WILMETTE PARK DISTRICT
GOLF OPERATIONS COMMITTEE MEETING

Date:  April 13, 2013   

Place: Wilmette Golf Club

Time:   8:30 a.m.

Attendance: 
Commissioners: Chair Crowley, Olvany, Shelly, Murdock
Absent: None
Staff: Bowen, Wilson, Eppelheimer, Matchen, Locke
Visitors:  Bryan Abbott, Tom Bonnie, Bill Lemieux, Fred Watson, Amy Wolfe

Topics of Discussion
1) Meeting Called to Order
2) Approval of Minutes
      a) March 9, 2013
3) Recognition of Visitors
4) Communications and Correspondence
5) Managers Reports
6) Old Business
7) New Business
8) Additional Discussion
9) Adjournment

Discussion/Decisions:
1) The meeting was called to order at 8:30 am.

2) The Committee approved the minutes of the March 9, 2013 Committee meeting by General Consent.

3) Recognition of Visitors: None

4) Under Communications and Correspondence, an email was received from Commissioner Murdock in regard to the Open Kitchens Lease. Commissioner Murdock stated that over the course of the last six months discussion took place on possibly resurrecting the Ouilmette Foundation and if that were to happen an important part of its activities would involve fundraising and special events. However, with everything going on with the golf course reconstruction project, maybe the course could hold two primary outings for outside groups such as the Winnetka Foundation who will be holding a golf party as well as a party on the pier. He added that in the past the golf party raises far more funds for the foundation than the party on the pier. There have been horror stories about some charitable organizations and with any type of event there is an expectation of what is provided at those events and keeping the costs in line. As a result, Open Kitchens has asked for an accommodation with the Park District and is asking for approximately a $25,000 rent concession in 2013 and approximately a $15,000 concession in 2014. It seems to him that it would provide an opportunity for us to look other activities running through at our facility and not just for the Foundation but also other outside events as well and then decide whether we should be required to use Open Kitchens as part of their licensing agreement. However, we may also ultimately decide that Open Kitchens is the best fit for us but they are also asking for a substantial rent concession over the next couple of years so it makes sense to build some flexibility into their contract so that we are not necessarily obligated to use them if it’s not in the best interests of the District or the Foundation.

 Chair Crowley stated his feeling is that Open Kitchens has been a very good partner with us and we will see what happens when the course is closed and what the financial impact will be because of that. As a result, he would not support a motion to put those ramifications on them. Commissioner Shelly thought that was good to allow people to bid on a fundraising component since she has been involved in a lot of fundraising and it is a great way to increase your overall goals and funds for a particular event. We might be awarding Open Kitchens that component or that piece of the business in any given situation but if it’s just for a couple of events she thinks that would be fine.

 Commissioner Olvany also stated Open Kitchens has been a very good partner and has provided good food and service. He thinks we would be able to work with them very easily on any type of event we would try to put together. He also feels that instead of carving out a contract, he would prefer to work with Open Kitchens as a partner. He doesn’t know what the traffic will be for those events but he would prefer to work with them individually.

 Commissioner Murdock stated he understands both of those perspectives and if the existing contract was going to continue as is we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Open Kitchens has done an excellent job and it is very common for groups to make donations to charitable organizations and the financial impact cannot be understated. Secondly, over-contemplating our potential new events would be a different situation when we’re talking about taking revenue away from Open Kitchens. To rely on those activities with potentially higher costs is imposing challenges upon us that we don’t need. If this were an existing contract he would not recommend doing this.

 Commissioner Shelly added that there might also be situations wherein Open Kitchens might not want to be involved due to timing or the situation. One can’t underestimate how many venues would donate food for a benefit and then Open Kitchens could opt in or out of the bidding process.

 Superintendent Bowen stated he and Mike Matchen have worked with Open Kitchens in the past and at the facility’s 100th anniversary they provided everything at cost. They also handle the golf lottery every year and the Park District pays for a portion of the food. Superintendent Bowen added that they have also helped with our 100th anniversary and have donated for Men’s Club events.

 Commissioner Shelly stated we should make a motion to allow for other outside food industry people to bid on a few fundraising events that may happen when the golf course is closed for reconstruction. Chair Crowley stated that would then be an amendment to the motion to alter the contract moving forward in order to allow special events outside the scope of the contract for which they can bid as well.

 Commissioner Shelly moved that whether the course is open or closed we would allow an outside food service company to bid on fundraising events at the golf course clubhouse and to amend the contract with Open Kitchens in order to increase the revenues raised at fundraisers.

 The motion failed for lack of a second.

 Chair Crowley stated that this is one of the kind of events we are talking about which is that they are actually in business to generate profits for them and to be taking these kind of days from them is not a fair part of our contract.

 Commissioner Shelly stated that they don’t want to give their food away but if someone is willing to donate food for a large event then that is something not easy to overlook.

5) Under Managers Reports, Golf Club Manager Jamie Locke reported it is difficult to compare this year to last year since it would like comparing apples to oranges. At this point last year there were 4,070 rounds played compared to this year’s total of 1,006. However, these totals as well as other components of the course are comparable to 2011. Lottery play starts next week and hopefully the weather will cooperate. Last year’s paid memberships totaled 523 and this year they total 377. The course is also down 16 permanent tee times which is actually encouraging since staff thought it would be much lower than that.

 Commissioner Olvany stated he knows we’ve been trying our best to get the word out about the membership carryover due to reconstruction. However, he had a conversation with someone who approached Jamie about holding a corporate event at the golf course where the group takes over a whole tee and then our pros teach a group of their clients. This person indicated he didn’t understand that if you purchase a membership this year that it would carryover to 2014. Jamie stated that this information had been included in our brochure and on our web site. Commissioner Olvany asked that maybe if staff “talked it up” more golfers would play at our course. Superintendent Bowen added that staff is currently looking at resident rates for our members at Glenview’s course as well as coming up with some couponing ideas for other discounts at other courses. Staff could also use Constant Contact to send out emails to past and present golfers.

 General Manager Mike Matchen reported the crew is working on clean-up and that staffing is currently at a minimum four seasonal employees as well as our full-time staff. It is hoped to start adding more staff next week and we are waiting on the weather so we can move forward.

6) Old Business – Bid Recommendation for Golf Reconstruction Project.

 Chair Crowley provided an overview of the two bid submissions in regard to the golf course project and both were higher than projected. As a result, staff went back to conduct some value engineering the results of which are as follows.

 Superintendent Bowen stated that we received two bids – one from Wadsworth and one from Ryan. Ryan came in at $2.984 million and Wadsworth came in at $2.24 million. Golf Course Architect Greg Martin reviewed the bids and certified that the Wadsworth bid was compliant and competent. We then started looking at ways to reduce and adjust the initial bid which ended up having a slight modification from the original Option #4. Staff then directed Mr. Martin to eliminate all of the soil greens that had not been in the original plan. After the first round of looking for ways to save money, staff found an amount of $284,000 plus another net amount of $1,600. They then started looking at items that were originally in the bid contract which staff felt we could do ourselves at less cost. In addition, if we paid our own salary and wages for the work Instead of paying union wages we could save a lot of money. In addition, purchasing the fertilizer, seed and some cart path material and other alternatives. The bid was brought down to $2.292 million which staff feels is fairly consistent with the original integrity which was in Option 4.

 Also through the permitting process and because of dealing with the flood plain and flood way, expanding the ponds and the bioswale added an additional $300,000 to the cost. Also reviewed was reducing the tees to only 6 tees from 15 tees meaning that we would reduce the scope of the project and that we would not be working on 11 of the holes in developing new tees.

 Superintendent Bowen stated there were six tees that we had planned on doing and this reduction saves us a net of $77,000. It was also decided to remove greens 10, 17 and 8 which would leave 11 greens that we would be doing and 7 that we would not be touching at all. Also, by reducing some cart path improvements and eliminating 1 green, 4 green, 7 green 10 tee and 18 green we reduced another $11,000 which bring us to the $2,105,000 amount. Staff then look at two additional alternatives to further reduce the costs which would include reducing the scope of the project even further and eliminating eliminate all cart path improvements in order to save $46,000. We could also eliminate the three additional tees which would consist of 1, 3 and 18 which would save another $30,000 for a net savings of $75,000 bringing the total project cost to $2,029,000.

 As a result, staff is recommending staying at the $2,205,000 number and deferring some of our capital projects that had already been planned for this year which total $186,000 consisting of two pieces of equipment – a chemical spray rig and a bank mower. Superintendent Bowen stated that other projects were also deferred or removed to reach the total of $2,205,000.

 Mr. Martin stated that the scope of the project gets larger because of engineering issues which include drainage and permitting issues which drives a lot of decisions. The bottom line is that the $2,292,000 number which was in the first section essentially saves the integrity of the project and the other numbers that we talked about. Beyond that some of the integrity of the project is taken away. Since we are “opening up the patient”, we need to get the work done that will make a big difference and that won’t result in having to come back in later. In general it is much easier to reconstruct a tee at a later date, one at time, than it is to reconstruct a green which is more expensive. His recommendation is there is a need to remove or reduce some items the tees are the logical place to do that. Cart paths are a great to have when you have a new golf course and it’s nice to have those features. However, the more you trim back the project, the more you interrupt the integrity of it.

 Commissioner Olvany stated that when he talks to people about what we’re doing at the course, the first thing he tells them is that we’re trying to make this course more efficient with better drainage, and essentially bring it up into the 21st century from a technological perspective. What we are not doing is trying to start all over again or change everything. The main focus is on drainage improvements but not on a substantial amount of work on the greens.

 Commissioner Olvany asked if the Committee was comfortable with recommending the amount of $2,292,000 for the project which Mr. Martin feels is necessary to maintain the integrity of the project. Superintendent Bowen stated that if we take the $2,292,000 and use that $186,000 from those other capital items we will get within $100,000 of that $2,292,000 which would total $2,105,000. 

 Commissioner Murdock stated that we are all trying to understand about the 18th  tee, fairway and green and what is wrong with it right now. Mr. Martin responded that there is nothing wrong with it in terms of how it functions. However, the engineering issues that are driving this is that we are expanding the bond on the front 17 right now, the 11 tee is going to be redone and then this area becomes storage in the flood plain. Also being added are catch basins and we will be touching a lot of stuff around those tees the thought was to rebuild the tees consistent with the way we’re building the other tees. Right now we are going for a more traditional look, less free-form. This is not something that could be done at a later date but ideally it would be better if we did it all at once. We would be able to reduce the amount of work and therefore the cost if needed.

 Commissioner Murdock asked if there were any other items that could be eliminated while maintaining the integrity of the course. Mr. Martin replied he understands that all of these things are on the table if we need to reach that number. He doesn’t think there is anybody in the room who wants to impact the integrity of the plan. Commissioner Shelly added that much of the increase was due to the permitting issue costing $300,000. Commissioner Murdock stated he was fine with that number.

 Tom Bonnie and Fred Fitzsimmons asked which greens were going to be rebuilt and that if we were looking for ways to reduce costs which greens would you not have to rebuild that would not affect the engineering scope of the project.

 Commissioner Murdock asked about the new netting and if it was any higher or any safer than the current netting. He also asked what the useful life was of the current netting. Mike Matchen responded it would be 20 feet higher on the east and on the east side there are no nets and that area would be extended about 20 feet.

 Commissioner-elect Bryan Abbott stated he had some questions about the bidding process and Mr. Martin replied their qualifications were in the bid packet. He added that there had been two qualified bidders. The project accelerated and since it is a rather intense endeavor, a couple of other firms who may have been able to do it but then had other projects lined up. Both of the bidders for Wilmette were about as good as anyone can find and he trusts them to do the job. There were also a lot of bidders who would not come near this project.

 Commissioner Olvany stated he is not comfortable proposing the $2,229,253 number to the full Board and Chair Crowley agreed and stated in order to get a number below $2,292,000 for the full Board the first thing we all need to agree on is what capital expenditures should be deferred to reach the 2,105,000 amount.

 Chair Crowley stated he is comfortable with the $2,105,000 amount but if the Committee felt there was another small group of 2 tees or whatever that could come off the plan in order to reach a number closer to $2 million he would be amenable to that.

 Commissioner Shelly stated she is also not comfortable recommending the $2,105,000 since we will be having other expenses presented to us this week as well. The six tees which equate to $77,000 should be considered for elimination at this time which would then change the amount to $2,028,000.

 Commissioner Olvany moved and Commissioner Shelly seconded a motion to recommend reducing the number of tee improvements by 9 tees and to only perform work on holes #1, #3, #11, #12, #16, and #18 which would result in an additional cost reduction of $77,723. The Committee further agreed to defer $186,400 in planned 2013 budgeted capital improvements resulting in the recommended project cost of $2,028,130.

 Commissioner Crowley asked that when this bid recommendation is written up, it should include tees and greens identified with this project.

 Superintendent Bowen stated that the recommendation of staff was that the $186,400 in 2013 budgeted capital be deferred to allow for the construction of the additional greens and tees leaving $51,000 in additional money for cart paths and tees which meets with our recommendation.

 Chair Crowley stated he preferred the motion that Commissioner Olvany made.

 Director Wilson added that legally when we are at the Board meeting, we will have the bids and those bids will have alternates which will need to be approved. Also, all of the value engineering and reductions in scope are not what we will be approving but rather it is what we’re going to do with the project. However, we still need to approve the bid of $2,400,000 minus the alternatives and then have a conversation at the Board meeting outlining the reductions.

 By a voice vote, voting Yes – All; voting No – None. Absent – 0.

 Commissioner Olvany asked that when the motion is written up, could it be circulated to the Committee beforehand and Superintendent Bowen agreed to do so.

7) New Business:

 Superintendent Bowen stated he had printed out some financial reports which were included on the last page of the meeting packet. The reports indicate that 2012 actual, 2013 actual, and 2013 budget indicates that last year we were very much ahead of where we are this year. Also, at end of March this year we were at a negative 33 and we budgeted for a negative 22 so we’re pretty close on the budget. That 22 number came from the three-year average of 2009 through 2011 so we are currently close to target in terms of our history right now.

There being no additional business, the Committee was adjourned at 9:45 a.m.

Minutes taken by J. Bowen.

MINUTES APPROVED ON MAY 11, 2013.