Wilmette Harbor lease may be up for bid
OWNED BY: Metropolitan Water Reclamation District
MANAGED BY: Wilmette Harbor Association
MANAGEMENT LEASE: Going to bid
WILMETTE | Park District officials, already slated to get their first look Monday at an assessment of Wilmette Harbor’s condition, may have to decide more quickly than expected whether they want to get involved in managing it.
District director Steve Wilson said Friday that the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, which owns the narrow man-made harbor south of Gillson Park, has decided to go out to public bid for a 39-year lease to manage it.
Where that leaves the private Wilmette Harbor Association, which has managed operations for the past 75 years, is not clear.
According to minutes of the Sept. 6 MWRD board meeting, published on the MWRD website, commissioners gave their staff the authority to tender the lease to manage the harbor’s 6.9 acres. The minimum initial rental bid would be $67,000 according to the minutes.
“They did approve to move forward on the bid process,” Wilson said, adding that a reclamation district official alerted the park district’s attorney on Wednesday to the agenda item. “What we’re trying to determine is how it impacts us. We’re trying to contact their legal department and I’m sure by Monday I’ll have a very clear idea which I can give to the (park) board.”
A harbor association official could not be reached Friday afternoon and calls to the MWRD were not immediately returned.
The association’s current lease to maintain the harbor and its roughly 300 boat slips was to have ended earlier this year, but the MWRD agreed to extend it until year’s end to enable the 2012 boating season.
The park district’s potential connection with the harbor became a public issue last year, after a 2010 change in state law required the MWRD to put the harbor lease out for public bid – unless the harbor association could work out a management agreement with yet another public body, such as the park district.
Association representatives contacted the park district in 2010 to see if they could craft an agreement, and met several more times in 2011, but Wilson and park board members said they needed more information from the association on operating costs and harbor conditions. Estimates of how much it might cost to improve deteriorated harbor facilities include one provided previously to the harbor association suggesting it could cost up to $10 million.
The park board paid the JJR consulting firm for an assessment study, which is now complete and in the agenda packet for the meeting at 7:30 p.m. Monday at 1200 Wilmette Ave.