Jan.16, 2012 Parks & Rec Committee
WILMETTE PARK DISTRICT
PARKS AND RECREATION COMMITTEE MEETING
Date: January 16, 2012
Location: Park District Conference Room
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Commissioners: Murdock; Crowley; Graham; Brault; Shelly
Staff: Lambrecht; Bingham; Bowen; Specht; Groves; Wilson; Eppelheimer
Topics for Discussion:
1) Meeting Called to Order
2) Approval of minutes
3) Communications and Correspondence
4) Recognition of Visitors
5) Manager’s Reports
6) Old Business
a) Paddle Tennis
7) New Business
a) Permit Request: Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer
1) The Committee reviewed the minutes of November 21, 2011 and they were approved by general consent.
2) The Committee reviewed an e-mail from Linda Donnelly regarding changes in the schedule for the Fitness classes. Staff reported the changes have netted some good increases in participation. Although the remodeling did not happen in the timeframe hoped for, it would have taken a week no matter when it had been scheduled.
The Committee reviewed an e-mail from Ken Goldstein asking that the ice rink at West Park not be discontinued. Staff was directed to invite Mr. Goldstein to the season-end review of the Thornwood Park Ice Surface.
3) Under Manager’s Reports, Jeff Groves reported that basketball is currently the focus in the sports department. The Saturday program has 646 participants and the Sunday program has 556 which is 45 more than last year. The Winter Silhouettes Dance Show was held this past weekend featuring dancers from various Park District programs as well as other dance studios. There were approximately 200 people in attendance at each performance. The Mid-Winter program classes began today. The annual Camp Fair will be held at the CRC on Tuesday, January 24, from 6 to 8 pm. It will be staged in the Sports Gym and registration begins the week after that.
Holly Specht reported that Sailing contracts are being mailed this month. For the first time, people who are just renewing their space without any changes will be able to do so online. However, they will not be able to renew if their watercraft registration has expired or if they want to add a partner. Staff has been working with PDRMA on rewriting the waivers for the lakefront. The new agreements will also include verbiage regarding abandoned property. Rentals at Lakeview have been few this month. Park staff moved a lot of sand from the beach parking lot to the Aquatics Camp beach where it will be spread to cover the gravel uncovered during the fall storms. Staff is experimenting with new sails that were custom-made for the Hobies. It will make the boats easier to identify from shore and are better quality than the ones from Hobie. Staff also purchased two new Sunfish boats for an excellent price. Commissioner Brault asked if the chair and umbrella rentals will continue this year. Staff reported they are going to try different umbrellas since last year all of them were destroyed. However, the chairs held up well. Commissioner Murdock asked about the fence extension at the overlook. Staff replied they are looking at options but that the Board needs to have a discussion about the project at the next Park Board meeting so that there is ample time for public comment.
4) Staff was asked to present an overview of the Draft Paddle Tennis Report which had been developed in early 2010. Executive Director Wilson reported that the draft included an analysis of possible sites. Superintendent Bowen went through the report explaining the basics of the sport and the space requirements for the courts and “hut”. Each elevated court is 30 feet by 60 feet with 12-foot fencing and heaters under the deck. There are also lights around the perimeter of each court. The hut needs to be a bare minimum of 500 square feet up to 1,500 square feet. It must contain washrooms, a kitchenette and have views of all of the courts. The use is predominated by lessons and leagues. The Winnetka Park District leases the facility to the Association for a flat dollar amount. The facility breaks even and that is without being staffed by the Park District. The Association provides insurance to the Park District. The Lake Bluff Park District runs the facility on its own. The courts were donated to them and they built the hut. The facility runs at a loss but does include some debt service.
Commissioner Graham asked what percentage of court time is used by leagues at Winnetka. Staff replied that all of the evening and weekend uses are leagues although there are some lessons during the day. Patrons pay a $500 annual membership. Commissioner Crowley asked if Winnetka has any non-member use. Staff replied yes they do but the bulk is Association play. Lake Bluff is different since the Park District runs the facility.
Commissioner Murdock asked if the courts could be set up and taken down every year on existing tennis courts. Staff replied that could be done but a hut would still need to be made viable since so much of the activity is social. The other issue is storing the equipment when not in use. Commissioner Shelly added that there is no sense doing the project without the hut. Commissioner Crowley asked how many courts were being considered. Staff replied that a minimum of four is optimal. Commissioner Murdock asked what the status was of the projects at Glenview and Northbrook. Staff replied that they had heard their discussions have been put on hold.
Commissioner Murdock asked about the survey results in the report. Superintendent Bowen stated that the 2010 survey was completed using the application within our registration software which represented a limited cross-section of respondents.
Commissioner Graham asked if husbands and wives joined together. Commissioner Brault replied that the Association is an important part of a successful operation and they handle the “social” aspects including providing food and drinks. Superintendent Bowen added that in Winnetka the Association has the first two courts. Winnetka staff had advised us that the ability to serve alcohol is important. In the Winnetka model, the Association provides the Park District with insurance and they bring in the liquor. Commissioner Murdock asked that staff look into other area park district facilities to see how they handle these details. Superintendent Bowen replied that the Hinsdale Park District runs the facility but the Village passed an ordinance which makes it illegal to cross the surrounding park with liquor. Commissioner Crowley asked why any groups would want to come to a new facility in Wilmette. Commissioner Murdock replied that there are a number of people he knows who do not play now that would play here. Executive Director Wilson added there are a lot of people who don’t have the ability to play as much as they would like because of the lack of available times. Commissioner Murdock went on to add that a lot of people play at numerous locations to have more opportunities to play.
Commissioner Graham stated that unless it can be shown to be profitable, it should not be considered. He also added that when developing a business model like the Lake Bluff model the facility should be run by the Park District. He is concerned that if there is actual money to be made, why are there not more people building paddle tennis facilities considering the relatively low capital cost. Commissioner Crowley added he is not convinced there is enough interest to support the facility and that the location is a concern. Commissioner Shelly responded that the demand is there and it needs to be publicized in order for people to show interest. Commissioner Crowley asked if her views were all country-club based. Commissioner Shelly replied that many people who don’t join country clubs would love to play at a park district facility. She believes that part of the reason Lake Bluff is struggling is because of the numerous paddle tennis facilities in that area. Winnetka is the only local public facility near Wilmette.
Commissioner Brault stated that the facilities are able to make money. The last survey indicated people were willing to pay to use it. He went on to add that maybe the survey should be updated. Commissioner Graham responded that if they are so successful then why are there not more facilities around here. Commissioner Brault replied that starting a facility is not a simple endeavor and there are not that many open parcels for private concerns to build upon. Commissioner Shelly added that the sport is becoming more popular and play is now beginning to take place all year round. Commissioner Murdock went on to say that the last survey indicated 327 respondents were willing to pay to play. He believes the survey should be updated which may bring different results.
Superintendent Bingham stated that if a new survey is to be done, it should go beyond the registration database. Commissioner Shelly recommended that a survey be mailed out and also a web link established so that people could either fill it out on paper or complete it online. Commissioner Graham believes the updated survey is important. Superintendent Bowen stated that Lake Bluff conducted a survey and when they began a pre-construction membership, 20% of those who responded indicated they would join but then 80% of them pulled out when the construction was complete. In addition, the Lake Bluff courts were donated from a company which had gone out of business.
Commissioner Brault asked what would be an impressive survey response. Commissioner Graham believes that a survey could be the basis to make a monetary decision. He also wondered if it should include other communities. Commissioner Shelly added she believes it would be good if a group who was in favor of a facility were to organize an association and come forward to help promote the new facility. She added they could also reach out to surrounding communities to attract more members. Commissioner Graham stated he does not believe that the sport has broad interest but it would be very helpful if there was a nucleus of people that would help front the money to build it. Superintendent Bowen replied that in Winnetka the association donated $134,000 to help offset the cost of building their new hut.
Commissioner Murdock asked that staff develop updated development costs and that they also check out operations at other park districts such as Glen Ellyn and obtain updated information about the Glenview/Northbrook project.
Commissioner Crowley believes that if a facility is built, the Park District should operate it and not an Association. Superintendent Bowen replied that Winnetka does not staff that facility with full-time staff. Due to its proximity to the ice rink and tennis facility in Winnetka, the staffs from those facilities handle the opening, closing and cleaning of the facility.
Commissioner Murdock asked that staff develop a new survey and that the locations be updated including other possible options, if any.
Commissioner Crowley stated he is uncomfortable saying that the Park District should build a facility that would need non-residents to operate. This is something that would have to be discussed further especially in light of other discussions Commissioners have had about limiting non-resident participation at our facilities. It would be unfair to be selective about which facilities would allow their participation and those that would not. Commissioner Murdock replied he believes that the Wilmette residents should always come first. Commissioner Graham went on to state if Evanston has no courts, then maybe it would be worth investigating. Commissioner Crowley agreed that Wilmette residents have to come first. He also added that the location will be controversial no matter where it is and that could be worsened if non-residents are needed to make the facility operate. Commissioner Graham asked if his perception that associations from other communities compete against each other was incorrect since he thought that is what happens now.
Commissioner Shelly asked that staff provide the amount of non-resident participation at other facilities – especially tennis – and to identify by community as well.
6) Under New Business, the Committee reviewed a park permit request from the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation to host a 5K Walk/Run on April 28, 2012. After some discussion, the Committee agreed to grant the permit.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 7:40 p.m.
Minutes taken by Bill Lambrecht.
MINUTES APPROVED ON FEBRUARY 21, 2012.