Special Meeting of the Novi City Council
Mayor Csordas called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
ROLL CALLMayor Csordas, Mayor ProTem Landry, Council Members Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo, Nagy – absent/excused, and Paul
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
CM-04-07-256 Moved by Capello, seconded by Paul; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve the agenda as presented.
Voice Vote on CM-04-07-256 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION - None
PURPOSE OF SPECIAL MEETING
To interview candidates for appointment to City Boards and Commissions.
Roland Heaton Beautification, Parks, Recreation & Forestry , Library
Roland Heaton noted that he was applying for the Beautification Commission and the Parks, Recreation, Parks Commission, and also the Library Board, which was not listed on his application. He is the longest resident of anyone present of the Village, Township, and City of Novi, as he had moved to Willowbrook in 1958 which was then the only subdivision in Novi. He has been very active since those days; he was involved with the earlier development of the township and the village as the Willowbrook subdivision director. In those days, Willowbrook was the center of this area. That subdivision dominated the area, controlled it, and developed it. They did this in an excellent manner with wonderful people supervising and making Novi a great place to live. In fact, Novi is one of the best places to live in the State of Michigan. In that time, he was active in many things until the City became more developed. He was involved in many social and active affairs to make people happy and make Novi a good place to live. He was also a little league baseball coach for three years in Novi, and is the cofounder of the Friends of the Novi Library. He is also the cofounder of the Novi Youth Association. In recent years he has been very active in veterans’ celebrations with Mayor Clark; those who were involved know that he was one of the main people involved with these. In his latter years he has been involved with national and international affairs. For many years he was a leadership professor for a Dale Carnegie course, which he was not paid for. A few years earlier, some of the seniors went for several weeks to work on educating third-grade children at a Novi school. He is never inactive when he becomes involved with an activity. His wife has lived in Novi with him since 1958; his son is a CPA and sales agent; his daughter is a flight rescue nurse at Saint Mary’s hospital in northern Michigan. He is interested in making Novi the most desirable place to live in.
Mayor Csordas asked Mr. Heaton if he had any preference for any of the three committees that he had mentioned interest in serving on.
Mr. Heaton replied that he was especially interested in the Library Board and the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Commission.
Member Paul noted that she and Mr. Heaton had worked together when her son was in third grade. A school activity was "Bridging the Years," with seniors present who played multiplication bingo and taught dances. There were different occasions where the children wrote poems about "their senior," and what their likes and dissimilarities were, which was very interesting. Mr. Heaton was the World War II veteran who shared many of his experiences with the children. Mr. Heaton is an activist and a good volunteer. She thanked him for coming forward. She asked him to share his most difficult experience while working with a team, and what was frustrating about it.
Mr. Heaton replied that his biggest frustration has been getting the best results needed for the situation at the time to make Novi a good place to live.
Member Paul asked for an example of something that he did in that team, and what the situation was.
Mr. Heaton replied that working with the third graders was very enjoyable. The questions that were asked of him about life and how it was to live in the 1920’s were challenging.
Member Gatt noted that Mr. Heaton is a friend of his and a neighbor, and said Mr. Heaton’s record of service spoke for itself. He had no questions, and thanked Mr. Heaton for coming out.
Member Capello said he had no questions and thanked Mr. Heaton.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said he was very familiar with Mr. Heaton and his service. He thanked Mr. Heaton for everything that he had done and for stepping forward and being willing to serve the community.
Mr. Heaton said he has enjoyed his many years living in Novi and meeting all of the past people of the town.
Member Lorenzo thanked Mr. Heaton for applying. She asked him why he would like to serve on the Library Board.
Mr. Heaton replied that he desired to serve on this board because he has been involved in service activities for a long time with the Library. He was cofounder of the Friends of the Library a number of years ago.
Mayor Csordas noted that he had no questions, and thanked Mr. Heaton for attending.
Mayor Csordas noted that Council had received an email from Tim Schroyer stating that he had a meeting and could not interview that evening, but that he was still interested in serving on the Planning Commission.
7:15 Wayne Hogan Parks, Recreation & Forestry, Woodlands Review Board, Planning Commission
Mr. Hogan said he is an advocate for persons with disabilities for the Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority. They service approximately 13,000 persons of the 56,000,000 people with disabilities in the United States with mental illness, developmental disabilities, and children with serious emotional disorders, and of recent, persons recovering from drug addiction. He is also the chairman of the Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority Consumer Advisory Board, and the Consumer Evaluation Committee. He is chairman of the Community Network Services Citizens’ Advisory Council and a Recipient Rights Committee member, and also serves on the Appeals Board. He sits on the Oakland County Community and Home Improvement Council, where they administer all of the federal development block grants in Oakland County. Prior to that, he was an analyst at EDS in Troy and Auburn Hills. He represents persons with disabilities and accessibility issues at city councils and planning commissions in the metropolitan Detroit area. Occasionally, he goes to Zoning Board of Appeals meetings, and attends the majority of the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Commission meetings in the City. He noted that he had sent in reference letters and felt these spoke for themselves.
Member Gatt noted that on his application, Mr. Hogan had listed three boards that he was vying for. He asked Mr. Hogan if there was one board that he was particularly interested in more than the others.
Mr. Hogan replied that he wished most to serve on the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Commission.
Member Gatt asked Mr. Hogan what the biggest problem facing that commission is today, and what he would do about it as a commissioner.
Mr. Hogan replied that the biggest issue facing the Commission is actually part of the forestry division, which is a division of the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department. The EAB problem, the ash borer problem, is the biggest problem facing that department. The issue that is the most important with parks and recreation is funding. Issues such as maintenance, equipment, and hazardous trees revolve around this funding. The Department cannot afford to purchase the stump grinder that it is currently renting. There are quite a few issues at the top of the list.
Member Gatt asked Mr. Hogan what he would do to resolve the problem as a commissioner.
Mr. Hogan replied that hopefully the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department will be able to secure some additional federal funding. The Department has received about $20,000 in federal funding to help with replacement trees, but there has been no money received yet towards the removal of ash trees.
Member Capello asked Mr. Hogan if he currently serves on the Woodlands Review Board.
Mr. Hogan replied that he does not.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said that Mr. Hogan is certainly a tireless advocate for the causes that he believes in, which is obvious to anyone who attends Council meetings. He asked Mr. Hogan what unique talents he could bring to the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Commission.
Mr. Hogan replied that he could bring some vision in the topic of seniors, persons with disabilities, and general access to the parks and recreation system.
Member Lorenzo asked Mr. Hogan what he could bring to the Woodlands Review Board or the Planning Commission.
Mr. Hogan replied that he has not been able to attend a Woodlands Review Board meeting because there has not been one. The majority of the woodlands reviews have been done administratively. There was one that was done in the Planning Commission about two weeks earlier, but this was the only one handled recently. He has read the minutes for the last 12 woodlands reviews, and he has read the woodlands ordinance. As far as the Planning Commission, he attends all of that commission’s meetings, as well as a majority of the committee meetings. He attends some of the Master Plan Committee meetings as well.
Mayor Csordas said he knew that Mr. Hogan had attended Council meetings, but did not know he had attended all of the other meetings as well. He asked Mr. Hogan what he believed the purpose of the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Commission is.
Mr. Hogan replied that the purpose of parks and recreation is to provide programs for seniors and youth, and athletics. Providing a good park system is a vital aspect. In general, the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department should be everything that the regular administration is not. Regular administration is involved in running the City, budget issues, and similar matters. The Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department is really a P.R. department for the City and reaches out in all of those venues.
Member Paul thanked Mr. Hogan for coming forward, noting that he has been very active in many different committees which she sat on with the Planning Commission. She is well informed with his decisions and ideas, and many of those were incorporated on the Planning Commission. She asked Mr. Hogan to share his most difficult experience when working with a team, and what was most frustrating about it.
Mr. Hogan said he was experiencing this right then. He said he was currently sitting a jury in Oakland County Circuit Court; this is a criminal trial, and he is a foreman. The jury was not in much agreement, and they were on their third day. This had been his most difficult team-related experience so far.
Mayor Csordas noted that he had come upon Mr. Schroyer’s application, and said Mr. Schroyer was interested in reappointment to the Planning Commission.
Linda Krieger Woodlands Review Board
Linda Krieger, 44920 Byrne Drive, noted that she has been a resident of Novi for a long time. She attended Northville High School; when she attended that school, she had thought she was a Northville resident, but has come to find out that she is more in love with Novi than with Northville. She understood that there were supposed to be three applicants for the Woodlands Review Board. That board would assist the Planning Commission with trees. Because ash trees have been hit so hard, this would be the top priority for the trees in Novi.
Member Capello asked Ms. Krieger what she believed the Woodlands Review Board does.
Ms. Krieger replied that according to the City’s ordinance, the Board’s main concern is with trees. The Board works to ensure that three-inch to six-inch diameter trees are taken care of in developments. She had seen a historically-aged tree had orange fencing placed around it to protect it. She said the Woodlands Review Board would continue doing such work in the City.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said that Ms. Krieger had obviously put a great deal of time into the City of Novi. She has served on the Library Board, and has been very willing to work for the City, which everyone appreciates. He asked Ms. Krieger what unique talents she could bring to the Woodlands Review Board.
Ms. Krieger replied that she has a love for trees. She is not a "tree-hugger" per se, but she loves trees. She is surrounded by trees at her home, and would like to teach the children of Novi that trees are very important.
Member Lorenzo thanked Ms. Krieger for coming forward, and said she had no questions.
Member Paul noted that Ms. Krieger has done a lot of positive work in this City. She asked Ms. Krieger to share her most difficult experience while working with a team, and the most frustrating thing about that experience.
Ms. Krieger said that at her work, the most difficult experience occurs when a patient needs to be turned, but there is no one in sight to assist. Having worked on the Library Board, a difficult aspect was working together with different opinions to create a universal majority.
Member Gatt said he did not have any questions for Ms. Krieger, and thanked her for all of her work. Ms. Krieger attends nearly all Council meetings and is very involved in activities that go on in the City.
Mayor Csordas said he also appreciates the time that Ms. Krieger puts in when helping out the City. Ms. Krieger is a great young example of what the world needs today.
Reagan Schwarzlose Parks, Recreation & Forestry
Reagan Schwarzlose, 23937 Beck Road, said he has lived in Novi for about twelve and a half years since moving here from Texas. He has three sons that have been involved with many different sports through the Novi Parks and Recreation Department. He helped to coach baseball, youth lacrosse, the Novi/Northville Colts football team, and is involved with the Novi theatre program. In addition, he is president of the Catholic Central wrestling boosters program and is involved in the Catholic Central dad’s club. Sports, and the Parks and Recreation Department, have been a large part of his life since moving here. Mr. Schwarzlose said he is interested in becoming part of the program because of what it has provided him and his family. Novi is constantly growing, and it is imperative that the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department has a long-term vision, as opposed to just trying to keep up with the expanding growth that the City is currently seeing.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry said he knows Mr. Schwarzlose’s three boys and knows how active he and his wife have been with sports. Mr. Schwarzlose’s son will be the punter for Texas State next year. He asked Mr. Schwarzlose what he would like to see done in the City’s parks and recreation programs.
Mr. Schwarzlose noted that he has worked with Standard Federal Bank’s real estate risk management department and was involved in the evaluation of all developments, including small commercial properties up to and including subdivisions and an entire city on the east coast. He has been involved in land planning and development. The residential development in Novi is booming, as everyone is aware. Because of that growth, the City has focused on just keeping up with demand as opposed to long-range planning and trying to stay ahead of the growth. The focus needs to be on long-range planning, as well as the short term.
Member Lorenzo commented that Mr. Schwarzlose seemed to have had a lot of experience with the City’s various parks. She asked him for his impression of how the City maintains its parks, and what he felt he could bring to the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Commission to enhance it.
Mr. Schwarzlose replied that he felt the City’s parks do get the attention that they need. As one of the earlier applicants had mentioned, the parks are a reflection of the City and should represent the image that the City wants to set. He has experience with land planning and would also bring expertise in having viewed other parks and developments throughout the country. Hopefully, those ideas could be expanded upon or used so that Novi’s parks and recreation facilities become models for the rest of southeast Michigan.
Member Paul asked Mr. Schwarzlose to share his most difficult experience while working with a team, and the most frustrating thing about that experience.
Mr. Schwarzlose replied that he is the president of an athletic booster’s club. In meeting with those groups, there are typically individuals looking out for the best interests of their son or daughter. People must be kept with a group focus on what is good for the group and majority, instead of focusing on their own agenda or individual needs, in order to make sure that the best interest of the group is taken care of.
Member Paul recalled that Member Lorenzo had asked a question about how Mr. Schwarzlose felt about the City’s fields. She asked Mr. Schwarzlose if the City’s fields are comparable to other cities’ that he has traveled to.
Mr. Schwarzlose replied that he felt the City is getting to that level. Based on the initial development, the City started "behind the gun." When a development is looked at, and a vendor is needed to build a project, one gets what they pay for. When the park was initially started, perhaps work was geared more toward the lower end, and it has thus taken more to develop the parks than if the park had been developed as it should have from the beginning.
Member Paul said she agreed with Mr. Schwarzlose, and asked him if there are any other amenities which he has seen at other parks that he would like to see here.
Mr. Schwarzlose said that in order to keep up with the changing demand for different sports, the City must plan its fields to be able to adapt to these different activities. Soccer seems to be tailing off, and though still important, there seems to be more interest in such sports as lacrosse. These sports need to be able to be moved onto those fields.
Member Gatt asked Mr. Schwarzlose for his opinion on the biggest problem facing the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department today, and what he would do to address that problem.
Mr. Schwarzlose replied that the major problem to date has been keeping up with short term demand, as opposed to focusing on long range goals and development. That is something that, as a department manager and from his involvement in real estate projects, he would hope to bring to the Commission.
Member Gatt asked Mr. Schwarzlose for his opinion about the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Commission, or any other City organization, going out and soliciting funding from private residences and businesses.
Mr. Schwarzlose replied that most residents that are users of parks and recreation activities would gladly contribute to expand or beautify the parks and increase utilization.
Member Capello noted that most of the questions that had been asked were in regards to park facilities, which had been answered very well. He asked Mr. Schwarzlose what he felt the weakest part of the City’s recreation program is.
Mr. Schwarzlose said the weakest aspect has been keeping up with demand, as opposed to getting a program in place and trying to step in. Other cities have embraced the move from one program to another, such as from soccer to lacrosse, quicker. In many instances, the decision must be made to cut back in one program and make the transition to other programs and activities.
Mayor Csordas commented that there had been much talk about lacrosse, basketball, and other activities. He asked Mr. Schwarzlose for his opinion about the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department’s facilities and activities for seniors in the community.
Mr. Schwarzlose replied that his involvement in this aspect has been through the Novi theatres, with its senior’s program. Those are viable members of the community who give back and share their knowledge and experience. This has to be supported, and this support must be as big as the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department. Seniors are the backbone of the community.
Butch Wingfield Parks, Recreation & Forestry
Mr. Wingfield noted that he had served on the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Commission for six years, but was not reappointed two years earlier. Though he was disappointed, he went forward and stayed very active in many youth and adult sports committees, working on the long range plans for Community Sports Park, as well as the Recreation Master Plan. As time has gone on, he has slowly gotten out of the loop of what is happening with parks and recreation, even though he and his kids are still very involved in one of the aspects of the Department. From his experiences in the past, he has hoped to serve again and help out the City.
Member Lorenzo asked Mr. Wingfield if it was correct that he had served two consecutive terms on the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Commission, and then had been off for two years.
Mr. Wingfield replied that this was correct.
Member Lorenzo recalled that Mr. Wingfield’s application had stated that he served from 1996 to 2002. She asked him what his biggest accomplishments during that time were, both from an individual and a group perspective. She also asked Mr. Wingfield for his biggest disappointments or failures during that time span.
Mr. Wingfield said that being on the Commission for six years and having seen the different perspectives that different people offered, his primary interest was in the sports and facilities area. He had offered a lot of ideas to enhance the sports athletic programs, as well as Community Sports Park. However, he was very disappointed, and felt that the City was still paying for it today, that when the park was developed it was not done properly from the very beginning. With all the effort that was put into the facility, the park should be showplace for the City. Other nearby cities have facilities that make their residents very proud. He does not feel that Novi is very proud of that facility, which is something that the City needs to work on and improve.
Member Lorenzo noted that Mr. Wingfield served at the time that the ice arena was built, as well as the time that the golf course proposal came up. She asked him for his feelings on both of those issues.
Mr. Wingfield replied that at the time, there was a committee that oversaw the ice arena, so the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Commission was not very involved in that project. He had seen some of the pitfalls when that project first started, such as when sand was placed underneath instead of cement. Things are going well right now, but the Commission at that time was basically hands-off, and it was not very involved with the ice arena project. When the golf course proposal came to the surface, he had mixed feelings. There is nothing wrong with a city owning and operating a golf course, but he had seen the saturation point start to develop in this area. He was initially for the proposal, but as it progressed he tapered off, and was thankful that the City did not build a golf course.
Member Paul commented that she shared Mr. Wingfield’s thoughts about Community Sports Park, that there is a lot of room for improvement. She asked Mr. Winfield for his most difficult experience while working with a team, and to name the frustrating thing about it.
Mr. Wingfield referred to coaching team sports, as he has coached many kids at different levels. One tries to keep the proper perspective, but parents with a different perspective can pull at the coach in many different ways. Thankfully there are volunteer parents in this community that work with teams. One of the toughest things in coaching, whether with seven-year-olds or fifteen-year-olds is to try and do what is right for the kids and also keep the parents happy.
Member Paul asked Mr. Wingfield if, when he had served on the Commission, there were opportunities to give feedback on the design or acceptance of Community Sports Park.
Mr. Wingfield replied that the Commission was involved with the overall design of the park. The actual planning and day-to-day work on the park did not involve the Commission. When the overall layout of the park was presented it looked great, but some things slipped through the cracks and things were not actually done from a first-class perspective. He felt that perhaps the concerns went over the Commission’s head at that time, with the thinking being to just get a facility built to take a step in the right direction. However, looking at the matter in hindsight, it appears that some quality issues were missed when the park was in the planning stages.
Member Paul asked Mr. Wingfield for some of his thoughts about what had been overlooked.
Mr. Wingfield said that the layout of Community Sports Park is basically fine. When the fields were built, there were issues with such things as the soils in the outfields and the quality of the land where the soccer fields currently are. These problems are being corrected, but instead of building eight fields, perhaps four should have built at a higher level of quality. The City basically went in and put down slabs of dirt and some fences and called them ball fields. The fields could have been built to a better quality without a lot of money if they were properly planned in the first place.
Member Paul commented that she agreed with Mr. Wingfield. She asked Mr. Wingfield if he believed that having the play structure on Eight Mile Road was a good idea.
Mr. Wingfield replied that the location was not a bad place for the play structure, but the structure is too close to Eight Mile and there should be a fence to keep young children from entering the road.
Member Paul said she would have rather seen the structure closer to the fields so that a parent could watch their younger children while their older children are playing on the field.
Mr. Wingfield remarked that he agreed, but felt the setting for the play structure was "awesome" with the trees surrounding it. A fence along that one area of the park would make it much safer.
Member Gatt thanked Mr. Wingfield for coming out. He said he agreed with much of what had been said, but said he would be remiss if he did not point out that when Community Sports Park was built, the City was "under a gun" to build some ball fields.
Mr. Wingfield agreed.
Member Gatt recalled that until that time, kids had been playing on a private field.
Mr. Wingfield said that at the time, the little league was playing at the Bosco fields, private fields.
Member Gatt asked if it was true that those fields were being sold, and that the owner of that field had given the City notice that it had one year or so to move out.
Mr. Wingfield said he believed this was correct.
Member Gatt recalled that unless Community Sports Park was developed quickly, there would have been no baseball at all.
Mr. Wingfield said that he did not know the exact timing to the development, but recalled that this was one of the issues of concern.
Member Gatt noted that Council had just gone through a strenuous budget session and had struggled to come up with money for parks and recreation. Looking back, when the field was built, Council also had many budget issues, and he felt that the City did its best to build the best ball fields that it could. Building less ball fields at a higher quality would have meant fewer teams could use those fields. The leaders of the City and Parks, Recreation, and Forestry at that time did the very best that they could. As far as the play structure, he said he agreed with Member Paul that the structure could have been put in a different place, but the location was chosen because of the beauty of the spot. He was one of the several hundred members of the community who donated their time and talents to build that play structure in memory of a member of the Council who had been tragically killed. A fence in that area would go a long way towards making the park safer. He asked Mr. Wingfield for his opinion about the biggest problem facing the City’s parks and recreation system today, and what he would do about it if he were a member of the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Commission.
Mr. Wingfield said he has been out of the loop for a couple of years now, but he talks to Parks, Recreation, and Forestry commissioners, reads the paper, and talks to people. The City needs to continue to look at the possibility of additional parkland. He is aware that the City picked up some additional parkland with the development of the Links of Novi, but this is more passive parkland. The City needs to take its current facilities and continue to develop these further, such as Sports Park. Facilities need to be constantly evaluated to improve them. Sometimes departments will start a program to fulfill a community need, but these need to be constantly evaluated in order to improve them. He said he would work toward the overall enhancement of the program, including its facilities and programs, for the needs of the community.
Member Capello said that when Mr. Wingfield had earlier served on the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Commission, that commission faced troubling and challenging issues besides the golf course and ice rink issues. Mr. Wingfield had also served when a community pool was proposed.
Mr. Wingfield said that this was, unfortunately, his first meeting at a public hearing.
Member Capello recalled that out of the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Commission that Mr. Wingfield had sat on came the Friends of Novi Parks. He asked Mr. Wingfield where he stood on that group, and what his position was on the actions that that group had taken.
Mr. Wingfield replied that he was not affiliated with the Friends of Novi Parks, and had nothing to do with that group at all. One of the toughest votes that the Commission had was to support Council’s decision to go forward with the Sandstone settlement. He was not involved with the group. He had a perspective that the Commission needed to do what Council deemed to do to move forward and get the Sandstone issue settled.
Member Capello asked Mr. Wingfield if he had supported Council’s decision on the matter.
Mr. Wingfield replied that this was correct.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked Mr. Wingfield for his opinion on the City’s non-sports or recreational side of the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry offerings.
Mr. Wingfield said he felt that moving senior activities to the new facility was a great move. From the people that he has talked with, that program has been tremendous. The theatre program is tremendous as well. Parks, Recreation, and Forestry is more than ball field or a soccer program; the Department is also the seniors, the classes, the theatre, Lakeshore Park, and a total package that needs to be evaluated. Facilities like the ice arena are needed to lure people to a community, and help to offer a complete, balanced program. He felt the City is doing very well, but needs to continue to evaluate and tweak its programs.
Mayor Csordas said that his question had already been answered, and thanked Mr. Wingfield for interviewing.
Brian Burke Parks, Recreation & Forestry
Brian Burke, Halston Court, said he has five kids, which creates a very active lifestyle. Earlier this year he wanted to become involved with the City, but found it difficult to allocate time. He recently decided, after hearing that there was an opening in the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Commission, that he would apply to become involved with the City. He has no prior experience with any of the political system, but is willing to learn. He is a quick study, and has some qualities that he could bring to the Commission.
Member Paul asked Mr. Burke about the ages of his children and what activities they have been involved in.
Mr. Burke replied that his only daughter is 10. His 15 and 16-year-old sons are both very active in lacrosse and football. His 19-year-old son is going to college, and he has a 20-year-old son who is not in college.
Member Paul asked Mr. Burke to describe a frustrating experience while working on a team.
Mr. Burke replied that right now, he has 20 sales people who work for him. It is a daily challenge to keep those sales people focused on the goal of sales, and to keep them focused on what is good for the company, which may not be what is best for their own agenda.
Member Paul asked Mr. Burke for his opinion about the City’s sports fields compared to those in other communities.
Mr. Burke said that other communities which teams travel to for away games feature stellar facilities. There are also some that leave much to be desired. He would rank Novi’s facilities somewhere in the middle, but with a lot of room for improvement.
Member Paul asked Mr. Burke what specifically needs to be improved, or what amenities he likes about other fields that could be used with Novi’s fields.
Mr. Burke said that interest in lacrosse seems to be growing exponentially, while interest in soccer is lessening a bit. Two years ago, there were two lacrosse sticks in his subdivision. Now, there are probably two kids who don’t have a lacrosse stick. The interest is growing to the point where the City needs to make sure there are enough fields. Lacrosse is a very difficult sport, and needs almost an impeccable field, like a golf course type of surface. If there is not the right field for that sport, there might as well not be any teams.
Member Paul said the City had a lacrosse team, but she did not know how active that club still was. She asked Mr. Burke if he knew if the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department offers lacrosse.
Mr. Burke replied that he believed there was a team, but could not answer with any certainty.
Member Gatt said his fiancé has two sons who play lacrosse for Novi Parks and Recreation. He has been up to Cranbrooke, where money is no object, and the fields are like golf courses. He has also been up to the Waterford area, where people would love to play on Novi’s fields. He agrees with Mr. Burke that Novi is somewhere in the middle, but feels that the City is onward and upward. He said he knows all about Mr. Burke and his qualifications, and did not have any questions.
Member Capello did not have any questions for Mr. Burke.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry recalled that Mr. Burke had said he had talents that he could bring to the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Commission. He asked Mr. Burke what he could bring to that commission, or any other board, based on his experiences and his job.
Mr. Burke replied that he has never been one to tow the party line just because everyone else is. He is not afraid to speak his mind, and if this is in opposition, then so be it. He brings a lot of logic to any decision making process, rather than having an emotional reaction. With 20 years of automobile sales experience, he has no problem speaking with the public. He would also be able to assist in fundraising. His company sells tickets annually for the American Brain Tumor Association, which cost $100 a piece. His company routinely has golf outings for which it solicits vendors for big money and big ticket items. He is used to dealing with some corporate people and retrieving donations, which could come into play as well.
Member Lorenzo said she appreciated Mr. Burke’s reason listed on his application for "Reasons for Desiring to Serve." Mr. Burke wrote that he is looking to become more involved with the community, rather than questioning decisions made by others. Member Lorenzo asked Mr. Burke what questions he had regarding parks and recreation.
Mr. Burke commented that this was a place for him to start. Some of the people applying for commissions have done so for quite some time, but he has not. He is an outdoor kind of person; he hunts, fishes, camps, plays golf, and is comfortable in this arena. The Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Commission makes decisions that will affect his children and where they get to play sports, and serving would make it easier for him to explain why a decision was made. He wants to be able to have an input so that he can tell his children why something happens.
Member Lorenzo asked Mr. Burke if there was any specific decision that he had recently questioned.
Mr. Burke replied that there was not.
Mayor Csordas said he had also found the same response very interesting on Mr. Burke’s application. He asked Mr. Burke what he did in the Navy.
Mr. Burke replied that he was an operations specialist. This position had a lot to do with computers and aircraft. He did a lot of intelligence work, was an air intercept controller, and worked with navigation through ports. There was a special detail for entering and exiting a port, and his team was called upon to do this. Most of his duties had to do with operations.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked Mr. Burke what talents he could bring to the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Commission.
Mr. Burke replied that he acts using logic, not emotion, and can assist in fundraising.
* Council recessed at 8:08 p.m.
* Council reconvened at 8:22 p.m.
Gary Myers Parks, Recreation, and Forestry
Gary Myers, Village Oaks subdivision, said he was a past member of the Novi Chemicals Appeals Board. He is also on the Village Oaks Board of Directors. He has been a youth sports coach for approximately the past seven years, and is also a scout leader that is involved in the community. He has his own law practice in the City of Novi, so he is able to read and understand regulations and ordinances, which is vital for the position. Also, having his own business, he knows the importance of budget restraints. He is interested in what is going on in the City of Novi, which is why he was interviewing. Well developed parkland is essential to the community’s quality of life, for the young and senior citizens alike.
Member Paul asked Mr. Myers for the most frustrating experience while working on a team, and how he handled that situation.
Mr. Myers replied that he works with many sports, and it is most frustrating when someone is not giving their all, especially in an adult league. The most important thing in work or in recreation is that a person gives everything that they’ve got.
Member Paul asked Mr. Myers how he handled the situation when it was frustrating to him.
Mr. Myers said that as a coach, he stresses the importance of out-hustling and out-working the other team. A person must have meetings in order to relay this message to the other members of the team.
Member Gatt recalled that Mr. Myers had said he knows how to work under budget restraints. He asked Mr. Myers to suppose that he was serving on the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Commission, and that there was a lot of pressure on him to upgrade the fields or similar work, but there is no money in the budget for this work. He asked Mr. Myers how he would handle this situation.
Mr. Myers replied that the person would have to do the best they could with what they have. It is important to look at bids and proposals so that one can be knowledgeable of what contractors are available, and how much money work would cost. If there are not the resources for a project, then it would have to be put on hold until the resources became available.
Member Gatt asked Mr. Myers for his position on the Commission going outside and soliciting money from private residences and businesses in the community, such as with the Parks Foundation.
Mr. Myers replied that he feels this is a great thing. There are many businesses out there that would gladly donate money for this purpose.
Member Capello noted that Council had 11 or 12 applicants for three open positions, which would make it difficult to make decisions. He asked Mr. Myers if there was any other commission that he might be interested in sitting on until something else may open up in the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Commission.
Mr. Myers replied that there could be, though he was not aware of the open positions. The Economic Development Committee would interest him, though he did not know if there was an opening on that organization.
Member Capello asked how many members sit on the Woodlands Review Board.
Ms. Reutter said the Woodlands Review Board calls for three members, and the City had never had three applicants until that evening.
Member Capello asked Mr. Myers if he would be interested in the Woodlands Review Board.
Mr. Myers responded that he would probably not be interested in that board.
Mayor Pro Tem Landry commented that it was always nice to see new applicants for boards and commissions. He asked Mr. Myers what unique characteristics he could bring to the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Commission.
Mr. Myers replied that his experience from serving on past boards, sitting on his subdivision’s board of directors, and serving as a coach for the past seven years would help. He enjoys reading regulations and trying to understand them, which his legal background enables him to do. He also has a science background which is good for environmental issues that come into play.
Member Lorenzo asked Mr. Myers what he would hope to accomplish as a member of the Commission.
Mr. Myers said he would like to see a continuation of the well developed parklands in accordance with the master plan. He is familiar with the Park Foundation, which is still in its infancy stage, but will be a very viable resource. He would like to be a part of that foundation, to solicit donations for further parkland. He is also interested in improving the ball fields at Sports Park, as he has been a coach for several sports.
Member Lorenzo asked Mr. Myers if he feels those fields need improvement.
Mr. Myers said the fields are not in bad shape. There are some improvements being made to Community Sports Park, and though he was not aware of why they were being done, there was a necessity for those improvements.
Mayor Csordas asked if the Novi Hazardous Chemicals Appeal Board was still in existence, and what that board did.
Mr. Myers said that the board was involved with reviewing appeals for secondary containment of hazardous waste. These appeals were filed when the Fire Department denied a request. The board was actually disbanded in 1997-1998 under Mayor McLellan. He served on that board for three years.
Mayor Csordas asked Mr. Myers for his opinion about parks and recreation activities for seniors in the City, and what improvements can be made.
Mr. Myers said there are a number of good things that seniors can do in Novi, and the City should continuously try to improve this, as seniors are a very valuable resource. He works with senior law, and knows the importance of taking care of seniors and making sure that they are happy, as they contribute to the community and have given us what we have now.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION - None
There being no further business to come before Council, Mayor Csordas adjourned the meeting at 8:31 p.m.
Lou Csordas, Mayor Nancy Reutter, Deputy Clerk
Transcribed by Steve King
Date approved: July 26, 2004