Winnetka Park District moving forward with village agreement

The Winnetka Park District Board voted to move forward with an intergovernmental agreement with the village regarding stormwater work on Elder Lane Beach.

This agreement will be necessary because the village manages the stormwater system although the pipe sits on Park District land.

“Unless nothing changes at all, and that is a small likelihood, there does need to be an IGA between the village and the Park District,” Counsel Adam Simon said.

This new agreement would have a narrow scope and only pertain to the stormwater plan as opposed to a previous offer for an agreement to allow the Park District to bypass a majority of the village’s special-use permit process. Lakefront construction, particularly that done in the steep slope zone, now has to go through this broader process. This includes the controversial Elder/Centennial beach project.

The board voted against the bypass saying it would rather engage openly for the sake of transparency.

Commissioners Cynthia Rapp and Colleen Root argued the agreement shouldn’t be discussed until the results of a village stormwater study are in.

“I have no problem with a very limited IGA with respect to East Winnetka stormwater and a it may effect either Elder and or Centennial,” Root said. “I just think you have the cart before the horse here.”

Codo said because negotiations will be a lengthy process, it benefits the Park District to begin as soon as possible and collaborate even before all the elements are in place.

She, Board Vice President Eric Lussen and Executive Director Shannon Nazzal will be the negotiating team for the agreement.

The village plans to have results from a stormwater study, including if the current pipe size is sufficient or needs to be replaced, in July.

Without these results, the Park District can’t be certain if the pipe will remain under the existing pier — which is planned to be replaced — or be removed and have a new pipe placed within the northern breakwater at Elder.

According to Commissioner Warren James, the village has indicated it would like to replace the pipe and remove and replace the pier.

“All that planning is still in place,” he said. “Their study may reveal something different but what isn’t going to change is the 300 acres of Winnetka that drains to that point and needs to be discharged into the lake.”

Root was the lone vote against moving forward with the agreement. She also voted against further changes to the ADA pathway along the beach. The changes — including an outlook being flipped north and a more level slope — would add $5,000 in cost to the design and remove 62.5 feet of walkway.

The outlook was flipped to ensure enough space was available in the event the now dormant land swap with billionaire Justin Ishbia is realized. The swap would trade the land he owns at 261 Sheridan Road, situated in between the two parks owned by the Park District, for a similar sized parcel at the southern edge of Centennial. The ultimate goal of the Park District is to have the swap completed and combine the two beaches into one contiguous beach/park.