Wilmette Park District
Minutes of Regular Meeting of the
Board of Park Commissioners
Monday, November 10, 2014

7:30 p.m. – Village Hall Council Chambers

Attendees Present

Commissioners: President James Crowley, John Olvany, Gary Benz, James Brault, Shelley Shelly, Bryan Abbott and Amy Wolfe

Secretary/Executive Director Stephen Wilson
Superintendents: Jeff Bowen, Ken Eppelheimer, Kathy Bingham, Bill Lambrecht
Staff: Shelagh Donoghue, Cindy Felicicchia

Attendees Absent


I. Meeting  Called to Order

The meeting was called to order at 7:30 p.m.

A. Roll call taken.

II. Approval of Minutes

A. Commissioner Abbott moved to approve the minutes from the Regular Board Meeting of October 13, 2014 and Commissioner Shelly seconded; all voted yes, the motion carried.

Mary Shea addressed the Board to ask if her letter she read on November 10, 2014 be part of the record of minutes. Director Wilson stated he will add her letter to be part of the record on Page 2, Paragraph 3.

By a roll call vote, voting Yes: Commissioners: Benz, Brault, Crowley, Olvany, Abbott, Shelly and Wolfe; voting No: None. Absent: None; motion carried.

III. Communications and Correspondence


IV. Recognition of Visitors

Mary & Charlie Shea, Wilmette
Tom Nathan, President of the Ouilmette Foundation
Cathy Pratt, Treasurer for the Ouilmette Foundation for the Parks
Gerry Canavan, Wilmette Wings
Joe Weix, Wilmette Wings

Commissioner Crowley invited Tom Nathan and Cathy Pratt to the podium to speak. Mr. Nathan thanked the Ouilmette Foundation Board for their hard work. He stated the foundation has been working since March. The first fundraising effort was held at the opening of the golf course. The foundation raised approximately $30,000. The mission of the foundation is to enrich, enhance and educate the citizens of Wilmette so that their experiences with the parks and through the parks are improved. The first effort was to help raise funds for the scholarship fund that assists residents within the community to participate in all the District has to offer. Treasurer Cathy Pratt presented Commissioner Crowley with a check for $20,000 for the scholarship fund. Mr. Nathan stated the foundation will continue to work and report back to the Board. Commissioner Crowley thanked Mr. Nathan and Ms. Pratt for their dedication and hard work.

Commissioner Crowley invited Gerry Canavan and Joe Weix, from the Wilmette Wings, to the podium to speak. Mr. Canavan asked about the field development at West Park and the artificial turf field. He stated the Wilmette Wings will be having their 20th anniversary of serving the community. The Wilmette Wings started with 14 kids and is now just under 500 kids. He thanked the District for the use of Avoca fields. Mr. Canavan would like to see if they could be involved in the field development at West Park and also contribute funds.  Commissioner Crowley suggested they come to the Parks & Recreation Committee meeting on Monday, November 17th at 7:00 p.m. to discuss these options further with the Committee.

Commissioner Crowley invited Mary Shea, a Wilmette resident, to the podium to speak. Ms. Shea addressed the Board by reading a detailed letter regarding the Lakefront Master Plan. The letter highlights on what she believed to be a conceptual plan of Lakefront Master Plan designs and not a plan that is written in stone.

Remarks to Park Board 11/10/14 from Mary Shea. She stated:

For many months Wilmette citizens were told that the Lakefront Plan was “conceptual” and there would be further meetings when it was completed.  Yet the plan was rolled out with some fanfare over July 4th by posting pictures of the design at the beach minus any specific dimensions.  The five foot metal fence along the entire beach was unobtrusively placed in the background of the photo.  We see the beach house from the water not from the parking lot.

Apparently since the plan has been finalized, the meetings promised by the Lakefront Committee will not be taking place.  The Chairman of the Park Board stated publicly that “there has been enough citizen input”.   So the plan is going from conceptual to written-in-stone without the further promised public dialog.  The Board has begun meetings with contracting groups.

Early in the process the plan was described as a 50 year plan.  Now the staff and Park Board appear to be in a rush to complete the work in the next two years, necessitating a thinly disguised tax increase.  There are many things in the JJR plan that are not immediate necessities.   A public dialog might point out some of these items to the Park Board. 

It is interesting to observe how the suggestions made by the Lakefront Commission comprised of citizen members over the two years of its existence (2010 and 2011) have been ignored.  The Lakefront Commission requested the “maintenance and improvement of the current built elements but no additional major new ones.“   Yet a gigantic 4,090 square ft. beach house with adjacent 1,600 sq ft. pavilion surrounded with more metal fencing five feet in height, is planned, along with the addition of three new covered “shade structures” with permanent cement floors.  A million dollar expansion of the Lakeview Center for potential winter wedding business is envisioned.  No trees will shade the parking lot.   And the lights in the park are being replaced again.

The Lakefront Commission expressly stated “no more cars in the park” and no more parking.”  Yet the plan includes a “re-alignment of the road in front of Lakeview Center with a better parking situation.”   The language in this latest iteration suggests more parking without saying so. 

The Lakefront Commission unanimously recommended a comprehensive landscape plan.  What we have been given is essentially what is already present with further tree removal.  The incoherent memorial tree program remains in place.  The rusted storage building remains at the entrance despite the JJR consultant noting the impediment to an “overlook” due to the roofline of this 30 year old “temporary” building.  Yet, the latest iteration of the plan shows a 10 ft wide cement swath at that very point, replacing grass along the bluff on Michigan Ave. from the wildflower garden to Lake Avenue. 

The enormous beach house for our community of 27,000 can be compared to the size of the one at North Avenue beach in Chicago. 
The estimate for the beach house goes from 5 million to 4 million to 2 million and includes different items each time, not a confidence–building strategy.

Will Langdon lose more shade trees for its intrusive and ecologically unfriendly spaceship-like bathroom design? Are citizens clamoring for a permanent bathroom there?

It is interesting to note that JJR consultants have participated in all the WPD projects in the past 20 plus years.   Their design concept seems to be a treeless parking lot abutting large multiple-roofed structures.   Do the citizens want “Centennial at the beach” or a structure with minimal impact on the natural beauty of the lakefront?  Do they want a giant beach house behind bars, 25x40’ roofed “shade structures” instead of trees?  No alternative ideas have been presented.

This gem of a park is apparently viewed as an income stream for the Wilmette Park District.  The Lakefront Plan as it currently stands, continues to be a Park District wish list.   Wilmette citizens are being asked to underwrite this plan which frees the Park District to continue to fund their vast program with memberships and user fees, and which by their own admission, serves the larger metropolitan region, as non-residents provide a minimum of 40% of user revenues.  In a village of 10,000 households, we taxpayers are being asked to underwrite the Park District’s ceaseless expansion.  We pay twice.  How does this model serve the citizens of Wilmette?
Thank you.
Mary Shea

V. Approval of Voucher List

Commissioner Olvany moved and Commissioner Brault seconded a motion to approve the Voucher List in the amount of $1,852,300.75, a copy of which is to be attached to and become a permanent part of the minutes of this meeting.

By a roll call vote, voting Yes: Commissioners: Benz, Brault, Crowley, Olvany, Abbott, Shelly and Wolfe; voting No: None. Absent: None; motion carried.

VI. Executive Director’s Report

Director Wilson reported on the following topics:

  • On October 24th the annual Halloween Happening event took place with a record number of 684 children registered. The event had a number of things to participate in which included a scale for scare selections. This is a great event and a special thank you goes out to the Staff and their hard work for putting this event together.
  • The annual Wilmette Chamber of Commerce Holiday parade will be held on November 22nd. The District has a tradition of participating in the parade and he welcomes the Board to join in on the fun.
  • A Committee-of-the-Whole meeting is scheduled for November 11th. This meeting is to review the long-range capital project plans, as well as the new tax levy.
  • The Financial Planning & Planning Committee met in October and reviewed the preliminary 2014 tax levy. This will be highlighted later in the meeting during their report.
  • The Staff recommends Board approval for a bid to replace the blinds at the Community Recreation Center. These blinds have been broken and repaired for many years.
  • The annual conference for the Illinois Association of Park Districts (IAPD) and the Illinois Parks and Recreation Association (IPRA) will take place on January 22-24, 2015. Under New Business is an action item appointing a Wilmette Park District delegate and an alternate to represent the Park District at the IAPD Business Meeting on Saturday, January 24, 2015.
  • The Fitness Center is going to make a slight change in their operating hours which will accommodate customers’ requests of opening up at 5:00 a.m. instead of 5:30 a.m. Monday through Friday.

VII. Committee Reports

A. Lakefront Committee:

Commissioner Abbott reported on the following topics:

  • Staff and maintenance are getting ready for the winter months.
  • There was no damage to the beach during the storm on October 31st.
  • Sailing will no longer have a lottery system. They are instituting a wait less that will roll over year after year.
  • The Lakefront Committee will be interviewing the Staff’s three selections for a Construction Management firm on Wednesday, November 12th. A recommendation will be brought to the full Board next month.

Commissioner Olvany commented on a statement in Superintendent Bingham’s report about Gillson Beach and a wedding proposal that took place on the beach with great success.

B. Facilities Operations Committee:

Commissioner Shelly reported on the following topics:

  • The hiring process for the pool has started for next year.
  • Tennis has some permanent court times still available.
  • The Tennis pro shop sale will continue through December 31st.
  • Camp information for Tennis will be forthcoming for the December camps.
  • Centennial Ice will be hosting a Super Sunday on November 30th for people who want to try skating.
  • Centennial Ice will be hosting Loyola High School hockey tournament on Thanksgiving weekend. The rink is hosting the 16 Varsity I Division
  • Paddle Tennis Fall II classes are filling up quickly.
  • The next paddle mixer event, “Turkey Trot” is scheduled on November 21st from 7-10:30 p.m.
  • Junior Paddle & Pizza is scheduled on November 14th from 5-6:30 p.m.

C. Parks & Recreation Committee:

Commissioner Wolfe reported on the following topics:

  • Parks & Recreation met on October 20th to review the budgets.
  • A new Supervisor, Julie Nichols has been hired for the Cultural Arts Center.
  • Eagles football season as come to a conclusion with Jim Rome retiring. Commissioner Wolfe thanked him for all his hard work and dedication to the football program.
  • After school clubs are up and running at Romona, McKenzie and Central. All four elementary schools will be running in January with the addition of Harper.
  • Gymnastics is in its second session with 1,635 enrolled. There are 50 kids that are on the competitive teams.
  • In the spring, Staff will be reconfiguring the layout of the gymnastics facility to make it more conducive for accommodating more classes.
  • Fitness has started a new program, “Fall into Wellness” with 42 participants.
  • Mallinckrodt Community Center held their 5th Annual Shred event with great success.
  • West Park is under construction for the underground sanitary storage reservoir for the Village.

D. Golf Operations Committee:

Commissioner Crowley reported on the following topics:

  • The golf course is getting ready to close for the winter.
  • A new membership is going to be offered for unlimited weekday play Monday through Friday.
  • There is no fee increase in memberships or fees.
  • The safety nets have not gone up yet due to company being out of the country.

E. Financial Planning & Policy Committee:

Commissioner Olvany reported on the following topics:

  • The Committee asked Staff and the financial advisors to take a look at the interest rate environment and see whether it would be possible to reduce our debt service in the coming years. The solution that was presented because of fixed issuance costs will spread out the debt reductions over a five year period. The Committee recommended this course of refinancing of the District’s current debt. More specific will be brought to the full Board over the next month or so. 
  • The Committee has been reviewing the District’s professional service contracts and arrangements. After doing some research the Committee has come up with a recommendation of rotation in terms of how frequently to review the District’s providers. Staff will put together more specifics and bring back to the Committee.
  • The Committee discussed ways of enhancing the advertising as a way to increase the District’s nontaxable revenues. The Committee talked about the Leisure Guide but decided they did not want to turn the leisure guide into a telephone book. The Committee will evaluate opportunities that may arise.
  • The Committee completed their analysis of the Truth-In-Taxation recommendation. The tax levy is going up 0.15%. The tax levy ordinance amount does not include the 2% added by the County for possible losses in collection.

Commissioner Olvany moved to approve Resolution 2014-R-10, Truth-in-Taxation as recommended by the Financial Planning and Policy Committee. Commissioner Benz seconded the motion.

By a roll call vote, voting Yes: Commissioners: Benz, Brault, Crowley, Olvany, Abbott, Shelly and Wolfe; voting No: None. Absent: None; motion carried.

VIII. Unfinished Business


IX. New Business

A. Commissioner Wolfe moved to approve the bid from Roberts Drapery Center, Mt. Prospect, IL, in the amount of $28,128.07 for blinds at the Community Recreation Center. Commissioner Shelly seconded the motion.

By a roll call vote, voting Yes: Commissioners: Benz, Brault, Crowley, Olvany, Abbott, Shelly and Wolfe; voting No: None. Absent: None; motion carried.

B. Commissioner Olvany moved to appoint Commissioner Benz as delegate and Commissioner Abbott as alternate to represent the Wilmette Park District at the IAPD Annual Business Meeting to be held on January 22, 2015. Commissioner Wolfe seconded the motion.

By a roll call vote, voting Yes: Commissioners: Benz, Brault, Crowley, Olvany, Abbott, Shelly and Wolfe; voting No: None. Absent: None; motion carried.

X. Adjournment

There being no further business to conduct, the meeting was adjourned at
8:03 p.m.