WILMETTE PARK DISTRICT
LAKEFRONT COMMITTEE MEETING
Date: July 1, 2013
Location: Park District Administration Office
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Commissioners: Benz, Abbott, Olvany
Staff: Wilson, Bingham, Bowen, Donoghue, Lambrecht
Visitors: Greg Trotter (TribLocal)
Topics for Discussion:
1) Meeting Called to Order
2) Approval of Minutes
3) Communication and Correspondence
4) Recognition of Visitors
5) Manager’s Reports
6) New Business
7) Old Business
1) The meeting was called to order at 6:30 pm.
2) The Committee reviewed the minutes of June 3, 2013 which were approved by general consent.
3) Under Communications and Correspondence, the Committee reviewed an email from Charles Silverstein who related what his preferences were for the Lakefront Plan. Commissioner Olvany stated he wasn’t clear on what this gentleman was talking about and Superintendent Bingham stated he was referring to the alternatives.
The second letter reviewed was from a user of our dog beach whose dog had been attacked by another dog. Superintendent Bingham added that the aggressive dog has been “put on notice” and that the owner is aware. The dog will now be taking a break from the dog beach.
Lastly, there is a letter from Karen Glennemeier about a grant for the creation of a bird habitat. Director Wilson stated that he has had a couple of phone calls and emails back and forth. Karen leads the bird walks for us at Gillson, was on our Lakefront Commission, and is knowledgeable about the master plan process. Staff is definitely supportive of the concept.
Director Wilson mentioned that along the lines of communications, grants and lakefront, he was contacted by the Village who is working with Backyard Nature Center. They were wondering if they could use our name as a part of a project they are working on with the Friends of Elmwood to get grant money for the maintenance of the property.
Regarding Karen Glennemeier’s letter, Commissioner Abbott asked how onerous the migrant bird habitat would be or if it would be benign. Director Wilson replied it would be benign.
4) Recognition of Visitors: Greg Trotter (TribLocal)
5) Under Managers Reports, Holly Specht reported that there have been a few good days so far this summer. The water has been closed since June 29 for rip currents, bacteria and then rip currents again. When the water is closed we don’t put lifeguards in chairs but we do have one roving at all times. Commissioner Olvany asked that if the beach is closed for bacteria do we rent out boats. Holly replied yes and we will hold lessons. We post signs indicating there is high bacteria and when they open the locks we do not let anyone swim.
Staff has had to assist boaters on a few rough water days. Key staff has gone through the US Sailing Safe Power Boating Handling and Safety course so they put their training to good use.
On a hot Sunday, June 23, south beach was packed and the park patrol did a great job. We had to put a lot of staff on the paddle board beach to enforce policies. Chair Benz added that this was also a good educational moment. Superintendent Bingham added most users have not read the materials they were given so they are seeing the changes for the first time. There will also be constant education all season. The Hobie Cat owners are thrilled because they no longer fear running into a paddle board user. Chair Benz asked if they are understanding the changes and is that clearing up problems. Holly responded that they want more shoreline and want to go back and forth on the shoreline. They would rather run parallel to the shore and don’t like going out further into the lake.
Holly reported that Aquatics camp has 138 enrolled in this session which will end next week. Sailing lessons have 57 students right now and 4 out of 5 sessions are full. In regard to Elmwood Beach, we monitor the beach on Friday afternoon as well as Saturday and Sunday weather permitting so we really haven’t been down there much at this point. Commissioner Abbott asked if there have been complaints from the neighbors. Holly responded they have not had a complaint from the neighbors but they do call the police department and the police call us.
Commissioner Olvany asked what the plan was for the 3rd of July. Superintendent Bingham responded that we will be there all day on the 4th but we won’t be there all day on the 3rd. After discussion, it was agreed to modify the July 3rd schedule to a weekend schedule.
Holly stated that on July 2, she is hosting a barbecue for the West Park staff at 11 am to kick off the two-day celebration.
Commissioner Olvany stated he read an article in the Tribune about Waukegan dredging their harbor and where they had to put the sand. He then asked if the Wilmette Harbor Association dredged this year. Superintendent Lambrecht stated they did very little this year and were lucky because of the April 18 storm that flushed everything out the mouth of the harbor.
Commissioner Olvany asked how we were doing financially. Holly responded we did pretty well and we’re doing parking and picnics but not a lot of daily passes. Superintendent Bingham added that Holly will decrease her staff as safely as we can in cost cutting efforts especially since when you don’t get those daily fees it’s a big hit. Chair Benz commented that if the year continues this way we are going to have back-to-back comparative years with the maximum and the minimum and it will provide metrics to show the affects of weather.
Commissioner Abbott asked if there was a severe thunderstorm contingency plan for the July 3rd fireworks. Superintendent Lambrecht replied there is an 85-page, very detailed scenario that we work on with the Police, Fire and Village Departments. Director Wilson added that basically, if there isn’t lightning or a major event, we will shoot the fireworks.
Chair Benz asked that when talking about the undertow and bacteria, when the boaters go out anyway, are we considering the expertise of the SUP boaters. Holly stated that we post signs to notify them of high bacteria levels and if asked we recommend that they don’t go out. Chair Benz also asked if the bacteria count is crude enough so that it’s not dissected to find out where the bacteria is coming from. Superintendent Bingham replied it is all E-coli. Director Wilson stated that we need to keep in mind that currently the tests we’re using are 24-hour tests so by the time we get the results, people were swimming in water which tested positive. The reality is no one ever reported getting sick and our threshold is much lower than other beaches. Superintendent Bingham stated that we use the Illinois statute for inland lakes whereas Chicago will only be closing for a count of 1,000. We are closing at 235. We are using QpCR testing in addition but it was decided in working with the scientists that we have been partnering with in Racine that we needed another year of data collection.
Commissioner Olvany asked if we conduct the tests at both Langdon and Gillson and Superintendent Bingham replied yes. Holly added that last Friday we sent 300 children to Langdon because Gillson was closed. Director Wilson stated that even from the north to south sides you can have different counts.
6. New Business:
The Committee reviewed a Park Permit request from St. Joseph School. Superintendent Bingham stated this group has held this event at the park in the past and this will be their third year. It will be held in October and staff recommends approval of the request.
John Olvany moved and Commissioner Abbott seconded a motion to approve the Park Permit Request of St. Joseph’s School for an event on October 3, 2013.
By a voice vote, voting Yes – All; voting No – None. Motion Carried.
7. Old Business: Lakefront Master Plan
Chair Benz stated that there are six bullet points which are not on the agenda for tonight’s meeting that we specified should be addressed: 1) Traffic Study; 2) Lakeview Center Lost Revenue Analysis; 3) ADA requirements and costs analysis; 4) Beach House; 5) determine a reasonable timetable; and 6) a single master plan for Board approval.
1) Traffic Study: Director Wilson had provided an estimate of $13,500. This study not only analyzes traffic patterns and parking within Gillson but also in the adjacent areas. We could cut costs by cutting out the adjacent areas resulting in a savings of $600.
Director Wilson stated that that it is not necessary to go to the full Board for approval since the Board gave us the direction and it’s below all statutory spending limits. We had enough discussion already between the Financial Planning committee and they have already started executing the plan and starting their work.
Superintendent Lambrecht explained that they are doing traffic counts and will video-record the traffic so they can count cars vs. pedestrians vs. bikes. In addition they will put down pads to count cars in various areas and do parking counts inside the park plus the area up to Sheridan Road. They will also do this on one weekday and two weekend days. Superintendent Lambrecht stated they will target a good weather weekend. Superintendent Lambrecht added that the results should be in by late August.
Chair Benz stated that regarding the Lakeview Room lost revenue, it seems like the magic number is 100 or more people to sit down at an event. We thought a loss revenue analysis would help us to decide the value of a room expansion. Superintendent Bingham stated we will be basing it on what we turned away. Holly gets calls and we could probably come up with a pretty good number. We annually turn away a good amount of potential rentals because of the size of the space. Director Wilson reported he reached out to Glenview and stated that it is a pretty sizeable room and accommodates 250 people. They charge on Friday and Saturday nights $240/hour. Currently, we’re charging $325 for the first four hours so we’re about $81/hour but Glenview is doing big weddings. We’re not talking about 250 people at Lakeview.
Chair Benz stated we are talking about going from 80 to 100 which is a modest increase. Director Wilson stated he will do more research at other park districts and even other entities aside from park districts to gather some comparative detail. We can get our first look at it at the next meeting and if there are things we want to add we can do that.
Chair Benz asked if we are looking for a sense of what the minimum ADA requirements are and what will we recommend for improvements. Superintendent Lambrecht stated that he has a detailed report that was done two years ago which was a District-wide ADA audit that he can provide to the Committee. Staff will provide copies of the lakefront audit for the next meeting.
Chair Benz stated that regarding the beach house and maintenance costs analysis, the concept is that we understand we have a beach house that is living beyond its useful life. The question is if we are certain that our constituency prefer continued repairs for an extended period of time.
Superintendent Lambrecht stated he can also provide the Committee with a very detailed breakdown of the necessary repairs the building needs right now and a 10-year picture of where we’re going to be.
Chair Benz stated we need to establish a reasonable timeline. This is important, realizing that nothing happens quickly. He added that after discussions with staff and looking at costs, it appears that the Gillson Lakefront Master Plan implementation may require a vote from the residents.
Commissioner Olvany stated that the way we should be thinking about the timeline and its importance from a financial perspective is to emphasize this important asset. He believes a referendum makes a lot of sense. We need to consider if and when we want to go to referendum. If we think about the political landscape the best chance for a high voter turnout would be the gubernatorial election which is November 2014.
Director Wilson stated that we should be cautious when talking about referendums in general. We first need to know what the plan entails and whether a referendum is really a necessary tool that would have to be utilized. Every year when we budget, we look at our debt schedule and we have some other debt that will be falling off the books which may allow us to incur new debt on a project such as the lakefront. This would have no impact on resident’s taxes. Commissioner Olvany added that he feels we should use that timeline as a guide post. Commissioner Abbott agreed and stated that a referendum would be one option and that it drives the schedule.
Director Wilson pointed out that referendums don’t have a specific timeframe. There have been some that have been a year-long process of education and discussion and then the election. There are also cases like Mallinckrodt when it came up quickly and was voted through quickly. There is no one-size fits all but we want somewhere near a 12-month public education period.
Chair Benz stated that we have heard from the community for the last 3 years. If we need to go to the Board and ask for funds to move as part of JJR’s contract to put together a single master plan, we should do so. Director Wilson stated that would require moving into the third phase so we would have to get a new contract.
Commissioner Olvany stated that as Chair of the Financial Planning Committee, they have not yet reported on this. We budgeted $353,000 in 2013 for the lakefront master plan development. Because we budgeted that amount we don’t need to make a motion out of this committee to go back to the full board. Staff already has that authority given the constraints that we’re under because of the issues we’re facing at Centennial. I think we need to be prudent on how we spend that budgeted $353,000.
Director Wilson reported that at this point we know the traffic study estimate is $13,500. Staff has yet to have the discussion with JJR and Williams regarding moving forward because we wanted committee input first to make sure we were giving them the right scope of services to get the right numbers back from them. At the Financial Planning meeting we are going to gather costs for the work at Centennial and make a minimal step forward with JJR and Williams. This should give us what we need for public meetings and we can bring it back to Financial Planning.
Commissioner Olvany believes that the Board has already given staff the authority but because of the circumstances everyone on staff is taking baby steps in terms of moving forward in each part of the plan. Director Wilson stated that what staff would like to hear from this committee is how they would like us to spend this budgeted amount. There is no need for an additional motion because it’s already part of the budget and part of the Budget & Appropriations Ordinance that was passed by the Board.
Chair Benz asked if Director Wilson felt we have enough information or do we need to work on a proposed timetable first. Commissioner Olvany stated that he does not know at this stage of the game what the recommendation should be other than the traffic study. Director Wilson stated the traffic study will be scheduled. In addition, the structures are a Williams Architects responsibility, the rest of it is JJR’s. It should be pretty easy for Williams to provide us with cost and time estimates on whatever architectural schematics are required. Part of their cost was to facilitate the public meetings and it’s a part of the cost we could probably drop. Staff and the Board could conduct the public meetings.
Commissioner Abbott stated that there is no sense in refining a design until it’s been approved and the next phase should include public input. Chair Benz stated we have lots of documentation and he certainly feels that the members of this committee and staff have heard the public very clearly.
Commissioner Abbott noted that the purpose of a programming phase is to ask these conceptual questions that in a perfect world would be how we would see these things going and what are the things that are important. That leads to a conceptual idea which is a conversation and a refined conceptual plan.
Commissioner Olvany felt we should only have the conceptual aspects of the plan sooner rather than later and questioned what the difference is between what JJR has already done and what they have already given us. It is our job now to take the myriad of concepts boiled into 3 concepts. It is the committee’s job to take these concepts and move forward. Superintendent Lambrecht stated that last month the committee prioritized the items to be done. Basically, those are the items that would be in the final plan.
Commissioner Olvany asked if the committee feels obligated to go to the full Board with a recommendation on what staff should ask the consultants to do before the architects move forward. In his opinion he thinks it is our obligation to go to the full Board. He also thinks that our committee’s obligation is to do what we did last month including putting a little more meat on it and more of a price tag on it and make a recommendation to the full Board. Director Wilson stated he recommends getting pricing from JJR so that the Board can have a discussion.
Chair Benz stated he believes the committee can be helpful to staff on the conceptual direction to JJR. We have received over the last 3 years very clear messaging from the community. It may be worthwhile to have staff provide a report on the data collected thus far during the first phase. The phase that I think we as a committee can be helpful to staff is on the conceptual direction to JJR.
Director Wilson stated that Superintendent Lambrecht’s memo from the last Committee meeting reflected that input. He added that we need to focus on the structures and have the ability to have the conversation on alternatives and we can then have the concept in the master plan. We can also have the alternative discussion if need be.
Chair Benz stated he believes the public is interested in what the road configuration is going to be through the park and how we will be handling pedestrian, bicycle and automobile traffic and they are going to respond to the beach house and Lakeview Center and any other physical elements. He added that there are 2 elements of the master plan that were not addressed very clearly – the former pier and Langdon –specifically getting from Langdon Park to the beach. As a result, he felt our plan should incorporate those two elements.
Superintendent Lambrecht stated another thing we have heard loud and clear was the need for a landscape master plan. Director Wilson stated we will try to get them to get pricing so we can make it fit into the overall budget of the District. He also stated that when you talk about the conceptual master plan, Langdon is easy. But when you talk about the pier, there is a host of issues in ownership. Obviously it is now in the middle of our parkland and we spend staff time monitoring it to make sure that we are keeping people safe. It is also in a deteriorating state. We need to have more direct conversations with the owners and leaseholders of the property to see what, if anything, we can control.
Chair Benz stated that he divided the project into 7 sections and felt they should be discussed as such. Commissioner Olvany asked for clarification on whether or not Chair Benz is suggesting we go to the consultants and get a plan for sections A, B, C, and D. Commissioner Benz stated he felt each section has unique components and perhaps we make decisions based on which components are a priority.
Director Wilson stated that in reality we’re talking about a master plan wherein all the sections need to have a cohesive plan. Commissioner Abbott stated that he believes Commissioner Benz is looking for a way to break it down since it’s too big otherwise. On the other hand the consultants may come back with other suggestions for breaking it down.
Commissioner Olvany questioned what direction we provide to the consultants in regard to the pricing of structures. This committee’s goal is to provide some direction of the vision and determine if a beach house would be more like the Lake Forest structure or would it be more like the beach house that Evanston has. Director Wilson agreed that we need a cost estimate to implement the master plan so we will have some feel of the level of materials and finishes needed.
Commissioner Olvany stated that formalizing what direction we give JJR is the Committee’s responsibility. The Board members were elected and it’s their responsibility to say this is our vision and our responsibility to sell it to the public. The Committee should give staff a much clearer view of what we want them to explain to the consultants instead of the other way around. Chair Benz agreed that we have a responsibility to play a role but not discounting staff’s expertise. Commissioner Abbott agreed.
Superintendent Lambrecht stated that a different way to look at this is that basically when you build a bathhouse replacement, the bathrooms are basic and it’s not going to look like the golf clubhouse. It will be utilitarian and easy to maintain and keep clean. The outside is where you can be more flexible. The Lake Forest building looks very fancy but it’s nothing more than a “split face block up” to a certain elevation. There’s so many new products on the market that would be great and could do very well in our situation.
Director Wilson stated that if we want the consultants to discus and review the interim process, he will get pricing on an hourly basis for them to come to the public meetings. Commissioner Abbott stated we should build in time for the consultants to attend meetings which would address concerns.
Review of Facility Visits:
Commissioner Abbot felt the Evanston facility was very utilitarian and looks a lot like what we have with 2 men’s rooms and 2 women’s bathrooms. This is the entrance to the beach and it is less than 5 years old with a tiny concessions room. Director Wilson stated that their design has better access point control and is a better entryway similar to what we have at our pool. He added that we might need more bathrooms due to our larger beach. Chair Benz stated that in terms of the control element, by having bathrooms on both sides patrons do not have to exit the beach to use them. People not using the beach who want to use the bathroom located outside of the beach area can go to the other side of the building. The roof is angled and provides natural light. The concession room on the end is small with windows on both sides.
Commissioner Abbott felt the main area of interest in Lake Forest for our purposes is the fireplace in the shelter. We talk about a 3-month beach and they talk about a 5 or 6 months beach using the shelter.
Commissioner Olvany stated one of the things he liked about it is the multi-seasonal use. Director Wilson stated that we need more shade around our picnic areas because of concerns about sun exposure and pavilions could provide that. Commissioner Olvany believes the pavilion could be very popular and Holly mentioned increased interest in weddings on the beach.
Superintendent Lambrecht feels that it’s a very utilitarian building and there’s nothing fancy about it except for the high-pitched roof and the wooden shingles which are a mistake due to the wind and driving rain. It is also split face block and wood trim which requires a lot of maintenance. The bathrooms were just painted blue and there is quarry-tiled floor which is nothing fancy.
The bathrooms were nice and it was a good layout. Superintendent Lambrecht stated he believes the square footage is close to our facilities and likes that the shower towers are outside.
7) Under New Business: None
Commissioner Olvany moved and Commissioner Abbott seconded a motion to adjourn the July 1, 2013 Lakefront Committee meeting.
By a voice vote, voting Yes – All; voting No – None. Motion Carried.
8) There being no further discussion, the meeting was adjourned at 9:15 pm.
Minutes taken by Kathy Bingham.
MINUTES APPROVED ON AUGUST 5, 2013.