Winnetka, News

Winnetka Council Recap: Home granted landmark status, postal service lease extended again, village manager spending power increased

Although the latest Winnetka Village Council meeting lacked length, the trustees’ session certainly didn’t fall short in substance. 

Winnetka trustees breezed through their meeting Tuesday, May 21, but still managed to also approve a series of notable items. 

Trustees give ‘unique property’ local landmark status

An “extremely rare” home built by a noted Chicago architect now has local landmark status. 

Trustees approved an ordinance granting the protective designation to the home at 1207 Whitebridge Hill Road. The mid-century, modern-style home was built in 1957 by architect William F. Deknatel, according to documents from Winnetka’s Landmark Preservation Commission. 

According to documents included in the board’s packet, the commission determined that the house is an “exceptional example of residential twentieth-century modernist architecture and an extremely rare example within the Village.” 

Deknatel is known for a series of architecturally significant homes in the area. He studied at Princeton University, the École des Beaux-Arts of Paris, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin. 

Local landmark status gives the home a layer of protection against major renovations, including demolition.

Winnetka officials OK with USPS’s request for more time

Trustees stamped their approval on a request for a short-term delay that they hope will still deliver their long-term vision for a crucial downtown space. 

The council greenlighted a resolution approving a third amendment to the village’s lease agreement with the United States Postal Service. 

According to a village memo, Winnetka has had a lease agreement with the USPS for its facility located at 512 Chestnut St. for more than a decade. 

Representatives from the postal service contacted Winnetka officials in the summer of 2022 to express interest in relocating the facility to a different location in town, per the memo. 

Winnetka officials then provided the required 12-month termination notice to the USPS in July of 2022, meaning the agreement between the two entities was set to expire last summer. 

But Winnetka’s Council has since approved two extensions prior to the third that was OK’d on Tuesday night. The most recent extension lasts until Jan. 31, 2025, per village documents. 

Village officials said that representatives of the post office requested additional time to prepare for the move to the new location on Lincoln Avenue.

As previously reported by The Record, Winnetka trustees have set their sights on the soon-to-be former post office space as a key redevelopment opportunity.

Trustees first reviewed a concept plan presented by Village President Chris Rintz in 2022 for the redevelopment of the space. The plan proposed reimagining the site into a new public gathering space filled with amenities. 

The concept, at the time, was informally referred to as a “town square,” and officials suggested plans that would open the area to serve as a dedicated place for residents and special events. 

Since it was first publicly presented, Rintz and the board have restated their vision for the project as developing a place where the community comes together. The board recently held a study session to outline the path toward redeveloping the space. 

‘Accumulated inflation’ leads to higher spending authority for village manager

The only item on trustees’ agenda for the May 21 meeting that the council — which was down three members — discussed also received full support. 

An ordinance approved by the board at the meeting doubles the village manager’s purchasing authority for purchase orders, contracts and change orders. 

The current purchasing authority of the village manager is $25,000 with an allowance to delegate $10,000 to the village’s finance director, according to village documents. The $25,000 amount has remained the same since 1999, said Timothy J. Sloth, Winnetka’s finance director, at the meeting. 

Sloth told trustees that the manager’s purchasing authority has eroded by 52 percent due to accumulated inflation in the time since 1999. To adjust for that inflation, the approved ordinance grants a purchasing power of $50,000 with an allowance to delegate $20,000, or 40 percent, to the finance director. 

“I think this makes sense at this point to give some more leniency to let (the village manager) do (his) job and take out some of our paperwork, too,” Trustee Rob Apatoff said. 

Rob Bahan, Winnetka’s village manager, said that the village will still require three quotes to be obtained for purchases between $5,000-50,000. 

Bahan later added that the increase in purchasing authority should lead to “less clutter” on trustees’ agenda and “hopefully we can get these things done more efficiently.” 

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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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