WILMETTE PARK DISTRICT
LAKEFRONT COMMITTEE MEETING
Date: January 21, 2014
Location: Village Hall Training Room
Time: 6:30 pm
Commissioners: Chair Benz, Abbott, Olvany, Wolfe
Staff: Wilson, Bingham, Bowen, Donoghue, Eppelheimer, Lambrecht, Specht
Visitors: See Attached
Topics for Discussion
1) Meeting Called to Order
2) Approval of Minutes
3) Communication and Correspondence
4) Recognition of Visitors
5) Managers Report
6) Lakefront Master Plan
7) Old Business
8) New Business
1) The meeting was called to order at 6:30 p.m.
2) Under Approval of Minutes, Commissioner Olvany indicated a correction on page 6 of 6. The Committee approved the minutes of the December 2, 2013 Committee Meeting as amended by general consent.
3) Under Communications or Correspondence, the Committee acknowledged a letter from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation thanking Lakefront Manager Holly Specht for her help and support during last year’s fundraising event. Also an email from Robin and Peter Baugher was received related to the Lakefront Master Plan including articles explaining how other municipalities have combated invasive plants and dealt with erosion. There was also a letter from Mary Shea sharing her thoughts on the presentation of the preliminary Master Plan as presented by SmithGroupJJR at the November 4 Lakefront Committee meeting.
Commissioner Olvany followed up by sharing a conversation he had had when he met with the Baugers relating to the importance of a single planned entry point to Langdon Beach and how that made a tremendous impact on the regulation of that beach as well as the enjoyment of the neighborhood and beachgoers. The Baugers requested the structure be moved further north. Commissioner Olvany suggested it may be possible to orientate the road a bit more in order to utilize more beach at the other end.
4) Under Recognition of Visitors, Tracy Martin stated she was president of a charity called the Giving Rocks Foundation which was started by her daughter six years ago when at the age of 10 she was diagnosed with a blood disorder called histiocytosis. Mrs. Martin explained that she and her daughter decided they wanted to raise money for research by making rock necklaces from rocks found on the beach of Lake Michigan. To date they have raised almost $250,000. This year they hope to make it a local event since their friends and family are here in Wilmette. They are requesting a permit be issued to them for a rock collecting in Gillson Park on September 6 from 2:00-5:00pm. Superintendent Bingham stated that after discussing this request with Holly Specht, staff is recommending approval. The Committee then approved the permit request by general consent.
Additional Park Requests included the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Great Strides Fundraising Walk, an annual event in its third year which has been growing annually. The timing of this event, requested for May 18, is prior to the beach season. The event is early in the day and staff sees no difficulty and staff recommends issuing the permit.
St. Francis School has requested a permit for their annual mass on July 13, 2014. This is an early morning event and the group generally is out of the park by 10:00am. Staff recommends approval of the event.
The Beth Hillel Congregation has requested to hold a religious service and picnic on June 27 and July 11. This is a recurring event and staff has no problem recommending approval. The Committee then approved all of the permits by general consent.
5) Under Manager’s Report, Lakefront Manager Holly Specht reported that summer planning is well underway. There were nine rentals at Lakeview Center in January. A new beach cleaner, ridge hull inflatable boat, and Hobie Cat Wave Runner have all been ordered. Staff met with lakefront managers from Evanston to Lake Bluff in order to coordinate lifeguard training and making it possible to share lifeguard resources between neighboring communities during emergency situations. This is being done in conjunction with the American Red Cross and the US Lifesaving organization. Holly stated she has been working with Northwest Passage who will be offering private and semi-private kayak and SUP lessons this summer in addition to a kids pirate camp. These are offered through the Wilmette Park District and will be in our upcoming Leisure Guide. Northwest Passage will now be a Park District vendor this summer and Holly has worked out a revenue sharing agreement with them.
Commissioner Olvany asked if any consideration has been given to issuing day passes for boaters who do not rent a rack space on the sailing beach and if someone received a small vessel as a gift during the boating season, what options would they would. Superintendent Bingham stated that we have discussed this option and the impact it would have at the lakefront. With the addition of the SUP beach, we have not been tested by a good weather summer. Staff would like to wait and see what the waterfront congestion will be like when we have a busier summer. We currently offer trail-ins permits for the summer.
6) Lakefront Master Plan:
a. Williams Architects presented designs for the Gillson Park beach house, the shade pavilion, and the Langdon Beach house.
Tom LaLonde from Williams Architects stated that the last time we met we discussed the Gillson Park beach house building and came up with some conceptual designs. Some minor adjustments were also made at that meeting. The Committee suggested adding some additional storage both in and outside of the building. The fireplace was also relocated in response to a comment at our previous meeting.
Mr. LaLonde presented two concepts – the first concept consists of a more traditional building. They have suggested metal roofing material that could consist of a variety of materials. The metal roof addresses concerns for durability. For the exterior in this case, they are suggesting stone because stone was used on the Lakeview Center and within the Wallace Bowl.
For the pavilion, they relocated the fireplace and showed a representation of masonry piers to strengthen the look of the post-less support of the pavilion. He stated that if we did use any kind of exposed wood it would have to be wrapped.
Commissioner Abbott stated that he understands that the materials selected satisfy the cost range we were looking at. He also expressed concerns about the roof line being too high and possibly blocking the horizon line from the bluff.
Director Wilson stated that he and Superintendent Lambrecht researched elevations from previous projects and they agreed that the roof line should be about 22-25 feet. Mr. LaLonde felt that request would be easily accomplished. Commissioner Olvany agreed with the need for a lower roof line.
Commissioner Benz expressed disappointment in the aesthetic look of the structures and asked for a design with more open air, tapered columns and more of a Prairie-style look. Mr. LaLonde responded that there will definitely be a heavier beam that would have to carry the roof form. He also stated that the height of the building is in the 20-25 foot range.
Commissioner Olvany stated that the quote for the new Gillson beach house and pavilion was initially $2.1 million and he wondered if this was still the case.
Mr. LaLonde stated it was. Commissioner Olvany stated he was very favorably impressed with the renderings and he agreed with Commissioner Abbott’s comments regarding a flatter roofline and wider eaves consistent with the prairie style. He is not concerned with tying the design to other buildings in the park. In his mind the beach house is the focal point of the park and he was impressed with what it looked like and the airiness of the design.
Mr. LaLonde presented the next rendering which had the same building footprint with a different form of architecture showing a single-sloped roof which provides for a more contemporary look to the building. It would still maintain some of the character in the materials and have some representative projects. Commissioner Olvany stated that while he appreciated the different styles of architecture, he felt we should be looking at more of a prairie style tradition and he is more interested in pursuing that the first and Commissioner Abbott agreed.
Commissioner Benz asked the Committee if they are in agreement on recommending to the full Board the traditional prairie-style rendering. Director Wilson stated that the conceptual details could be worked out at a later date. Commissioner Olvany stated that the charge at this time was to agree on a conceptual plan and he believes that what Williams has presented is a good plan. Commissioner Benz stated that the conceptual plan created by staff has details such as storage, durability and maintenance. Commissioner Abbott asked if at the February meeting, we could see budgets and renderings. Commissioner Olvany questioned the need for that at this time. Commissioner Benz felt that the more refined we can make the plan, the fewer questions and alterations there will be. Mr. LaLonde agreed he could come back with a budget and adjustments by the next meeting.
Mr. LaLonde summarized the Committee’s direction by stating that he would be lowering the roof, extending the eaves and enhancing the designs visually.
Mr. LaLonde then presented the design for the beach house at Langdon Park and to make it as low of a profile as possible in order to blend in with the environment. The only issue is that for those projects that are above grade a guard rail is required for viewing from the south. It would be designed in a way that would be as transparent as possible although it would require guardrails. Commissioner Olvany asked about the necessity of a guard rail if it was not an observation deck and he questioned the need for an observation deck in general. Commissioner Benz stated that the purpose is to have it be have somewhat of an observation area projecting slightly above the line of the dune as a place of contemplation. Director Wilson pointed out that currently in the park there is a split rail fence that is actually higher than this observation deck would be and he suggested a green roof with landscaping. Mr. LaLonde stated that we would have to maintain it especially with people walking on it but it would be possible to do. The roof would require waterproofing anyway so it is definitely possible and a great idea. Director Wilson stated he also loved the idea but we would need to consider the cost implications. Commissioner Abbot and Benz also liked the green roof possibility.
Commissioner Olvany questioned the staircase to the roof and Mr. LaLonde stated that the stairs would lead to the beach. Commissioner Olvany asked if we could create the stairway naturally instead of with concrete due to his concerns about having concrete in the park. Mr. LaLonde replied that the stairs are also holding up the second slope but the structure would need a concrete retaining wall. Commissioner Olvany stated that we are introducing this structure into a park that doesn’t have any other structures; therefore, we should make the least amount of changes as possible. Most people believe what we need is a place for staff and a restroom but we want to make it a good building in that perspective.
Lakefront Manager Holly Specht stated that what she hears from those who live next door to Langdon Park is that they can’t walk down to Langdon from their homes. Commissioner Benz stated that he likes the idea of creating easier access to the beach while Commissioner Abbott stated he is more in favor of stairs than the bathrooms.
Commissioner Olvany asked if there were ADA or code requirements for the width of the stairs. Mr. LaLonde stated the stairs would have to be an ADA minimum of three feet in width which he would recommend regardless of ADA requirements.
Resident Peter Baugher stated that this conversation is based on the slope and using brick and stone and an old path that was cut 50 years ago for other purposes. The path changes over time so if the District is concerned about the slope we could change the slope and make it more gradual as well as continue it down a little bit further. He suggested we put the building closer to the center of this section of the beach which he feels is underused. He asked for consideration to direct traffic away from the south end of the beach further north. Commissioner Abbott thought we should give that idea some consideration.
Superintendent Lambrecht stated there are a few issues to consider including the location of the armor stone that was put into place in the 1980’s to shore-up the bluff as part of a project by the Army Corp of engineers. He also doesn’t feel we should move the building any closer to the lake level even though the lake is at an all-time low but the water will rise again. In fact, in 1985 we almost lost the park and we do not want to lose the integrity of what we built there in the 1980’s. It is possible but it would drive the cost up significantly.
Commissioner Benz asked to see an overlay of the location of the armor stone for the next meeting.
After a comment from the audience regarding the water levels reaching the beach house, Mr. LaLonde stated there is no intention to modify grades in that area but to keep the current path. Commissioner Abbott suggested that if the alignment becomes controversial, we could pull it out of the entire plan since Gillson Park is the real issue. The full Board has been very supportive; however, speaking on behalf of himself, if we created a controversial Langdon plan he thinks we’re hurting ourselves in an attempt to get the entire Lakefront Plan passed. At our next meeting, he asked that we discuss what the recommendation would be for the location of a beach house at Langdon.
Mr. LaLonde said they could explore these aspects of the discussion and added that they did do a survey and are trying to be sensitive to the environment and not impact the bluff more than we need to. There’s a natural slope in the upper portion of the park and we were designing this in a way that creates a very simple natural slope to the top of the observation deck which is about 10 feet above the floor of this building.
Commissioner Abbott stated that basically, the Committee approves of the building but should keep the issue of alignment for discussion at the next meeting. Commissioner Benz agreed.
Commissioner Benz stated that there were a couple of other elements that we want to propose to the entire Board which is the design of the shelter at Gillson and a rendering of a more traditional slope to the beach house roof. Another proposal is the pier plan which included a photograph or rendering at a previous meeting.
After a comment from an audience member regarding the green roof concept, Director Wilson stated that the green roof was such a hit at Langdon it may be something we should look at in Gillson as well. Commissioner Olvany felt we are trying to do something different at Langdon. Commissioner Benz said he felt that the purpose for the Langdon facility’s “green roof” is for hiding the building from the street. Relating to the pier, Director Wilson stated that we have not seen any new or additional information from what the Committee has already seen.
Commissioner Benz asked about the pier related to storm water runoff. Deb Mitchell from SmithGroup JJR explained that storm water runoff could be addressed with the construction of a pier or as a separate issue.
b. Director Wilson asked Ms. Mitchell to walk through the project cost by phase. She then explained that her firm was asked to come up with some logical phasing and basically four phases were proposed: the Gillson Park beach house area, the Lakeview area, the balance of the park, and the jetty. This work would include utility upgrades. All phases could be done at once or phased over a period of time which the Board would choose. When asked if this could be done over one year, Ms. Mitchell stated it could start after Labor Day with a completed project by the following Labor Day.
Ms. Mitchell stated that basically there are four main pieces to the beach aerial plan which includes the beach house, the sailing center restroom which is located further north, the renovated parking lot layout and roadway, as well as laying in the bluff walk and the access down.
Commissioner Benz asked if the non-paved areas of the parking lot could support trees and Ms. Mitchell stated that these areas would be planted with dune grasses and trees would not do well in these areas.
Ms. Mitchell explained the various areas of the plan which include the Beach house, sailing restroom, roads, parking and lighting. The bluff walk will need to be installed and ADA access as well as opening the views along that bluff.
Commissioner Benz questioned the cost of $2.5 million for the sailing beach and Ms. Mitchell explained it was due to the cost of running original utilities to that site.
Commissioner Olvany inquired about what portion of the $775,000 in phase 1 for utilities is related to the proposed bathroom at the sailing beach. Deb Mitchell responded that $440,000 was for sailing and the remaining amount is related to the swimming beach’s beach house. Commissioner Abbott then pointed out that with the utilities and the proposed bathroom facility, the total cost of the bathrooms at sailing would be about $675,000 before design contingency and possible cost escalations due to inflation. Deb Mitchell confirmed this statement. Commissioner Olvany then pointed out that if the sailing beach bathrooms were eliminated completely, then phase 1 would be reduced by the amount for the bathroom, plus $440,000 would be taken out of the utilities number in Phase 1.
Ms. Mitchell stated that the Lakeview Center Area Plan, including the building and the new road alignment which was discussed previously in regard to pulling the road away from the Wallace Bowl. It includes the wildflower garden path and the landscape upgrades as well as picnic areas 4, 5, and 6, and the fire pit.
Commissioner Benz suggested we need an overlay showing the existing road structure and the turn-around parking area for comparison purposes.
c. Deb Mitchell presented the final slide which indicated that the total cost of all of the projects was now at $19,210,000.
Commissioner Benz stated he felt the Committee was given a directive from the full Board to consider the Sheridan Shore structure as a revenue stream for the District instead of the $2,100,000 proposed for the Lakeview Center renovations. He feels that agreeing to such a large expenditure on renovations is premature until we know the status of the Sheridan Shore property. He stated that the only necessary part of the renovations is the addition of an elevator to make the facility ADA-compliant. As a result, perhaps it could be taken out of the master plan.
Commissioner Olvany stated that the utilities are incorporated into the $525,000 which consists purely of utilities related to the Lakeview Center. He asked if the goal of the Committee is to take those items off the table. Commissioner Benz stated that in order to make a full recommendation to the Board in February, the Committee needs to start narrowing down the project. Commissioner Olvany stated that he feels the pursuit of the lease at the Sheridan Shore Yacht Club which the Board is recommending puts this entire phase in question. He also questioned the timing of this and stated that in his opinion the Lakeview Center aspect of this plan should be lower chronologically on the list of items to pursue. Commissioner Abbott suggested we abandon the Lakeview Center project but Commissioner Olvany suggested we not abandon it if the Park District does not become the lease holder of Sheridan Shore. He added that we are creating a ten-year plan and that is why we do not want to abandon this.
Commissioner Abbott does not think we could ask the public to support a cost of $2 million cost for the Lakeview Center. Commissioner Olvany stated he views the Lakeview renovations as a contingency plan.
Deb Mitchell pointed out that Phase 3 is the balance of the park and we can or cannot include the pier because we can break it off from there and make it a separate issue. This phase includes new roads, what’s under the roads, utilities, new walkways in the park including the harbor walkway, the picnic areas, a new tot lot, and the upgraded dog beach. An additional walkway on the south end of the entrance drive was suggested at the last meeting and that is now included. Commissioner Benz commented that there have been some public comments about a dog wash. The cost here is largely for running water service to the site for water fountains and an area to hose the sand off the dogs. Director Wilson started that this also includes upgrades to fencing and signage. Commissioner Olvany stated that basically what we are holding is $125,000 which does includes the water service with a washing station for dogs.
Commissioner Wolf asked if the $125,000 includes electrical. Director Wilson stated yes, the electrical line stops before reaching the actual dog beach.
Commissioner Olvany felt the tot lot could be taken out of the plan since these playgrounds are always going to be part of our continual maintenance projects. Director Wilson reminded the Committee that this tot lot has been deferred for several years. Commissioner Olvany stated that it’s not a question of whether or not it needs to be done but, similar to the Langdon Park tot lot, it does not have to be included in this capital expense. Director Wilson stated that this process for the last seven years has included replacing these tot lots in conjunction with the Master Plan work and it has always been the District’s intent that those would be in the Master Plan.
Commissioner Olvany agreed with the dog beach upgrade and stated he is a user of the dog beach but is having a hard time putting in a shower for $125,000. He also feels that the jetty is controversial and should be out of the plan completely since $1.85 million for a jetty is not something he is willing to support. Commissioner Benz feels that the jetty is in fact some type of public entity which we will need to address in the near future as this existing crumbling rock pile continues to fall apart. He also feels this is a proactive way to not only take care of something that is a public nuisance but that is also of additional benefit to the community which will be something that will generate the greatest enthusiasm of for whole lakefront plan. Commissioner Olvany agreed but stated that he could get behind the concept at half the quoted price but currently it is not our asset.
Commissioner Abbot stated that he agrees with both points of view and that it is too expensive and we haven’t done our homework to the extent that would be able to go out to the public. Deb Mitchell stated that the listed cost for a new jetty does not include the removal of the existing jetty. Director Wilson pointed out that the removal cost is estimated at $300,000. The Commissioners have also discussed the fact that we are looking at building a new jetty and not replacing the existing one.
Commissioner Abbott liked the concept of a pier but is not comfortable with the price and feels that the Master Plan should address the jetty but we should not necessarily ignore the problem. Commissioner Olvany pointed out that we do not own the jetty and Director Wilson added that the Board and the Park District as a whole will be forced to revisit this topic down the road because as that current structure continues to erode away we’re going to have a real issue with the possible loss of the aquatics beach and the dog beach.
Commissioner Olvany stated that the leaseholder will be liable but Superintendent Lambrecht responded that the reason for the pier originally was to protect the settling basin where the harbor is located. Currently, the pier holds no value to the harbor.
The Committee discussed the importance of dealing with the jetty now or later. Commissioner Benz feels it should be part of the master plan and Commissioner Olvany stated we should address this problem at a later time since he cannot support$1.8 million dollar expenditure at this time. He suggested the Committee could potentially present this to the full Board and state that there were serious concerns about the price tag for this proposed jetty. It is staff’s opinion that a lot of our property will deteriorate over time and our Committee didn’t have a consensus or unanimous viewpoint of the what the right option would be which is why we’re looking for direction from the full Board.
Director Wilson pointed out there are options to fortifying the property from being scoured out and not provide the ability to do the walk out. The whole concept of the walkout has been pursued at no public meetings did someone not mention that the walkout should be restored. Director Wilson added that this is a large dollar amount but felt it will serve multiple functions and there may be other options that will satisfy the Board.
Commissioner Olvany restated that he is recommending we explain to the Board that there have been some agreements and some disagreements on certain aspects of the plan and this is where the Committee needs clarification. The Committee members will also make their own individual recommendations and maybe the Board would then suggest option 4. He feels that first and foremost our priority is ensuring the integrity of the property as it currently stands.
Ms. Mitchell then explained the final costs of the Master Plan for Gillson Park and Langdon Park.
Commissioner Benz felt the $100,000 for children’s play equipment should come out of the Master Plan. The Lakeview Center upgrade of $2.1 million without utilities should be reconsidered due to the cost and he has difficulty supporting $675,000 for sailing beach bathrooms. Overall, he sees a proposal closer to $12 or $13 million.
Commissioner Abbott agreed to remove the sailing bathrooms from the plan and he is willing to back up the Lakeview Center. He also proposes we back off to an allowance there although it is an allowance that is undefined.
After a suggestion that the Committee do more homework on the project, Commissioner Olvany disagreed and stated he felt enough homework had been done since we had hired JJR to do an engineering study and they told us that to update the pier so it doesn’t fall apart would cost $1.2 million. Now SmithGroupJJR has given us an estimate on a nice walk-on pier for $1.8 million so we’ve done all the homework we’re going to do. Director Wilson explained that that price was for reinforcing what is currently there with probably more stone. Commissioner Abbott stated he would be willing to spend $1.2 million but would not add on the design contingency.
Commissioner Olvany summarized by stating that the Committee seemed to be in agreement of the Lakeview Center not being a part of the plan. He also agrees that as much as it would be nice to have a sailing beach bathroom it’s probably too much money to spend. Relating to the jetty, he feels the topic should be opened up to the full Board explaining that we could not come to a conclusion on this and that we’d like to get input from the broader group. The Committee agrees on these items that they should not be in the plan.
Director Wilson added that even if we eliminate the remodeling of Lakeview Center, the elevator portion of the project would need to remain. Regarding the dog beach, staff would get a more detailed breakdown number for the next Committee meeting including fencing which can be expensive.
Commissioner Benz asked if the Langdon Beach proposal and beach grasses included an asphalt walkway. Ms. Mitchell explained it would be crushed gravel with the edge of it made with asphalt.
d. Commissioner Benz stated he would like to include Sheridan Shore in the Master Plan. Director Wilson stated he has been attempting to set up a meeting with Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD), the Park District, and our legal counsel to discuss the details of the lease and its availably to help decide if we want to pursue it.
Commissioner Olvany stated that as the Chair of the Real Estate Committee, what he is looking for is a probability analysis of timing, if we’ll be successful, and what the price is as well as a timetable so that we can make a recommendation.
In response to Commissioner Abbott’s question regarding who is taking the lead on this, Director Wilson stated that the Real Estate Committee is charged with the responsibility of exploring the lease issue. Once that issue is determined then it will be the Lakefront Committee’s determination of what to do with the property once there is a lease. The Real Estate Committee and the full Board has already authorized staff to pursue the lease and this is currently being done. The question now becomes what is the probability of getting the lease and when would we have a better idea of that. After that, the Committee will be in a better position to brainstorm about what to do with it.
Commissioner Benz felt the Board believed this acquisition is feasible and therefore we should plan accordingly.
Commissioner Olvany felt the Lakefront Committee is considering the option but until we have more information, there is little we can do and perhaps the ideas that we had six months ago in regard to Lakeview Center are those ideas that we could incorporate into the Sheridan Shore property which is an even better property because it looks over the water and has an infrastructure in place.
Commissioner Benz stated that we did remove from the Master Plan a renovation of Lakeview Center beyond the ADA compliancy work. Commissioner Olvany stated he would put the reconstruction of Lakeview Center back in if we did not acquire the Sheridan Shore property for revenue enhancement to help alleviate taxpayer costs. Director Wilson pointed out that the $600,000 that was quoted was for a nominal seating change.
e. Regarding the public forum dates, Commissioner Benz recommended they discuss this issue at the next Lakefront Committee meeting which will be immediately before the full Board meeting.
f. In regard to a recommendation to the Board, he suggests they discuss the cost involved in the total project combined with the changes discussed today at the next meeting. Director Wilson stated he would have new numbers for the next Financial Planning meeting.
Minutes taken by Kathy Bingham.
MINUTES APPROVED ON MARCH 6, 2014.