Date: January 17, 2011
Place: Park District Conference Room
Time: 6:30 p.m.

Commissioners:  Brault, Crowley, Murdock
Staff: Lambrecht, Bingham, Groves, Specht, Eppelheimer, Wilson
Topics for Discussion:

1) Meeting Called to Order
2) Approval of Minutes
3) Communications and Correspondence
a) Outdoor Ice
4) Manager’s Reports
5) Old Business
6) New Business
    a) Dogs Off Leash
7) Adjourn

Discussions/Decisions Made:

1) The meeting was called to order at 6:30 p.m.

2) The Committee approved the minutes of November 16, 2010 by general consent.

3) Under Communications and Correspondence, the Committee reviewed the following:

     • An e-mail from Laura Carlson asking for an artificial outdoor ice rink in Wilmette.

     • An e-mail from Dan Zelazny requesting that a natural ice rink be added at Thornwood Park and if it was possible to have two rinks, one with “boards”. The Committee discussed adding a rink at Thornwood Park in addition to the rinks at Gillson, Mallinckrodt and West Park. Superintendent Lambrecht stated there is not currently enough staff to develop four rink locations. In addition, if a rink is to be done at Thornwood, water service and lighting would have to be installed. After further discussion, staff was asked to come back with a proposal to add a rink at Thornwood Park for the 2011/2012 season and include what the cost would be to put in the required utilities.

     •  The Committee reviewed e-mails from Lyn Flannery and Mary Beth Surman
 complimenting the Park District on the dog obedience classes.

4) Under Manager’s Reports, Holly Specht reported they are currently working on developing the seasonal rack rental contracts that will go out next week. It is hoped to do this all on-line in 2012. They are also developing the ability to reserve rental boats on-line but this option will also not be available until 2012. Staff is in the process of hiring summer staff for the 2011 season. There have not been many returning staff but there are enough applications for replacements if needed. The ice rink at Gillson Park is being heavily used. Lakeview Center rentals for December were double what they were the prior year. The Committee asked why the rack renewals and boat rentals were not being done on-line this year. Staff stated they are not ready to do the on-line rack renewal this year. The Committee asked that attempts be made to have boat rental reservations done on-line for the coming summer. Staff is to report back to the Committee in February.

Jeff Groves reported Saturday Basketball (Grades 4 to 8) is well underway with 671 participants and Sunday Basketball (Grades 1 to 3) has 479 participants. The Sunday program has been growing for the last five years although participation drops off going into the higher grades due to the travelling teams. There are currently 22 teams in the Sunday Men’s League which runs from 10:30 am to 9 pm every Sunday at Wilmette Junior High. Summer Camp Fair was held on January 6. Staff reported that since attendance was down they will try moving the event back one week so that it doesn’t compete with the holidays. Applications are coming in for summer camp jobs and returning applications will be reviewed first. New applicants will be contacted in late February or early March to set up an interview. There are currently 1,500 participants in Gymnastics and that should grow to 1,800 or 2,000 by the end of the current session. Mid-Winter classes began today. In Performing Arts, the North Shore Theatre is presenting Brighton Beach Memoirs which opens February 4. Children’s Theatre is in rehearsals for Willie Wonka which opens March 11.

Commissioner Murdock asked if there was any way to get more girls to participate in basketball. After some discussion, it was agreed that there are many other opportunities in which girls can participate such as dance. Staff will look into providing more information to girls in an effort to increase interest in Basketball.

5) Under Old Business, staff reported that photo ID’s will be issued for the four additional passes for the Sailing seasonal rack rentals and that they will have the bearer’s photo on them instead of the boat owner’s. Commissioner Crowley asked if there was any way to stop people from climbing the fence along Michigan Avenue to get into the Sailing Beach. Staff stated that a different type of fence could be the answer as opposed to the chain link fence. He asked if staff could be more vigilant about checking passes of people on the beach. Staff stated that boat owners do sometimes report groups that are on the beach and staff checks them out and asks those without passes to leave.

6) Under New Business, staff presented a resident’s request that dogs be let off-leash in all parks during specific hours. Staff stated there are various reasons why the request should not be allowed. The first reason is that there are people who are afraid of dogs. It wasn’t too long ago when dogs were not allowed at all except on the dog beach and at the play area at West Park. There were people who spoke extensively about not letting dogs into the parks at all. Secondly, it makes enforcement much more difficult because of the hours the dogs are or are not allowed. There was some discussion about developing a fenced play area in a park. Staff reported they had been in negotiations to develop an area under the power lines at West Park. However, ComEd put severe restrictions on the lease and expected the Park District to assume all liabilities from past and future environmental hazards. In addition, ComEd is in the process of cancelling leases with all kinds of governmental agencies for these properties. The Park District is still maintaining the area under the power lines and we do allow dogs off-leash there.

Superintendent Bingham asked that the hours of the dog beach be changed during the summer months. The beach would close one hour earlier at 10 am but would open an hour and half earlier in the afternoon. The morning Aquatics Camp sessions have become very popular and they begin at 10 am. Staff needs to utilize the beach between the pier and the dog beach for the Aquatics Camp. After some discussion, the Committee agreed unanimously to change the dog beach hours.

Superintendent Bingham presented a list of revenue enhancements for the current fiscal year that the Recreation and Lakefront staff had proposed. Some of the items were added after the budget was completed and some have not yet been scheduled. The Committee asked about the possibility of putting on a Winterfest Celebration including ice sculptures, sleigh rides, decorating the park with lights, a bonfire, hot chocolate and other activities. Staff was asked to put together a proposal and come back to the Committee with a report. The Committee also discussed adding a beer tent for the Independence Day Celebration. Staff stated it would investigate getting cooperation from the Village for a liquor license and how the Village staff would feel about enforcement. Park District staff believes that the beer would have to be sold within a confined area and that it would not be allowed out of that area. Staff will develop a report and come back to the Committee with some recommendations.

Superintendent Lambrecht stated he had been contacted by the Wilmette Baseball Association (WBA) about putting up a plaque at one of the Thornwood Park baseball fields to commemorate the services of Bill Pritz who had served as league commissioner for the Pinto League for many years. There is precedent for doing this – the field at West Park was named for Pete Endre and a field at Community Playfield was named for Dick Elam. The WBA provides the plaque and the Park District installs it. After some discussion, the Committee agreed to allow the WBA to install a plaque.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 7:45 p.m.