WILMETTE PARK DISTRICT
MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF THE
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS OF THE WILMETTE PARK DISTRICT
HELD IN THE COUNCIL ROOM OF WILMETTE VILLAGE HALL
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2013
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 Crowley; Vice President, John Olvany; Commissioners Bryan Abbott, Gary Benz, James Brault, Shelley Shelly, and Amy Wolfe; Secretary/Executive Director Stephen Wilson; Assistant Secretary Judy Ostrem.
STAFF: Superintendents Bingham, Bowen, Eppelheimer, and Lambrecht; Communications Manager Shelagh Donoghue
VISITORS: Charles and Mary Shea, 735 Michigan Avenue; Kathy Routliffe, Wilmette Life
President Crowley called the regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Park Commissioners to order at 7:30 pm. Director Wilson conducted the roll call and a quorum was established.
President Crowley acknowledged Veterans Day and thanked all of our Armed Forces for the fine work they do for us. He added it’s never enough to just say thank you but we can recognize them and do so tonight with pride in our hearts.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
Commissioner Olvany moved and Commissioner Brault seconded a motion to approve the minutes of the October 14, 2013 Regular Board meeting.
Commissioner Olvany stated that on page 6 of 7 of the minutes in the third full paragraph, the first sentence should read that the Lakefront Committee met, not the Real Estate Committee.
By a roll call vote, voting Yes – Commissioners Abbott, Benz, Brault, Crowley, Olvany, Shelly, and Wolfe; voting No -- None. Absent – None; Motion carried as amended.
COMMUNICATIONS & CORRESPONDENCE:
- Email from Mary Shea expressing her thoughts on the Lakefront Master Plan’s process and content.
- Email from PDRMA announcing that the Park District’s “Steps for Success” wellness program won a 2013 PDRMA Health Employee Awareness Grant Award.
RECOGNITION OF VISITORS: None
APPROVAL OF VOUCHER LIST:
Commissioner Abbott moved and Commissioner Benz seconded a motion to approve the Voucher List in the amount of $2,794,637.91, a copy of which is to be attached to and become a permanent part of the minutes of this meeting.
Commissioner Shelly asked that in regard to the Imperial Services expenditure of over $25,000 for cleaning services in October, was that an annual amount or was it due to the construction project. Superintendent Lambrecht replied this amount represents our annual contract with them and that this was the monthly charge for all of our facilities.
Commissioner Brault also highlighted the payment made by the Park District to the Wilmette Hockey Association in the amount of $38,000 which is actually a reimbursement to them from our collection of their registration fees.
By a roll call vote, voting Yes – Commissioners Abbott, Benz, Brault, Crowley, Olvany, Shelly, and Wolfe; voting No -- None. Absent – None; Motion carried.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT:
Director Wilson reported that on Monday, November 4, the Lakefront Committee met and heard a presentation made by the firms of SmithGroupJJR and Williams Architects. In regard to platform tennis construction, as of today all four courts are up and running with lights. However, we still need our natural gas connection installed so the heaters are not yet functioning. We do have temporary heaters but they don’t perform as well as the permanent heaters. The warming hut is yet to be completed and it is hoped it will be by done by the Thanksgiving weekend. On Tuesday night, November 12, a Committee-of-the-Whole meeting is scheduled at the Community Recreation Center to discuss the District’s capital projects for the next several years. On Saturday, November 23, the annual Wilmette Chamber of Commerce Holiday Parade will take place and we are hoping to repeat our first place standing this year so if anyone wants to join us, please feel free to do so.
Director Wilson added he was informed by Risk Manager Brian Udany that the annual PDRMA evaluation of our operations and polices went very well and we achieved a score of 98.56% out of 100%. He thanked all staff for doing a great job of keeping our facilities and programs safe for everyone and especially Brian and his staff for achieving such a great score. Lastly, the Truth-in-Taxation Resolution will be discussed under the Financial Planning Committee and Commissioner Olvany will provide the details.
Lakefront Committee – Committee Chair Benz reported the Committee met on November 4 to review what SmithgroupJJR had provided to us in response to the list of requirements on which we all voted. He added that the consultants were able to address all of the items except for one and that was in regard to options with the Sheridan Shore property. As a result, that is not included in the document that is before the Board tonight and since it is not complete, we wanted to see what was included in the $19 million tab if we look at everything they included in the document and add everything up.
The Committee also still had some concerns and questions for the consultants. Staff expressed some concerns as well but we knew that with the magnitude of this comprehensive initial plan we needed to get together as a committee, review the rest of the criteria points that the Board had asked us to do, and get some of our questions answered. As a result, it was hoped that at the Board meeting in December the Committee would be able to present the document to the Board along with recommendations for the next steps which would include two public hearings with the first hearing to be held in February and the second hearing to be held depending upon the alternations or changes that may need to be made. One item of discussion included possibly utilizing a 3D presentation board and some line drawings of something more than just floor plans in order to help comprehend all of the elements of the project.
Commissioner Olvany stated that overall the consultants did an excellent job in terms of implementing some of the concepts we had mentioned. There are actually two parts of the document that he recommends be reviewed since they are different from earlier versions. When turning to the page entitled “Wilmette Lakefront Master Plan - Gillson Park” one of the aspects of this rendition was incorporating the pavilion to the south of the proposed beach house. This had been one of the concepts we had talked about as a Committee and as a full Board which was to create this type of pavilion “look” and a sample of the Lincolnshire pavilion had been provided. It also included a fireplace and a shelter which would hopefully be used more often in the non-peak season times.
President Crowley asked that when looking at the pavilion what would be the intended use, who would use it, and when would they use it. Commissioner Abbott replied there is a summer season and a non-summer season. The Committee also asked that the gates be included in the non-summer season for non-summer users of the pavilion. However, during the summer period it would only be available for beach users. Commissioner Shelly stated that it is the only area which provides shade which is what we currently lack. She also believes that this idea was one of the initial ideas we had sent back to JJR. President Crowley stated his point is you can use the current concessions stand as a non-beach pass but he doesn’t think it should be off-limits for the high season at Gillson Park. Commissioner Benz stated when looking at the photo of the pavilion concept from Lincolnshire, the concession area has a service window on the outside for paid or ticketed beach patrons. There is also an outside seating area which would provide concession and restaurant opportunities for people who would be interested in eating there but who were not planning to go to the beach.
President Crowley stated he was talking about the pavilion which is something that looks like it’s “locked up tight”. Commissioner Olvany stated that the way this is currently configured inside the confines of the beach is reasonable. However, if you look further on in the presentation, the enhanced number of picnic areas would actually include a pavilion-style picnic area.
Commissioner Olvany further stated that the second point relates to winter activities and he thought the plan they came up with was quite good. There were also some concerns from the neighbors to the north about using the sledding hill and the north end of the sailing beach. However, they came up with the same idea that the neighbors had mentioned so in the current configuration there is a sledding hill being recommended which is already there. The ice rink would then be where it is currently located. Director Wilson stated that #4 on the layout represents a groomed cross country trail in the boot area and #2 is what we like to call the “firepit on wheels” near the Lakeview Center. JJR also did a nice job of coming up with other ways to use the park during the non-peak season.
Commissioner Wolfe asked that in regard to sledding she thought JJR was talking about the pedestrian and bike entrance to the park. Director Wilson replied this entrance would be located just to the north of that access and would be right next to it. Commissioner Olvany added that there was some discussion about moving the ice rink into the Wallace Bowl but after the recommendations were received from JJR, staff and the Committee agreed with them that it should probably be on a larger surface so that figure skating and hockey could be shared. Director Wilson stated that another concern with the Wallace Bowl was that the higher elevation of the rink in the park results in sand blowing on it which makes the ice more difficult on which to skate.
Commissioner Olvany stated the only other item he wanted to point out was that we looked at some of these drawings such as the beach house but the drawings didn’t provide any sense of what the exterior would look like so we asked JJR to come back with some overall concepts for the outside appearance of the beach house.
Commissioner Wolfe stated that in regard to bike circulation there’s no way to connect the south end from the north end and the way it’s drawn now is that they’re on one side or the other. Commissioner Abbott stated those lanes are segregated and will be sharing the road. Commissioner Brault stated he understood there was actually no bike path but on the next page it is designated on the existing road.
Commissioner Olvany stated that when looking at the pictures of the road, the yellow line is sometimes on the left side and sometimes on the right side of the road. Director Wilson added that the main reason for that is as you get down to the overlook area the parking there is on the lake side of the road so it was best to get the bicyclists out of the way of cars backing out of their parking spaces.
Commissioner Abbott stated that the $19 million is an estimate and it’s seems to be a lot more money than he had been prepared to spend. Also, his priorities had to do with the estimates for underground work and the roads since one of his takeaways was to break those costs down and determine how we’re being impacted by that. Secondly, the Lakeview Center at approximately $2 million is well beyond his comfort level and he doesn’t see how the Lakeview Center could pay itself back. The jetty is an aesthetic experience and the cost is somewhat difficult for him. He also thinks that Langdon deserves attention and needs further refinement. Where it falls in terms of the schedule is also still subject to debate.
In regard to the wants vs. needs list, Commissioner Benz stated there are clearly some items that need to be “sliced and diced” before the Committee makes their recommendation to the Board and in light of this staggering amount, our next presentation to you will focus more on the “needs” list rather than the “wants” list. Commissioner Brault stated he sees it not as black and white but similar to what we did with the Golf Course Renovation which was to create a priority list and rate each item from 1 to 5.
Commissioner Olvany stated this was currently a good working document and views it as a Lakefront Master Plan since this is what the Board said they wanted to see. As a result, the first step should be to receive direction from the Board and the second step should consist of the Lakefront Committee indicating which items make sense. The Committee should also indicate a timeframe that would at least provide us with a sense of the total cost since the $19 million does not include Langdon. So the questions now are what does the Committee think we should be doing, what timeframe is it in, and how do we finance it among the other factors.
Commissioner Olvany also stated that personally and as a member of the Committee, he would like to hear what a good next step would be from the overall Board and what the Board expects the Lakefront Committee to come back with. Commissioner Shelly thought this was a good working document but she would like to see more schematics and drawings instead of photos of other lakefront parks. She would also like to know how much of that amount consists of absolute needs. It is also obvious and very important that the roads be reconstructed but it seems very expensive and comprises a huge amount of this $20 million project so she would like more details to determine if we really need to spend that much.
Commissioner Shelly added she doesn’t like how Langdon was treated as an add-on since she feels Langdon is just as important as the other elements of the plan and this was something she has also heard from other residents. The jetty for $2 million seems exorbitant and that there are some items that could be scaled back. However, this is a good start and we can move on from here.
Commissioner Wolfe thought it would be helpful to see what items have to be done now and what items could be done down the road and then putting them off for a few years instead of doing everything all at once.
Commissioner Brault stated that in regard to circulation, one of the comments made was that the eastern road of the boot was not going to be replaced which means we should be talking about what is included or what is not included. He added that we could detail each item one at a time but he keeps thinking about what we did at the golf course when some items of the plan were grouped together. With that type of direction and if we decide to do Option #1, we could get lost while picking and choosing those items.
President Crowley stated he thought this was a timeline document which has a “now” position and a “future” position. The “now” position needs to include items such as the beach house since it is falling apart. The bathroom by the sailing beach is also a “now” situation. The reconstruction of the parking lot is a “now” because of the flooding. The rest of the items are all “future” items. He also added that it is incumbent on this Board to say to the Committee that this is what they should be focusing on instead of what color the building should be. However, we do need the Committee to return to the Board and indicate what the “must have” items should be, similar in nature to Superintendent Lambrecht’s memo from a few months ago, as well as what the cost would be. President Crowley summarized that he doesn’t think we need to hold another three or four Board meetings to get to that point since what we are doing now is trying to reach a consensus in order to move forward with the project.
President Crowley further stated that we are making progress and that we need to look at the whole picture in regard to the roads in terms of would be included and or not included. Commissioner Olvany stated he had certain items he wanted to keep in the plan but that could end up on the cutting room floor so he would like to hear from the other Board members. Commissioner Wolfe asked if the jetty was still a property of the MWRD. Commissioner Olvany stated that this is one item that is not clear in this document. Director Wilson stated we do need to clarify that issue since if the jetty was removed, that would wash everything away including the dog beach. As a result, you would have to build something there before you can remove something that’s not there.
Commissioner Benz stated these are discussions we need to have with the neighboring leaseholders and added that the jetty is not our property. Commissioner Shelly stated she would cross off #4 which was a new waterfront jetty but we should keep it as a potential item for the future. She also thinks we could hold off on the Lakeview Center and feels it is more important to focus on the beach house which is currently at $3 million. She also suggested the Board prioritize that item and cut the pricing in half. Those are her “standouts” items in the plan and believes they should be included on the “future” list.
Commissioner Benz asked that the Board allow the Committee to finish their task and return with a presentation which would be easier to understand. President Crowley added he didn’t think we need to ask JJR to do any additional work for us since it is now up to the Board to determine what would be included in the master plan. Discussion then followed on a list of priorities: 1) Lakeview Center; 2) Jetty; and 3) Roads.
Commissioner Olvany stated that in regard to the roads, buried in that number are the sewers but he is not sure what percentage they would take up in that $4 million. Commissioner Brault stated he wanted to see more detail. Commissioner Olvany stated that was the direction in which he was going and it would be easy to come up with items we don’t need to focus on right now which includes those two broad categories since they don’t seem like immediate concerns.
Commissioner Brault stated there are two more public meetings scheduled but are they necessary. President Crowley stated he would go even further and state that we already had a commission who provided information over a course of a year with public meetings that Director Wilson chaired at the Lakeview Center. The Park Board also held a public hearing at one of our Board meetings. After that, we went back to JJR for all of this other information and then had a Lakefront Committee meeting which was also an open meeting.
Director Wilson stated the concept here is that there are three phases – two workshops and a public hearing. Commissioner Benz stated, however, that all of these meetings did not have cost elements indicated so as a result it was difficult for people to accept or reject the various items.
President Crowley stated the intent was never to have cost structures associated with the plan but rather to get ideas that could be incorporated into the lakefront plan. At no time did the Board ask to attach numbers since it was input and design-related only.
Commissioner Olvany stated we will do two more public hearings and what he had in mind was that once the Board comes up with a final plan along with a timeline and a price, then we would like to do the project or parts of the project over this time period which would then be the correct forum for a public meeting to market the idea to the public and inform them of what we intend to do. We also have not come up with a financing plan yet and there should also be public dialogue at some point.
President Crowley stated that all of this information is from over two years of input, mostly from the public, after which we submitted a laundry list to JJR. He then asked if we say this is a “now” project and then ask the public to okay the project or do we say this is what we came up with and this is how much it costs. Commissioner Olvany stated he felt it was the latter. President Crowley stated he didn’t think we were asking them to approve what we came up with and Commissioner Shelly added that would come later. Commissioner Olvany stated there has been three years of work and we can say here’s the finished product and can then go the public at that point and present it. The public can then ask specific questions about what goes here or what happens there and it would be real information. He stated in his view, these two public meetings could be done along with the consultants and would provide an opportunity for the public to ask questions on the final plan.
President Crowley stated he agreed that we are not going back to the public and are not going to redesign the project for a third time which he thinks we are all in agreement with. He also thinks that because of the numbers attached to this project, it would only be fair to have the public come back and provide additional input since maybe some people who said they really wanted the Lakeview Center renovated but then see how much it would cost, they might change their minds.
President Crowley suggested Director Wilson could draw up a priority list, send it to the Board, and then prioritize these items like we did at the golf course. The Committee would then focus on the current and future projects and return to the Board with recommendations.
Commissioner Brault stated he thought the Financial Planning Committee should begin working on their next presentation or to come back with some thoughts on how to pay for a portion of or the entire project. President Crowley agreed and recognized that we have another meeting tomorrow night about capital projects.
Commissioner Abbott stated he agreed with President Crowley and that Director Wilson could draw up a list and forward it to the Board for them to prioritize the items since he is still waiting to further investigate those road costs. Director Wilson summarized that it seems clear we need a lot more detail before we can say what is actually being considered here. Commissioner Olvany asked what are people’s thoughts in terms of how important is doing anything at Langdon now.
President Crowley stated there are 15 items here and Langdon is in his top 5. Commissioner Shelly stated Langdon Park was in her top 2. Commissioner Wolfe also agreed that Langdon should be at a higher priority.
President Crowley thanked the Lakefront Committee for a job well done and that the master plan looks very good. The final document will contain current and future projects and will serve the community very well.
Golf Operations Committee – Committee Chair Brault reported the Committee met on October 16, 2013 and he is pleased to report that all of the work for the golf course has been completed except for a few punch list items. In terms of what has been accomplished for the renovation, the course has had over 17,000 of new drainage pipe added, 4 greens were completely rebuilt, 5 greens re-grassed, 51 new sand traps created, 3 lakes expanded, 10 new tee complexes were created, and bioswales were created and seeded. All of that work was done in 67 days thanks to Mike Matchen and his crew as well as Greg Martin and his crew. This project came in slightly ahead of time and slightly under budget so it was a great success. Almost all of the grass is germinating and we are using tarps to keep it growing. With some luck with the weather, it is hoped to be open ahead of time in the spring.
Facilities Operations Committee – Committee Chair Brault reported that at the pool all of the renovation work related to the damaged tennis wall has been completed and we are already starting to hire for lifeguards and other staff for next season. There is also good news in regard to the Ice facility in that all of the renovations are now completed inclusive of the new refrigeration system. A grand re-opening celebration was held in October and the Stanley Cup made an appearance with approximately 2,000 people in attendance to get their photos taken with it. The Ice project was also done on time and on budget thanks to Superintendent Bowen and his staff. There are now four operational platform tennis courts and the lights are working. The hut will hopefully be completed by Thanksgiving. There are currently 155 members participating in the program with 11 men’s teams and one women’s team participating. It is anticipated that we will have another team or two starting in January. Our budget also indicates that we might be able to generate a positive cash flow in this area for this budget season.
Financial Planning & Policy Committee – Chair Olvany reported the Financial Planning & Policy Committee met on October 20, 2013. A review of the personnel policy manual was completed although we still have a few outstanding questions that need to be answered and once that happens, the Committee will review it and make a recommendation to the Board. The bulk of the meeting was spent on discussing the Tax Levy and he is pleased to report that the final tax levy from the Wilmette Park District is going to be lower in 2013 by an amount less than 1% compared to our tax levy extension of the previous year which is the amount indicated on our tax bills. Even though it is not required in this case, the Board is staying with our best practices and will be holding a public hearing on the levy at the December Board meeting
Commissioner Olvany moved and Commissioner Shelly seconded a motion to approve Resolution 2013-R-15, Truth in Taxation as recommended by the Financial Planning & Policy Committee.
Commissioner Olvany added that the tax levy increase reported in the Truth-in-Taxation Resolution includes a variety of different taxes and some are capped and some are uncapped, This resolution demonstrates that a certain amount of our taxes is going up by 4.98% but the real figure to focus on is that our overall tax burden to the public is going down by 0.6% because that is what gets included in the taxes related to debt service coverage which means our overall tax burden is lower than it was last year. The other important point is that Cook County actually adds 2% on top of this figure of $8,527,000 to cover the cost of losses for collecting on taxes. Other municipalities get charged 5% of the overall bill but because of our stellar collecting abilities we are only levied an extension of about 2% which means our extended total tax levy is approximately $8.6 million dollars which is an increase of 1.38% over last year but lower than the CPI of 1.7%. After Cook County and debt service coverage, the final result is that our taxes are lower than the CPI.
By a roll call vote, voting Yes – Commissioners Abbott, Benz, Brault, Crowley, Olvany, Shelly, and Wolfe; voting No -- None. Absent – None; Motion carried.
Parks & Recreation Committee – Commissioner Shelly reported the committee met on October 21 and the majority of the discussion was held on the proposed underground storage tank at West Park to alleviate the flooding in the west Wilmette area. The firm of RJN Consultants conducted a presentation of the project which was followed by an intensive question and answer session and there is additional information in tonight’s meeting packet. The next step will take place at our next Parks & Recreation meeting which is scheduled for Monday night, November 18. Prior to that, staff is hoping to communicate with the Village in order to better understand the impact of the project on our operations and programs during the construction as well as the potential long-term benefits to the community via the upgrade of the athletic fields at West Park. It is hoped that as this project solidifies, we will have some recommendations to provide at our next meeting. Also at the meeting, the proposed 2014 budgets were reviewed and approved by the Committee. Director Wilson added that staff has not had any further discussions since that meeting but he doesn’t believe they have considered any other locations at this point. They are also waiting to hear back from us.
OLD BUSINESS: None
NEW BUSINESS: None
There being no further business to conduct, the meeting was adjourned at 8:21 pm.
MINUTES APPROVED ON DECEMBER 9, 2013.