October 18, 2021

Dear Wilmette Park District Resident,

Over the weekend, a group called Keep Gillson Green (KGG) circulated a letter asking residents to come to a meeting of the Board of Park Commissioners (Board) this evening at Village Hall at 7:30 pm. We join in that invitation. It is critical that the public provide input on all things Park District and ensure the correct information is being disseminated.

The Wilmette Park District Board of Park Commissioners requested I send an email notifying you of our meeting with links to the actual plans being discussed this evening. KGG has a website sharing its opinions about the presented design concepts for the Lakeview Center interior renovation and Gillson Park comprehensive plan. In an effort to clear up misinformation and present facts, not opinions, please review the official Park District proposal available on the Park District’s website, which is listed below.

Lakeview Center Interior Renovation:

Visit https://wilmettepark.org/lakeview-center-renovation-project to read about the project and download the presentation. This interior renovation proposal was: 

  • Presented at multiple Lakefront Committee meetings;
  • Presented at one Board Meeting; 
  • The subject of a community-wide survey conducted online; and 
  • The focus of two open houses. 

Significant input from the public was sought for this interior renovation. In this presentation, you will see that there is no alteration to the footprint of the Lakeview Center. 

The interior renovation is a reconfiguration and updating of the interior spaces to better utilize the facility and serve the public. The removal of certain interior walls and incorporating partitions will result in spaces for classes and a rental space that meets the expectations of the community both in style and size. It also includes updating bathrooms and adding a family restroom.

The plans also call for the removal of a portion of the existing exterior deck, and a rebuild of decking for an overall increase of 1,200 square feet in usable deck space. The current design proposes to rebuild the deck over the existing asphalt or concrete patio and drives without loss of green space.

This is similar to the 2021 deck addition at the Sheridan Shore Yacht Club, also located within Gillson Park. Their deck project, which increased the usable deck space by 1,722 square feet, was met with no opposition during the public zoning process with the Village of Wilmette.

Gillson Comprehensive Plan:

In addition to Lakeview, we ask that you go to https://wilmettepark.org/gillson-comprehensive-plan to learn more about the proposed concepts for Gillson Park by downloading the presentation made at a public meeting on September 27th. As you will see on the webpage, this information will be available for your feedback via:

  • An online survey to open in the coming weeks;
  • An engagement session at the Community Playfields during soccer games on October 23rd 
  • An open house on October 28th at Mallinckrodt; and
  • An open house on November 3rd at the Community Recreation Center.

When you review the concepts, you will see that all but the first concept result in a reduction in paved surfaces in the park. The Board of Park Commissioners has already stated they are not interested in plans that increase the paved surfaces in the park.

The Board of Park Commissioners is in the process of developing plans focused on fixing the roads and sewers, adding sidewalks to facilitate a better separation of pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicular traffic, and making any further improvements that the community conveys it would like to see. 

Specific to green space in Gillson, the Board is exploring concepts of removing existing roads to increase the overall green space which has an added benefit of reducing the cost of sewers in the park. 

Specific to trees, certified arborists have determined there are trees that need to be removed due to their health. The Board is committed to planting new trees for every tree that has to be removed. In addition, some aspects of the various concepts could require the removal of additional trees beyond those in poor health. This is not something anyone considers lightly, and to that end the Board wants your feedback on the various aspects of the concepts.

Opportunities to voice your input/opinion:

After reviewing the presentations for Lakeview Center or Gillson Park, share your thoughts. Here's how:

  1. Attend a Board meeting and make a statement during Public Comment. Our next meeting is this evening at 7:30 pm at Village Hall. Subsequent meetings are held on the second Monday of the month at 7:30 pm at Village Hall. 
  2. If you prefer, you also have the option to contact us via email. If this is your preference, please email me at swilson@wilpark.org and I will make sure your feedback is sent to the Board and included in a future packet for an upcoming Board meeting.
  3. Attend one of the upcoming open houses and engagement sessions for the Gillson Comprehensive Plan.

Your Park District is made better through public input. Thanks for your ongoing interest in the Wilmette Park District.




Steve Wilson
Executive Director, Wilmette Park District