WILMETTE PARK DISTRICT
CENTENNIAL OPERATIONS COMMITTEE MEETING
Date: November 26, 2012
Place: Village Hall Council Chambers
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Commissioners: Chair Graham, Benz, Murdock
Staff: Wilson, Bingham, Bowen, Eppelheimer, Flynn, Smith, Udany
Visitors: See Attached
Topics of Discussion:
1) Meeting Called to Order
2) Approval of Minutes
3) Communications and Correspondence
4) Old Business
a) Pool Schedule
5) Recognition of Visitors
6) New Business
a) Ice Construction Project Update
1) The meeting was called to order at 6:15 p.m.
2) The Committee approved the minutes of the October 8, 2012 Committee meeting by General Consent.
3) Communications and Correspondence: Committee Chair Graham indicated the Committee received additional correspondence regarding the pool schedule and they are part of the minutes of this meeting and part of the record.
4) Under Old Business, Committee Chair Graham stated the next agenda item for tonight is to review the proposed pool schedule for the upcoming season. He indicated that the Committee had been talking about the pool schedule for two years and it is now time to bring this issue to a conclusion. He added that the Committee has had multiple meetings over the last two years and tonight’s meeting will be our fourth one in regard to the schedule.
The main objective in setting up the pool schedule was to have an efficient utilization of the pool and we wanted to maximize the use of the pool for the benefit of the community. The first goal was to keep the main 50 meter pool open to the general public during the evening hours for public swim and currently that pool is closed from 5 to 7 pm. The second goal was to allow reasonable opportunities for the other user groups to also have time in the pool that would work for their group. One group was the New Trier Swim Club, one was the lap swimmers and the third group is the Evanston Masters. These groups have made good use of the 50-meter pool in the past and we want to keep them using the pool in the future.
The committee had given direction to the staff and asked them to come up with options that could work with these goals in mind. At the last meeting, staff presented three options that aligned with the direction of the committee. After gaining further community input, the committee asked staff to come back with a forth option for tonight’s meeting.
Chair Graham thanked Superintendent Bowen, Pool Manager Brian Udany and other staff who came back with this revised fourth proposal which he believes will satisfy the objectives.. This new option allows for the pool to be open for the general public from 5 to 7 pm. It also enables the New Trier Swim Club to continue to use the lap pool although some of their time has moved to a later hour but they will still continue to use the lap pool.
The new option also allows lap swimmers to use the pool up until 8 pm. Chair Graham added that he believes Option #4 is a good compromise solution to the utilization of the pool and maximizes its use. Staff also consulted with the different user groups and received input from them including the New Trier Swim Club, the general public, and the lap swimmers over the last two years. Also consulted were the Evanston Masters swimmers and he used their input to come up with this compromise solution. Superintendent Bowen was then asked to provide further information on what this proposal includes. The next step is to take public comment and then the Committee members will have their opportunity to provide their thoughts and eventually make a final decision tonight.
Superintendent Bowen reported that since our last meeting we met with Mr. Bob Keyser who is one of the administration members of the New Trier Swim Club to review any options in the schedule that would work for his group. After reviewing the options, we came up with a time that would work which was for them to start at 8 pm and end at 9:30 pm, Monday to Friday. They agreed to this time slot since their biggest concern was that they didn’t want the swimmers to be in the water too late at night.
Superintendent Bowen then stated that after we looked at our schedule to see if there was any more time we could free up for the swim club, we also looked at how we schedule our private swim lessons in the morning and that maybe we could offer the swim club two additional morning slots. So the actual pool lesson schedule was slightly modified.
In regard to the swim club going back to 9:30 pm, this would affect the Evanston Masters swimmers two days a week who normally swim on Tuesday and Thursday evenings starting at 9 through 10:30 pm. Staff spoke with the Masters and asked how those two nights would affect them if they only had four lanes starting at 9 pm and having 8 lanes at 9:30 pm. They replied they could accommodate that time.
The first objective was to open up the time for public swim in the main pool so we achieved that with this fourth option. Staff also reached an agreement with the New Trier Swim Club who were willing to move back to 8 pm and the Evanston Masters.
The last group affected would be the lap swimmers. Under this option, there would now be no lap swimming from 8 am to 9 am, Monday to Friday. Staff looked at several different ways we could accommodate lap swimming by reducing the lanes but what we heard from the lap swimmers was that less than three lanes would not work because of the different abilities of the people who use those lanes. Staff then thought the best way to do that would actually eliminate one hour of their entire day for lap swimming. And when talking with other staff members we determined that this was probably one of the least used times affecting the least amount of people.
Chair Graham summarized that the Park District made some modifications to our schedule as did the other user groups. This will affect some people but for the majority of Wilmette residents it is probably one of the best options and that is why it is being recommended tonight. We will continue to have lap swimming from 5 to 7 pm, Monday to Friday.
Commissioner Benz thought it is very clear that this process demonstrates a willingness of the traditional users of the pool to adjust their schedules so that we can try this new schedule. Commissioner Murdock stated he had been interested in an alternative which involved different groups moving different times but in taking a look at this fourth option, he thinks it is more consistent, easier to understand and much easier to administer. In general, it is a good plan. The Committee clearly heard at the last meeting that the possibility of having the New Trier Swim Club swim later in the evening would create a hardship for them so we tried to come up with a compromise so they could move up a little earlier. We also tried to create additional time in the morning so that they could run their program. This is a good way to ask everyone to give a little bit and come up with a solution that works for everyone.
Commissioner Benz moved and Commissioner Murdock seconded a motion to adopt Pool Schedule Option #4 for a one-year timeframe and re-evaluate the schedule and its effectiveness during the first year.
5) Under Recognition of Visitors, Chair Graham indicated the Committee would now take public comment from those in attendance tonight.
Eric Vandergraft, 2800 Orchard Lane, stated he liked the plan that is being proposed and that it was a good compromise between everyone’s priorities and he hopes the rest of the general community agrees with it. He also thanked the Committee for listening to everyone.
Chair Graham stated he appreciates Mr. Vandergraat’s presence and input at these which was very helpful and enlightening. Commissioner Murdock agreed and stated that his presence was especially welcome especially during the first Committee meeting. His information was appreciated and it helped to keep the dialogue moving in order to get to this point tonight.
Jesse Dienstag, 3211 Greenleaf Avenue, stated as a parent with two kids on the swim team, he and his wife really appreciate the compromise that the Committee has come up with. It is reasonable and we look forward to next year.
Evita Vulgaris, 736 10th Street, stated she was one of the people who initiated the re-visiting the pool schedule and she thinks it’s a good proposal. Since it’s only for one-year she would like to request that you send out emails that are very clear as to when this issue will be discussed. She believes a lot of people weren’t even aware of this meeting. At the September meeting a lot of people received emails but for the October 8th meeting we were missed completely.
Lisa Nieman, 1007 Forest Avenue, stated she agrees with what has been said that the plan sounds like a really good one and it seems when everyone gives a bit things work out well. She believes Superintendent Bowen brought this up in an email about whether the pool could be open during safety breaks for the lap swimmers. Superintendent Bowen replied staff is not recommending that. Ms. Nieman stated she saw that mentioned somewhere in an email and asked if it could be a possibility. Chair Graham responded that was not something we talked about but we will talk to staff about your comments for the next meeting. Ms. Neiman responded it was not a top priority but it would be nice.
Pat Wench, stated she is a 23-year Wilmette resident and user of the pool and previously lived in Evanston for 6 years. She only heard about this meeting through a friend and wishes that those people you have pool memberships could have been informed of the meeting which didn’t happen. After looking at the proposals, she liked what Superintendent Bowen stated about Option #4 and believes that it would please more people than any of the other proposals.
Chair Graham added that with respect to announcements to the public, we do try to get the information out to all user groups and we will try to do a better job. He wants to be clear about how this process worked. At the first major meeting which was held at Centennial an announcement email did go out. Superintendent Bowen added the first time around we sent them only to members and this time we sent an email to each household in our database. Chair Graham agreed that all user groups should be informed with the objective of getting get full public input.
Evita Vulgaris, 736 10th Street, stated that nobody had known about the October 8th meeting and that after the September meeting she thought it was clear they would all be notified. Also, a separate notification email would be appreciated..
Commissioner Murdock stated it was also worth noting that people don’t necessarily need to come to every meeting in order to be heard. The Committee does listen to people and we did try to factor in all the user groups to come up with a compromise that we hope will work for everyone. But as Commissioner Benz said we will try it for a year and then have another conversation about tweaking the schedule if necessary.
Louella Levy, 726 Greenleaf, stated that she had headed up a petition drive with about 35-40 other lap swimmers who were interested in possibly having the pool stay open through September. She then asked if the Committee would be talking about that tonight. Commissioner Murdock replied that this issue will be discussed but not tonight. Ms. Levy then asked if it was a possibility for next year. Chair Graham replied that it is not a possibility since we have the same old problem of finding staff to police the pool during that period of time. We made significant efforts to find additional staff and in fact a number of lap swimmers stated they would get certified but it never really worked out. However, we are still interested in looking at that in the future but it is not a topic for tonight’s meeting.
Commissioner Murdock added that when he joined the Park Board a few years ago, the pool really started shutting down in mid-August. Since then we have gone to great lengths to conduct lifeguard training classes at the beginning of the season and for the last few years we also had a late July and early August session so that we could replenish our staff in order to keep the pool open through Labor Day. If we could find staff, we would be open to that. As we bring in the lifeguard staff we need to determine how long they will be available because we rely do on college students who usually become unavailable in August and September. However, it would be great to keep the pool open.
Ms. Levy stated when she was here for the September meeting visitors signed in with their email addresses so she thought for sure they would hear about the October meeting but they never did. Chair Graham stated that at the September meeting he specifically stated that there would be another meeting in October. We did not send out an email blast for October and he hadn’t asked that one be sent. We ended up with a large turnout in October and people found about it. But he understands what she is saying and agrees with her. As Ms. Vulgaris stated we need to make sure that we will do that for next year when this issue comes up again. We all know how important this issue is and it was an oversight that there wasn’t a separate email blast for the October meeting. It was not intentional.
By a roll call vote, voting Yes – Commissioners Graham, Benz and Murdock; voting No – None; Absent – None. Motion carried.
Commissioner Murdock stated the Committee appreciates everyone providing them with feedback tonight and hopes what we end up with is much better than what we started with. In addition, to the extent that issues come up over the course of the year they will be modified and adjusted for next year.
Candice Luglio, 1239 Maple Avenue, thanked the Committee for their work on the scheduling issue. It looks like a promising compromise and she is looking forward to seeing it in action. She also has some thoughts on the concession itself and also the prohibition of people bringing in their own food. In her mind part of the mission of the Park District is to promote health and wellness and general well being. As a result, she asked would it not be better to have healthier foods available at the pool or let people bring in their own food. She doesn’t know if anyone had discussed that.
Commissioner Murdock responded that had previously been suggested. First of all the concessions at the beach tried to bring in healthier options last summer. In terms of bringing people food in what we have done in the past year and at the end of last summer, staff set up picnic benches in areas outside of the pool so that people could bring in their own food and have a picnic on the grounds without being inside the pool area. With respect to the concessions, we used to run our own concessions and lost a lot of money running that operation. As a result, we outsourced it and then it turned from a deficit to a surplus for the Park District which is from a financial standpoint very attractive. However, we generally have not seen a lot of bidders for the different concessions and obviously the more restrictions we put on them, the less willing a potential bidder would be to submit a bid and we might lose some revenue as well. Her point is well taken because obviously people are exercising at the pool and it would be nice to eat something healthy. This issue has been revisited on a regular basis but remember we are light years away from where we were several years ago.
Ms. Luglio asked if there was a specific reason people are not allowed to eat inside the pool area. Commissioner Murdock replied he believes that people are allowed to eat on the grounds but only just outside the gate. He doesn’t know if there are any issues with the Health Department but he does know that if the concessionaire doesn’t have that space exclusively again that would affect our negotiations with them. We have tried to make it more accessible for people to bring in their own food. Ms. Luglio asked if bidders would need to get their bids in soon for next season. Director Wilson replied that it is a multi-year contract. Ms. Luglio stated some of those companies who provide food for the schools could maybe have suggestions for potential bidders. Director Wilson replied that was where the lakefront concession operation came from.
6) Under New Business, Superintendent Lambrecht provided an update on the upcoming Ice Construction Project which included some reports that he received from our consultant in regard to the refrigeration replacement system program.
He stated that the consultants have recommended Ammonia as the primary refrigerant in the new system. The other refrigerant option will not be available within the next 10 years and he doesn’t see any value of putting that equipment in and then having to replace it. Ammonia is becoming a much more widely used product in ice rinks and has been used in grocery stores for years. It is also much more efficient in the long run.
The contractor is working hard to finish the plans and we should be out to bid early in December with the bids coming back for approval at the January Board meeting. Additionally, we are also looking on doing interior remodeling and accessibility upgrades at the facility ice rink while it is closed. Chair Graham asked what the budget for this project and Director Wilson replied $2 million.
Commissioner Murdock asked if ammonia is being used in other ice rinks. Superintendent Lambrecht replied yes and that it has been used overseas for several years.
Chair Graham stated he has had a lot of experience with the North Shore Ice Rink which has terrible ice. He knows there was a piping problem in the small rink and he doesn’t want to have the same problems they had. Superintendent Lambrecht replied he told them emphatically that we don’t want to have any issues with the ice at any time. As a result, they know exactly where we are coming form and that is why he’s recommending the ammonia.
Commissioner Murdock stated one of the other issues that North Shore had was that they set their pipes in concrete so it was difficult to make repairs. In contrast, our rink has a sand base and will continue to have a sand base with the new construction.
Commissioner Murdock asked if we had any decorating and accessibility issues. His children have never played hockey but he has heard about the condition of the locker rooms and he knows there was a bit of work done a year or so ago. He then asked if we would have room in the budget to do some upgrades. Director Wilson replied it would depend on how the bids come but staff was actually had the same idea. Superintendent Bowen stated that the looker rooms under the bleacher are small. At one time we discussed making the four rooms into two and adding an addition on the west side of the building for at least two more locker rooms. But the cost was great. Commissioner Murdock added that maybe we could do something aesthetically there.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 7:20 pm.
Minutes taken by Jeffrey Bowen.
MINUTES APPROVED ON JANUARY 14, 2013.