WILMETTE PARK DISTRICT
PADDLE TENNIS PUBLIC HEARING
Date: June 18, 2012
Location: Community Recreation Center
Time: 7:00 pm
Park Board Commissioners: Gary Benz, James Brault, James Crowley, Michael Murdock, Shelley Shelly
Staff: Executive Director Steve Wilson; Superintendents Kathy Bingham, Jeff Bowen, Ken Eppelheimer, Bill Lambrecht; Communications Manager Shelagh Donoghue
Visitors: See Attached
1) Public Hearing was called to order at 7:00 pm.
2) Opening Remarks: President Brault welcomed everyone to tonight’s Paddle Tennis public hearing. In terms of background, the Park District had previously considered Paddle Tennis in 2009 as a response suggestions made by the public. In late 2009, an informal survey was conducted among the users of the Wilmette Park District (the “District). In addition, a survey was sent to everyone who registered with the District and it was posted on the District’s web site. We received quite a bit of input from that process and the issue came before the Board again in 2010 but was tabled because of financial priorities. In 2011 the review process began again and a fair amount of review was conducted. In general, the process the District followed was that we take an idea from the community and then debate it at the Park Board level. Then staff comes up with conceptual ideas and takes it back to the public for their input.
For approximately six months, the Board and staff had reviewed every park the District owns to determine what would be the best and most appropriate place for a paddle tennis facility. The Board then narrowed it down the location to West Park and determined it was the most appropriate place if we move forward with the facility. The conceptual design is just that and staff was asked to pick a location where a facility such as this would best fit. On the rendering in the meeting packets for tonight, you will note that people will not be able to see the building that is just to the north of the West Park facility and just to the south of the only baseball diamond in the park. West Park Drive is the road just to the right of the proposed facility.
In terms of costs, we have received a number of questions. The cost of the project would be approximately $1.2 million and the expectation is that we would not raise any taxes since it would be funded through a bond issuance and from District reserves.
President Brault stated that the purpose of tonight’s meeting is to listen and everyone is invited to talk about how they feel about the proposed paddle tennis facility. The Board is looking for input in terms of the facility itself and if the decision was made to move forward, how should we use and manage the facility. There had been different models considered such as a facility that Winnetka has which is managed by an association and not directly affiliated with their park district.
3) Recognition of Visitors – Public Comments
Sam Grossman, 708 LaPorte, stated he likes the West Park location and has a garden located there but he doesn’t know what paddle tennis is. President Brault explained that paddle tennis is akin to regular tennis but is played on outdoor courts typically in the colder months and doesn’t compete with tennis in the summer. The season typically runs from September through March. Each individual court is about half the size of a typical tennis court and each court is fenced in so the fences are considered to be “in play” if the ball hits the nets. The rules are also similar to tennis.
The maximum number of people who would be in this facility at any given time would be 16. The District is considering paddle since it is a very social sport that people like to play and observe. The experience at Winnetka and other facilities has been that building a “hut” helps to facilitate the community aspects of this sport. It is also typical of some paddle tennis facilities to have a kitchen of various sizes which would allow for players or outside vendors to bring in food.
Mr. Grossman asked if the facility would be for Wilmette residents only and if there would be general user fees charged. President Brault responded that like our golf course, the facility would be open to the public. It would also be likely that it would be less expensive for Wilmette residents and more expensive for non-residents.
Mr. Grossman stated it was inevitable that there would be cost overruns and the promise of no taxes is just a promise. He also asked about the scale of the rendering and President Brault replied that the scale is correct and that the facility could only expand by adding two more courts and it has been designed in a way that would allow us to expand over time. However, the initial operation would have four courts. President Brault added that the facility would likely be open all year round although league play typically from September to early March.
Mr. Grossman asked to what degree of assurance can the District provide the public that taxes won’t be raised and it won’t exceed the dimensions you are suggestion.
Commissioner Murdock added that with respect to cost overruns, we do not yet have a budget for this and it’s premature to discuss it. However, we did talk about rough costs but it depends at what people’s input is. But if anyone has followed our proceedings in the past, you will note that we discuss expenditures in detail and I think everyone on this Board has demonstrated fiscal conservatism which we take very seriously. With respect to the no-taxes pledge, he doesn’t think anyone on this Board has talked about funding this project via tax revenue. We have not proposed it, no staff members were encouraged to offer it, nor did staff talk about raising taxes to fund projects such as this.
Commissioner Murdock added that the Board and staff still need to discuss parking requirements and the plan does contemplate some perpendicular parking similar to what is along the baseball diamond. But as far as the right-of-way itself I don’t believe that’s contemplated.
Scott Green, 1137 Forest, stated he plays at Winnetka and asked what has been discussed with the Winnetka Park District in terms of working with them since he is always looking to save costs. It seems that Winnetka could somehow partner with Wilmette and squeeze two more courts into the facility and expand the paddle hut since the West Park location is exactly 2.7 miles away from the Winnetka courts. As a result, does the Board think we have enough demand to minimize the risk of spending the $1.2 million.
President Brault replied we have talked to a few different park districts in our area. Glenview was contemplating building a facility as well and actually approached the District about joint venturing with us but we thought it was too far away. We also talked to Winnetka about their model but during the weekday nights and on weekends their facility is usually at capacity and the courts are filled. So it was felt that would probably not work so we didn’t offer a joint venture with them. We looked at this option because Winnetka is at capacity. In terms of the closeness of the facility, there are also private paddle facilities in the neighborhood such as Michigan Shores but there are only a few public courses in our area.
Mr. Green stated he was in favor but just wanted to make sure all options were reviewed. President Brault asked Mr. Green that if we built this facility and the costs were comparable, would he bring his friends to the proposed facility. Mr. Green replied that the District has the numbers for Winnetka which indicate that non-residents pay about $750/year and residents pay about $600. He thinks it’s the type of facility that creates the added value.
Aaron Shepard stated he plays at Michigan Shores, is a Wilmette resident, and would play at West Park. He would support the proposal since it’s a growing sport and a lot of fun. When looking at the site plan, he questions whether there is enough opportunity for parking along the side especially on league nights. He also strongly suggested that the District plan and allow for expansion such as adding two or three more courts. The paddle hut, while expensive, may still be only half of the costs. He added that the District should not skimp on the hut since that’s what draws people. Michigan Shores is a pretty meager facility and the courts are fine but they also realize the hut is important. Parking is important and the District should allow for it. The more courts you could see from the hut would also be better.
Commissioner Murdock asked Superintendent Lambrecht to speak on the amount of parking being contemplated with the existing parking, the additional parking space for perpendicular parking, and how many spaces are in the existing facility that may be available in the evening after business hours.
Superintendent Lambrecht replied that the maintenance facility has about 20 spaces and it is anticipated there will be parking along West Park Drive which has 50 spaces for a total of 70 spaces with the current configuration. President Brault stated that another part of our investigation indicated that this is a sport that older people can play along with younger people and children.
Ed Hungler, 2240 Birchwood, stated he was excited to hear about this issue and he thinks the scalability would be a big part of the plans. He also thinks there would be extra revenue through events related to paddle or other options. Currently at Winnetka there are a lot of conflicts so building something with the right “bones” makes sense. He was concerned about the visibility since some paddle huts just have one window and there should be more than that. A couple of friends of us couldn’t be at the meeting tonight but are very excited about the possibility of a facility in Wilmette.
President Brault asked if we move forward, would Mr. Hungler know of anyone who would be interested in it if it was run as an association and who might contemplate being a facilitator. Mr. Hung replied that this would be a secondary thing to do to get involved in the leagues. The next step is to get the right professional that brings the people in and makes it all work for everyone.
President Brault stated that as part of the District’s investigation, the President of the Midwest Region of American Paddle Tennis talked to us about what makes a good facility and what makes it exciting. He clearly indicated it was very important to have a good professional but he added the same thing that not only does there need to be a good teacher but they need to know how to run a good program which is in the forefront of what we’re looking for.
Jeff Martin, 732 Park Avenue, stated he has been playing paddle tennis for 31 years in Toledo and Chicago and has been in tournaments from California to Washington, DC. He stated there are over 100 paddle tennis courts in the Chicagoland area. Michigan Shores had two tennis courts and then replaced them with four paddle tennis court. There is also a monthly magazine which has lifelong members who pay to be part of this and we also have a web site that you can look back on who played and what their scores were. Winnetka has 30 teams with 16 players per team which means Winnetka is getting $500 per person per year. As a result, paddle tennis is self-supporting and will sustain itself. Even a keypad would work and people could come and go as they wish. I think we could make it work.
Mr. Martin explained paddle tennis started out of New York. Currently, Michigan Shores, Mid-Town, Hinsdale and Winnetka are the only public courts around this area and all of the private country clubs have paddle courts. Paddle is something that keeps the club and its members active and involved and they can play morning, noon and night. Centennial might have been a good spot but he also likes the West Park location. There might be more parking and a locker room at Centennial but those are not absolutely necessary. Gillson would also be a good location. He does like West Park because of the parking there. He recommended that a good paddle hut should have lots of glass windows and starting out with two courts could be okay but four courts would be better. He believes that this will be a self-sustaining opportunity.
President Brault asked Mr. Martin if the District builds a facility at West Park, would he play there. Mr. Martin replied that he would become a member and help out in any way he could. President Brault then asked Commissioner Murdock to talk about why the Board chose the location of West Park
Commissioner Murdock explained that the Parks & Recreation Committee has talked about paddle tennis over the last several months and the process began by looking at every single park, eliminating a number them, and then narrowing them down to three primary locations – Gillson, Centennial and West Park. At Centennial there were a number of concerns, the first being that the District is in the midst of a master plan at Gillson so as a result that location was not chosen because of the timing issue. In addition, people who play at Michigan Shores stated the weather can be problematic at the lakefront especially in the winter. From there the Board looked at Centennial Park where there was talk of placing the facility close to the community gardens. However, it was determined that the courts would be placed too close to the facility. In addition, only a handful of spaces are available at Centennial so additional paving and parking was discussed although paving our parks is not the business we’re in. In contrast, West Park already has a parking lot which could be shared with the maintenance facility. The West Park location is also probably less intensively used compared to the Centennial location. One of the items not on the drawing is that there is an easement that separates where these courts would be and the baseball diamond. We would not be able to build on the easement since all of Glenview’s drinking water and possibly Mt. Prospect’s runs through there so this is actually a small space that would not impact the rest of the park. He personally thought West Park would be the best location and in addition as we looked at the cost estimates from our three finalists this would be the least expensive place to put the facility. The Parks & Recreation Committee then unanimously made a recommendation to the Board just for West Park and the Board unanimously agreed to hold the public hearings for paddle tennis at West Park.
President Brault stated that paddle tennis has a strong social aspect to it and a number of facilities like Winnetka do allow alcohol. In general, the Park District offers a family-friendly environment and we have a very restrictive policy against alcohol on our premises. Currently, the only place we sell alcohol is at the golf course. However, our investigation has indicated that drinking alcohol is very much a part of this sport. As a result, we are contemplating whether we should allow alcohol at a paddle tennis facility and if we do, what would be the best way to manage it.
Craig Hutson, 2238 Schiller stated that in order to attract people from other paddle tennis facilities to Wilmette, construction of a paddle hut is critical. This is the type of facility where you need to make that a focal point, not only for the leagues but also for parties and families. His perspective on the drawing is that the most critical element of a hut is the sightline since people would want to see all of the matches and he thought the south courts did not have an adequate sightline. Also, the main hut needs to be a little more centered.
President Brault pointed out the sketch is conceptual in nature but he agrees that it is important to also have a nice outdoor area since there are plenty of times when the weather is nice like in October and people want to be outside the hut. Mr. Hutson added that there should also be a large decking area around the hut so that people can sit and watch the matches outside. A paddle professional needs to be somebody who is great with kids. This is very important because that’s the future of paddle within Wilmette and we need to get them active and involved. The space could also be used for children’s programming and meetings as well as getting them started on the game. Also, unlike some sports, paddle is growing very quickly in popularity in this country. When he first started playing in Winnetka, he was a new resident in Wilmette and paddle provided the opportunity to meet a lot of people who are still good friends. He is obviously in favor of it and thinks the economics still need to be worked through but in general the concept is a good one.
President Brault asked that since the Winnetka courts has a BYOB policy, would you rather want Wilmette to have a bartender and a cash bar or BYOB with a cooler. Mr. Hutson replied he likes the BYOB concept since it would cost more to have a bartender and believes that most people would feel the same way he does. If the District decided to have a cash bar then you would want to make it very affordable.
Aaron Shepard stated that you could also add the cost of a bartender and cash bar by including that in the membership fees. BYOB would also be okay if that would be simpler to do which would mean each team would be responsible for bringing their refreshments to the club.
President Brault stated that another issue is liability management. With BYOB there would be no one there to take somebody’s car keys away or cut them off. That’s part of what we’re looking at but we’re not there yet and we are still looking for feedback on this aspect of paddle. If this issue would drive the cost up it could be a negative for some people.
Commissioner Murdock asked for a show of hands from those in attached and indicate they are in favor of proceeding, opposed, or indifferent so far. The results are shown below: Results not stated out loud
Karch Weyermuller, 208 Lawndale, stated that if Winnetka is as established as it is, how could we guarantee that people would suddenly want to play in Wilmette even though there’s a terrific league in Winnetka. When something is established, like a new building or country club, there is no tradition or history. He wouldn’t rely on people automatically “jumping” to Wilmette to play. In addition, there’s a surplus of funds in the Park District’s budget. Just because we have the money doesn’t mean we don’t have to spend it. I’m advocating that just because it’s available, doesn’t mean we have to do it. It’s an opportunity to spend money but do we really need it and would there be a need for it at that location..
Jeff Martin stated he is not sure what the total numbers are but Winnetka spent over $500,000 on their paddle hut and it’s already paid for itself and is now a running revenue facility.
Aaron Shepard asked if there was a way to measure the results of the survey against the eventual use of a facility. Also, did Winnetka do a survey at one point and then translate the survey results into real demand? Do we know how many Winnetka Park District paddle players on teams are Wilmette residents?
Director Wilson replied that the Winnetka facility began operation in the 1970’s so he does not think they conducted a comprehensive survey. Also, their membership is through an association, not through the Winnetka Park District, but based on discussions with Winnetka they estimated that Wilmette residents constitute about 1/3 of the players at Winnetka.
President Brault stated that our internal projections are somewhat broad but based on numbers of what we’ve seen at Winnetka and Hinsdale our estimates will more than breakeven on an operating basis with about 240 members. So given the feedback we received which indicated that people would play here we should get there quicker in terms of handling the ongoing operating expenditures of the facility. We believe there are approximately 240 potential players and supporters of a facility and one of the reasons we’re pursuing this is that paddle tennis would be a self-sustaining endeavor.
Scott Green asked if the District has looked at the number of Wilmette residents who are residents of other facilities like Valley Lo in Glenview. Commissioner Murdock stated it is difficult to get that information from private clubs.
Commissioner Shelly stated that what is important is that paddle is a fast growing sport and it’s true we may get some players from Winnetka but she also feels there are people who would like to play the sport but don’t have the opportunity to do so. She knows there are plenty of people of people in Wilmette who would love to have a chance to play. She also thinks that the 240 number is very attainable.
Aaron Shepard asked what the percentage of people is who play regular tennis and who also play paddle tennis. President Brault responded that when we did our survey in 2009 it was more conceptual in nature so we didn’t go too deep to slice the data but it is believed it is a pretty good number of people. Our projections in terms of cost are $400 for residents and $500 for non-residents. Commissioner Murdock added we have not yet made any decisions on setting policy.
President Brault stated the whole point of our analysis was to look at how many people would it take to reach breakeven and what cost levels would it take to support it. We may come back with very different numbers based on what the ultimate demands and costs are but the Board wanted a sense of breaking even and if these were realistic projections.
Susie Stroud stated she doesn’t know much about paddle tennis but loves the Park District. However, somehow the whole financial aspect seems to be getting lost. If there were 250 members who pay $400/year that totals $100,000. She is aware of the $1.2 million being discussed but she doesn’t know what the interest would be on the bonds which would mean adding to the debt of the Park District. President Brault replied that as the Board originally contemplated, the funds would come from our cash reserves and we would not be issuing a bond for this nor impute interest expense. President Brault replied the District does not typically operate that way at any of our facilities. There is not an implied carried cost on this proposed facility or at golf, tennis or beach.
Commissioner Murdock stated that even when we did go to referendum in the past as in the case of Centennial Pool the voters agreed to issue debt for that project via the referendum but then we did not require that revenue from the pool which is how we typically how we approach our capital expenditures. His point is that the voters voted in favor of the referendum to issue those bonds to create that facility. Ms. Stroud then asked how much money does the District have “sitting around.” Commissioner Murdock replied it varies but generally it’s about $6.5 to $7 million.
President Brault explained that the District is a separate taxing body from the other public entities in the district and we’re not affiliated with the Village or any of the schools – it is its own taxing authority. Last year our taxes represented about one-third of the revenue that the District generates from all of its facilities which includes all our fees and costs, lessons, etc. There are certain categories of tax that we fund for the common endeavors like mowing the grass and financially supporting the new roof at Centennial. In general, the District is a self-funded organization. For the funds we have on hand today it is a function of all the sources we’ve had over time from taxes and other things. In terms of how we intend to potentially use it at this facility, we would not have any additional taxes or third party cost revenues as we generally understand it to support this facility.
Ms. Stroud then asked if the taxes we pay to the District will not increase. Commissioner Murdock stated he has been on the Park Board for three years so he has been through the tax levy process. In his first year, we did not raise the levy at all so staff actually came up with a minor increase and we as a Board voted to maintain the levy at a 0% increase. Director Wilson stated that the District levies an actual dollar amount and what a resident pays is their percentage of the overall assessments. As a result, your taxes could go up if your assessment increases in excess of the mean increase of the assessed valuations of the Village. The District actually levies a dollar amount so the assessed valuations have nothing to do with how much the District levies or how much you get.
Commissioner Murdock stated that for example is first year on the Board the taxes did not go up at all for the District, the second year saw an increase or 1.5%, and this past year the percentage was closer to 3%. Over that three-year period, on average it has been less than 1.5% which is less than the inflation rate and significantly less than what we are legally allowed to levy. He believes this Board has been very fiscally conservative. You do see government bodies who when it comes to taxing decisions start with what the maximum allowable tax which this Board has never done in the time he has been on the Board. In this case, the Board has had a number of comments from people who have said that maybe 250 people will use the facility and why should all Wilmette taxpayers pay for that activity. That is not the case here since we are not contemplating taxing Wilmette residents for this facility. Obviously we have a number of facilities and we are committed to having world-class facilities that our residents expect. He thinks this District does a wonderful job of maintaining these facilities that are here for all the residents of Wilmette, even if they don’t use them.
Commissioner Murdock stated that as President Brault mentioned, we have some broad internal projections at this point and as we go through this process if we decide to proceed with those financial projections we would work through and as a group with staff continue to review it. We currently earn on our cash about 16 basis points and during the three years he has been on the Board we aggressively looked at our cash position and in the first year and a half we purchased CD’s so that we could earn a higher rate than the money market rate. It was a very successful strategy for the first year and a half. These days the ten-year treasuries are at 150 basis which makes it very difficult to receive any kind of yield at this point. He personally believes were the District to move forward on this we would earn a substantially higher return on this operation than we would earn on our cash that is sitting in a account somewhere.
Commissioner Murdock added that for our internal projections we contemplated fees that were substantially lower than Winnetka’s. However, we also contemplated usage as substantially lower than what Winnetka currently generates so we could see significant operating surpluses. As he and President Brault looked through this, he doesn’t think anyone wants to work on hope but we’ve been talking about this on and off for three years and have taken the issue very seriously as we do our other fiduciary responsibilities. When he sees people making comments about the financial impact on the residents of this district, he wants everyone to know we take that seriously as well. He doesn’t think any of us when it comes to a vote believe that this activity would have significant operating deficits for an extended period of time.
President Brault stated in terms of our financial stewardship of the Board, other large things to consider is that the District now has a AAA bond rating which is the highest rating. That was not always the case and we believe we have been managing our district very well. The debt we have on our books goes down about $2 million because we’re using our revenues to reduce our debt. Not many places can say that today and we’re doing it on purpose because we want to have less debt rather than more. In our view, it is anticipated we will make a modest return on it and in terms of how we view our stewardship, we have a handle on it.
Mark Weyermuller, 208 Lawndale, stated it was actually the taxpayers “cash” that we’re talking about and he pays a lot of taxes. He loves paddle tennis, his children play, and he has been to Winnetka a number of times. It’s a great sport and it looks like this would be a great facility. He does question whether there should be a hut running along the entire length of the facility and he would change that immediately. At this time he would not support the tennis paddle proposal since although it sounds great he thinks the costs would be too high.
In general, we need to cut the size, scope and costs of government. One of his biggest issues is taxes. He moved to Wilmette 12 years ago and his taxes were $6,000 and then went up to $16,000 but he eventually got them reduced to $13,000. Whenever government says we haven’t raised taxes they haven’t seen his tax bill. His biggest concern is that the $6-$12 million should be refunded to the residents.
He previously has supported other District’s projects such as the skate park and the temporary ice rink at Thornwood which was never built. He is in the real estate and construction business and sees the dollar amount to build is actually closer to $2 million. Also to be considered is the cost to operate the facility and doesn’t understand the numbers being discussed tonight. The Winnetka facility seems to be staffed somewhat from their ice and tennis facilities and the other people just watch. He believes that people go into the facility when they’re not supposed to and play for free. The lights will be a concern as well. The residents on Laramie are going to be upset because they don’t want it in their back yard. Also, from what he has heard, the golf course is losing money. President Brault replied that when talking about the course losing money, it had to do with the transfers from that entity to the overall District – both the capital transfers and some of the administrative transfers. But on an operating basis, all of our entities are cash positive. Mr. Weyermuller stated government often can’t run as well as a privatized company. He likes that Winnetka paddle facility is privatized and is worried about a public entity hiring a lot of staff and possibly running a bar.
Commissioner Murdock stated first of all the District used to be in the restaurant business before he came on the Board and the food operations at Centennial and the Lakefront have now been outsourced and which has had a tremendously positive financial impact. The District is not contemplating another food operation here and actually we have gone in the opposite direction. He does have concerns of the characterization Mr. Weyermuller made about the District and government in general. The District is run like a business and he has been incredibly impressed with the dedication that the staff shows and the concern they have for financial issues. He also thinks that a lot of Mr. Weyermuller’s characterizations that may be true for other public entities and you may have some concerns related to your tax bill from other taxing properties, but he thinks you have to be careful about making hasty generalizations with respect to the Park District. I know you research these things and then we’ll talk more about it.
Mr. Weyermuller responded that the Park District is a great organization and what he was questioning was would this be worth taking on as another project. For example, he was thinking about why they don’t have a hockey shop in the skating rink but he realizes sometimes things don’t turn out as well as anticipated. He is concerned about the money and it would b great if someone else builds it. Once again, his biggest concern is the money and reiterated that if the District has $6-$12 million, that should go back to the taxpayers. He likes paddle tennis and would also like to have his younger son play.
Commissioner Murdock stated that if all other government bodies ran like the Park District he thinks Mr. Weyermuller would be a happy person. Mr. Weyermuller responded there are 8,000 taxing districts in Illinois and a lot of communities only have a park district and a municipal entity the same with less taxes. Commissioner Murdock added that the average percentage of taxes that goes to the Wilmette Park District is 6.27%. He added that the WPD increases have also been significantly lower than those other taxing bodies.
Karl Sheffer, 110 Fourth Street, stated he would like to thank the Board for their service and that the Board is doing a great job of providing services to Wilmette. He pointed out that portions of our Village are what the census refers to as a naturally occurring retirement community (NORC). He is also concerned about taxes. He spoke with his neighbors who indicated that “those people are out of control.” However, he did not get that impression at all and believes that the District is fiscally conservative. He asked that the District expend the same time and thought into trying to keep a private entity out of Wilmette Harbor. His final point is that he is pleased the District is maintaining green space and as Commissioner Murdock stated the District is not the business of paving our parks. He asked that the District stay conservative and complete their studies.
Andre Weyermuller, 208 Lawndale, asked when the paddle facility would be built. President Brault responded there is one more public hearing to be held next week Monday, June 25. After that, the Board would debate the issue. If the decision was made to move forward with a paddle facility, the process would consist of the scope and scale of the design and engineering aspects of the facility and then the focus would be on budgeting, cost cutting, etc. As a general rule, paddle tennis generally starts in the month of September so it will not happen this year but possibly the following year. However, there are still several steps that we need to take first. Mr. Weyermuller then stated he is a tennis player but has only played paddle a few times. However, he doesn’t think many kids would play.
Joan Abrams, 2016 Wilmette Avenue, stated she thinks this sounds like a very exciting concept. There would be two high schools within walking distance of the proposed site. She played a number of years in Winnetka and it was difficult to play there at times. The hardest thing was to do was to get a lesson time since the courts were also so busy. There is nothing more exciting than watching junior high kids playing paddle and where they are two kids, there will ultimately be 200. AS a result, she doesn’t think the District would have any problems attracting the younger players. The only issue might be the leagues and if they would relinquish some of their times. Paddle is played in the colder months so it would be a great place for the junior high crowd and get them outside. Her issue is the cost but maybe the leagues would take a lion’s share of the costs as well as other issues such as supervision. Overall, it’s a wonderful idea.
Commissioner Shelly stated that private clubs have a tremendous amount of kids playing from preschool age and older. One of the problems is that we don’t have a paddle facility in Wilmette which means the kids don’t play even though they can go to Winnetka, it is difficult to get a court. The Board has looked at the private clubs and a lot of people play at those places and she believes a program for kids would grow.
Aaron Shepard stated that on the idea of expansion and potentially planning for it, the courts are the obvious thing but the hut and the facility aspect of it are also important when looking at the budget plan for that expansion. I don’t know how you want public input on this but he is an architected and paddle player and would be more than happy to offer her/his assistance in working with you on planning it.
Secondly, there was a question about how well government entities can manage their money and on refunding the surplus to taxpayers. He feels that the District should be commended for having a surplus and for even considering a project like this.
Commissioner Murdock thanked everyone for coming to the hearing tonight and for sharing their opinions of for, against or indifferent. It was also interesting to hear the different perspectives. One of the great things about Wilmette is that we have a great population base and it was great to see so many people in attendance.
President Brault stated that there will be one more public hearing next week at 7 pm on Monday, June 25, at the Village Hall. After the second hearing, the Board will debate the results at its next meeting on July 9.
There being no further business to conduct, the public hearing was adjourned at 8:08 pm.
MINUTES APPROVED ON JULY 9, 2012.