are all of those things that are so valuable to this community. If you focus too much on safety you lose sight of all those other values. He thinks building the fence would be a “stupid” thing to do. Regarding safety some of the other suggestions are good ones that involve people and that would even develop into a more human positive experience for everyone on the beach. Fences and absolute safety would not work since it would be like trying to prevent suicide or other ills that would occur. To prevent something that is unpreventable would be much worse.
Adi Barad. 721 Long Road, Glenview, thanked the Park District for the great beach and he and his family enjoy it a lot. They are non-residents but his children are in the Wilmette School District which is why he voted last year to increases taxes since it is all about education. It would be easy to erect the fence to prevent someone coming in and if it is for additional revenue, you will get more. However, if it is because of safety it will not do anything. A fence is about division and separation and only education and unity will make a difference in the future. The beach does not belong to us but rather it belongs to future generations. He hopes the Board makes a decision and considers it wisely since it will affect future generations.
Keith Heger, employee at 1130 Greenleaf stated he went to Loyola Academy and grew up on the lakefront. He also visited the lakefront during his high school days. At the time of the drowning last year, he was actually in the water an hour before it happened. He also has a cordial relationship with the police and teaches courses. He has seen the children when they are on the south beach or on the rocks. He stated he would like to be a resource for the District and stated that space could be used as an opportunity to generate revenue in terms of offering stand-up paddle classes, making them more formal and at the same time using that presence to deter any of the misbehavior happening down there. When he is down there, he polices the area.
Annie Aggens, 515½ Ridge Road, stated she has heard from a lot of people tonight who are passionate about this issue and her recommendation would be to get them involved in some way such as programs through the police department or something similar wherein people who are passionate about the lakefront can get involved and be ambassadors of it. When arriving at various airports around the world, sometimes there are volunteer ambassadors who act officially but not in a police type of way and you can tell they take pride of where they live and want to help out. Having something similar at the lakefront might let people who use our beach know how much we love and care for it. And in some way they might be able to help out as well. Having a place where there are people with a lot of positive energy and then utilize that to help spread the message so that everyone knows how important we think this place is.
Lorenz Aggens, 515½ Ridge Road stated the first time he went to Gillson was with his grandfather. Years later his parents took him there regularly. As a teen he bicycled from Chicago to Gillson and then 35 years ago they bought a house in Wilmette because of Gillson Beach and since then three generations of their family have been Gillson Beach users. As one of the founders of the International Association for Public Participation and Public Decision Making, he has spent 45 years trying to create environments and processes to participate in the public decision making process and he thanked the Board for holding this public hearing tonight because this is the way it should be done.
Jerome Kujawa, 2145 Washington Avenue, stated he is a 55-year resident of the Village and he believes in free and unfettered foot traffic throughout Gillson Park down to the water’s edge. He is fine if there are separate parking schemes or separate fees for residents and non-residents. And if people swim in the south beach that doesn’t bother him either. One of the problems is that there has been a lot of litter over the last couple of summers and he knows every square inch of Gillson Park. He is also in favor of teaching our children how to be good stewards of the land. He is against the idea of the fence since it would be unsightly and detract from the beautiful view. The lakefront is the gem of the Village and he hopes the Board listened to the residents who indicated they do not want a fence although they are amenable to other measures for increasing safety. Lifeguards would be fine and he is in favor of more signage discouraging people from littering. If there are free litter bags provided, they could be placed right where dog beach bags are. If the Board is afraid people won’t understand the signs, then they would probably understand them if there was some sort of illustration or international symbol on the signs. The problem with gates would be that if there was a medical emergency and seconds count it could mean the difference between life and death. He also hopes the Board comes up with ways to discourage people from littering and that the park does not become like a police state.
President Brault closed the Public Comment session of the meeting and opened up the issue for discussion among the Commissioners.
Commissioner Crowley stated that from his perspective the idea of a fence should be tabled for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, he would be in favor of enhancing the budget for patrolling the beach. He stated that Director Wilson would also know how to look at this issue in terms of using older adults or budgeting additional funds for a police presence. Commissioner Crowley would also like to consider opening up the whole beach as a swimming beach instead of two beaches which would run from the dog beach to the swimming beach and make that whole area a paid beach. We could then reassess what our costs are and what we would charge to access the beach to make it easier for people. He doesn’t have all the answers and stated the Board would need to further investigate all of the options.
Commissioner Benz asked Commissioner Crowley what the objective would be of making it all a paid beach. Commissioner Crowley replied that instead of making part of the beach inaccessible we could make it as accessible as possible. What these people are talking about is that instead of limiting access to the beach we think of it in a different way and open it up even more and look at the entire beach as one entity instead of sections.
Commissioner Shelly also thanked everyone for attending the meeting and also thanked President Brault who did a great job of answering questions from the audience. She felt that the fence issue should be tabled as well and that the Board should look closely into staffing sufficiently this summer with more mature guards and see how well that goes. She agreed we should give it a try and then re-evaluate after the season if the decision is based on how well this summer goes. She thinks the lakefront is a beautiful part of the North Shore and does not want to have any kind of fence installed there. She believes it is very important the Park District has more control of the beach but disagrees with Commissioner Crowley in that she doesn’t think the entire area should be open for swimming which would make it harder to control. It is nice to have areas where children can play but it is also nice to have a quiet place for other patrons. She believes that the patrons who use the beach support each other and would speak up if someone was swimming illegally and then ask them to move to the swimming beach. She personally would not want her children when they are old enough to pull people out of the water under circumstances that at times are difficult to control and she is in favor of having an older, more mature patrol staff. As mentioned earlier, a hut could be erected similar to the one at the sailing which is something we should look into. There should also more signage and there has also been a lot of other great ideas discussed tonight.
Commissioner Olvany commended everyone who came to the meeting tonight as well as the local press for publicizing the meeting. He thinks one of the challenges that we have as a Board is to create a public dialogue on issues that are meaningful to all of us in Wilmette. He thinks one of the unintended consequences of proposing this fence was creating this evening’s meeting which turned out to be a fabulous display of public discourse and participatory democracy. The number of emails and phone conversations he has had with people over the last couple of days and weeks on this topic has been very welcome. The Board was trying to address an issue that was brought to our attention by the people of Wilmette and also trying to respond to the Lakefront Commission’s comments. Those comments very clearly indicated that the community felt this was a concern. He commended his fellow Commissioners who tried to come up with a solution to this problem and they have all spent a lot of time over the past few weeks on these issues. However, it is clear that the public has spoken and that the solution brought forth tonight is not the appropriate solution.
He had asked staff to come up with some figures on what how much would patrolling the beach actually cost which is approximately $50,000. He believes that figure represents the entire Gillson Park and would mainly be for the police presence on the beach. As a result, we need to realize as a community that if we are going to increase patrol it could actually cost closer to $70,000 to patrol the area the way we want it to be patrolled. We won’t be able to maintain the type of environment we want to maintain without some costs. He would also reiterate that the Board does look at the Park District’s mission statement and all of the Commissioners are completely focused on enriching the quality of this community’s life and want to protect the natural resources for future generations. He feels that the concept of a fence be abandoned for now but staff and the Board should continue to look at this issue and come up with possible solutions since if the problems are solved, it would enrich the lives of this community.
Commissioner Graham stated that several people indicated they did not understand what the problem was all about and he agrees with the sentiment that the fence is the wrong solution. The problems are that it is a safety and a fee issue. The safety issue has been discussed and the fee issue points out to him that it is unreasonable to have a paid beach next to a free beach. Public debate can be undertaken on whether the entire beach should be free or pay but it doesn’t make sense for some people to say I don’t want to pay a fair cost to the use the swimming portion so I’m going to swim in an unmonitored area which has safety risks. There seems to be other or better solutions that the Board can explore. The fence is not the right solution but we need to do something.
One gentleman this evening took the Board to task for not providing information to the public. He has been on this Board for four years and every year this issue has been brought up. He is also on the Parks & Recreation Committee and a number of emails about the fence have been received. He responded to each one in writing and invited them to attend the Parks & Recreation Committee meeting but not one person attended. He also agreed with Commissioner Olvany that thanks go to the press for publicizing our meetings so that people are able to provide their opinions and options. There is a safety and fairness problem at the south beach area and we have to find a solution but he agrees the fence is not the right solution.
Commissioner Benz stated he would like to propose that since the Parks & Recreation Committee now has some public input along with input from the Lakefront Commission that the Board revisit this issue and come back with some recommendations sine this is something that cannot wait a year. We have the summer season coming up so we need to find an appropriate solution that can be done on a trial basis.
Commissioner Murdock thanked everyone for attending the meeting tonight and to those who sent emails. He was amazed to see almost every seat filled in the auditorium this evening. He has previously been involved in Village and Zoning Board meetings where passion about issues was evident but many of the Park District meetings mostly have had very few people in attendance. He agrees with Jim that he believes everything should be on the table although not necessarily this year. There is definitely an issue at the lakefront and it does need to be addressed. He also agrees with Commissioner Olvany that there are other ways of dealing with the problem this year including different types of enforcement. Also, possibly something more aggressive with a larger staff or patrol would make a difference. His sense is that the beach has grown and has become more crowded and as a result will take some time to gain better control. He thinks it will be expensive but clearly for this year we should look at alternatives and then over time look at what we want to do with the beach.
President Brault also thanked everyone in attendance tonight and stated the dialogue had been very helpful to the Board. In addition, the emails received have clearly displayed a very strong passion about this issue. There appears to be a consensus among the Board that we do not proceed with the fence this year. He echoed the sentiments of the other Commissioners in stating that this problem has existed for some time. This is his seventh year on the Board and the lakefront issue has generated the most public outcry he has so far experienced. His fear is that if we go another season without doing anything we will be stuck with the status quo. The risks and demand for space are increasing and it is incumbent upon the Board to take a realistic step in addressing the problem and believes that the fence is not going to be that step. He thinks the suggestion made by Commissioner Benz to reopen the dialogue at the Parks & Recreation Committee is the way to go. Unfortunately, the Board has taken a lot of public input to date and the fence so the Board will go to “Plan B” in order to find a solution which can be implemented this upcoming season to allow everyone to enjoy the lakefront without the fence.
Commissioner Olvany asked if it is the Board’s opinion that we should reject the proposal which is currently on the table and ask the Parks & Recreation Committee to return with a different proposal.
President Brault stated since there was not an action item on this issue he believes the direction for the Parks & Recreation Committee is for them to return to the full Board with alternative proposals. He also stated that the fence issue has not yet been technically tabled.
Commissioner Olvany stated that he visited the Wilmette Historical Society and viewed an exhibit they put together on the lakefront and confirmed that the lakefront problem has been around since the 1920’s. One solution not proposed tonight was that there was a woman in the 1920’s called “The Madam of Gillson” who would take all the clothes and belongings of people who went into the water when and where they were not supposed to. Although this was humorous, his point is that there are other solutions for the lakefront.
Commissioner Olvany moved to abandon the fence plan as it is currently proposed and specifically charge the Parks & Recreation Committee to return to the Board with a specific solution that can then be brought to the public.
President Brault stated that the Board musts first employ the super-majority rule which means we need a vote first to consider a motion that is not on the agenda.
Commissioner Benz recommended that we not make such a motion since we have a consensus that the issue should be referred back to the Parks & Recreation Committee for them to come up with alternatives which should be sufficient. Commissioner Crowley agreed. Commissioner Olvany then withdrew his motion.
APPROVAL OF VOUCHER LIST:
Commissioner Graham moved and Commissioner Benz seconded a motion to approve the Voucher List in the amount of $1,098,206.27, 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 Benz, Brault, Crowley, Graham, Murdock, Olvany and Shelly; voting No -- None. Absent – None. Motion carried.
Financial Planning & Policy Committee – Committee Chair Graham reported the Committee met prior to last month’s Park Board meeting and a report was made at that time. The Committee will next meet on Monday, March 19.
Parks & Recreation Committee – Committee Chair Murdock reported the Committee met on February 21, 2012 and discussed some important issues. Discussion first took place on Paddle Tennis which has been a topic of discussion for a number of years. At the next meeting the Committee will review possible locations for the facility. The intent is to go through every single park in the Village, assess and evaluate them and then if we want to proceed, the Committee will ask staff to come back with recommendations for costs at one or more sites. Anyone who is interested in discussing paddle tennis in favor of or against are encouraged to attend the next Parks & Recreation meeting on Monday, March 19. The second Daughter/Daddy Dance was held in February and a third dance is scheduled for September 28 at the Wilmette Woman’s Club. After having moved the second dance from the Lakeview Center to the golf course due to lack of space, the third event will now be held at the woman’s club since there are so many who wanted to participate. There was also a waiting list for the first two events so if anyone is interested in attending, please sign up early.
Discussion at the meeting also took place on the Baha’i Temple which is celebrating its 100th anniversary on April 29 and the District will be helping them with overflow parking. The Wilmette Children’s Theatre production of Music Man Jr. had performances this past week and next week. There are still some seats available so he hopes everyone is able to see the show. In regard to soccer, there will be some changes in the fall in regard to deadlines and the placement of team members. As a result, he suggested everyone remember to sign up quickly for soccer.
In the fall, the Park District will be running a fall flag football house league for the first time. There was a group of fathers who ran an informal league last fall for children in grades 4-6 and the District’s program will be for grades 4-8. His son was one of the children who participated last year and he is looking forward to the Park District being involved. Lastly, Commissioner Murdock expressed his thanks to Commissioner Graham for a very generous donation to his soup kitchen.
Golf Operations – Committee Chair Brault reported the Committee met on March 10 and was happy to report the golf course is open and with the beautiful weather experienced it would be a good time to play a round of golf. The driving range is not open yet but will be as soon as the netting goes up within the next week or so. The annual Golf Lottery will take place tomorrow, March 13. Registration for the lottery is closed so patrons should check our web site to view your positions. Finally, progress is being made on the golf master plan and several permits are currently being sought. It is anticipated there will be more updates throughout the year.
Centennial Operations – Commissioner Crowley reported the Committee met earlier this evening. It was reported the lottery brochure was mailed out for next season’s court lottery deadline of April 6. We are also currently out to bid for the tennis locker remodeling project and the bids will be opened on March 22 and be presented to the Board in April. Construction is scheduled to begin in mid-May which will hopefully be done before the fall indoor season begins. The pro shop is open and the spring sale is ongoing. This year’s Ice Show theme is “Around the World in 80 Minutes” and there are 241 skaters participating. At the pool, the hiring of staff continues and applications continue to come in.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT:
Director Wilson stated he attended the Go Green Matters event yesterday with Superintendent Bingham. It was a fun event and they were happy to be a part of it. Several Board members were also in attendance. He personally learned some things and hopes to bring these back to the Park District. Last week was TV Tune Out Week at the CRC. The Park District added some free programming to encourage people to get themselves and their children away from the TV and into our facilities. Monday night was Open Gym for families, Tuesday night was Story Time, Wednesday was Ooey Gooey science activities, and Thursday night featured activities. All of these sessions were very well attended and it is hoped to enlarge that programming in the future. Lastly, the registration for residents begins tomorrow morning at 9 am. The Leisure
Guide came out toward the end of last week and he hopes everyone is ready to register tomorrow morning.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS: None
NEW BUSINESS: None
There being no further business to conduct, the meeting was adjourned at 10:31 pm.
MINUTES APPROVED ON APRIL 9, 2012.