Date: October 21, 2013

Location: Community Recreation Center - Room 107

Time: 6:30 p.m.

Commissioners: Shelley; Benz; Crowley; Abbott
Staff: Lambrecht; Bingham; Wilson; Eppelheimer; Bowen; Heafey; Groves

Visitors: See attached list    
Topics for Discussion:

1) Meeting Called to Order

2) Approval of Minutes
     a) September 16, 2013

3) Communication and Correspondence
     a) Email dated October 9, 2013 from David Ennis RE: Tackle Football
     b) Email from Commissioner Olvany re: Topics for tonight’s meeting

4) Recognition of Visitors
      a) RJN Group – West Park Storage Reservoir Project

5) Manager’s Reports

6) Capital Improvement Projects Review

7) Proposed FY 2014 Parks & Planning Budget

8) Proposed FY 2014 Recreation Budget

9) Old Business
      a) Discussion of Underground Storage Tank Proposed by the Village of Wilmette

10) New Business

11) Adjournment

Discussions/Decisions Made:
1) The Committee reviewed the minutes of September 16, 2013 and approved them by general consent.

2) The Committee reviewed an email communication from David Ennis regarding the Tackle Football program. The Committee decided to defer discussion until the November meeting due to the length of the agenda.

The Committee also reviewed an email communication from Commissioner Olvany regarding questions relative to the budget discussions listed on the agenda. Executive Director Wilson stated he had replied to Commissioner Olvany and provided the information he requested. The Committee agreed that the email would become part of the meeting record.

3) Under Recognition of Visitors, Commissioner Shelly asked staff to provide a brief the introduction of the Village of Wilmette’s request to construct an underground storage tank at West Park. Executive Director Wilson stated he and Superintendent Lambrecht had been approached by the Village about constructing the underground reservoir to help alleviate flooding of the homes in the area west of Romona Road. In attendance at the meeting were the Village’s consultants – Michael Young and Zachary Matyja from RJ Group and Jerry Myers from Concrete Tank Services. Also in attendance was Brigitte Mayerhofer, Director of Engineering for the Village. Michael Young presented an overview of the project and the reasons for why the project is so important. He explained that the area west of Ridge Road had separate storm and sanitary sewers. The main issues he pointed out were that when there are rain events, the sanitary sewers are overloaded with storm water. The water then gets into the system by various ways such as pipes or manhole infiltration as well as sump pumps connected to sanitary sewers. Twice this year alone, on April 18 and June 26, there were issues with raw sewage backing up into homes. There are sensors in the systems that indicate the amount of flow and backup in the system but part of the problem is that there is no backflow prevention device protecting the Village’s system from backflow from the MWRD Interceptor near Harms Road.

This interceptor connects to the Deep Tunnel at Golf Road and the problem is that the interceptor can only handle so much flow and it is collecting sewage from communities north of Wilmette. By the time the connection is made at Wilmette, the pipe is already full. Commissioner Crowley asked if this problem should actually fall to the MWRD and for them increase capacity. Mr. Young replied that they would first point at the surrounding communities to reduce the amount of infiltration into their systems and thus reduce the amount going to the interceptor. Mr. Young explained that the underground tank would be built in a way so that it would act like an expansion tank. The sewage would back up into the tank until an event ends and then it would flow back into the system. The bottom of the tank would be the same elevation as the bottom of the pipe in Lake Avenue but would be sloped so waste water would not remain in the tank. The system would also have a flushing system to clean out any settled materials after an event. The design would also minimize the amount of mechanical apparatus needed to make sure it functions properly.

Commissioner Crowley asked if other locations had been reviewed. Ms. Mayerhofer replied that the Village and their consultants had looked at other options but the West Park area offered the best space and location. Commissioner Crowley again asked if the Deep Tunnel was not a better solution. Mr. Young replied that the MWRD would say it is not their problem and that water infiltration needs to be reduced. The problem with that is that it takes time to complete that kind of work and the Village is already undertaking a program to stop ground water infiltration into the sanitary manholes. They have also been working for a number of years on the line sewers to stop infiltration there as well. The problem is most often the service lines for the individual homes where roots have gotten into pipes or old clay pipes have cracked and replacing those would be a far bigger task and more expensive than building the underground tank.

Commissioner Shelly asked if the capacity of the interceptor could be increased. Mr. Young replied that expanding the interceptor would not solve the problem and the treatment plant would then also have to be expanded.

Commissioner Abbott asked if the tank was constructed does the size of the tank make a difference. Mr. Young replied that yes, the capacity of the tank is an issue. In fact, they have calculated the ideal size and believe a capacity of 5.5 million gallons is the correct size. There is also no benefit in going larger and smaller runs the risk of not handling the overflow capacity needed. Commissioner Abbott also asked if there was a specific reason they selected a round tank design as opposed to a rectangular or square shape. Mr. Young replied that the round design is better for maintenance purposes and for structural reasons.
Commissioner Shelly asked if the construction would affect the platform tennis facility. Mr. Young replied that it would not and displayed a graphic which indicated the layout of the park. Mr. Young explained that the size of the tank would be approximately 350 feet in diameter and would have three to six feet of cover over the tank. The tank would also have an automatic flushing system to clean any residue after an event. There would also be exhaust fans with charcoal filter systems to vent the tank and there would need to be access to the tank for inspection purposes.

Commissioner Shelly asked if the exhaust fan was noisy and Mr. Young replied that they are not very loud. He added that the system could also be enclosed with a building to reduce the sound even more. Commissioner Abbott asked if the access needs to be in a specific location. Mr. Young replied as long as it is within the tank boundaries, it could be located anywhere. Commissioner Shelly asked if this would hold all of the sewage. Mr. Young explained that most of what would be in the tank would actually be storm water and not raw sewage. This is a result of all of the water infiltrating the sanitary sewers.

Superintendent Lambrecht asked what route the outflow would be for the tank. Mr. Young replied that it would have to connect to the sewer in Lake Avenue. Commissioner Abbott asked what the size of the line was. Mr. Young replied that it would be no larger than 24 inches since the main sewer under Lake Avenue is 24 inches. Commissioner Abbott also asked about the backflow control. Mr. Young replied that it would stop any materials from backing into the Wilmette system from the interceptor but the tank would act like an expansion tank to hold the water that cannot get out. Commissioner Abbott also asked about the flow’s affect on the other suburbs since if it can’t “backflow” into the Wilmette system, could it cause problems for them. Mr. Young stated that it may but most other suburbs are working on controlling their own water issues.

Commissioner Crowley stated he thought the project was a band-aid approach to a much larger problem. Commissioner Shelly asked if this was the only solution that was looked at. Mr. Young explained that the Village’s approach is multifaceted and includes reduction of water infiltrating in the sewer lines and manholes which has made a positive difference. As stated before, most of the infiltration is from private service connections from homes.

Ms. Mayerhofer explained that there is no simple solution in this case and the approaches have to include many parts. Half of the solution would be the underground tank and stopping the extraneous infiltration was the first part of the work. All of that was mandated by the MWRD which is why that is where the Village began their work.

Commissioner Crowley asked if other locations were feasible such as Loyola Academy. Ms. Mayerhofer stated that they looked at alternatives but West Park is still the best location. Commissioner Benz asked about building it in the Forest Preserves. Mr. Young replied that the Village of Glenview had tried to do that but were turned down. Commissioner Shelly stated that if Wilmette and Glenview teamed up would they have any better luck. Ms. Mayerhofer stated that the Forest Preserve is against clear-cutting areas and against building anything structural within their property.

Commissioner Abbott asked why Winnetka was building a storm sewer outflow to the Lake. Ms. Mayerhofer replied that they are trying to take some “load” off the Skokie River area and move it east to the largest detention area available. They will also continue to send their sanitary waste to the MWRD interceptor. After Wilmette resolves their sanitary sewer issues, they will be evaluating options for the storm water issues that are concentrated north of Lake Avenue and west of Ridge Road. It could be the Village may be looking at the kind of project that Winnetka did in the future.

Commissioner Shelly asked about the above-ground structure for the ventilation etc. Commissioner Abbott also asked about the needed access to the structure. Superintendent Lambrecht stated that the structure, based on the current proposal, could be easily added along the parking area north of the baseball field. This made access easier and kept it away from adjoining residences. Commissioner Benz added that it made sense to keep it to the perimeter of the site and in one location.

 Commissioner Abbott asked about the construction site and how large it would be. Mr. Young replied that the excavation would probably be 30 to 40 feet larger than the tank in order to maintain a safe “slope”. Commissioner Shelly asked what the amount of construction traffic there would be. Mr. Young replied that during the excavation stage, there would be a lot of vehicles hauling away the fill.

Commissioner Abbott asked about the future use of the site since he is concerned we would be limited due to the existence of the tank. Mr. Young replied that actually, uses of the surface are limitless when speaking of field space. Any buildings or permanent structures could not be built on top of the tank.

The consultants and Ms. Mayerhofer thanked the Committee for their time and asked what the next step would be. Commissioner Shelly replied that the Committee would deliberate and then bring the topic to the Park Board for discussion.

4) The Committee reviewed the Capital Improvement Projects. After some discussion, the Committee accepted the report.

5) The Committee reviewed the Proposed Fiscal 2014 Parks and Planning Department Budgets. Staff explained that the budget reflects the standardized increases set by the Financial Planning & Policy Committee. The budget reflects an increase of 2/10% over 2013. There was also some discussion about proposed capital expenditures for 2014. Commissioner Benz asked if the funds budgeted for the A.D.A. Improvements were for the parks only. Staff replied that they are for the entire Park District and are reflected in this budget since the work is managed by the department. After some discussion, the Committee agreed to recommend the proposed budget as presented to the Park Board.

6) The Committee reviewed the Proposed Fiscal Year 2014 Recreation Fund Budgets. Commissioner Benz asked if the proposed surpluses were unrealistic. Superintendent Bingham replied that they were actually very realistic. She added that those surpluses help to subsidize the Fitness Center and Older Adult programs. Commissioner Shelly asked about the increase in Daily Fee revenues. Superintendent Bingham replied that it is due to increased ticket sales for various performances. Commissioner Shelly asked why the revenues for the Independence Day events looked so skewed. Staff replied that there were some misapplied revenues. Commissioner Shelly also asked if music lessons were being cancelled. Staff replied that they had been transferred to the Performing Arts budget area.

Commissioner Shelly also asked what the New Programs line item was for and Superintendent Bingham replied that new programs developed during the year start here. If they become successful, they then receive their own line item in the budget. This procedure provides staff a chance to experiment with new offerings. Commissioner Benz commented on how impressive the Gymnastics program looks and asked if this was cyclical. Staff replied it was somewhat cyclical and is similar to what happens at the ice rink during Olympic years. Commissioner Shelly asked about the revenues for Pee Wee Sports. Superintendent Bingham replied that the program has just “exploded”. Commissioner Shelly stated she hopes Field Hockey would make a comeback. Staff replied there is a chance since it may since there will be someone new who would be running the program. Commissioner Shelly asked why there was no revenue for the Wilmette Wings shown. Staff replied that the only revenue from the Wings was for field rentals. Commissioner Shelly asked about the difference in salaries in Performing Arts. Staff explained that they reflect the retirement of Bob Bierie and the use of part-time employees working as supervisors. Commissioner Shelly asked why revenues were down for the North Shore Theatre. Superintendent Bingham replied it was because this year’s show will not have children in it and it’s the children that parents come to see. As a result, staff will be holding some philosophical discussions about show selection.

The Committee next reviewed the proposed budget for the Center Fitness Club. Commissioner Benz asked what it would take to make it breakeven. Superintendent Bingham replied that staff is working on new programs and making operational changes. Executive Director Wilson added that part of the problem has been an inconsistency in management. The manager’s job has been a revolving door in recent years so things are constantly changing. Commissioner Benz acknowledged that it is a very competitive business and continuity can make a big difference. Director Wilson added that they are now concentrating on personal training and group exercise classes which can make a big difference in revenues. Superintendent Bingham added that if it weren’t for the CRC, it would be difficult to operate at all. Commissioner Shelly asked if classes such as Boot Camp could be timed for when caretakers are waiting for children in gymnastics or other programs. Superintendent Bingham replied that this had been attempted in the past without success but staff will take another look at it.

The Committee turned its focus to programs for Older Adults. Superintendent Bingham stated that the budget can have big swings sometimes based on large trips. A trip that was scheduled for this year had to be cancelled because the other group participating backed out. Commissioner Shelly asked why rental revenue was going down. Jeff Groves reported that a group who had been a weekly renter was now waiting for a new space of their own.

After further discussion, the Committee agreed unanimously to recommend the Recreation Fund Budgets as presented to the Park Board for approval.

7) Commissioner Shelly asked what the next step was relative to the West Park storage tank. Director Wilson replied that the Committee would be having some discussions relative to recommendations that would then be made to the Park Board. The Committee did have extensive discussions on this topic and believes if the Park District is essentially giving up any future uses for the property other than sports fields, they then want something of high-quality to present to the community when the work is complete. West Park was one of the last locations construction could take place without affecting nearby neighbors. After some discussion, the Committee thought that the Park Distinct would be giving up an opportunity for future uses on this property. Therefore, the Committee should ask for artificial turf fields, possibly lighting, and washrooms which could be included in the “equipment” building for the tank, along with parking on West Park Drive on the west side. After some discussion, Director Wilson stated that he understood the Committee’s sentiments and will bring those forward in discussion with Village staff.

There being no further discussion, the meeting was adjourned at 8:18 pm.

Minutes taken by Bill Lambrecht.