Winnetka Park District staff shared an initial timeline for the permit application process for the long-in-development Elder and Centennial beachfront project, and park commissioners got a have a look at the initial drafts of those documents during a Park Board meeting on Thursday, Nov. 16.
The applications are based on the most recent schematic designs of the plans, which were approved by park commissioners in October.
Commissioners Cynthia Rapp and Colleen Root, who’ve consistently voiced essentially the most criticism toward the district’s plans, asked a lot of the questions on Thursday. Each, together with now-former Commissioner David Seaman, voted to withdraw the initial permit applications for a previous version of the Elder-Centennial plans, which on the time included a property exchange agreement with the Ishbia family.
The Ishbia property at 261 Sheridan Road separates the 2 beaches. Park district officials initially sought to attach them via the property exchange agreement, but after the plans were withdrawn following vocal community criticism, the park district developed latest project designs, which ignore the property exchange agreement that has been called “dormant.”
Each Root and Rapp shared similar concerns regarding language in the brand new permit applications.
Root disagreed with the phrasing that called the applications a “resubmittal,” saying it’s a “brand-new beach design.”
“I feel that that language must be stricken from this cover letter,” she said. “I feel any rendering that shows the unique joint design between Orchard 2020 (which represents the Ishbia family) and this district must be faraway from this application.”
Addressing Root’s concerns, Jon Shabica, with engineering firm Shabica & Associates, explained that allow applications can include unlimited design options.
“Certainly one of the explanations we thought it will be useful to depart the unique design in is because there have been so many public comments that, I feel, have been addressed within the redesign,” he said. “It was really from the standpoint of attempting to help expedite permitting. The regulators see this now as two separate permit applications without the 261 property.”
Similarly, Rapp said that an internet site that was referenced in the appliance showed a previous design.
“I’d recommend just removing that because I feel it could potentially be irritating to the community to be directed to … the permit and the plan that we withdrew under a barrage of negative comment,” she said. “It could be higher to simply leave that out.”
Commissioner Warren James said that the permit applications are primarily meant for the regulatory agencies and never the general public, but he did agree that an internet site for the general public showing the evolution of the Elder-Centennial project wouldn’t be a foul idea.
Superintendent of Parks Costa Kutulas asked that any further comments on the permit applications be submitted to park district staff no later than noon on Wednesday, Nov. 22. From there, he said, final drafts of the applications can be prepared in time for the board’s committee of the entire meeting on Nov. 30.
He expects the applications to be submitted to regulatory agencies in early December.
Staff shares preliminary timeline
Along with the applications themselves, Kutulas said that park district staff is working on a project timeline.
While still within the preliminary stages, he talked about a technique during which the appliance process might find yourself playing out.
Along with submitting the permits to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Kutulas said, since the plans call for work on a storm pipe, they can even must submit a permit to the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.
He also said that a permit will likely be needed from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.
“If we’re in a position to submit our plans in early December, we’re August for our timeline to hopefully get permits back,” Kutulas said. “That’s going through their permit review process, that goes through their 30-day public notice process, and all the things else that goes together with that.”
The park board can even must submit permits to the Village of Winnetka. Kutulas said that process is just a little more unclear, because the Village is currently working to find out in the event that they should adopt regulations to lakefront construction.
What the park district knows obviously, in keeping with Kutulas, is that they may must undergo a special use permit process.
“Reviewing the method, we’d must go to the planning commission, we’ll must review with the zoning commission, we’ll must review with the design and review board,” he said, adding that there can be at the least two meetings with the Village Council before any permits are voted on.
Kutulas said his goal is to have a chart and timeline ready by the board’s next committee of the entire meeting on Nov. 30.
If the permitting process works within the park board’s favor, Kutulas said the renovations at Elder and Centennial can be done by the late summer or early fall of 2025.
James voiced support for tracking the method at every future board meeting once the permit applications are submitted.
“We’ll update it biweekly, in order that once we come to those meetings, we’ll be well informed as to where that critical path takes us to reopening Elder and Centennial,” he said.
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