On April 7, 2015, two referenda questions will appear on the ballot that propose issuing general obligation bonds for infrastructure and facility work outlined in the Lakefront Master Plan. One question for Gillson Park seeks $12.7 million and a second question for Langdon Park seeks $1.8 million. The cost of these plans includes construction, fees and contingencies.
It has been 13 years since the Wilmette Park District placed a referendum question on the ballot. In the interim the Park District has covered more than 65% of its operating costs through user fees and pared down its full-time staff to 70 employees. It represents about 6.5 percent of your property tax bill. The Park District annually sets aside money for anticipated capital projects. Most recently this financial planning allowed it to fund golf course renovations at the Wilmette Golf Club, replace the refrigeration system at Centennial Ice Rinks and build the new Wilmette Platform Tennis Club—all without seeking additional taxpayer assistance.
The Lakefront Master Plan has been more than six years in the making. Public meetings and resident input helped trim original cost estimates from nearly $20 million to a current total of $14.5 million, should voters approve both referenda questions. We have assessed the needs and now must address the problems.
The infrastructure and environmental obligations of maintaining nearly 63 acres of park land, as well as providing proper facilities for activities only available on the lakefront, cannot be met out of existing financial reserves while still preserving the quality of services and programming that residents have come to expect elsewhere in the district.
The Board of Park Commissioners unanimously approved the referenda resolutions on Jan. 12, 2015. All components of the plan originated with requests and needs identified by the community-at-large, the Board, Park District staff and professional consultants.
The heart of this North Shore community is found in the ambience of Wilmette’s lakefront. For over 100 years the Park District has been dedicated to nurturing that environment while, more recently, striving to balance the recreational access expected by users of both Gillson and Langdon Parks. We’re here to provide information and answer questions. Please don’t hesitate to contact me at email@example.com.
James P. Crowley
Board of Park Commissioners