View Agenda for this meeting

PARKS, RECREATION AND FORESTRY COMMISSION
THURSDAY, MAY 13, 2004 Ė 7:30PM
NOVI CIVIC CENTER Ė COUNCIL CHAMBERS

The meeting was called to order at 7:30 PM with Commissioner Paul presiding.

ROLL CALL: Commissioner Engebretson (Present), Enright (Present)

Kopeika (Present), Paul (Present), Place (Present), Staab

(Present), Staudt (Present).

ALSO PRESENT: Randy Auler, Director

Jack Lewis, Deputy Director

Rachel Zagaroli, Senior Services Recreation Coordinator

Steve Printz, City Forester

APPROVAL OF AGENDA:

Commissioner Paul asked if there were any additions to the agenda, one item was added by Commissioner Paul. He added, "Budget discussion and recommendation to City Council" as item number two under the discussion items. It was moved to approve the agenda with the additional item added.

(Staab, Enright C-UN)

INTRODUCTION: Rachel Zagaroli, Senior Services Recreation Coordinator

Director Auler stated that Rachel had been with the department since February and had an opportunity to work with Kathy Crawford for approximately a month.

The transition has been excellent. She has had extensive experience in working with seniors

Mrs. Zagaroli stated that she has been here since February and that it is a great place to work. She has been meeting people in the community and is looking to do a lot of partnerships and adding some things.

Commissioner Paul congratulated her on her position.

COMMITTEE REPORTS:

Resource Development Committee Ė Commissioner Staudt

a. Park Foundation

Commissioner Staudt stated that they are progressing well the Foundation and are in the process of reviewing potential Board candidates. They will have a brief meeting after the Commission Meeting tonight to discuss the first group of finalists. They would like to see the Board prior to June 1st. Commissioner Engebretson is working on some of the legal and accounting paperwork (501 C3 status and licensing applications). Soon they hope to be in a position to talk about potential logos. They have applied to become a Chamber of Commerce member, which they feel is an important step in working with the business community in Novi. Commissioner Paul thanked Commissioner Staudt for the donation for the Chamber of Commerce registration.

Strategic Planning Committee Ė Commissioner Kopieka

b. Recreation Programs

Commissioner Kopeika stated that due to schedules and conflicts that they have been unable to meet. They plan to stay after the Commission meeting to have their initial meeting.

Park Development Committee Ė Commissioner Enright

Commissioner Paul asked Director Auler for an update. Director Auler

stated that they were unable to get a committee meeting scheduled this month.

Community Sports Park Ballfield #2 Project

Director Auler had an onsite meeting at the Community Sports Park Ballfield #2 project. That project is progressing well. They are finishing the infield grade. The irrigation system is operational. The project should be complete within two weeks. Commissioner Enright stated that Ballfield Project #2 is looking really good. Bullpens are set up which makes warming up pitchers much safer. The warning track is in place and there is screening on the outfield and behind the backstop. The dugouts are set up and finished. She encouraged them all to take a look at it. Commissioner Paul concurred with Commissioner Enright and stated that the turfix mix is going to be a huge difference in the color from the ball to the field versus the crushed limestone. Director Auler stated that CSP ballfield #2 is not open and will not be open and if anyone steps on to it they could loose privileges of using that field. It takes a year for the turf to take hold. Gates will be installed and the field will be locked.

Lakeshore Park Drainage Project

There is a distinct difference at the site. The Department of Public Works is working on improving drainage at the park. There is a situation where water is forming a pond at the entryway to the park. They are looking at installing a drainage system that will resolve that problem. The goal is for DPW to have that completed by Memorial Day weekend, which is when we open the beach. The retaining wall that goes in to the tunnel to access the beach is being repaired. Construction of the new shed has been completed and removed the old one. This was done in-house by two park maintenance personnel who designed and constructed the new shed. The last thing to complete with the money available for repair of the day camp community building is replacement of the windows. We are in the process of preparing specs to get those out to bid and the project completed. The roof has been repaired, the interior painted, installed new doors that are accessible. Director Auler stated that later in the evening he would talk about another accessible item to pursue. Commissioner Paul asked if the drainage project is on track and will it be completed by Memorial Day? Director Auler stated that the DPW is responsible for that project and they should be able to complete it by that time.

Singh Trail Project

Efforts are being continued to obtain the required permits so the project can continue and be completed on time.

REPORTS:

Deputy Director Report

Deputy Director Lewis stated that last weekend was an extremely busy weekend for the department. There were activities in many of the parks. At Community Sports Park the Novi Jaguars had their annual Motherís Day Soccer Tournament with between 130 and 140 teams. Everything went well despite a little rain at the end. The park looked good, the fields were in excellent condition and we got many complements. This year after the tournament the fields looked like they did they week prior, which has not be the case in years past. The Michigan Mountain Bike race was out at Lakeshore Park. There were around 250 mountain bike people. This went on all day. A company called The Student Painters volunteered and came out to paint the Feurst farm barn. At Power Park the Pitch, Hit and Run competition was held. All other programs are running smoothly and the parks are looking good.

Commissioner Staab asked where things stand on the fire station usage. Deputy Director Lewis replied that he hasnít had any communication on that in the past two months because we are still waiting to hear from the City Managerís office. Director Auler stated that the station is being used for storage of emergency or disaster supplies and equipment and we are maintaining the property until the proposal for use by the Park Department or a decision is made for the best use of that facility.

Commissioner Staab asked why there was a new Memorial Day parade route. Deputy Director Lewis replied that there has always been a concern of tying up the Novi Road and Grand River intersection. Another concern is that from Grand River to Ten Mile we really didnít have any one watching the parade. Next year there will be construction at that intersection so next year that route could not be used. Other possibilities were considered and it was felt that by going down Ten Mile Road the number of people able to observe the parade would increase. There are more subdivisions where people could just walk out to Ten Mile. We talked to the DPW and the Police Department. The Police Department was extremely happy with this route. The set up may be better also. The owners at the Town Center were concerned that a lot of their parking was being tied up. The businesses at the other location are closed on that day.

Commissioner Staab also asked if we are still doing anything with the cemeteries. Deputy Director Lewis replied that the VFW will still have their ceremony at 8:45. They will go to the Oakland Hills Cemetery at Twelve Mile and Novi Road and from there will go to the Novi Cemetery on Novi Road. From there they will join us and be the lead in the parade.

Commissioner Engebretson asked what the status is of the ongoing discussion with the Novi schools on facility use. Deputy Director Lewis stated that the biggest issues that we had a couple of weeks ago was that the schools had promised us the use of baseball field 6 and the lacrosse team would use another soccer field behind Novi Meadows. This had changed. The lacrosse team said that that field was not big enough for them and they wanted to use field 6. With discussions with the Athletic Director and with the coach we did create another lacrosse field at Wildlife Woods Park so the lacrosse team could move there and field 6 could be utilized for baseball. That took some time. At first the schools did not want to have to do that. We also had to move a young soccer team to Novi Woods.

Commissioner Engebretson then asked if we are on track to complete the things for ADA which we were not able to complete in 2003. Will we be able to complete them in 2004? Deputy Director Lewis stated that Director Auler would explain that in his report.

Commissioner Paul stated that he agreed with Deputy Director Lewis, that the fields were in excellent condition at Community Sports Park and congratulated the staff on the great job. Deputy Director Lewis stated that a lot of credit goes to Matt Wiktrowski and his staff.

Commissioner Paul asked if there would be an opportunity for some of out equipment to be stored at the fire station and be able to get rid of the large shipping containers at Community Sports Park which are an eye sore and may also pose safety issues with equipment sitting out around them. Deputy Director Lewis stated that those issues were in his original report. In addition to those trailers we are renting storage units here in town to accommodate some of the Novi Theatre props. In his original report the fire station would be utilized as storage.

(POWER OUTAGE OCCURRED-RECORDING OF MEETING LOST)

Director Auler stated that the containers are an eye sore but one of the main uses of the containers is supply of maintenance equipment at Community Sports Park. It is a heavy use, active park with a lot of staff dedicated to improving and maintaining the playing surfaces and trails, playground inspection, the restrooms, etc. A lot of time would be spent transporting equipment back and forth to that park. Given our resources, right now that is best to keep those containers on site until such time we can come up with a closer facility or on-site maintenance storage facility there.

Commissioner Paul asked what the cost is for the storage containers at that location and also for the Theatre props. Deputy Director Lewis stated that he believed the total cost for all was about $4,000 a year.

Commissioner Staab asked if we had full access to the fire station at Eleven Mile and Beck would we be able to get rid of that $4,000 cost. Deputy Director Lewis stated that we would be able to cut it in half because the utilities at the fire station will be about $2000.

The station would not be able to accommodate everything. The first thing would be to get rid of the storage units that are rented because they are the most expensive. Some of the trailers are only $100 a month and some 150 a month.

Director Report

Director Auler noted that there was an item in the newspaper today reporting that Novi was successful in getting a $20,000 grant for tree replacement due to the Emerald Ash Borer impact on our community. There were 70 communities across the state which received funding for this. We also have a match, which is also a grant, which was prepared by city personnel and McKenna and Associates. Additionally, the stats going in to our conservation fund grant are included in the packet. There are approximately 150 applications received. There will be an on-site visit in late summer or early fall and supplemental material will be due in the fall. Announcements are usually made late fall or in to the winter. If we are successful with that we will have a two-year period in which to construct that project.

Director Auler stated that last week the park system was extremely busy. In addition to the mountain bike race at Lakeshore Park, the park itself was completely filled. At both Community Sports Park and Lakeshore Park there were cars with license plates from many different states. There was a lot of positive feedback from that event. The Jaguar Tournament was the third annual and is an excellent event for the community. The Civic Center had a clogging event. Power Park had a High School softball tournament with five teams in for the weekend. He noted that Commissioner Staudt has a CD, which he would like to share at the next Commission Meeting.

Director Auler has a CD which a citizen put together promoting the mountain bike trails and the partnership the department has with the association. SWOCC was on site and will produce then air in June a video regarding the event.

Commissioner Staudt organized a clean up at Rotary Park. There were 20 to 25 citizens who came out and help. In the spring everyone wants everything done at once and we try and do the best we can and community involvement is the key. Commissioner Staab will announce that the Rotary Club is interested in doing a clean up as well.

Commissioner Staab announced that he has a friend in Rotary Club who contacted him this morning. He had talked to some of his Rotarians and is looking at possibly June 26th at Rotary Park from about 9am to noon.

Commissioner Staudt stated that he read the severe weather procedure. On Monday night he was at a ball game with lightening and thunder all around and it was not stopped until it started raining. He wanted to know why the policy is in place for one city event and not for everything else.

Director Auler stated that it is in place for all events. If it did not happen on Monday night it will happen in the future. Softball players will be required to leave the field. We will not waiver on that. If the staff are wavering, we will address that. This policy comes from the High School Athletic Association in the state of Michigan. It is also the National Federation High School Rules, which require 30 minutes from the sound of thunder or the sight of lightning, and it starts over at each sound or sighting. That is a safety risk management issue and we will not waiver.

Commissioner Staudt noted that is not know to the players or the staff because this is the first he has ever seen any mention of it.

Director Auler stated that is why there are site supervisors and it has been shared with our partners, Novi Youth Baseball, Novi Colts, Novi Jaguars. We stress to them that they must follow that policy.

Commissioner Enright stated that she has children in all three of those organizations and they do keep that policy.

Deputy Director Lewis stated that he felt the first responsibility would fall to the umpires. As an umpire and an official he is told in seminars he goes to that if there is lightning or thunder the fields must be cleared.

Commissioner Place asked if the videos mentioned would be on the local access station.

Director Auler stated that SWOCC is producing a video, which will air on Channel 13 in Novi. The one done by the Michigan Mountain Bike Association will air on local access. If we get the one from the Jaguars we can get that one incorporated as well.

 

AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION:

Ronald Boron, the president of the Novi Home Owners Council, which is comprised of the Home Owners associations in the city.

The Council has been an active participant in the Parks and Recreation programs such as the parades and donated the film for the pictures with Santa. He came tonight to talk about discussion item number 1. The common concern he hears is that the associations need some relief. For example, the Country Place Association has spent over $80,000 just removing the trees in the easement and on their property. He urges the Commission to go forward with the Cooperative Tree Replacement Program and put some money out there that the associations can apply for. He stated that judging from surrounding areas 50% or about $125 per tree. The other issue is to change the Holiday (Ringing in the Holidays) parade route because it was too short. He realizes no one wants to cross Grand River and stay off the main thoroughfares but it is something to investigate.

Bruce Haffey came as a resident and president of the Novi Youth Baseball League. He sent an e-mail to Commission Members. His organization represents quite a few people in the City of Novi. They have over 650 children playing baseball mostly on Community Sports Park fields. They would like to advocate strongly that funds be allocated to improving those fields. It is their understanding that there may be as much as $60,000 or more that could be allocated for field improvement and they need them. Everyone recognizes the five-year plan for developing the Parks and Recreation system.

They feel that these funds could dramatically improve the fields if they were dedicated to irrigation systems. The grass in the outfield is clump and dangerous to field a ground ball but running across there someone could turn an ankle or step in a rut. There is a lot of danger out there in the fields. An irrigation system would go a long way to curing that. His organization would be very interested in volunteering a lot of people and time and effort to go work on those fields. But it will make a lot of difference if they are irrigated. Our fields do not compare with those of surrounding communities. If those fields were improved they could be further revenue source for the city by way of tournaments or fall baseball.

Mike Stratton, the president of the Novi Jaguars Soccer Association, thanked Deputy Director Lewis and Director Auler for the kudos. The Association had a spring clean up at Community Sports Park with 20 to 30 of their members with Parks and Recreation staff. They put benches and garbage cans out, helped to stripe the fields, and doing whatever was needed. They believe it is a great partnership and look forward to doing it again in the fall.

The third annual tournament was held at Community Sports Park and Schoolcraft College. They hosted 190 teams. Teams came from other states as well as from all over Michigan. There were probably 3,500 kids here from ages U9 through U18 that participated. They sold between 700 and 800 hotel rooms during the weekend, countless meals. It was a positive economic impact. He thanked Director Auler, Deputy Director Lewis, Matt Wiktrowski and the staff for their support. He also thanked the Commission for their support and Commissioner Staudt and Commissioner Enright for coming out on Saturday.

Commissioner Paul asked when the soccer fields were first

irrigated.

Deputy Director Lewis stated that it was about five years ago.

Mr. Hogan welcomed the new Senior Services Coordinator. He mentioned that the Senior transit might be changed to a more inclusive name because the transit is for the entire community.

He would like to see some effort put forth in securing some additional federal funds, which he knows are available, for additional transportation vehicles through the SMART system. And we can have that without having fixed routes and it would also include ADA transportation services for the entire metro area and would allow them access to the Novi jurisdiction.

He is in support of the access projects, which Director Auler described to him earlier, especially with the beach access at Lakeshore and the concession stand ramp and restroom area.

Commissioner Paul asked Mr. Hogan, with regards to the federal funds available for transportation, if he would be able to share with the Commission how he would recommend or how he would go about obtaining those funds.

Mr. Hogan stated that it is a grant that the city would have to apply for. Commissioner Paul then asked Director Auler if he had that information.

Director Auler asked that the information be e-mailed to him.

ACTION ITEMS:

Approval of March 11, 2004 regular meeting minutes.

The minutes were approved as written.

Approval of 2004 Partnership (Novi Jaguars)

Commissioner Staab made a motion to approve the 2004 Novi Jaguars Partnership agreement as presented in the packets.

Commissioner Staudt asked Director Auler what the financial impact of that agreement is for Parks, Recreation and Forestry in total dollars over the agreement. He is referring to direct revenue.

Director Auler stated that the revenue received was $6,000 from the tournament for the tournament fee.

Commissioner Staudt then asked if it was strictly the tournament agreement.

Deputy Director Lewis stated it was combined tournament and seasonal which is $30 per game.

Mike Stratton of the Novi Jaguars stated that in the fall there were around 102 to 106 games and in the spring there were around 118 games. Each game is $30 for the game fields.

Commission Staudt then asked if the total would then be around $9,000.

Mike Stratton then stated that it was about $3,000 for the fall and $3,000 for the spring and then another $6,000 for the tournament. It is approximately $12,000.

Commissioner Staudt stated that Mr. Stratton had expressed to him at the tournament an interest in extending the building to have a covered area and asked him to elaborate on that.

Mr. Stratton stated that if there was a canopy or an extension of the concession there would be a sheltered area for games or especially camps run there in case inclement weather came up. Right now the only shelter for players is in their cars. He thought part of the grant for the trails included funds to improve some of the access around the concession area. Maybe it could be incorporated with that.

Commissioner Staudt asked if there was any potential for a partnership between the Novi Jaguars and the City of Novi to provide some seasonal, full time or permanent structure there.

Mr. Stratton stated that this could be something to be considered in his organizationís long-term goals. They are trying to set aside some money to help with improvements at the park.

Commissioner Staudt feels this is a very good agreement and will help when we go to City Council for funds to have some percentage of matching funds.

Commissioner Engebretson stated that she has shopped for baseball fields for the last several months and she wanted to know if $30 per game is comparable for what the rest of the communities around here charge.

Director Auler stated that a comparison had been done last year of other facilities in other communities, both in what teams are paying for soccer fields. In many communities teams are paying for practices and games and the same applies for baseball as well. Our $30 fee is relatively low in comparison to the other facilities.

(Staab,Enright C-UN)

DISCUSSION ITEMS:

Proposed Cooperative Tree Replacement Program: Steve Printz

Forester Steve Printz stated that due to the loss of ash trees to the Emerald Ash Borer he expects there will be around 1800 vacant sites where trees have been removed by the end of 2004. This had led to the development of the proposed 50/50 cost share street tree replacement program. Under this program, resident would apply for a voucher for reimbursement for the cost of planting. They would submit the application to the Parks, Recreation and Forestry office for review by the city forester. He would, upon approval, submit the voucher to the resident. The resident would then go out and purchase a tree and then plant the tree. They would then submit a receipt and the voucher to the Parks, Recreation and Forestry office where it would be reviewed by the forester. Once approved, he would mail a reimbursement check to the property owner. Since money is limited, it would be on a first come, first served basis. Only approved trees would qualify for this in location. A one-year warranty would be required. The maximum reimbursement would be $150 per tree.

Commissioner Enright asked about those people who are already on a list because they have had trees that have died and they had them removed and it has been years. Now you are saying it is a first come, first served basis. Does that list go away?

Forester Printz stated that the list does not go away. We have kept track of every site where we have removed trees. The plan is to do a mass mailing of applications to let everyone know about the program because there is only a limited quantity because funds are limited.

Commissioner Enright asked if there was a complete list.

Forester Printz stated that since he started about three years ago, he has kept track of all trees that have been removed. A comprehensive survey was done of all of the ash trees. He has all of the addresses listed where trees have been removed or replaced in the past. Every site is recorded, not just ash trees.

Commissioner Enright asked if he meant when he said the homeowner could purchase trees does that mean there is a certain vendor they could go to.

Forester Printz replied that it would be a vendor of their choice. It would be their responsibility to plant the tree and then submit the voucher.

Commissioner Enright stated that as she drove in to the Civic Center she noticed that the west end of the front handicapped parking was blocked off and four big, new trees were planted there. As a citizen who has been waiting years for trees she would like to know where the funds came from.

Director Auler stated that was part of the repair cost for the removal of the asphalt and installation of the sod to close off that road in front of the Civic Center. There had been landscaping and there had been a tree or two that had to be removed as part of that project.

Commissioner Engebretson asked if someone could summarize how much it costs to cut the tree down, to cut the stump out, and then to replace the tree.

Forester Printz stated that if we were to replace every tree, at our cost of $325 per tree, it would cost in the neighborhood of $800,000. That is just to replace the tree. That does not include the stump removal, which is about $40 to $50 a stump and there are close to 700 existing stumps out there.

Commissioner Engebretson asked that if we do the 50/50 will it still be half of the $800,000 because we will still have the stump removal cost. Are we planning to budget this out over the next 3 to 5 years?

Forester Printz replied that for replacement this is something that is going to affect us for years. There are 2,500 ash trees along the street. Of those, 2,300 will require replacement. We also need to consider all of the non-ash trees that die every year. We are looking at approximately 10 years.

Commissioner Enright asked if we could consider doing some sort of reduced price like a volume discount.

Forester Printz replied that there are options for that.

Commissioner Kopeika stated that it is an uphill battle and for people who thought that they were on a list, have you considered publishing a list of acceptable trees for people who want to replace them on their own.

Forester Printz stated that on the forestry website there is a comprehensive recommended species list and he has worked with 50 or 60 residents to replace trees at their own cost.

Commissioner Kopeika asked how we can communicate that because he is similar to Commissioner Enright as most of the trees on his street are dead and have been replaced haphazardly. How do you not end up with twelve different types of trees at every other house.

Forester Printz stated that it is important that the trees are diverse. Planting the same kinds of trees on a street, we have found, can be a problem. Many communities have gone to extreme diversification by planting several different types of trees on one street.

Commissioner Kopeika responded that the message to the community would then be to go to the website and if they are willing to purchase the trees themselves to contact the foresterís office.

Forester Printz stated that he has all of the information on the trees that are on the website like growth habits, size and other information. He would be happy to recommend species.

Commissioner Staab asked if the $50 stump removal includes chopping up the stump and grinding.

Forester Printz stated that it is the grinding. The removal is the stump grinder, grinding up the stump. We have been renting a stump grinder for the past years. We have a finite amount of money so we can only do so many per year and that has created a backlog. We can usually do 200 to 300 stumps a year.

Commissioner Staudt commended Forester Printz on his instructive and concise memos. The list of residents which exists, where is it kept and why is it secret? Is it a priority list?

Forester Printz responded that the list is an inventory. The City of Novi, at this time, does not have a current inventory of all the street trees. The ash trees were inventoried but there are approximately 25,000 to 30,000 street trees. He has a list of all of the trees that have been removed and the documentation of that and it is certainly not secret. We do make it available and have talked to residents who wonder if they are on there because he can look up their address. He plans to conduct a comprehensive inventory of all of the trees in the City of Novi and thus developing and urban forest management plan.

Commissioner Staudt asked if, in the replacement process, there is a priority list right now. How do you determine that process?

Forester Printz stated that past practice has been to do it that way.

The individuals who had been waiting the longest according to documentation received trees. With all of the ash being dead, there are many people who are waiting for trees and wondering what is going to happen. This is what caused him to think possibly about a first come, first served basis. He does not know how we can possibly replace all of the trees for people who have been waiting so long.

Commissioner Staudt stated that there seems to be some frustration from the residents about the process. One of the things he noted in the description of the process is that it is extremely staff driven. When something is staff driven, without some level of community participation it becomes very controversial. He believes that this is a long-term problem that should be addressed through Commission interaction with the Forester and other Homeowner groups. He feels there should be an ad-hoc committee to create a policy that will be community friendly, serves the foresterís needs and maximizes the use of money available. Commissioner Staudt noted that if we had $3,000 more dollars would we have 3 more weeks of stump grinding. We are talking a small amount of money to satisfy a large need in the community. Commissioner Staudt asked if we were able to get that amount of money to extend the stump grinding does the forester have the staff to handle it. And if so, is it something he would encourage they push for.

Forester Printz stated that he did have the staff and he certainly would encourage.

Commissioner Staudt asked Director Auler what it would take to implement a community group who would be in place for the sole purpose of coming up with a policy on tree replacement. How much involvement from City Council would the Commission need in kind of an issue?

Director Auler replied that to implement the 50/50 program or some other type of program they would need to go to City Council because it will have an impact on the budget and the operation of the City. He does support having a committee to evaluate all of the options and feels it would be beneficial to the process.

Commissioner Staudt asked if a series of Public Hearings be in order for this kind of an issue.

Director Auler responded that the committee would need to review the information from the forester for his experience and knowledge to come up with available options.

Commissioner Staudt commented that he encourages an appeal process for any negative decision that is made regarding the vouchers, tree selections, etc. He does not feel the buck should stop with the forester.

Commissioner Paul asked what the largest trees are, in diameter, that have to be removed from the street.

Forester Printz stated that many of the largest trees have been removed. There are some in Meadowbrook Glens. The average diameter is 18 to 20 inches and the tree would be about 50 feet in height. Some of these were removed through the contract, which was awarded by City Council.

Commissioner Paul asked how long ago the trees had been planted and if it was still our responsibility as part of the street tree ordinance.

Forester Printz replied that the trees had been planted 30 to 35 years ago and that for the past 13 years there has been a forestry division, which is in charge of maintaining trees on public right of way. It is our duty to maintain these trees on public easements, parks, utility easements, etc.

Commissioner Paul asked what was done before the forestry department 13 years ago.

Deputy Director Lewis replied that if there was a downed tree that the DPW would just take care of it at that time or they would get a contractor.

Commissioner Paul asked, with the new street tree ordinance, where the responsibility falls on either the homeowner or the developer, is the City not responsible for replacing those trees.

Forester Printz replied that it depends if the easement is turned over to the City of Novi. If we have responsibility for that easement, the developer may be planting those trees but it does not mean that at some point we may not be responsible. It depends on whether it is a private road or a public road. If it is public property it is our responsibility to maintain those trees.

Commissioner Paul asked if that meant that there is no possible end to this.

Forester Printz replied that in the past, when developers planted street trees they had the opportunity to either plant the tree themselves or have the city plant the trees. A lot of developers decided to have the city plant the trees and that is where we got in to the city planting the trees for the developer. We still have subdivisions where we do the same to this day because they still fall under the old ordinance. With the new ordinance, the developers are required to plant their street trees. When the streets become dedicated to the city they can become our responsibility.

Commissioner Paul stated that it was his impression that once the ordinance was passed those trees would become the responsibility of the developer or the homeowner, and that seems not to be the case.

Forester Printz replied that we could potentially be responsible but it depends on how the streets and easements are dedicated.

Commissioner Paul stated that his thoughts are very similar to Commissioner Staudtís, in that, we need multiple choices as far as solutions. The solutions would need to come from not only the foresterís expertise but also from community involvement. He would also be interested in putting a time line on this program.

Commissioner Staudt stated that we are not going to get a policy done during this summer because it is going to take a lot of work and summer is the worst time to get any of that done. He then asked what the foresterís criteria is going to be to plant trees for the next planting season. Who gets the next tree and how is that decided?

Commissioner Place stated that in the foresterís monthly report that we have 250 street trees that are planned to be planted this spring and a list of subdivisions.

Forester Printz stated that what is being done, since the requirement has been put on us per the developer, is that they are planting trees in new subdivisions. Replacement trees are why he is attending this evening to talk about. There are two separate issues, the replacement issue and the new trees where we have the requirement to plant the trees.

Commissioner Staudt stated that the new trees are part of the development agreement.

Forester Printz stated that some of the developments go on and do not build out in a few years. Some take five to ten years. Some of the trees being replaced are under warranty.

Commissioner Staudt asked if there is a list somewhere of all of the replacement trees for the next three months.

Forester Printz stated that they are not doing any replacements but only trees under warranty. The proposal he brought this evening is for replacements.

Commissioner Staudt asked if the $20,000 and the $32,000 are for replacement trees.

Forester Printz replied that the money is for replacement trees and that is why he wants some kind of replacement plan implemented because there is a timeline of May of 2005 and that is his concern.

Commissioner Paul asked Forester Printz to explain the timeline.

Forester Printz explained that the grant of $20,000 is good for one year. If the trees are not planted by May of 2005 the grant is forfeited. It is a reimbursement grant. We would have to fund the initial $52,000 and the $20,000 would be reimbursed once the trees were planted. He was hoping to incorporate this in to a replacement program. The two times of opportunity to plant these trees are this fall and next spring by May.

Commissioner Engebretson asked if the stumps need to be removed to replace the trees.

Forester Printz replied that this is true in certain cases.

Commissioner Paul stated that he would take a motion to form a committee to involve the community in suggesting two or three solutions. He feels that the community needs to recognize this situation is an anchor on the city and could be for a long time. He thinks there should be an 18 to 24 month expiration date on the vouchers. A program should be put together that everyone agrees on and get us out of this mess.

Commissioner Staudt asked how the trees that Catholic Central will plant over the next 20 years, will impact tree replacement, not just new trees.

Forester Printz replied that they hope to incorporate that in to the replacement program and 50/50 in 2006.

Commissioner Staudt stated that at some point that will dramatically reduce our cash outlays.

Forester Printz confirmed this and also stated that it will reduce the deficit that we have. Right now we are looking at approximately 150 trees per year. When Catholic Central kicks in it will be almost 600 trees.

Commissioner Staudt stated if 2006 is when Catholic Centralís part will start, then that is the period when we are looking to get out of the problem as much as we can.

Commissioner Staab stated that he is not an advocate of setting up a committee. He recommends holding a couple of public hearings.

Commissioner Paul asked Mr. Boron if he and/or some people in his organization were willing to work with the forester very quickly so they could come back with a plan that is fine-tuned, with some expiration, to help get things going more quickly.

Mr. Boron stated that he spoke with the forester about a week ago and he had wanted to make the proposal to the Commission. Mr. Boron has a meeting of his association on Tuesday and 25 to 30 homeownerís association leaders usually attend that. Hopefully they will get a bigger crowd since they will be meeting in Council Chambers and Sheryl Walsh and Cindy Uglow will also be there talking about the disaster program. He will bring this issue up at that meeting.

Commissioner Paul asked if Mr. Boron would meet with the forester on Tuesday and Director Auler if this was possible.

Director Auler agreed.

Commissioner Place asked if Forester Printz could provide Mr. Boron with information so that he could take it that evening and the

members could make comments that early.

Commissioner Staudt asked if they were talking about a formal or informal public meeting.

Director Auler suggested that they meet with Mr. Boron and some of the members of the homeowners associations and come up with some sort of draft and use it as a framework as part of the Strategic Committee review. He feels that this could be done and be brought back as a discussion item at the June Commission Meeting. At that time there would be an opportunity for audience participation. The information that this would be discussed could go out on Channel 13. He suggested using audience participation because with a formal Public Hearing there are legal notices and other costs associated with that.

Commissioner Staudt stated that he would not have a problem with that but the only thing he would ask is that a draft be put together of the plan.

Director Auler stated that it would be the Commissions preference of the plan being listed on the agenda as a discussion item or an action item. It could be discussed and then action taken on it.

Commissioner Paul recommended a 24-month timeline.

Commissioner Kopeika suggested that if an end date is targeted that they work backwards from it.

Budget discussion and recommendation to City Council.

Commissioner Paul stated that this is in regard to the fact that City Council may have from $0 to $150,000 available for use in our park system. He opened discussion as to what recommendations they might make to City Council and how they might go about doing that.

Commissioner Staudt asked for information from Director Auler regarding the way he views City Councilís position at this time relative to the issues of irrigation, etc.

Director Auler stated that he tried to include much of this information in his overview memo. City Council has met on three different dates for work sessions to review, discuss and consider the budget. During the course of these discussions there have been reductions made in line items and other categories. There has been discussion about the possibility of irrigating ballfields. Staff was asked to provide information relating to this. They were also asked about ADA issues and priorities. Deputy Director Lewis is prepared to give an overview of irrigation, and what was submitted to City Council is in the packet. He is prepared to discuss where we are with ADA. He is pleased with the progress being made and starting with next monthís meeting there will be a monthly update on ADA progress. Many of the items listed have been completed. There are some items, which need outside funding or need to be included as a capital improvement item. We have identified a couple of items as our next ADA improvements if funding were available. Both are at Lakeshore Park. One is the improvement of access to the concession stand/day camp meeting/restroom facility at the entryway to the park. Many improvements have been made to that facility. The biggest problem if you are physically challenged is getting to the building. We have installed accessible parking at the site, but once out of the vehicle there is a steep sidewalk that is not in the best condition. He passed around a photo. This sidewalk is not ADA compliant. This improvement would cost about $10,000. The second item is access to the Lakeshore Park beach area. If you are physically challenged you can get to the edge of the beach but can go no further because of the sand. There is not alternative route. What could be installed is some sort of matting that is anchored or another type of surface that would be compliant with ADA and have a low impact on maintenance operation. The estimate for this improvement is about $5,000. Those would be two priority items from staff perspective, which would require additional funding that we do not have.

Commissioner Kopeika asked, percentage wise, how far along we are toward completion of the original goals.

Director Auler replied that we are around 35% to 40% complete by the end of this year. Many of the items are things we can do in-house and we try to do many of them during the winter.

Commissioner Engebretson asked if these two items are #1 and #2 in priority of the $125,000 that was asked for from City Council for ADA.

Director Auler replied that when the plan was originally done, $125,00 was requested as capital improvement per year to try to bring in all of the facilities completely compliant. These were all budget and project estimates. As we talk to contractors he feels the amount will come down.

Commissioner Engebretson asked since this is a long process what is the exposure of the city of it being extended over a lengthy period of time.

Director Auler replied that ADA went in to effect in 1992. At that time a self-assessment should have been conducted and a transition plan should have been developed to bring facilities and programs in to compliance. He was unsure of the time frame. When he came here one of the first things he and Deputy Director Lewis did is hire a consultant that is nationally know and specializes in ADA. They along with citizens assisted us in preparing an ADA transition plan. It is a priority of our department to be compliant because we want to be able to serve all of the citizens.

Commissioner Staudt thanked Director Auler for providing documentation, both blue book and white book, which was very instructive. He feels the departmentís first priority cluster for City Council short-term goals is to complete all improvements in city parks, needs assessment for Power Park including safety. There is a check indicating significant progress made. What does this mean and at what level is significant progress made? How does that differ from work in progress? He is assuming that this came from the City Manager and that this is his assessment.

Director Auler stated that, as you are looking at the goals in terms of the needs assessment for Power Park that is a staff function within our department. That was presented and included in a packet at some point this past year. Work in progress means that there is work under way in terms of that assessment or that study being done. Significant accomplishment means that it is essentially 90% complete. We have completed that study and have submitted that to City Council as well.

Commissioner Staudt asked how is the needs analysis for Power Park the first priority cluster of City Council. He does not believe that it was their intent. Really their priority is to complete all improvements to city parks.

Director Auler confirmed that this is correct. As he recalls during the City Council goal setting sessions, they go through and exercise where they set priorities. Two of the items that were included with "completing all parks" were staffing issues at Meadowbrook Commons and assessment of safety issues and improvements at Power Park. Those two items are completed but the improvements in all of the city parks have not been completed.

As you recall from the five year plan, that is a significant amount of money.

Commissioner Staudt stated that he felt that this is misleading. To say there is significant progress to complete all improvements in city parks. We are not even close because improvements take dollars and we have none. He hopes City Council will look at this more carefully. He feels that for a few thousand dollars a big issue like the stump grinding in the sub divisions could be taken care of. Where does this kind of budget allocation come up in our discussion as a Commission?

Director Auler replied that the operation budget is submitted by staff. There is a percent of increase that we are allowed per category. Anything outside of that percent that is a new item is submitted as a service improvement request or a capital outlay item or a capital improvement item. We made a recommendation for a stump grinder which was included as part of the Commissions discussion in the capital improvement request. He does not recall the number of stumps we can remove a week by renting a stump grinder but adding a couple of weeks will not make a significant impact on the over 700 stumps out there. That is why there is a proposal for a stump grinder.

Commissioner Staudt stated it may not be significant but it would be more. He would implore City Council to find some funding for some additional stump removal if they cannot find it in the budget for a stump grinder.

Regarding the proposal for ballfield irrigation, he feels it is important and would love to see it. He asked Director Auler if it was correct that nothing was approved for funding for Parks, Recreation and Forestry, besides the general line item things.

Director Auler stated that City Council has not approved or appropriated and capital improvement money for the parks in the proposed budget.

Commissioner Staudt stated that he would support the irrigation system if that is what we are going to get. He would strongly encourage that we find money for the stump removal. He cannot believe that we do not have a web based registration system for the Parks and Recreation department.

Commissioner Enright agreed with Commissioner Staudt. She is at the parks almost seven days an week and she has coaches coming up to her on a regular basis stating that the fields are becoming a safety issue. The fields have divots, ditches and ruts. Coaches are concerned about injuries to their players due to these conditions. She believes irrigation will not solve all of the problems but it will be a step in the right direction. We have teams that do not want to play at Community Sports Park, their home park, because they see the superior fields in the surrounding communities. With the new subdivisions we will be having even more children using the fields we need to get something going now.

Commissioner Staab stated that he appreciates City Council giving us the monies for the irrigation. We wanted Community Sports Park to be the gem, comparable to surrounding communities. We were compromised from the beginning with a bad design, problems with the contracting and problems with water and electricity. He thinks irrigation is a step in the right direction but he also feel that $30,000 for a stump grinder would help a lot of people through out the whole city. He wished the City Council had asked their opinion on priorities for monies.

Commissioner Place stated that she agreed on some points from previous speakers. We set these priorities and she is leaning toward keeping what the Commission said that they wanted to do at this point.

Commissioner Kopeika feels many good points have already been made. He stated that all of the priorities the Commission has set are important. He questions the value of being on the Commission, doing all of the work, and not getting funding. If irrigation is put in at least something can be finished that is on the list. With irrigation we can get smooth turf, which is an expectation of a sports park. It is not something extra. We need the fields at a point where no one is going to get hurt playing on them.

Commissioner Engebretson stated that she heard some things from the Jaguars, which were really positive. She would love to see the Novi Youth Baseball League step up and say, "We are going to help contribute towards the improvement of the diamonds." They are the main users of them and that would be appropriate.

Commissioner Paul stated that he appreciated each of the other Commissionersí efforts this evening and for the past year of several years especially given the issues and challenges. City Council was invited but did not attend and event the Commission held where everyone went on a bus with administration to visit all of the park facilities to see the condition they were in. It was disappointing not to see any participation from City Council. It is disappointing that for the second straight year to get zero dollars. He is interested in looking forward, taking what we can get and doing the best with it.

His thought is, in a letter to City Council and this administration; make a table listing where we would spend $150,000, where we would spend $100,000, $75,000, and $50,000. We would break that down in to a variety of categories.

Commissioner Staab noted that this has to be done and in the hands of City Council by Monday night.

Commissioner Enright asked if it has been determined if the current well can be tapped into for irrigation at Community Sports Park or if a new well and pump is needed.

Deputy Director Lewis stated that he, Director Auler and Park Superintendent Matt Wiktrowski have talked to three to four different well companies and irrigation people that designed the system for field number two. The first question they all asked us was do we have a pond, because that is the trend that golf courses and other cities have gone to for watering soccer fields and softball fields. That is the first choice that is recommended. When we water the existing soccer fields now, that is the system we installed. We pump the water from the pond and water the field at night. During the day there is a well that replaces the amount of water that was pumped from the pond. If we are going to go from this pond, there is already a main line that goes from the north end to soccer field A. We would take that over to ballfield number eight and then run that line from their, east to ballfield number six and down from there. That would be the infrastructure for the well system. We would be pumping from the pond and upgrading the existing well. That way we would not have to dig any more wells. This is the system that they all recommended. Well number five was a mistake that the well company put in originally. It was originally supposed to go where well number four is. The well contractor was supposed to call and then meet Deputy Director Lewis at the park. Instead, the contractor went out on his own and thought he saw the stake in the ground, but saw the wrong stake, and drilled well number 5. The next day when Deputy Director Lewis went out to the park, he noticed the mistake. Deputy Director Lewis had previously met with the county. The county told us where the well had to be. The well contractor donated the well dug in error and then put well number four in the correct place and is the main well for the restrooms and the concessions. There are still a lot of unknowns about well number five. Field number two will be irrigated from well number 5 and the question was asked if two more fields could be irrigated from that well. The well company explained that well number five is a collection well. Field number two is set up to be watered completely in three and a half hours. The well people said that there is a possibility that within two hours it would stop pumping and would be out of water because it is a collection well. Well number 4 is not a collection well and it would be assumed that two other fields could be watered from that well, however, to do that new pumps would have to be installed, as well as pressure valve release that would go in to the restrooms. There are several other issues and the approximate cost to do this is or upgrade is about $7,000. The other cost to do the fields is bout $15,000. There are a lot of unknowns about the wells. They always prefer to go to the pond. They felt to spend $7,000 to upgrade the well may not be the best choice. If the well four or five were used to irrigate two more fields, then to irrigate fields six or seven then a whole new well would have to be installed at the cost of $10,000.

Commission Enright asked what the bottom line cost would be if we were to irrigate fields eight, seven, six, four and five from the pond.

Director Auler stated that to run from the pond with one field would run $41,7000 and each additional field would be between $10,000 and $15,000 but are guessing on the high side at $15,000.

Commissioner Staudt thinks that a much better way of dealing with this would be to send a letter to City Council stating that we support our original recommendations and priorities. That we appreciate any opportunity to have funding for whatever they deem necessary but that we would like for them to consider our priorities in making that decision. If they elect not to follow our recommendation, which is their right, we still appreciate any funding that we are going to get.

Commissioner Paul asked Director Auler that at the current rate of funding which we have received from City Council over the past two years, are we on track to achieve five-year recreation plan.

Director Auler stated that as we went through the five-year plan we talked about a number of funding options that the community would have to consider in order to complete all of the improvements that we outlined. That was our vision in terms of capital projects and that number was significant. We informed City Council at the time we presented the plan to them for review and adoption. We did get $126,000, which is what is building field number two. We are still paying off the park fund at Community Sports Park, which purchased that property and helped construct some of that facility.

The year before Director Auler started working here the three or four restrooms were constructed with approximately $400,000 to $500,000 at Rotary Park, Wildlife Woods, Lakeshore Park and

Community Sports Park.

Commissioner Paul stated that based on Director Aulerís feedback and the comments of the Commission it appears we will be falling well behind the recreation plan. He feels the Commission has no opportunity to make big difference unless some of the actions are taken relative to the revenue generation options.

Director Auler stated that it would probably take a number of those options to complete all of the projects.

Commissioner Paul stated that there have been several revenue opportunities that have turned away from Novi. Fall baseball leagues have gone to other neighboring communities specifically because of the condition of the fields. Visiting teams from other communities have made comments about the condition of the fields and had expected something different from Novi. He feels the Commission should make a very specific recommendation to City Council.

Commissioner Enright stated that she does not believe that writing a letter stating a priority of projects by monetary amounts possibly received should be done. We are begging for anything and if we get anything it should be a big thank you. We have a list of major priorities, all of which are number one. If we get any money it will go to something on our priority list and go to good use.

Commissioner Engebretson stated that she disagrees with both Commissioners Enright and Staudt. We did put a priority list together and sent it to them and this is our wish list in the order in which we would like it but any money that we get is a bonus since at this point we have none. She agrees with Commissioner Staudt that it is their decision as to how it gets allocated.

Director Auler clarified that the letter would outline the priorities as approved at the March Commission Meeting but if City Council chose to move one of those priorities up the Commission would appreciate any funds that they could get.

Director Auler stated that the priorities in order are: ADA transition plan improvement, hazardous tree removal, Singh trail connection, tree stump grinder, recware "Safari" program, Power Park ballfields, Community Sports Park ballfield improvement, renovation of Lakeshore Park camp building, wide area lawnmower, pickup trucks, tree chipper, tree replacement.

Commissioner Staudt wanted to add that the Commission supports the irrigation project; it is just that they would like the Council to consider everything before they select something.

Director Auler asked if the letter would be something that he would do.

Commissioner Paul stated that it would be something that he and Director Auler would do.

Commissioner Staab disagreed with that. He felt the Commission should have the opportunity to approve the letter before it was submitted.

Commissioner Paul stated that the other commissioners would have an opportunity to give their input by e-mail no later than Friday at noon.

A motion was made to write a letter a letter to City Council reinforcing the Commissionís priorities previously set and encourage them to make some type of investment in Parks,

Recreation and Forestry. (Staudt, Enright C-UN)

COMMISSIONER COMMENTS:

Commissioner Enright:

She wanted to mention that Commissioner David Staudt initiated a clean up at Rotary Park two weeks ago. She thanked him. There were about 20 volunteers. She had a city worker near her house today marking things for landscape work. Her lawnmower broke down and even though he was getting ready to leave he got it going for her and wanted to thank him. She was also at the Jaguar tournament and she knows it brought in close to eight to nine thousand people to this area. It was a great atmosphere and a lot of fun. City workers were there throughout the day, the park was clean, there was parking available, everything seemed to work smoothly. Kudos to them. It was a great event and she hopes it keeps going.

ADJOURNMENT:

A motion was made to adjourn. (Enright, Paul C-UN)

The meeting ended at 10:06p.m.

 

 

 

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Signed, David Paul, Chairperson

 

 

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Signed, Charles Staab, Vice Chairperson