WILMETTE PARK DISTRICT
PARKS AND RECREATION COMMITTEE MEETING


Date: February 18, 2013

Location: Park District Conference Room

Time: 6:30 pm
      
Attendance:
Commissioners: Brault, Benz, Crowley, Murdock     
Staff: Wilson, Bingham, Bowen, Eppelheimer, Lambrecht, Groves, Heafey, Specht

Visitors: Park Board Candidates Abbott and Wolfe     
   
Topics for Discussion

1) Meeting Called to Order
2) Approval of Minutes
      a) Joint Meeting Minutes of January 21, 2013
3) Communications and Correspondence
4) Recognition of Visitors
5) Managers Reports:
      a) Lakefront
      b) Recreation
6) Old Business:
      a) Paddle Tennis Operations
      b) CRC Traffic Controls
      c) Elmwood Avenue Right-of-Way
      d) Sailing Beach Operations – Deferred to March
7) New Business:
      a) Park Permit Requests
8) Adjournment

Discussion/Decisions Made:

1) The meeting was called to order at 6:30 pm.

2) The minutes of the January 21, 2013 minutes were approved by general consent.

3) Under Communications and Correspondence, Chair Brault acknowledged receipt of an email from Katie Clarke dated January 16 asking when the rink at Thornwood Park would be open again and a message from Mike Murphy in regard to the Thornwood Park Ice Rink and the sounds of the pucks “smacking” the backboards. Superintendent Lambrecht added that the District would not be putting in boards next year.
 
 Additional correspondence included an email from Robert Ten Eick and Deirdre and Graham Redding in regard to the new sailing beach plan; a letter from David Oshinski of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation thanking the Park District for allowing them to host their 9th annual North Shore Great Strides event at the lakefront; and a letter from Kit Woods to Holly Specht complimenting a lakefront employee Angie Woodul. An email was also received from Catherine Clark who complimented another lakefront staff member, Katie Bradford, who had been helpful at their event at Lakeview Center. 

4) Managers Report: Holly Specht reported registration for this year’s Aquatics Camp is currently at 274 compared to last year at this time when there were only 122. Commissioner Crowley asked what the maximum was for Aquatics Camp and Holly replied approximately 400 participants and last year there were approximately 370 enrolled. She also reported sailing lessons are doing well with 85 currently enrolled compared to last year’s total of 63 and half of the sailing lesson sections are already full. Sailing rack rental contracts were sent out and third of them have already been returned. The deadline is this Friday, February 22, at 5 pm. The sailing lottery was held on March 2. Interviews are ongoing for the summer and supplies are being purchased. There are nine Lakeview Center rentals scheduled so far in February.

CRC General Manager Jeff Groves reported he and Carol Heafey had met with area Park District representatives in a round table format to view how they conduct their camp orientations and staff training. Jeff and Carol both came away with a lot of good information. As a result, they are working together to formulate this summer’s orientation for our directors and counselors. In this current session of gymnastics, participation was most likely at an all-time high with 2,129 children in all of our classes. The Gymnastics birthday parties on the weekend are also still very popular but the parties are not included in the total. 

The Mallinckrodt Center had 42 active adults attend a Valentine’s Day party last week. Lunch was catered in by Maggiano’s and the New Trier Swing Choir provided the entertainment. The current membership consists of 607 members.

Manager Carol Heafey reported that Steve Duman from Hot Shots Sports held a free basketball clinic with 200 children in attendance. Loyola’s mascot also paid a visit and that also went very well. Supervisor Sara Hilby has hired a new soccer coordinator who will be taking over what was once a two-person job. Staff completed the District’s first sports parent manual and Superintendent Bingham is reviewing it. After that is completed, staff will start working on the coaches’ manual. Carol also stated that Sara Hilby, Jason Pilecki and herself met with Communications Manager Shelagh and our network administrator Bill Popielarczyk to update the District’s sports page on our web site with schedules, manuals, coaches' information, etc. In the Fine Arts Department, Bob Bierie retired as of January 31. Center for the Arts Director Sarah Heston has been interviewing for an artistic director and the second round of interviews has begun.

The Children’s Theater production of Jungle Book was a big success and every show was sold out. The children who performed in the show ranged in age from 7 to 9. Staff is now researching what could be added next year such as adding another weekend or another show. Superintendent Bingham explained that due to the age restrictions of some of the Children’s Theater these actors, we can only have one show on Saturday and one on Sunday. Carol suggested that it would be nice to squeeze in two Saturday performances since this production is very popular.

Auditions for Annie were held recently with 71 children trying out. Carol Heafey and staff from the District’s Early Childhood Center met with representatives from the Wilmette Police Department to review emergency response training. She is also currently working with Amy Lambrecht on creating name badges for all of the Early Childhood staff members. Superintendent Bingham mentioned that due to recent unsettling events, the Early Childhood staff met with Chief Brian King and Detective Patrick Collins to talk about the different risks involved and what we would need to do to keep everyone safe. One interesting point made by them was that the chances of preschools being targeted is extremely rare and they would consider us a very low risk. However, it is still important that staff is trained on how to handle lockdown procedures and emergencies so they will continue to meet with the police department. Chair Brault asked how we would communicate what the new procedures are for our parents. Superintendent Bingham replied nothing would happen before next fall but once the manuals are completed, they will be sent out before the school year is over. The police were pleased with the presence of our security cameras and suggested we add more of them.

Chair Brault asked how the hiring process was going and if we were utilizing the new application program. Holly stated staff was currently working on returning employees and have not yet reached out to new people. She added that the program looks promising and should work well. Carol agreed that at the CRC staff has been busy setting up interviews, sending out emails, and trading phone calls back and forth with prospective employees. Chair Brault commented that he has heard positive feedback from individuals he sent to the site to apply.

6) Old Business:

      a)  Paddle Tennis: Superintendent Bowen stated staff wanted to initiate a discussion with the Committee on some operational aspects of paddle tennis. The information in the meeting packet included a sample job description, some fee comparisons, a facility schedule, a budget which had been proposed for 2013, and some operational rules and information from other facilities.

 Commissioner Crowley indicated the Glen Ellyn rules and regulations were well thought out. Chair Brault asked how would we manage security and how would we get access to the facility in the evening. Superintendent Bowen replied that other park districts use an electronic entry system. Director Wilson stated that the facility will be pre-wiring for this type of system but the initial thought would be to have the facility open during the times it is in operation and locked during off-hours.

Superintendent Bowen indicated staff also discussed using a video security system which would be accessible in conjunction with both the police department and staff for monitoring the facility during the off-hours with set closing times. After some discussion, Director Wilson added that he expected the accessibility issue to evolve over time.

Chair Brault asked where everything stood in terms of hiring the pros. Director Wilson replied staff is currently looking for input on the job description and staff would like to start this process as soon as possible. Chair Brault asked if there were any thoughts of incorporating paddle tennis into our regular tennis program. Superintendent Bowen replied he thought that the two operations should be separate from each other. Director Wilson stated it would depend on the individual and what our needs are; however, that is not our initial goal. Superintendent Bowen stated that he planned on using the PPTA (Professional Paddle Tennis Association) as a resource to send a job announcement to each professional in the region similarly to what he had done when he hired the Ice Manager. Chair Brault added that the paddle tennis nationals were going to be held in March and maybe that would provide an opportunity to possibly recruit.

Superintendent Bowen stated that staff is looking at a similar compensation structure as we do at Centennial with the manager being on salary but then is also allowed to teach a certain amount of hours per week on an hourly basis. Director Wilson stated that when talking about caps on the number of hours of lessons taught, that is done specifically to make sure the managers at golf and tennis focus on their operations and not their lessons. At this point it has not yet been determined how much teaching vs. management they will be doing but they would be able to teach lessons and that amount would be negotiable. Chair Brault suggested that an incentive be developed for this person based on the number of memberships and league players we have.

The Committee then reviewed the Platform Tennis Pro job description, the public facility fee comparison, a sample of the weekly facility schedule, the 2013 budget, and operational rules and information from other facilities.

Superintendent Bowen stated that the fee comparison chart showed a number of differences between other facility pricing structures. Additional discussion followed on the different aspects of each facility’s fees, classes, drills, lessons, league rules, members and non-members, and on-line court reservations. Superintendent Bowen stated that the chart, as presented, was confusing and stated he would revise the information and present it at the next committee meeting. The Committee and staff also agreed that residents would have preference over non-residents in terms of utilizing the facility.

Chair Brault asked about alcohol at the facility and Superintendent Bowen replied that the District has received information from the attorney stating that it was possible for alcoholic beverages to be brought into the facility by individuals. He also stated that the Village of Wilmette liquor ordinances our attorney provided would have to be followed and would allow someone to walk into the facility with alcohol as long as it is not sold. Superintendent Bowen added if a group is having a party where alcohol is being served, the District would require the purchase of liquor liability insurance similar to what is required at Lakeview Center and at Mallinckrodt. Director Wilson repeated that the District would not be selling alcohol and Chair Brault stated it sounds like we would also need to change the Park District ordinances to allow alcohol usage at this facility.

Director Wilson stated the spreadsheets and charts he created are estimates and could be debatable but he wanted to put some basis and rationale to the thought process. Chair Brault stated that when looking at the Winnetka facility which is the most successful club in this area and if the District would do a third of what Winnetka does, the District would  breakeven at 75% of their cost.

Director Wilson stated the Village Zoning Hearing is coming up and the District will be the third case of three cases. Superintendent Lambrecht indicated that staff has not heard any comments from the Village at this point but the District did receive one inquiry after the zoning notices were sent from a building owner who lives nearby West Park who was concerned that his parking spots at his building would be taken away. Chair Brault stated that the variance is tight with four special uses and five variances. The special use aspect is because of the lighting and the variance and because a facility is being added to the park. The hut is also a special use due to the variance in the height of the chimney and the fence and light poles.

Director Wilson added that the times the facility would be open would be from 9 am to 10:30 pm. Superintendent Lambrecht stated that staff should be ready to go out to bid during the first week of March. It is also anticipated this will be a three-week process and the goal is to have the project approved at the April Board meeting.

     b)  CRC Traffic Controls: Superintendent Lambrecht reported that after the last meeting, the Committee discussed how to slow down the traffic at the CRC. He discussed this issue with the traffic engineer from Gewalt Hamilton and he recommended that due to the nature of the lot we could install speed bumps. However, there are issues related to where we want to put them which would be in the parking lot behind the building and in the pedestrian traffic pattern. His recommendation was to at first install stop signs to see if that helps but if it doesn’t then they would put in speed bumps. As a result, staff will start out with two additional stop signs and if that doesn’t work they would put in the speed bumps.

     c) Elmwood Right-of-Way:  The Committee reviewed a memo from Director Wilson which indicated the three levels of what each of the three models would cost. Chair Brault asked about the fall and spring clean-up, sand moving, etc. Superintendant Lambrecht responded there might be some sand moving depending on what they end up doing. 

Director Wilson outlined the three options presented in the memo; The Park District staff doing routine maintenance; a monitored beach with no swimming; and a swimming beach fully staffed by the Park District which would be open the same dates of our two beaches, Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day. Director Wilson was asked about incremental revenue and he stated that it would be immaterial.  Chair Brault thought at this point the committee should discuss making a recommendation to the full board regarding what should be done with the property. He then proposed a one year test period where the Village of Wilmette would pay for the spring clean up as well as start up costs to run a swimming beach.  The Park District would then pay for all ongoing maintenance costs.  All costs associated with running the guarded swimming beach for the summer would be split 50/50 with the Village.  He felt that ultimately this beach would be our problem anyway. Director Wilson asked if we should start with posting signage stating what is not allowed on the property instead of starting with a fully staffed swimming beach and gauge what the behavior patterns are.  Chair Brault felt we can gauge the behavior just as easily once it is a swimming beach. 

After additional discussion, Superintendent Lambrecht stated that ultimately this is not our property. Commissioner Crowley agreed with Chair Brault that this property will be viewed by the public as a beachfront similar to Langdon and Gillson beaches and stated that we should take the idea to the rest of the board to get a consensus with the caveat that we try it for one or two years and re-evaluate.  Return it to the village if we feel it is not manageable. Director Wilson stated that it would be difficult to start a beach operation at that location and after two years, return the operation to the Village.  Commissioner Crowley felt there was no other way to move forward and it cannot go on the way it currently is managed.

Superintendent Bingham stated that she is concerned that the south beach users would be frustrated that we have taken south beach from them and now we are managing and controlling another area they are using.  Chair Brault stated that all users would still have to pay for the use of the new beach.  Director Wilson explained that on south beach there is no controlled access point.  At Elmwood, there would be controlled access.  Chair Brault stated that he believes the Village plans for Elmwood to have controlled access and if there was no controlled access, they should not be considering the project.  Director Wilson stated that he felt the recommendation from the committee is in conflict with the Villages stance of making the area a passive use park.  Chair Brault stated that at the committee meeting in January, the Village municipal Services Committee asked us to investigate options for managing the property.  He asked Director Wilson if he thought a swimming beach was non-passive and Director Wilson stated that a swimming beach is an active use activity. 

There was discussion on who would take the issue to zoning, the Village or the Park District.  Commissioner Crowley stated that these decisions would be up to the Village and they would make their own plan of action related to managing the property, including rules and regulations.  Chair Brault mentioned that at the last committee meeting, the Village indicated that they would adopt similar ordinances to ours for managing the property.  Chair Brault stated that the Village would not run the Elmwood property as a swimming beach without the Park District’s involvement.  The Village mentioned repeatedly that they do not have the expertise to manage this area and if there is going to be access, rather than fight it, we might as well try to manage it as best fits the character of the lakefront.  It was recommended that the issue be discussed with the full board at the next meeting. 

Commissioner Benz was in attendance and added that this should be an evolving process and we should not jump to running a swimming beach without trying other options first.  We should leave it open and unguarded. Also in attendance was Commissioner Murdock who stated that the feelings of the commission in attendance at the January joint-committee meeting may not be the feelings of the full Village board since only three members sit on the Municipal Services Committee. He agreed with Commissioner Benz and feels we should not incur these costs and turn the property into an active beach.  We should slow down and see how it evolves.  He is especially concerned about the evening hours and would like to see a very different use of the park.  If we move too quickly we may not be able to “put the genie back in the bottle” and we would be limited in terms of other uses of the property.  We should not take over another agencies property and the offer by the Park District to pick up trash regularly was a generous offer. 

Chair Brault summarized Commissioner Murdock’s statements by stating this suggestion is a model the village currently has in place and it would be cleaner next summer since the district will be cleaning the property.  Director Wilson stated that in addition, village ordinances will need to be put into place related to ramifications for policy violators.  Commissioner Benz stated that we must keep in mind that the press and neighbors will force the Village to have rules in place when problems arise.  His hope is that Elmwood will be a passive park and one that will evolve and we should take baby steps initially.

Chair Brault stated that what the District is responding to was a specific request from the Village’s Municipal Services Committee (MSC) which did not include the Park District coming back with alternative uses for the property. However, the Village did ask us to come back with cost estimates for doing those three items we came back with which doesn’t necessarily stop us from coming back with other suggestions.  Commissioner Benz stated that he would like to see a broader discussion of the options.

Chair Brault stated he sensed some staff reservations about this project. Director Wilson replied that often all things lakefront related are challenging. Superintendent Bingham added she is concerned with the costs associated with such a small beach since we would not be able to run programs there or have camps use the space. However, we could offer to manage or control it like we do at some other areas.

Chair Brault asked if staff would be more comfortable if there were no cost involved to the district. Director Wilson stated he would feel more comfortable with that but he understands that cost is not the only decision we have to consider since it is also a community asset. President Brault stated the District has the expertise so if we’re solving the problem at someone else’s expense it would be the right thing to do. Director Wilson stated he feels more comfortable when he’s not seeing any negative numbers

Commissioner Benz also stated that the real issue is accessibility. Chair Brault stated the current plan has a walking path from the current end of the street all the way down to the lakefront. Chair Brault stated we should provide the Village with the cost numbers they requested and then see what they suggest .

Commissioner Crowley thought the Committee should go before the full Park Board to get a consensus of what the District’s stance will be before talking numbers with the Village. He has heard from residents that they want something done with this property and he does not agree with the idea of taking little steps. He does not see us walking away from this problem. He felt we should go to the full board with the numbers and have a discussion. We will discuss the level of Park District involvement and if there is not a consensus on the Board, we pass that information on to the Village.

Chair Brault and Commissioner Crowley agreed that if the mandate from the community is to keep this an open access point to the lakefront, we will need to be involved.The Committee then passed a motion to recommend to the full Board the development of a swimming beach operation on the Elmwood Avenue Right-of-Way property.

     d) Sailing Beach Operations – Deferred to March

7) New Business

a) Park Permit Requests:
The Committee reviewed a permit request from the Cystic Fibrosis for an event on May 19, 2013 for 400 people. After discussion, the Committee approved the request.

The Committee reviewed a permit request from the Chinese Christian Fellowship Church for their annual event on July 13 with 120 people from 11 am to 2 pm. Superintendent Bingham reported that this group held their event at Gillson last year and everything went well. Parking has also not been an issue in the past. After further discussion, the request was approved.
 
The Committee reviewed a permit request for June 15-16, 2013 from the American Cancer Society (ACS) for a fundraising event. Superintendent Bingham explained this event was no longer able to be held at New Trier and they also wanted to invite more community members which is why they asked to use Gillson Park. The event would start in the evening and will run until 6 am the next day. Everything would be picked up by 9 am and the ACS would cover the costs of additional security if needed. Any additional costs would also be reimbursed to the District. Director Wilson added that this permit request was brought to the Committee since we think it can be done without incident although historically we have not had an event such as this. As a result, he asked if we wanted try it for one year to see if it would work.

Chair Brault stated if the objection is that we are crowding out some of our regular users, he would suggest modifying the times in a way that results in there being less crowding such as pushing the start time back. Director Wilson added the area they are proposing to use is at the south end of the park and should not crowd out any patrons. Lakefront Manager Holly Specht stated she did not see a problem with this event but if there are concerns about how many other people would be in the park for other events such as these, it should not be a problem since you could set a limit on the number of not-for-profit groups who request permits. Director Wilson added that he and Superintendent Bingham have talked about the fact that the ACS is “up against the wall” looking for a place to host their event so if the park works or doesn’t work as well as hoped, we would have 12 months to move them to a different timeframe that works better for the District. Chair Brault stated we should let the ACS try out the timeframe this year and if it doesn’t work out well, then it can be moved to May. He added that in terms of other groups, we should consider options for them as well.

Superintendent Bingham also thanked Commissioner Murdock for treating the Wilmette Park District youth basketball players to ice cream at the Michigan Shores Club. A couple hundred people were in attendance and a total of 40 gallons of ice cream were consumed.

There being no further discussion, the meeting was adjourned at 8:05 pm.

Minutes taken by Bill Lambrecht. 

MINUTES APPROVED ON MARCH 18, 2013.