WILMETTE PARK DISTRICT
CENTENNIAL OPERATIONS COMMITTEE MEETING
Date: November 14, 2011
Place: Village Hall Training Room
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Commissioners: Crowely, Benz, Shelly
Staff: Bowen, Bingham, Eppelheimer, Juliar, Lambrecht, Smith, Udany, Wilson
Visitors: Evita Vulgaris, Ami Bauman, Jennifer Lind, Paul Ross, Gene Kociom
Topics of Discussion:
1) Meeting Called to Order
2) Approval of Minutes
3) Recognition of Visitors
4) Managers Reports
5) Old Business
1) The meeting was called to order at 6:30 p.m.
2) The Committee approved the minutes of the October 26, 2011 Committee meeting by General Consent
3) Under Recognition of Visitors, Committee Chair Crowley stated that the New Business portion of the meeting will be moved up so that Ms. Vulgaris, who wrote a letter about the lap pool, needed to leave early so she could be recognized. Superintendent Bowen then explained that during the October committee meeting, staff was asked to solicit comments from the pool members concerning possible changes to the public swim schedule for next season. He stated that over 3,000 emails were sent to all Centennial Aquatic Center members informing them that the Committee was considering expanding the public swim hours to between 5-7 pm on Monday through Friday in the main pool. This would eliminate lap swimming during this time. As of today, a total of 250 “rejected” emails were received along with 110 “good” emails. The breakdown indicated 54 respondents (60%) wanted no changes and 39 (40%) wanted the recommended changes made. In addition, four people indicated the District should remove the swim club and two wanted there to be only Wilmette residents allowed at the pool. There were also a couple of other emails that did not answer the questions but did provide miscellaneous comments about the facility. As a result, the percentages equated to approximately 60% wanting no changes and 40% wanting changes.
Ms. Vulgaris asked what the impact would be on the New Trier Swim Club, what the plans were and if anyone had contacted them. Superintendent Bowen stated that a meeting had been held with the swim club who proposed they could possibly move to an earlier time during the day but felt they could not move any further back such as from 7:30 to 9 pm. Staff recommended to the committee to removing one lane from the swim club and removing the three lanes from the lap swimmers which would result in having four lanes for open swim time and four lanes for the swim club and this is what is currently being considered tonight. Commissioner Shelly then summarized that this would mean there would still be lap swimming from 6:30 am to 5 pm and then again from 7:15 to 9 pm.
Chair Crowley stated that there is essentially no time during the day when everyone can choose to enjoy every area of the pool. Superintendent Bowen added that there are currently six different user groups using the pool – lap swimmers, swim team, children learning to swim, divers, parents with tots, and people who utilize the activity pool. The pool opens up before 6 am in the morning and it is closed two nights a week at 10 pm. There is lap swimming going on almost continually throughout the day. Staff has received complaints from some individuals that would like to see public swim in the morning when the learn-to-swim classes are taught. The district has also had complaints that during the 5-7 pm time there is no open swim time in the main pool although people can still enjoy the other amenities at the facility. In summary, if a change in the schedule is made or not made, some people will not be happy.
Superintendent Bowen stated that staff’s recommendation is to allow four lanes for open public swim which they feel would be adequate and then have four lanes that would then be used by the swim team. Chair Crowley added that the Committee had not yet voted on that option.
A member of the audience asked if there was a possibility to cut the lap lane usage down to two lanes. Chair Crowley stated that there are several possibilities and all options are on the table at this moment. Another audience member stated that the prime time for families whose parents both work is from 5-6 pm for open swim. Superintendent Bowen replied that the swim team offered to move up their time to 4-6 pm but felt they couldn’t move back to 6-8 or 7-9 pm and the 3-5 pm time slot would interfere with the children in summer camps.
Commissioner Shelly stated that the activity pool is also open at that same time. A member of the audience pointed out that Centennial is the only 15-meter pool in the area and 15-meters which is the length for competitions. Superintendent Bowen stated that the swim team currently has five lanes and there is lap swimming in three lanes. Staff felt that one lane could be removed from the swim team which would result in four lanes for the swim team and by eliminating lap swimming there would be four lanes for public swim time.
A member of the audience asked if there was possibility that the pool hours could be extended into the spring and fall since it is such a short season. Chair Crowley replied that the problem is with the weather in the spring since it is often not conducive for swimming and in the fall, the facility loses all of our lifeguards who return to school. An audience member asked if putting a “bubble” over the pool would work.
Chair Crowley replied that 10 years ago a referendum was brought to the public and an outdoor pool won. In regarding to enclosing the pool, it would be very expensive and staffing would still continue to be an issue. At this point, Chair Crowley closed visitor comment to begin Committee discussion.
Commissioner Benz stated that the swim team program per Superintendent Bowen is over during the second week of August so it is basically only about two weeks between the end of the swimming club season and the closing of the pool and it begins on the second weekend of June. It seems to him that staff has done a good job to date of accommodating the six core pool users and that the alternative proposal being made is to say no to the lap swimmers and yes to the families in the evening.
Commissioner Shelly felt it would be okay if the lap swimmers had one lane next to the swim team so that they would have lanes 1-4, the lap swimmers would have one lane, and then there would three lanes for the leisure swimmers. Paul Ross stated that because of the “etiquette” of lap swimmers, reducing the lanes during this time would not work. He stated that it would be better to eliminate the lap lanes and reduce their numbers. Superintendent Bowen indicated that he was doubtful that eliminating one lane would work.
Commissioner Benz made a motion to leave the schedule as it is currently laid out. He felt that what has been advocated was increasing the opportunity for family open swim and removing the lap swimmers. However, he thinks it is unfair to throw the lap swimmers out. Chair Crowley seconded the motion and stated that this would result in no public swim between 5-7 pm but the other pool amenities would still be available.
Commissioner Shelly disagreed and stated that the lap swimmers have all day to swim and she would rather see the main pool be split up into three sections. She does not believe that this is the best solution. The activity pool is typically for smaller children and then there are the children age 8-14. She feels that there should be a 5-7 pm time frame for public swim in the main pool and that we should try work harder to on a compromise for everyone.
Commissioner Benz added that the Committee had been told by staff that what she is recommending would be a safety issue. Superintendent Bowen added that if one of the lap swimming lanes is eliminated during that time period, the lap lanes would be over-crowded. Commissioner Shelly disagreed and felt patrons would move to other times.
By a voice vote, voting Yes – 2; voting No – 1. Motion carried.
Chair Crowley stated that if Commissioner Shelly felt strongly about this issue, staff could maybe come up with an alternative as to what you would like to see happen at the pool. He also felt that the lap swimmers should not be eliminated from the 5-7 timeframe since the general public and families are able to use the other parts of the pool during that time.
Chair Crowley thanked everyone for their input.
3) Communications and Correspondence:
Chair Crowley reported an email was received from Mark Andrew regarding safety issues at Tennis. Staff had been asked to report back on this issue and they indicated some research had already been done the recent incident that had happened in Chicago.
4) Managers Reports:
Ice/Pool Facility Manager Terry Juliar reported the Friday night “TGIF” public skating sessions have been scheduled and the first one was last week Friday with over 100 in attendance. Next on the schedule are the sessions on December 9, January 13, January 17 and March 9 when the DJ will be on hand. Staff attempted to schedule these sessions around school events in the hopes of seeing increased attendance. The Australian Sister City exchange students visited the rink again this year on November 2. Terry was able to tickets for a Wolves game at the end of this month. This was also done last year and everyone enjoyed themselves.
Parks & Planning staff installed new rubber flooring in the studio rink and around the tree in the front seating area. There was also enough remaining to do the rubber flooring in front of the concession stand and restrooms which will take some additional time. After that, the restrooms will probably need to be done as well which might take awhile since the old flooring was put down with very strong glue and staff was surprised when the floor didn’t come up. This Thanksgiving the annual Loyola Academy High School Invitational hockey tournament will be held at Centennial. The games will be played on Thursday through Sunday and 16 teams have been invited to participate again this year. Last week staff sent out pool letters to about 140 returning staff inviting them to apply for their positions. Before the letters were mailed, staff had also received five or six applications from new applicants. Currently, 35 letters have already come back from returning staff.
Tennis Facility Manager Darrell Smith reported that out of the four women’s tennis teams, three are currently in first place. Tennis also recently held its winter lesson registration and since his last report the total has grown from 305 students to 401 with a waiting list. During the month of September, the annual holiday pro shop sale will be held. The facility will be closed on Thanksgiving Day and then open up the next day which is a busy day for Tennis. Staff also mailed out the free holiday guest passes for that weekend and for use during the December break. From December 19-22, the center will be offering three different holiday camps for children and these are usually quite popular.
Assistant Facility Manager Brian Udany reported that the ice rink is offering some extended times for holiday skaters. On Christmas Eve, December 24, and New Year’s Eve, December 31, times will run from 10 am until 2 pm and we usually a couple hundred people at these public sessions. Also on New Year’s Day, a 1 to 4 pm public skate is held which has also been popular.
5) Old Business: None
6) New Business: None
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 7:20 pm.
Minutes taken by Jeffrey Bowen.
MINUTES APPROVED ON JANUARY 9, 2012.