WILMETTE PARK DISTRICT

MINUTES OF THE SPECIAL MEETING OF THE
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS OF THE WILMETTE PARK DISTRICT
HELD IN THE COUNCIL ROOM OF WILMETTE VILLAGE HALL
MONDAY, APRIL 15, 2013
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.

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: Bryan Abbott, Bill Lemieux, Fred Watson, Amy Wolfe
President Brault stated the purpose of tonight’s meeting is to discuss two separate topics which are the bid recommendations for the golf course reconstruction project and the platform tennis facility. The meeting tonight will have no other agenda items.

President Brault called the Special Meeting of Board of Park Commissioners to order at 7:30 pm. Executive Director Wilson conducted the roll call and a quorum was established.

RECOGNITION OF VISITORS: None

BID RECOMMENDATIONS – GOLF RECONSTRUCTION PROJECT: 

Commissioner Crowley reported the Golf Committee met on April 13, 2013 to review the bids for the golf reconstruction project. A number of issues were discussed related to achieving a budget number that we could work with. Director Wilson summarized that the Park District received bids from two contractors – Wadsworth Construction ($2.4 million) and Ryan Construction ($2.9 million) compared to our budgeted amount of $2 million. As a result, our staff along with the engineers and architects worked together with the contractors to review alternatives to the bid as well as ways to “value engineer” the different aspects of the project in order to come up with a cost closer to budget. Through that process we were able to get down to a figure of $2.292 million which consisted primarily of items that did not impact the project materially. Then we looked at other options including reducing the number of tees and greens to be constructed along with cart path replacements. We also provided a couple of alternatives for the Committee to review pertaining to reducing the amount below the $2 million threshold and deferring some capital items for 2013 for a total of $186,400. After further discussion, the ultimate recommendation was to accept the bid of Wadsworth Golf Construction in the amount of $2,024,713.46 which included the removal of 9 tee box complexes from the project and completing 6 tee boxes instead of 14 while leaving all of the greens and bunkers that were part of the original option approved by the Committee. Deferred items included $186,400 for a spray rig bank mower and the eastern portion of netting on the driving range. In summary, the original $2,424,000 amount minus the value engineering, minus the $77,000 representing the number of tees, and then minus the $186,000 in deferred capital resulted in the total project cost of $2,028,130 and this was the recommendation of the Committee.

Director also stated the golf reconstruction project began in 2009 and several public meetings were held with the Golf Committee, the architect and members of the golf community. Several versions of the plan were ultimately discussed by the Golf Committee and the scope of the work was reduced. A meeting was also held to review the six bid options on the table and the Board ultimately chose Option 4 which included 14 tee boxes, greens and bunkers that were ultimately removed from the bid process and adjusted to the 9 tee boxes.

President Brault added that in terms of how to cost out this project, it was anticipated that the District would institute a 25% adjusted user fee process. Director Wilson stated that the discussions held at the Golf Operations and Financial Planning Committee meetings was to have the $500,000 portion of the project be paid for by a surcharge in the years after the course opened up within a five-year timeframe in order to pay back the $500,000 user portion of the project.

Commissioner Crowley moved and Commissioner Benz seconded a motion to accept the bid from Wadsworth Golf Construction, Plainfield, Illinois, to provide for the reconstruction of the Wilmette Golf Course in the amount of $2,424,713.46 as recommended by the Golf Operations Committee while 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 $77,723.00. The Committee further recommended deferring $186,400.00 in planned 2013 budgeted capital improvements at the golf course resulting in the recommended project cost of $2,028,130.00.

President Brault asked if the Committee’s recommendation was unanimous and Commissioner Crowley replied it was. He added that part of the reason the bid exceeded our original estimate was due to the cost of the permitting process. Director Wilson stated that in addition approximately $330,000 of the cost in the bid was related to items we discovered as we went through the permitting process that were required in order to create the capacity for storm water drainage.

President Brault stated that the process we followed was one that had been followed numerous times in the past as we reviewed and evaluated these projects on their own merit and if they came in over-budget, we always addressed the scope itself and then prioritize the capital items which is exactly how we should be approaching this process.

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

BID RECOMMENDATION – PLATFORM TENNIS FACILITY

President Brault stated that in regard to our Platform Tennis Facility, the Parks & Recreation Committee met earlier this evening to discuss the bids at length. The Committee went through a very similar process that the Golf Committee followed in terms of looking at both the scope of the project as well as the potential to defer certain items related to Parks & Recreation.

Director Wilson stated he provided a spreadsheet which shows the cost numbers by contract since we had broken down the bid into multiple portions because of the different providers providing different services. There is now a total of six different contracts and six different bids to be approved tonight. When reviewing the spreadsheet, he tried to show how the staff recommendations and the reduction of the scope of the work by $82,000 impacted the different contracts. The last three items on the Action List consisted of removing the parking from this project, making the courts the same elevation as the hut, and then staff to provide the insulation of all the toilets and accessories. When adding those three items together, the total financial impact would be $70,000 which would then impact the contract we received form Edwin Anderson Construction for the construction of the hut, the concrete roofing, and windows work.

In regard to the electrical work the low bidder was Genesis Electric. However, staff is not suggesting any reduction in scope of work for that contract. For the plumbing work, Jensen Plumbing and HVAC was the low bidder for at $99,900. Jensen was also the low bidder for HVAC at $79,814. USA Fire Projection was our low bidder at $27,800 for fire protection and Total Platform was the low bidder for the court themselves.

Once again in reviewing the top two items in that portion on page 3 of 3 where the removal of the second set of stairs from all of the courts was recommended to provide secondary egress from the courts and eliminate some foundation on the portion of the courts closest to the huts and then hanging the courts onto the hut itself. Those two came in at 12,060 and would impact the contract for Total Platform. As a result, the total amount came to $1,392,250 so staff is recommending a reduction in the scope of work in the amount of $82,060 which brings the cost of the project to $1,310,190. Staff also then identified projects that could be deferred from this year out of the capital budget,  one of which being the Forest Park tot lot for $190,000 and the other a replacement of a portion of the irrigation system at Howard Park for $20,000 which is another $210,000 overall for a bottom line of $1,100,190. This is what the Committee had discussed and is recommending for the Board tonight.

In terms of the project’s history, Director Wilson summarized that in 2009 the platform tennis discussion began internally. An electronic survey was sent out to the public and we received over 800 responses. The conversation then continued on and off over the last couple of years. Public hearings were held in June 2012 regarding platform tennis and we ultimately hired Williams Architect to work on the project. We have since progressed through the design work as well as going through the zoning process and the project was ultimately approved by the Village’s Zoning Board.

President Brault stated that the Parks & Recreation Committee voted unanimously to recommend the motions being been brought forth tonight and the following motions were made in aggregate.

Commissioner Shelly moved and Commissioner Graham seconded a motion to accept the bid from Edwin Andersen Construction, Evanston, Illinois, in the amount of $699,000.00 to provide the concrete, roofing, parking, windows, doors, and interior work for the Platform Tennis Facility as recommended by the Parks & Recreation Committee reducing the scope of work as outlined in the staff memo by $70,000.00 for a total project cost of $629,000.00 in conjunction with deferring other District Capital Projects in the amount of $210,000.00.

Commissioner Shelly moved and Commissioner Graham seconded a motion to accept the bid from Genesis Electric Contractors, Mount Prospect, Illinois, in the amount of $128,993.00 to provide site electric work, electric service, court lighting connection, and building electrical work for the Platform Tennis Facility as recommended by the Parks & Recreation Committee.

 Commissioner Shelly moved and Commissioner Graham seconded a motion to accept the bid from Jensen’s Plumbing and Heating of Woodstock, Illinois, in the amount of $99,900.00 to provide site plumbing work, storm sewer relocation, sanitary sewer, domestic and fire protection water services, and building plumbing work for the Platform Tennis Facility as recommended by the Parks & Recreation Committee.

Commissioner Shelly moved and Commissioner Graham seconded a motion to accept the bid from Jensen’s Plumbing and Heating, Mr. Prospect, Illinois, in the amount of $79,814.00 to provide building heating and air conditioning, exhaust, natural gas piping for building and platform courts, and supply and install court heaters as recommended by the Parks & Recreation Committee.

Commissioner Shelly moved and Commissioner Graham seconded a motion to accept the bid from USA Fire Protection, Lake Forest, Illinois, in the amount of $27,800.00 to provide a building sprinkler system to include steel piping, air compressor, trip valve, sprinkler heads and repair kit as recommended by the Parks & Recreation Committee.

Commissioner Shelly moved and Commissioner Graham seconded a motion to accept the bid from Total Platform, LLC, Loveland, Ohio, to provide the platform tennis courts, footings for courts, pedestrian decks, railings, and exterior stairs in the amount of $356,743.00 as recommended by the Parks & Recreation Operations Committee reducing the scope of the work as outlined in the staff memo by $12,060.00 for a total project cost of $344,683.00.

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

Commissioner Olvany stated that from his perspective the question is not if we can afford this project but rather is the Park District is prepared to operate a paddle tennis facility and is there sufficient interest in the community to spend $1.3 million to construct and operate it at this time. When he reviewed the minutes from previous meetings, the Board approved the initial project without a budgeted item amount and at the December 2012 meeting of the Committee of the Whole Commissioner Olvany had pointed out that “The paddle tennis vote was initially very close, we do not have a solid plan in place on how we are going to operate this facility, and we do not have a budget for this facility which he believes is acting very aggressively. He would prefer it be placed in 2014 in order to provide staff with a better idea of how much this is going to cost and to determine what the plan will entail.”

Commissioner Olvany added that there was also a fair amount of discussion at that time on what our level of preparedness was for this project. He then read once again from the December Committee of the Whole meeting minutes which stated “Commissioner Murdock asked Superintendent Bowen if we were operationally prepared for this facility. Superintendent Bowen stated that from his research at other park districts with paddle facilities, they had been approached by an organized group who said here is some money for the courts and then we can use your property. However, we have not yet been approached by a group which is worrisome. However, he does think the District would be able to offer a very good product eventually. It is also difficult to say whether the association option or a park district model would be better. At this point, staff plans on the park district model running the leagues at first since we do not have an organized group. Director Wilson stated if we were asked to build a paddle tennis facility, we can say that we do not currently have a plan. However, the District does currently run several facilities very well and he is confident we will get the plan in place and run the facility whether it opens in two, three or four years.”

Commissioner Olvany also pointed out what was stated in the February 18, 2013 Parks & Recreation Committee meeting minutes as follows: “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. 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.”

Commissioner Olvany added that at the subsequent Parks & Recreation Committee meeting on March 18, platform tennis was on the agenda but was not discussed nor was an operational plan discussed but the March 18 Parks & Recreation Committee meeting minutes were approved before tonight’s Park Board meeting.

In addition he doesn’t believe the Committee has demonstrated any credible plan to operate this facility and he doesn’t feel comfortable that the Park District is prepared to operate this facility at this time. Secondly, he questions whether there is sufficient interest in the community to spend $1.3 million to construct and run this facility. He made it clear in the most recent election that he had significant concerns about this facility and that he thought the Board did not go through the proper due diligence or adequate budget forecasting to move forward with this project. Also, at no time did he get asked by any residents to reverse his position on this issue. He also made his opinion clear at the League of Women Voters forum as well as other publications he distributed to both supporters and non-supporters. He has serious reservations about moving forward with this project and the District would be using the reserves of taxpayers and fees that we have generated as a park district in order to build up our reserves. We are not prepared to build this facility in West Park and operate it a profitable fashion at any time within the next few years.

Commissioner Benz stated that the number of responses from the electrical and plumbing bidders in both cases was low and asked if that was due to the fact that we did not provide enough time to solicit bids. Superintendent Lambrecht replied that we solicited at least 10 contractors and other contractors picked up their packets or retrieved them from our web site. He added that this is not an unusual occurrence since the same thing happened with the Centennial bids when there were also only a few bids received. Superintendent Lambrecht added that this was an awkward project since there were a lot of pieces that needed to be pulled together along with a lot of cross connections among the various trades.

Commissioner Benz asked if there had been more time would we have been able to attract more bids. Superintendent Lambrecht replied that he knows of some contractors who at the last minute didn’t bid because they couldn’t get their bid bond approved in time or otherwise just decided at the last minute they were not interested in the project. The bid process is always hit or miss and you never know what you’re going to get. There was also a very short timeframe on this project.

President Brault stated that contrary to Commissioner Olvany’s perspective, he believes that over the course of the last four years as we reviewed this project we received substantial support from the community. We also held a number of different public forums, sent out electronic surveys, and gathered feedback in a variety of different meetings for all of the committees and the Board. He is very confident that the level of support we’re going to receive from the community for this project will make the facility operationally profitable in a very short time. He intends to vote for this project and believes it is a good one.

Commissioner Shelly stated she has been on the Board for the last two years and had heard about paddle tennis before becoming a commissioner. She doesn’t recall hearing of any issues at our public meetings but does think that paddle is one of the fastest growing sports in the country. There are so many people in Wilmette who use the Winnetka paddle facility and right now this would be a wonderful opportunity to attract those patrons to our facility which she thinks would be a profitable operation so she is in support of it.

Commissioner Graham stated he agrees with Commissioner Olvany. As Commissioner Shelly had pointed out, there are really two different operational models for paddle tennis. One operational model has been profitable which is what Winnetka uses wherein an organization takes over control of the prime time courts and essentially prohibits private residents from using the courts at that those times. The other operational model is where you have the park district running the course which is what they do in Lake Bluff and they have lost money. Despite what Commissioner Shelly’s thinks, there isn’t a clear example of a park-district-run model where they have been profitable. He believes our staff could achieve a profitable operation but it’s not as clear as some members of the Board have suggested.

Commissioner Olvany stated that in December he had specifically asked for a credible operating budget and a credible analysis of the demand for paddle. The committee that was responsible for putting this on the table today was shown an operating budget that was considered to be not complete and confusing and it was never brought up again. Nothing about the operation of this facility was discussed in an open forum except for the construction aspect of it which is not a proper way to embark on an entirely new activity without a credible operating plan before spending a millions of dollars. He doesn’t think that the time and energy that has been spent so far related to opportunity costs of looking at this facility is a reason to move forward. He also thinks the reason to move forward on this is to ask does it make sense, is the community asking for this, is there an operating budget in place, and is this something we need to do now or can it wait.

Director Wilson stated that the bid timeframe was in line with how most of our bids run. Commissioner Olvany replied that is a very valid point but it may have precluded some bidders from bidding. He added that two projects are now on the deferred list because of the proposed paddle facility which makes it look like we are “borrowing from Peter to pay Paul”.

President Brault stated he did not think Commissioner Olvany fairly characterized the study and the different types of budgeting that have been put forth which had been reviewed by the Committee and the Board as a whole. We did look at those two different models and developed a breakeven analysis of the number of participants we would need to make the facility profitable. We also looked at a number of different pricing models to compare how much we should charge residents and non-residents for fee time, etc. The ultimate plan that would be put in place will be a function of the paddle tennis pro that will ultimately be hired and we cannot hire anyone yet until we make a commitment to a facility. In addition, asking for a conclusion is premature and we want to have as much knowledge as possible about what we expect to happen in the future.

President Brault stated as the Board looked at this project, we took into account the potential range of outcomes and I think the level of operational breakeven is substantially lower than what we see of the actual operations of facilities like Winnetka. He does agree that we don’t have a completely sound finished plan in place but he does believe that the fundamental plan put forward by the staff is well reasoned and likely to succeed. He also thinks that what Commissioner Olvany is asking and argued for we will already be in place as we move forward into the first year of operation. The analysis done to date provides us with the ability to draw a reasonable conclusion and he disagrees with the comment that staff had not done their job.

Commissioner Graham asked that of the two models – membership or park district – how many were profitable. Commissioner Shelly stated that Lake Bluff runs on a park district model but it was not a fair comparison since there are a lot of paddle facilities near there that are not country clubs. There are a lot of other places where paddle players can go without being members of a country club but in Wilmette there is just Michigan Shores. Lake Bluff had a hard time getting their program up and running since so many people who were playing paddle were already committed to these other clubs. Commissioner Graham stated that would be pure speculation.

President Brault then asked that staff regenerate the data that was previously presented to make sure everyone has the same information. Commissioner Olvany stated that the Park Board has not been shown the data so staff was instructed to come up with a plan to demonstrate what the numbers were going to be and to provide a quote in February which never happened.

Commissioner Benz stated it seems to him that some of the objections being discussed tonight are not that difficult to reconcile and answer. In terms of timing, the magic date is in September for opening up the facility but we know from this evening that we could also hold a Special Meeting on April 28 as an example.

President Brault stated anything is possible but his sense is that the comparative data has already been considered. However, it appears Commissioner Olvany is not comfortable with the nature of the comparable data but what is being asked for was presented by staff and considered by the Parks & Recreation Committee.

Commissioner Benz stated he is concerned that we are making an assumption that there is a totally elastic demand for this and then it becomes a pricing deal.

President Brault replied it is true to some degree that as we modeled what the comparative pricing would be, there would be a significantly higher price point for non-residents than residents. The idea would be to draw users who are currently playing somewhere else in another community and then bring them to Wilmette. So when another community opens its own facility, it is very likely there will be similar resident and non-resident price differences. Even while other communities are opening up their facilities, the likelihood that they will draw from us is probably lower from a price point of view. He thinks the fact that other communities are opening up facilities is a plus to the sport overall and more people will be aware of it and then become interested in playing it.

Commissioner Shelly stated she thinks our breakeven number was 200 members in the first year and President Brault stated he thought it was 240. Commissioner Shelly has heard from people that paddle tennis has received overwhelming interest from our community and there are a lot of non-residents who would love to play in Wilmette. President Brault stated that in our initial survey 600 people said they would play in Wilmette although we haven’t done any marketing yet at this point. Commissioner Shelly stated she has reviewed the statistics and found that when comparing the breakeven number vs. the level of interest that people have provided to us so far, it is compelling.

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

OLD BUSINESS: None

NEW BUSINESS:  None

There being no further business to conduct, the meeting was adjourned at 8:14 pm and returned to open session.

MINUTES APPROVED ON MAY 13, 2013.