Progress on the Wilmette Park District’s work developing a comprehensive master plan for Gillson Park is ramping up, and officials are now targeting a completion date in September.
Representatives from The Lakota Group, the consulting firm working to construct the vision, updated the Wilmette Park Board on its ongoing work during the board’s June meeting.
Scott Freres, president of The Lakota Group, told commissioners that the firm is nearing the completion of the second of three phases, which it classifies as the “engagement” stage. The first phase in the process was dubbed “analysis,” while the final is called “envision.”
Officials are planning on hosting a community open house July 8 to serve as a “summation of findings,” Freres said. He added that the session will also be another chance to engage with the community and listen to resident concerns and topics of interest.
Following that event, representatives from the company again plan to provide an update to board members at the commissioners regular meeting scheduled on July 12.
Andy Tinucci, principal of Woodhouse Tinucci Architects, walked the board through nine “fundamental principles” on which officials are focusing — safety/security, natural environment, facilities programming and operations, green/sustainable practice, improved accessibility, efficient infrastructure, durability/maintenance, fiscal responsibility, and “other.”
Related to safety, Tinucci said that officials are “focused deeply on making (Gillson) a safe place.” He noted that the current structure of Harbor Drive creates safety issues for both pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
One method planners are considering related to safety is adding a sidewalk on Harbor Drive, Tinucci said.
A focus on the programming aspect of planning is considering “whether or not the park meets all of the needs of the facility,” Tinucci said, noting the possibility of adding a picnic shelter.
Accessibility is a major area of study because “Gillson would be a better place for the entire community if it would be more accessible,” Tinucci said.
According to officials, infrastructure is also a central focus.
“Some of the stormwater and drainage systems are dysfunctional,” Tinucci said. “They are broken, they are old (and) they need to be renovated and improved.”
Tinucci also said that durability and fiscal responsibility are top priorities.
The Lakota Group’s goal is to “set a path for developing and getting to a completed master plan direction by the end of September,” Freres told commissioners.
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Martin Carlino is a co-founder and the senior editor who assigns and edits The Record stories, while also bylining articles every week. Martin is an experienced and award-winning education reporter who was the editor of The Northbrook Tower.