Wilmette Park District Parks & Recreation Committee Meeting, August 28, 2018
Present: Park Board Commissioners Bryan Abbott (Chair), John Olvany, Stephanie Foster; Staff: Superintendents Kathy Bingham and Jerry Ulrich. Also available to answer questions was Executive Director Steve Wilson.
Link to Meeting Packet: http://www.wilmettepark.org/agenda/1333.
Public Comment: Many commentators speaking for (about 6) and against (about 15) the proposed Langdon Park redesign (see below). Among those against there were differences: some wanted to scrap the whole plan and start from scratch, some were focused on eliminating the improvements outside the playground area (e.g., circular paved paths heading nearer to the bluffs, a porch swing overlooking the bluffs), some wanted only natural space at the park and no playground, some thought a playground should be there but didn’t like the design and/or size of what is proposed; some wanted to keep the park as it is; some were concerned improvements to the park would cause erosion issues. Some against thought there had not been enough opportunity for public comment; many of those in support noted that they been to multiple meetings over the past 4-5 months on this park and argued that there was plenty of opportunity for public comment. Those in favor generally noted the disrepair and how unsafe the current playground equipment is and the need for a playground in the neighborhood, which does not have another playground within walking distance, and that the playground design is consistent with public input given at previous meetings. Many written communications for and against park design in the meeting packet, and Commissioners noted that they have received much input on this park over the past several months, including at 2 meetings the Park District staff held at Langdon Park in April and June.
Significant Action Items:
Langdon Park Redesign: Staff submitted in the meeting packet the two bids received on the Langdon redesign, which the committee had approved for going out to bid at its July 9 meeting, and a recommendation to accept the lower bid, which came in at $286K ($16.5K over budget after taking into account what was budgeted for the park redo and ADA funds available to the project). Staff also included in the meeting packet options for value-engineering the project to get it within budget. See Packet (link above) pp. 80-83 for these two items. The proposed Langdon redesign that went out to bid includes a playground roughly within the pathway surrounding the existing equipment, which existing equipment is 34 years old and in disrepair. The proposed design has a rubberized surface under the playground equipment that makes the equipment accessible and meets current federal fall zone requirements. The proposed design also included improvements outside the pathway surrounding the existing equipment: a circular paved pathway throughout the park, heading toward the bluffs, making all benches accessible by pathways; new benches; a porch swing over the bluff; and decorative screens around the port-a-potties. For pictures of proposed playground equipment and the design scheme approved for going out to bid, see July 9 meeting packet at http://www.wilmettepark.org/agenda/1314 (p. 11 for pictures, p. 13 for design). Commissioners discussed at length whether to recommend to the whole Park Board the bid recommended by staff. They noted, among other things, that: 1) they read and listened to all input over the past months, including at two sessions staff held at Langdon to get input, 2) the replacement of the playground equipment at Langdon is long overdue, 3) many of the equipment and design elements, including things subject to much criticism during the public comment section (e.g, the porch swing and the circular walkway throughout the park), came from public input, to balance interests of different park users, and from research, 4) the original “tot lot” from 34 years ago could not be built on its same footprint today because of current federal fall zone standards, and 5) they strive to balance many competing interests in designing a park. The Commissioners made several modifications to the July 9 plan before voting, noting that the modifications would bring the plan back under budget and address concerns of residents who wanted nothing new outside the playground area but still provide for a new, safe playground. Modifications included: 1) excluding the walkway loop extending toward the bluff, the screen fence surrounding the porta potties (instead an in-house solution would be used), new park benches (instead providing park benches from current inventory), and the porch swing and 2) changing the walkway to the playground to pavers, instead of concrete or asphalt. Unanimously approved. Next step: The Park District Board must vote whether to proceed. Next Board meeting: September 12.
New Fitness Center Equipment: As part of annual equipment replacement, staff submitted a bid summary and bid recommendation for equipment to be replaced at the Fitness Center. Bid came in under budget. See Packet (link above) pp. 77-78. Unanimously approved.
Observer: Mary Lawlor Meeting Length: 2 hours 20 minutes
Next Park Board meeting: September 12, 2018.
Next Parks & Recreation Committee Meeting: September 17, 2018.
Other Park Board Committee Meetings in September: Lakefront Committee (Sept. 4), Facilities Operations (Sept. 12, before Board meeting), Golf Operations (Sept. 15), Financial Planning & Policy (Sept. 24).