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, OCTOBER 8, 2012
7:30 P.M.
______________________________________________________________________ 

Written notice of said meeting was given to the Commissioners and the Wilmette Life in accordance with the Wilmette Park District Code, Section 2103, and Section 2.02 of the Open Meetings Act.

President Brault called the meeting to order at 7:36 p.m. Executive Director Wilson conducted the roll call.

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

ABSENT: None

STAFF: Superintendents Bingham, Bowen, Eppelheimer, and Lambrecht; Communications Manager Donoghue

VISITORS:  Robin Baugher, 1310 Sheridan Road; Christy & Chuck Coughlin, 917 Greenleaf; Fred Fitzsimmons, 2229 Crestview Lane; Brian Moloney, 728 Illinois Road.

President Brault stated that a presentation will be conducted by our consultants from SmithGroupJJR (JJR) related to the lakefront master plan. However, at this point in the process we will not be taking public comment on the lakefront plans since the Board has not yet had a chance to discuss the alternatives in detail. The presentation this evening constitutes the middle step in the master plan redevelopment for Gillson Park which the District has been studying since 2008. The original technical study was conducted by JJR in 2009 but as a result of the economic downturn, it was decided to take a year off from the process before re-engaging in 2010 when the Lakefront Commission was formed. The Commission met nine times to discuss the plan and there were several public meetings on the topic. The Commission then provided their conclusions to the Board at the end of last year.

Tonight’s presentation constitutes the next step in the process wherein JJR has taken and reviewed those ideas and will be presenting three options tonight. Moving forward it is anticipated to have different types of public input including open houses to talk about the plan and to allow anyone to engage with staff and the consultants. Subsequent to that there will be a public hearing which will further take into account ideas from the public and more input from JJR. It is then anticipated that the consultants will present a full master plan that will wrap up the two or three years worth of study which may happen in the first quarter of next year.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

Commissioner Murdock moved and Commissioner Olvany seconded a motion to approve the minutes of the September 10, 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.

Commissioner Shelly moved and Commissioner Murdock seconded a motion to approve the minutes of the September 20, 2012 Special Board Meeting.

President Brault explained the Special Board Meeting held on September 20 was solely for the Board’s contemplation of its involvement in the Wilmette Harbor. As was disclosed in our public statement, the Board has chosen not to submit a bid to operate the harbor at this time. However, he feels that having been through 18 months worth of discussion he thinks it was an opportunity lost. The primary reason the Board did not move forward was the result of the potential exposure to the taxpayers of Wilmette for the upkeep of the harbor walls. Although we looked at this from a number of different perspectives, the ultimate decision was one based on the financial projection of the exposure to our taxpayers.

By a roll call vote, voting Yes – Commissioners Benz, Brault, Crowley, Graham, Murdock, Olvany, and Shelly; voting No -- None. Absent – None; Motion carried.

COMMUNICATIONS & CORRESPONDENCE

.… Correspondence was received regarding Wilmette Harbor from Thomas Scanlan, John Gridley, Gabriela Fields & Dr. William D. Carlock, Paul DeGrandis, Paul Schulz, William Luksha, Email from “daamix”, Phyllis Cossarek, Joan Keleher, Julie Ieuter, and Marshall Moretta

RECOGNITION OF VISITORS:

Fred Fitzsimmons, 2229 Crestview Lane, stated he was a 34-year resident of the community and has been a very aggressive supporter of Park District activities. However, he is disappointed that those in attendance tonight will not be able to ask questions or make comments after the presentation by JJR. Mr. Fitzsimmons then stated he would still like to talk about what he would like to see in the plans. He feels the beach house would be a big investment and undertaking and suggested giving some consideration to doing something different. He believes the whole lakefront area should be made a year-round destination venue for several reasons. First, it is now only used for three months out of the year for swimming or at the most four to five months if May and September are included. Some of the problems include the maintenance and upkeep of the facilities and with the beach house closed during the off-season, there is vandalism that occurs and Park District personnel would agree simply because there is no staff presence there at that time. In addition, the facility generates no revenue during the off-season but there are expenses incurred for maintenance and upkeep. From a taxpayer standpoint he would like that to be a year-round destination venue. He suggested maybe adding a second level to the beach house and making it a quality restaurant venue that can be used year-round not only for residents but non-residents as well which would generate additional revenue and populate that building in the off-season. It would also provide those who don’t frequent the beach that often during the regular season an opportunity to come to the lakefront to have dinner. There could also be an outdoor deck which would be winterized for year-round opportunities as well. In addition there would be lots of activities throughout the course of the year such as a slide run for children, cross country skiing, and plenty of pathways. Mr. Fitzsimmons also assumes that the lakefront master plan process will be posted on the web site and suggested that forming another commission would go “hand-in-glove” with the Park District and the public.

President Brault replied to Mr. Fitzsimmons that his thoughts would be a part of our discussion this evening. In addition, the reason the Board formed the Lakefront Commission was to organize the footwork required for gathering public input from a wide number of people across the village. The idea now is to funnel the information back to the Park Board so ultimately the Board will be making make the decision on the plan. His suspicion is that we likely will not be forming another separate committee but that the decision will ultimately come back to the Board to direct the path of the master plan. From this point on, the Board will be holding more public input sessions along with one or two open houses wherein people can interact with consultants and staff and gather additional input.

APPROVAL OF VOUCHER LIST:

Commissioner Olvany moved and Commissioner Benz seconded a motion to approve the Voucher List in the amount of $1,589,693.77, 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.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT:

Director Wilson reported that on Monday night, October 15, the Parks & Recreation Committee meeting will be held at which time the four firms that were selected to present paddle tennis facility concepts will be present to make their presentations. Superintendent Lambrecht has been communicating with the firms and encouraged them to provide drawings and schematics of their concepts.

As he reported last month in regard to the April 2013 Park Board election, the number of signatures he stated were required on the petitions was incorrect. He originally had calculated that 375 signatures were required but he mistakenly calculated the percentage required from total ballots as opposed to total votes cast. As a result, the correct minimum number of signatures required for the Park Board election is 65.

The budget process has been underway since August. The Centennial Committee reviewed the Pool, Ice and Tennis budgets earlier this evening and on Saturday, October 13, the Golf Committee will be reviewing their portion of the overall budget. In addition to the paddle tennis presentations, the Parks & Recreation Committee will be reviewing their budgets.

Under New Business this evening, there is the appointment of representatives to the IAPD Business Meeting to be held in January 2013. The IAPD/IPRA Conference is held annually during the last week of January. Commissioner Olvany was our representative last year and attended the meeting.

Lastly, in regard to the lakefront presentation tonight, the entire process started in 2008 when staff indicated the lakefront had an aging infrastructure including a run-down beach house, sewers and roads. Because the lakefront is such a big part of this community’s identity, the Board agreed to engage in a much larger public input process versus just rebuilding a beach house. As a result, it was decided to create a master plan for both of our lakefront parks. In 2008, the District chose JJR as our consultants. We also sought out community volunteers to be on the Lakefront Commission which originally had 16 members but then Julie Wolff became a Village Trustee so the number went down to 15 members. However, the economy then turned bad and there was not a Lakefront Commission meeting until 2010 when they met three times between October and November. This was followed by two public workshops in April 2011 and that public input along with other comments, emails submitted, and staff input was taken in by the consultants who then tried their best to narrow everything down into three alternative concepts for Gillson and three alternatives for Langdon. The concepts are what we plan on displaying at our upcoming open houses to receive additional input from people which will help to guide the ultimate creation of a lakefront master plan, hopefully by the early second quarter 2013. Director Wilson then introduced Deb Mitchell from JJR and Tom LaLonde from Williams Architects who would take turns describing the plans.

President Brault stated that when the Board started this process in 2008 we asked people to look at three different questions through the Lakefront Commission. The first question was related to the programming and operations aspect of it, the second was about the natural environment, and the third was what the buildings would look like.

Presentation of Alternatives: Ms. Mitchell stated there has been a lot of dialogue and still more to come in regard to the alternatives being presented which is an important part of the process. There has already been a lot of dialogue and, in addition, two public meetings will be held after the Board’s review in early to mid-November before Thanksgiving. As Director Wilson stated the purpose of the alternatives phase was to come up with three distinctive alternative scenarios which could be mixed or matched since each alternative is not all one or the other. There are also elements that will not be brought forward to the public but are included and implicit in all of the alternatives. There is a detailed report of these elements which lists the ADA compliance upgrades. Also included is a detailed report which lists the items that need to be compliant by 2015. There are also road, storm, water, utility and public safety upgrades.

Gillson Park:

Alternative #1: Ms. Mitchell stated Alternate #1 deals with structures that need to be replaced or upgraded to current standards. For example, the Lakeview Center multi-purpose room would be expanded and the maintenance facility would be camouflaged with some vegetation. Ms. Mitchell stated the first scheme in general gives the lakefront more of a “green” emphasis and they considered what could be improved in regard to the overall landscape of the park itself. By contrast, the third alternative is more structure and beachfront oriented and the second alternative splits the difference between Alternatives #1 and #3.

Tom LaLonde from Williams Architects stated that as can be seen in the plans one of the primary considerations for the Lakeview Center was to bring it up to ADA accessibility standards. Consideration was also given to expanding the building somewhat for programs. It was ultimately decided that some expansion of the multi-purpose was appropriate. The kitchen is currently inadequate for servicing any large functions and therefore enlarging the kitchen for catering is a priority. In this alternative, the kitchen would be on the upper level on the front of the building and the program room would be built above what is currently the loading area.

For the beach house they had talked about bringing the building up to current standards which would include changing the number of toilets and other plumbing facilities and installing modestly-sized locker rooms and family changing rooms. This would allow access through the center of the building directly to the beach. There would also be a connected concessions area that would allow a full-service operation and would be larger than the current concessions with some sort of enclosed outdoor space.

Ms. Mitchell stated the current circulation will stay the same with one minor exception which would be to adjust the road to add a bit more space to the Wallace Bowl. She had heard from a number of people that they were very concerned about pedestrian, car, and bike conflicts on the roads. As a result, the proposal is to put striping on the roadway and provide more trail connectively throughout the park with more east-west connections.

In terms of landscaping, the views could be enhanced which would mean some trees would be removed to open up views to the water. It would also be good to create a vegetative edge at Wallace Bowl to restore the wildflower garden. Some people indicated they had concerns about the memorial tree policy in that it was starting to look like a cemetery at the lakefront. The biggest part of this is to protect the dune with fencing and with limited access. It would also be a good idea to reinforce the uplands along Michigan Avenue since there is a big loss of trees up there. They would also like to see the picnic area updated along with a new playground.

Alternative #2: In terms of the structures, the beach house once again would be updated to current standards and restrooms would be added to the sailing center since currently there are only portable toilets. Also added would be an upgraded third satellite restroom located in the center of the park. Another proposed addition would be the accessible fishing platform on the jetties to make the structure safe so people can walk on it.

In regard to circulation, there would be some one-way loops when entering the park. As a result, there will be a connector taken out by the Lakeview Center between the overlook drive and the upper drive. The hope would be that there is a more efficient parking lot layout down by the beach house. We could also introduce permeable paving and perhaps bioswales down there as well since there is enough sand to sweep the joints. The middle drive would be narrowed down for pedestrian use only. Also proposed is a separate pedestrian and bike path from the roadway, and sand volleyball would be moved to the beach. The bike path would consist of an easy rolled curve in the roadway so that bikes have a clear distinction from the road and consist of not only stripes but also have an elevation change which signals “no cars allowed”.

Also proposed is the relocation of the wildflower garden to the memorial garden so that together there can be a more intensive maintenance regimen. The dunes would also be protected with fencing and the dunes would be expanded in this case to two more locations.

Alternative #3: A beach house is being proposed with additional multipurpose rooms in the hopes there might be a rental facility with a second floor. The sailing center would also have a classroom as part of their programming. For the Wallace Bowl they would enhance the audio and the maintenance building would be located in the new garage we are proposing in the next scheme.

Mr. LaLonde stated the sailing center would be expanded with toilets for men and women and the classroom could accommodate up to 20 people for programs. There would also be a modest attendance office. The access to the building will be from the outdoors which minimizes circulation but based on its function it seemed appropriate to do that.

Ms. Mitchell added that what they are talking about is to separate the beach parking and access from the balance of the park. By taking out the roadway, it would provide a nice positive connection from Lakeview Center to a beach house and then to the beach itself. They have also been thinking about a new parking deck with a green roof which would sit on the hillside and would blend in with the neighborhood. It could also be used for winter boat storage. In this scenario, it is proposed to move the wildflower garden to Langdon Park. With the parking underneath, they would still keep the parking on the north lot. The whole intent is that there is no net loss of parking in doing this. As a result, there would be parking in the deck and surface parking on the north lot.

Also proposed would be a new stone jetty with fishing along the lake and a non-motorized boat beach to go with it. The coastal engineers have indicated that for the price of restoring the existing jetty the Park District could build a whole new jetty and then there would be beach as a bonus which would fill in naturally. For an equal price the Park District might consider this as a more advantageous scheme. They are also proposing dog beach amenities and restoration of the dunes.

President Brault asked that in terms of dealing with the Army Corps of Engineers and the change on the lakefront flow, has that been reviewed. Ms. Mitchell replied that was correct but if the jetty does deteriorate, the dog beach might erode a bit although it would still be protected from the harbor.

Langdon Park

Presentation of Alternatives

Alternative #1: Ms. Mitchell explained Langdon Park is on a completely different scale from Gillson Park since it is much smaller in acreage and development. One of the actions we could take in regard to ADA compliance is to designate Langdon Park as not an accessible beach which would mean some patrons could only use Gillson. However, we would need to provide a safe way for people to get down the hill which is currently there. As in previous schemes, we would restore the flood plain and the ecology along the frontage road. There would also be a new updated playground, and the bluff which is currently quire dense would be enhanced.

Alternative #2: In the second scenario, a safe route to the beach would be created and a building would be put into the lot itself which would include a restroom, lifeguard building, and an elevator which would be the accessible way to get down to the beach. This option also has a small pull-off of Sheridan Road since there is no easy way to access that park other than accessing Sheridan Road.

Alternative #3: – The third alternative has a much grander pull-off but in this case they are proposing an ADA accessible beach but the only way to do that is to go down across in front of the bluff line. This would be where the relocated wildflower garden would be placed since Langdon doesn’t really have that planted attractiveness right now and it could use it. In this case there would be a restroom building similar to what was shown previously which would be located on the upper level. The playground would remain since it is still a relatively new playground.

Ms. Mitchell stated they are looking forward to the public meetings and open houses in early November and tonight’s presentation consisted of a preview of the plans.

President Brault stated he has been wondering how to create a list of all of the proposed elements on a sheet and then how to ask the public for their top 10 or bottom 10 elements since the data seems overwhelming. Ms. Mitchell stated they have a list of certain key questions which can be used when talking to the public which consists of determining what elements they liked the most and what they liked the least.

Commissioner Shelly asked if the plans were interchangeable and Ms. Mitchell replied they were. She added that there are three big “buckets” that everything falls into and that the key decisions need to be made on those three.

Commissioner Benz stated there are a couple of items that are the same in each of the plans for Gillson such as the new fence on the south beach area so would that be her recommendation and Ms. Mitchell replied it was. Commissioners Olvany asked if the fencing being proposed is to protect the dunes and not to prevent access to the beach and Ms. Mitchell replied that the intent was to stabilize the dunes.

Commissioner Benz asked about the cutting out of the center road and if that would help with drainage. Ms. Mitchell replied there are drainage issues on the roads in the park but there are always options if problems arose. Commissioner Benz stated that one of the elements we have received from the public was to take the main building on the beach and incorporate the sailing beach building which would reduce plumbing requirements, etc. and possibly provide some interesting architectural features. However, he doesn’t see them in the plan presented tonight and he assumes that was discarded as an option. Ms. Mitchell replied that option had been discussed and was determined not to be programming desirable since not enough efficiencies were achieved.

President Brault thanked Ms. Mitchell and Mr. LaLonde for their hard work in creating and coalescing the plans to date and is looking forward to the next step in the process.

Also as part of his report, Director Wilson added that Sean Flynn has been hired as the Park District’s new Ice Rink Manager. In addition, Superintendent Bingham is celebrating her 33rd year with the Park District. President Brault congratulated and thanked Kathy for all of her hard work. 

President Brault then began a discussion on how best to conduct the open houses, public hearings and tours of the areas being discussed. After discussion, it was agreed to first conduct a “walk the park tour” followed by an interactive open house and a public hearing. Commissioner Olvany suggested that the placards could be displayed in the Lakeview Center for a whole week along with a staff presence. Director Wilson replied that staff does have a day-to-day routine and it’s a concept that would need additional time to figure out everything. After additional discussion, it was tentatively decided to hold a “walk the park tour” during mid-November. It was also decided to hold a public hearing at the December 10, 2012 Park Board meeting and to begin the meeting at 7:00 pm rather than the Board’s originally scheduled meeting time of 7:30 pm.

COMMITTEE REPORTS:

Financial Planning & Policy Committee – Committee Chair Olvany reported the Committee met on September 24. At the meeting, the Committee recommended approval of the Administrative Budget for 2013 based on a proposed flat tax. Salary increases were approved as previously discussed. A significant amount of time was spent at the meeting talking about the IMRF pension plan of which the Park District is a part. The main focus of the discussion was the financial position of the Park District resulting from future liabilities for the pension of employees. The primary reason that this discussion took place was that the Park District has been contributing more money every year to the IMRF which is the Park District’s public pension plan. In 2011 the Park District contributed $874,000 to IMRF. In addition, the underfunded liability of our pension plan is something that bond rating agencies might take into consideration when rating the Park District’s securities if the Board elects to do that in the future. The Committee discussed what the issues were and if there were any actions we could take and also how we should fund some of these required pension plan contribution plans in the future. However, no recommendations have been made at this time. We currently fund that $874,000 primarily and exclusively out of the tax levy. The main question is should we alter that policy moving forward.

Parks & Recreation Committee – Committee Chair Murdock reported the committee met on September 24. Staff reported the Daddy/Daughter Dance was held on September 28 with approximately 100 families. After each of the last three dances, the event keeps on moving on to larger venues due to increasing registrations. There will also be a Mother/Son night on Friday, November 2. Halloween Happening will be held on Friday, October 26, at the Community Recreation Center. The Wilmette Children’s Theater will be presenting The Little Mermaid beginning on October 12 and the North Shore Theater will be offering The Producers on November 9. We also talked about conducting a needs survey in our community which will be discussed during the budget process for the purpose of getting a better sense of what the Park District is providing to our residents. Also discussed at the meeting was hockey and that last year the Board approved the plan to allow hockey at Thornwood Park. However, there wasn’t any ice last winter so as a result no hockey. However, the Committee will be revisiting that scenario again this upcoming winter. Also being contemplated is to have hockey at both Thornwood and Gillson with alternate hours. Staff will be coming back to the Committee with recommendations at the next meeting.

The Wilmette Eagles currently have 199 children playing tackle football in grades 4 this year. In addition, 138 children are playing flag football in grades 1 through 6. The Wilmette Storm girl’s team had their tryouts and 46 girls will be playing including his daughter. There are currently 1,347 soccer players this fall which is down about 100 from last year. In gymnastics there are over 1,500 participants. The annual shred event was held at Mallinckrodt on Saturday, September 8.

Chair Murdock stated that as Director Wilson mentioned, discussion at the October meeting will consist of budget issues as well as paddle tennis. At the November meeting the committee will be talking about a review of some of the sailing beach and lakefront operations. The meeting will be held on October 15 and the Committee welcomes everyone to attend and provide their comments.

President Brault asked what the scope was for the needs survey. Chair Murdock explained it was brought up in the context of paddle tennis since we heard from a number of community members who were interested in it and then pursued it. As a result, we are moving forward with that process with the architects at this point. However, we never looked at that in the concept of the interest here relative to additional walking trails or a lap pool for example. In addition, a number of other park districts have done assessments but we have not for a number of years. As a result, Superintendent Bingham and the staff have been working together to provide information on how to move forward with that process. Once that is done, it would be presented to the Committee and then result in an expenditure and be part of the budget process followed by discussion with the full Board. Also at the meeting, the Parks & Planning Department Fiscal Year 2013 budget was approved.

Golf Operations – Commissioner Crowley reported that from opening day to September 30 a total of 36,700 rounds were recorded with a total revenue of $728,000. In addition, pro shop sales totaled $157,000 and the driving range totaled $99,000. The course is coming close to the end of the season. Most of the meeting in September was devoted to the golf master plan and Architect Greg Martin was in attendance. It is believed that we are still talking about starting the project in late August 2013 and putting out the permits in two months. There also continues to be no problems with any of the regulatory agencies.

Centennial Operations – Committee Chair Graham reported the Committee has met twice since the last Board meeting. The first meeting was held on September 19 and the second meeting was held prior to tonight’s Board meeting. At the September meeting, discussion took place on the pool hours, how to better allocate the use of the pool and how to open the main pool to the public during that period of time. The 5-7 pm time had typically been used by the lap swimmers who have three lanes and the New Trier Swim Club has five lanes. At the Committee meeting on the 19th, public comment was also received. As a result, staff came up with a revised schedule and was instructed to come up with three potential options for the reallocation of time for the main pool. In addition, each of these options increases the amount of public swim time during 5 to 7 pm. The meeting tonight was adjourned due to the Board meeting but will be reconvened after the Board meeting for more detailed discussion of the three options.

Discussion also took place at tonight’s meeting on the proposed budgets for Ice, Tennis and Pool and they were all approved. The high points of the budgets included the fact that it will be a deficit for the ice rink next year due to the planned replacement of the chiller system and coils. Also, the HVAC system will be replaced since the equipment has been there for 38 years. With respect to the pool, fees will be increased across all user groups and there will be a more significant increase for non-resident users. In respect to the overall revenue and overall budget, they are slightly above prior years. For Tennis we had already projected flat fees and the Tennis budget as proposed by staff was approved.

Golf Operations Committee – Commissioner Crowley reported the Golf Budget meeting will be held on Saturday, October 13, at the golf course and everyone is welcome to attend.

OLD BUSINESS:  None


NEW BUSINESS:  Commissioner Graham moved and Commissioner Shelly seconded a motion to appoint Commissioner Murdock as delegate and Commissioner Benz as alternate to represent the Wilmette Park District at the IAPD Annual Business Meeting to be held on January 26, 2013.

By a roll call vote, voting Yes – Commissioners Benz, Brault, Crowley, Graham, Murdock, Olvany, and Shelly; voting No -- None. Absent – None; Motion carried.

There being no further business to conduct, the meeting was adjourned at 8:52 p.m.

MINUTES APPROVED ON NOVEMBER 12, 2012.