Changes coming in lakefront process
THUS FAR: Visit www.wilmettepark.org and click on the “Lakefront Plan” drop-down menu at the top of the page.
SURVEY: click on www.wilmettepark.org/lakefront/masterplan/survey .
Updated: February 25, 2013 11:27AM
WILMETTE — After months of hearing from community members on potential futures for Wilmette’s lakefront parks, Wilmette Park District members talked about the issue themselves for the first time.
The result appears to be a procedural mid-course correction for the lakefront master plan.
After a brief discussion at their Jan. 14 meeting commissioners decided on three things:
• They want a list of what district staff thinks must get done at Gillson and Langdon Parks, complete with at least a ballpark range of potential costs.
• They want to meet with SmithGroupJJR consultants, to find out if they are hearing and thus acting upon the same messages that board commissioners have heard to date from the public.
• They want to reach beyond people who have given their opinions thus far, going to PTOs, senior citizens, young families and even local Rotary groups for more input than they have received from lakefront activists.
Board President Jim Brault said Jan. 15 that the district must hear from more than what he acknowledged have often been the same interested participants at repeated master plan workshops and meetings.
“We see this in most of our projects. General the ones who are most invested become involved … but the money we put into projects comes from the entire community, and as you’ve heard, the board’s concern is that we don’t yet have enough input from every segment of the community,” he said.
Commissioner John Olvany agreed. On Jan. 16 he said he’d like to hear from families with young children and PTA members, among other groups, about what they want to see in park district services.
At the meeting, Olvany said he’d like to see three different categories from consultants: what he called “wish lists”; lists of “must-do” projects necessary to improve aging infrastructure like sewer lines or to meet federal ADA requirements for a handicapped-accessible elevator in the Lakefront Center; and lists of those enhancements falling in-between those two. All should have some cost estimates, he said.
Commissioner Shelley Shelly told District Director Steve Wilson she assumed consultants had met regularly with staff “and have heard what needs to be done.”
He agreed, but said, “Even when you’re talking about must-haves, there’s room for debate.” He said Jan. 15 staff would get a minimum needs analysis, including costs, to board members. He would also arrange a meeting with the consultants, he said, “but I don’t think it will be in the next month.”
After the meeting, Commissioner Gary Benz said the board doesn’t want to tell consultants what to do, just wants “to be sure we’re all on the same page.” He also suggested he wants to see a proposal developed at a faster pace: “I don’t want to it to take more than half a decade.”
Work on the future of Gillson and Langdon parks has been in the works since 2008, with workshops and public hearings accelerating through 2010, 2011 and 2012. The board received the consultant’s three-option interim report, based in part on its own studies, input from an advisory lakefront commission, and from the public in October.
Brault said he did not believe that what Wilson called a recent turnover in staff at SmithGroupJJR had caused any missteps in what consultants were doing for the district.
“My sense has been that it was largely following what we’ve asked it to do.”