Wilmette, News

Chalet’s expansion plans move forward, new CBA with Wilmette firefighters union approved

Wilmette trustees gave two green thumbs up for expansion plans from Chalet, the popular nursery and garden shop.

Trustees unanimously approved the Wilmette business’s proposal to expand its roots along Lake Avenue as part of a series of ordinances approved on the board’s consent agenda during its Tuesday, July 11 meeting.

As previously reported by The Record, Chalet’s expansion plans include a one-story addition on the north and west sides of the current garden center/retail building, an outdoor retail addition on the south side, a new open plaza on the west side, and a one-story entry addition to the west of the current site that includes the business’s office spaces.

Changes to the current parking aisles are also included in plans, according to village documents.

The additions on the west facade will make way for a greenhouse, vestibule entrance and additional retail space.

During an appearance in front of the village’s zoning board of appeals last month, Dave Bender, the project’s architect, told commissioners the exterior refresh is a key component, according to village documents. He noted that the added retail presence will be evident and the height of the building will be increased to define a presence and give Chalet a more modern look, per minutes from the meeting.  

Zoning commissioners also asked Chalet’s ownership if they were concerned about losing some of the Chalet’s iconic identity by making the additions.

Larry Thalmann, the third-generation owner of the longtime Wilmette store, told commissioners that the business did not take that consideration lightly but that the current building needs significant work, according to the meeting minutes. Thalmann added that the changes are aimed at creating harmony and unifying the campus.

Representatives from Chalet told commissioners last month that the business plans to stay open during renovations.

Wilmette agrees to new contract with firefighters union

Wilmette trustees also approved a new collective bargaining agreement with the Wilmette Professional Firefighters Union Local 5411. The three-year contract will run through Dec. 31, 2025, according to village documents.

The agreement includes a series of provisions that are classified as noneconomic items. The provisions included updates on family leave, drug testing and work-day conditions.

The work-day conditions section recognizes the day after Thanksgiving as a holiday, meaning union members would not be required to train or perform other assigned work on the holiday other than respond to calls for service, per village documents.

Under the new agreement, lieutenants are also now added to the bargaining unit.

Updated agreements on salaries were a key aspect of the provisions that are classified as economic items. According to information included in a village memo, Wilmette officials and the bargaining unit discussed ways to restore what is described as “the historical pay differential between firefighters and lieutenants.”

The parties agreed to lower cost-of-living adjustments for current lieutenants over the next three years, according to the agreement. This, in turn, restored the pay differential between firefighters and lieutenants to 15.3 percent by the end of the contract in 2025, the memo says.

Updates that adjust the advanced technician firefighters stipend and increase amounts allocated for both the annual tuition reimbursement program and uniform allowance are also included in the new contract.

The agreement also includes a new provision that offers an incentive for advanced retirement notice. This clause will provide a $3,000 incentive to employees that provide a letter notifying the fire chief of their intended date of retirement.

Village officials estimate the value of the three-year agreement is $460,000, per the memo. Officials say that staff has “appropriately accounted for the value of the first (2023) year of the contract and is within budget. The 2024 and 2025 budgets will be adjusted in accordance with the agreement.”

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martin carlino
Martin Carlino

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.

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