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PARKS, RECREATION AND FORESTRY COMMISSION
The meeting was called to order at 7:35 PM with Commissioner Paul presiding.
ROLL CALL: Commissioner Engebretson (Present), Enright (Present)
Kopeika (Present), Paul (Present), Place (Absent), Staab
(Present), Staudt (Present).
ALSO PRESENT: Randy Auler, Director
Jack Lewis Deputy Director
APPROVAL OF AGENDA:
Commissioner Paul requested that Item number two under Action Items be moved to Discussion Items because Director Auler had stated that the Planning Commission has not seen this information yet and as a result they would like some time to review it before the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission votes on it.
Commissioner Staab asked why the Planning Commission has to see it since the City Council has already agreed to it.
Director Auler stated that the City Council has not agreed to it. The process is that it goes to the Planning Commission who would send it to a sub-committee and then come back to the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission. The Parks Recreation and Forestry would then send it back to the Planning Commission for a recommendation to City Council and then go to City Council.
Commissioner Staab asked what the time frame would be.
Director Auler stated that it is scheduled for the Planning Commission Meeting on January 28th agenda.
A motion was made and carried to make the requested change to the agenda.
(Staudt, Enright C-UN)
1. Park Development Committee – Commissioner Enright
The crusher dust and fencing have been delivered to the outfield for field number two at Community Sports Park. The Committee will be planning to meet in the next few weeks.
2. Strategic Planning Committee – Commissioner Kopieka
There are no changes from the last meeting. They have not met or had any further discussions.
3. Resource Development - Commissioner Staudt
The Committee met briefly today to look at some initial information about filing for Articles of Incorporation and other documents necessary to start the foundation. They also reviewed a preliminary draft of some by-laws. They anticipate meeting next week to discuss these items further.
Commissioner Paul asked if the city attorneys have had a chance to review and make recommendations relative to members of the Commission being on the Board or any of the other questions.
Director Auler stated that it is not a conflict of interest for members of the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission to serve as Foundation Directors, and suggested that adding this as a phrase for standard purposes to the by-laws be considered.
Commissioner Staudt asked if Director Auler would check with the attorney before the next Commission meeting as to whether there can be three representatives if that is our desire.
Director Auler stated that from a previous discussion it was determined that this is possible as long as it is not a quorum of the Board of Directors.
Commissioner Paul asked if the city attorneys’ office has had experience in setting up foundations like this and are we going to utilize them or look for someone else to do that.
Director Auler stated that the city attorneys have established foundations of not for profit and title 501c3 Corporations. We are currently utilizing that office.
Commissioner Staudt stated that his understanding is that our city attorney is a privately contracted attorney who is not a city employee but an independent attorney.
Director Auler stated that this is correct.
1. Deputy Director Report
Deputy Director Lewis asked the Commissioners to look at a memo that was from Kathy Mutch, the chairperson for Preservation Novi, to the mayor about "Barn Again" which celebrates an American icon. This is a Smithsonian Institute traveling exhibit. It will be set up in the Civic Center atrium. The grand opening event will be Sunday, January 25th, from 1:00p.m. to 4:00p.m. It is a free event and will be on display until March 7th.
2. Director Report
Director Auler stated that Professional Grant Writing Services grant review proposal committee is meeting tomorrow morning (January 9). We received eight (8) proposals. Three (3) of these proposals were from independent contractors and five (5) were from firms. The goal is to review these and narrow the list down, conduct interviews and then make a recommendation to City Council at the January 26th meeting. After it is approved by City Council then the grant writing and submission process will start. Currently, nine (9) to twelve (12) grants that are in line with the Community Recreation Plan have been identified and will be pursued.
The Coca Cola Soft Drink Proposal is anticipated to go to City Council for their consideration at the January 26th meeting also. Following their approval we will have that contract in place.
Beginning next week, we will begin to gather information in developing the Operating Budget. The packet of information for the Capital Improvement Budget is being finalized. The meeting dates for the Capital Improvement Committee have not been set. At these meetings they will prioritize projects. Director Auler stated that after this is done he will notify the Commission and he encourages Commission members to attend the following committee meeting and discussion.
Commissioner Staudt asked, for the city as a whole, what percentage of the Professional Grant Writing Service’s time or budget is going to be dedicated to Parks, Recreation and Forestry.
Director Auler replied that the way we set up the request for proposals the firms could identify how many of the departments that they wanted to work with. We also set it up that we could go with more than one firm so we could get the best expertise from each firm. We will have someone who will have time to work with us in terms of submitting our grant applications.
Commissioner Staudt then asked if this will be someone who will be working here in City Hall on a regular basis with an office or is this completely an external person who will be meeting on an occasional basis and be doing grants based on meetings.
Director Auler stated that in reviewing all of the proposals, it is a contractual agreement. They will not have an office here. The staff from all of the departments will research grants, provide the information, meet with the firm, identify how many hours they think it will take, then put a dollar figure to that. It will then go through the administrative process. Once it gains approval from there, the actual writing of the grant will occur.
Commissioner Staudt then asked if that person would be available to the Foundation once it is established. There are a number of grants that can only be made to 501c3s. The Foundation will be the only group that can receive those.
Director Auler stated that the Foundation would probably be accountable for paying the hourly rate for those services.
Commissioner Paul asked if the Capital Improvement Budget and proposal is the same one that they approved at the last meeting.
Director Auler replied that following that Commission meeting, that budget was submitted to the Capital Improvement Committee with the exception of one addition, which he will speak to later this evening in terms of pathway connections.
Commissioner Paul then asked if there is a way to articulate the condition of some of the equipment the department is looking to replace other than what is in the present description and will the Capital Improvement Committee see those descriptions and that information.
Director Auler stated that he has not seen the packet that will go to the Capital Improvement Committee at this time. In the past it has not included pictures or tours.
Commissioner Paul then asked if there would be an opportunity or would it make sense to try and do a tour or to show them some of the equipment that is not acceptable.
Director Auler replied that if the Commission would like to set up something like that he feels it would be beneficial. It will come down to time and if the Committee would be interested in doing that. The Committee consists of two (2) Planning Commission members and two (2) City Council members.
Commission Paul then stated that the executive summary was missing a page of the first six (6) goals of the Master Plan. They got the executive summary and it is missing pages one (1), two (2) and four (4).
Commissioner Engebretson asked Director Auler to explain the process of the Capital Improvement Committee.
Director Auler stated that the Capital Improvement Committee consists of two (2) Planning Commission members and two (2) City Council members, which is in accordance to State law. The first step of the process is, the committee receives the packet with all of the city departments’ capital improvement needs. They then review and prioritize those needs based on the information that they have. They also look at the seven-year plan and prioritize those needs. That committee’s
recommendations then go to the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission is responsible for providing a recommendation, in accordance with State law, for a Capital Improvement program. They may agree with or may change what the Capital Improvement Committee recommended. After that it goes to the administrative office during the budget process and those recommendations are taken in to consideration and they can be agreed on or altered. All of that information is finally submitted to City Council. The City Council is the ultimate decision maker in all of the Capital Improvement projects that are funded.
1. Approval of the December 11, 2003 regular meeting minutes.
Commissioner Staudt stated that the last page of the minutes was missing. This was tabled until the next meeting.
1. Approval of Recommendation to Novi City Planning Commission and City Council for the acceptance of the proposed land donation of 45 acres for park purposes and the developer – completed Singh Trail connection to Nine Mile Road from the Singh Trail.
Director Auler directed the Commissioner’s attention to a drawing of the proposed residential unit development that will be coming in to the Planning Commission on January 28th. Director Auler stated that he attended the pre-application meeting and looked at the development from a park perspective. This property is adjacent to a parcel of property that is owned by the City, which is a portion of that 208-acre section of property that will become designated as parkland through the Singh donation and the construction of the Singh Trail. The Singh Trail would end at the perimeter of this property. The developer, in follow up to that meeting, offered to donate 45 acres of land that is contiguous to the 208 acres of property that the City owns and will own. He also offered to extend and connect to the Singh Trail to bring the trail to Nine Mile Road. At the perimeter of the property they are looking at constructing another section of pathway, which would be an 8-foot pathway. This is very beneficial in terms of preservation of the area. This is the Southwest Core Reserve, which has been one of the focuses of previous Park Commissions and discussions in previous years in terms of vital areas of reserve. It is also a vital area to preserve in the City’s current Master Plan and a focus area for the Planning Commission as well. It is contiguous to the 208 acres of property, which would take the total park acreage in that area, in terms of passive parkland, to 253 acres. In addition, it extends the Singh Trail southward toward Community Sports Park. If this gets a positive recommendation and is developed, it provides an opportunity for us to connect or fill in the gaps, which are at three locations. We have included those connections as an additional request into the Capital Improvement Budget. To fill those three connection gaps would cost $237,000. If that occurred it would allow people to go from Community Sports Park, on the Singh Trail, all the way to the Ten Mile Road and Wixom Road interchange. As Island Lake and Toll Brothers continue to build their pathway system, we could connect to their pathway system and go to Deerfield Elementary and the Middle School Complex and then all the way to Grand River where it would connect to the pathways that are already in place and go to downtown Novi. It is an excellent benefit from a recreation, park preservation and natural resources standpoint. The next step is for the developer to submit the plan and that is going to the January 28th Planning Commission Meeting.
Commission Staudt asked on the third map provided to them with the acreage and proposed development, how much of that is wetlands.
Director Auler stated that a majority of the parkland is wetlands and that he will have and additional map at the next meeting. Director Auler then pointed out the location of the trail that Singh would build and where the land is too wet there will be boardwalk. As part of the development agreement, the trail has to be completed by October of 2005. He then pointed out where the other developer would build a trail and the sections where the city would need to fill in between the trails.
Commission Staudt stated that he did not realize that Singh would be building part of the trail on City property.
Director Auler stated that as part of the development agreement, Singh would donate 73 acres of parkland, building the Singh Trail from Ten Mile along with the parking area at Ten Mile and Wixom, down to the southern most portion of the 208 acres at their cost, which is estimated to be about one million dollars. Additionally, Singh is donating $45,000 for the establishment of a park maintenance endowment fund for the maintenance of that trail system. The length of the trail is about a mile to a mile and a quarter. Staff will be involved with the trail design once that starts.
Commission Staab asked after this is all approved, what would be the scheduled completion date for the other developer.
Director Auler stated that from the discussion at the pre-application meeting it would also be close to October, 2005.
Commissioner Kopeika commented that he agrees that this path makes a lot of sense but as he looks ahead, because of the work done on the Strategic Master Plan, we need to find some active parkland. He does not want to create the impression for this Commission that we want random spots of parkland around the City that allow developers to get approval faster and get more density based on giving some unusable acres for parkland. This particular one worked because of the trail. He doesn’t want developers to think if they give unusable land they will get better density.
Director Auler stated that the role of the Park Commission is to look at each proposal on a case-by-case basis and if it makes sense from a park and recreation standpoint and is a benefit to the community and in line with the Community Recreation Plan then it would be considered with a positive recommendation. We have not lost sight in terms of active park use and have been working to identify some of those partnership opportunities.
Commissioner Staudt agreed with Commissioner Kopeika.
Commissioner Enright agrees with Commissioners Kopeika and Staudt but she feels that this trail system is major and beneficial to the City.
Commissioner Staab agreed with Commissioner Kopeika, Staudt and Enright and stated that with all of the new developments and added population will come the need for more active parkland.
Commissioner Engebretson agreed with all of the comments made and she feels that active parkland is the number one priority.
Commissioner Paul asked if the second portion of land to be donated to the city could be built on.
Director Auler replied that the majority is wetlands
Commissioner Paul then asked if the land had not been donated to the City what would have been done with it.
Director Auler stated that the developer would have made it part of their submission.
Commissioner Paul agrees with the comments of the other Commissioners and feels that they are all valid concerns. He thanked Director Auler for his investment of time with the developer and efforts in bringing about the pathway.
Commissioner Staudt – Stated that he would like to ask the chair what he feels the next steps are in pursuing the conversion of the Walled Lake casino site to parkland. He feels that the newly elected officials have taken positions that are supportive of this issue.
Commissioner Paul – Stated that it has been proposed once already.
Director Auler stated that this is something that the Park Review Committee would review and consider and bring back as a recommendation to the Commission. The Commission would then make a recommendation to City Council.
Commissioner Paul then asked if a recommendation on this had been made to City Council before.
Director Auler stated that in a previous year’s budget, Commission and administration made a recommendation to City Council. City Council at that time took no action. It is something that could be taken back to City Council. He feels it would be best to work through the Park Review Committee and then forward.
Commissioner Paul then asked Commissioner Enright if that is something that could be on the next agenda for the Park Review Committee.
Commissioner Enright affirmed this and will have it on the February agenda.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:18 pm.
(Staudt, Staab C – UN)
Signed, David Paul, Chairperson
Signed, Charles Staab, Vice Chairperson