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PARKS, RECREATION AND FORESTRY COMMISSION
THURSDAY, AUGUST 19, 2004 Ė 7:30PM
NOVI CIVIC CENTER Ė COUNCIL CHAMBERS

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

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

Kopeika (Present), Schwarzlose (Present), Staab (Present), Staudt (Present), Wingfield (Present).

ALSO PRESENT: Randy Auler, Director

Jack Lewis, Deputy Director

Steve Printz, Forester

Matt Wiktorowski, Park Superintendent

APPROVAL OF AGENDA:

Commissioner Staab welcomed staff members Mr. Printz and Mr. Wiktorowski and the new commission members Mr. Wingfield, Mr. Schwarzlose and Mr. Burke to the meeting that evening. He asked if there were any additions or deletions to the agenda, one action item was added by Commissioner Staudt; Chairman, Vice Chairman and committee appointments. It was moved to approve the agenda as amended.

PRESENTATIONS:

Matt Wiktorowski introduced himself and presented a brief overview of how maintenance makes a difference in the park system. His presentation included reports on how staff communicates with one another, becomes better educated, and better serves the park patrons by:

Identifying project goals

Staying on track with the capital projects

Utilizing a "team" concept

Defining equipment resources and needs

Utilizing partners

Developing a maintenance calendar

He noted four key aspects on how to develop better park maintenance:

o Developing a maintenance plan

o Identifying the equipment needed to meet and set standards

o Open communication with the organization and user groups

o Becoming more professional as a sports turf manager through educational opportunities

He passed out a maintenance schedule of Community Sports Park and opened the discussion for questions.

Commissioner Staudt asked what it meant to organize all of your user groups within one board and asked if the Commission had that board. Mr. Wiktorowski replied that the goal is to have one person from each association (i.e. Michigan Mountain Bike Association, Novi Youth Baseball, etc) to form a board to find out exactly what their needs are and "what we would like to accomplish amongst all of them". Commissioner Staudt asked if that is going to happen, to which Mr. Wiktorowski replied "thatís something Iíd like to see happen because I think itís very important".

Commissioner Enright asked "in regards to core aeration: it sounds like itís a very important step to maintaining the fields, you say we do it four to five times a year. Do we have enough equipment to do this properly and are we doing it now?". Mr. Wiktorowski replied that it is scheduled to be done at least four or five times a year, we do not have a core aerator, we either borrow one from the schools or borrow from Northville Parks and Recreation. The Department encounters problems with borrowing machines, due to the limited amount of time we are able to use them.

Commissioner Enright also commented that the dandelion problem is better than last year. She asked about the storage trailers that were always at Community Sports Park. Mr. Wiktorowski replied that the trailers are gone and the equipment that was kept in the trailers there previously, has been moved to Fire Station #4. He confirmed that we have a full time employee that transports the equipment from there to the individual parks. Commissioner Enright also noted that in his report he explained that only 60 events should be handled per field, per year and asked if "we are maxing out at that and is that an issue at this point?". Mr. Wiktorowski replied that we far exceed that number and the fields are quite worn. He said that aeration would have helped that situation, but once youíve exceeded that amount of events thereís a good chance that the plant will not survive. Commissioner Enright asked what the approximate amount of acreage is that the Department maintains, to which Mr. Wiktorowski replied that the inventory (including wooded acres) is approximately 700 acres.

Commissioner Wingfield stated that he plays a lot of softball on the fields at Power Park and his kids play at Community Sports Park and in the olden days they used to "roll the fields". He noted there is a lot of "clumps and bumps out there, and a shot will come this way, and boom the ball goes this way and itís really bad, do you still practice that? Back in the 70ís and 80ís Farmington and Southfield would say they had a little moisture in the field, theyíd get out and roll it, and you saw a difference in the field". Mr. Wiktorowski replied that both locations were rolled this summer, "but itís got to be a combination of practices, however. If you just go out there, roll and donít add top dressing and aerate you get a hard soil and you just get tufts of grass in that hard soil. You can roll over that tuft of grass all day long and itís going to stay that same tuft of grass. He said rolling definitely helps, especially with irrigation.

Commissioner Wingfield also asked about a subject that he said was brought up in his interview with City Council. The subject has come up often about fencing around the Tim Pope Memorial Play structure, something attractive-not a chain link fence.

Director Auler stated that in the master plan, prepared in partnership with Novi Youth Baseball and McKenna and Associates, a vinyl type farm fence is planned for that area. The challenge is finding the funding for it.

Commissioner Staab thought that the core aerator was one of the pieces of equipment discussed in June that the commission was considering purchasing with the money allocated. Director Auler stated that former Commissioner Paul and the City Council were working on getting the equipment donated, but that borrowing the equipment would enable the maintenance staff to aerate and top dress the fields in September. Commissioner Staab confirmed that the maximum number of events on a field is 60 per year and asked how many we are events we are currently holding. Mr. Wiktorowski replied that he estimates at least 300-500 per season.

Commissioner Staudt said that "there seems to be a little confusion" in his mind about this equipment. "Letís once and for all understand that we have not made a recommendation on that equipment". He asked if this is something that they need to take Commission action on formally, because he doesnít believe that is what they decided. Director Auler stated that the Commission decided to appropriate the $88,000, there was a condition on the equipment of 60 days, which would be this meeting. Staff has proceeded with the mower, that piece of equipment is out to bid. We elected not to go out to bid on the aerator (hoping it would be donated) taking into consideration the equipment could be borrowed.

Commissioner Staudt asked that the Department bring the information to the Commission before anything is done about the aerator, as he felt it was a change of plans. Director Auler said we would be glad to bring it back this winter.

Commissioner Staab interrupted the discussion, referencing the minutes of June 10th where it noted a comment to former Commissioner Paul that it would be decided at the August meeting.

COMMITTEE REPORTS

1. Resource Development Committee

Commissioner Staudt summarized for the new members that the committee was created to look at options for developing alternative sources of revenue outside the normal allocation of tax dollars and program fees. The committee was directed to create a Parks Foundation, which was incorporated in February. The by-laws require that two commissioners and three non-commissioners be seated on the committee.

Commissioner Staudt reported that at the last board meeting, a conflict of interest provision was documented and approved. They are currently in the process of soliciting board members and the board meets every third Tuesday of the month. Currently the Foundation has about $5,800 in donations, of which $5,500 is earmarked for specific projects ($5,000 for soccer and $500 for CSP ball fields). The Board hopes to have the 501 © 3 status ruling within the next ninety days, until that is completed they will not be actively soliciting funds.

Commissioner Staab added that the Board is working on Directorís Liability Insurance.

2. Park Development Committee

Commissioner Enright summarized for the new members that the committee was created to review projects at the various Novi parks, meeting once a month.

She reported that the Community Sports Park is very close to completion; the contractor is currently working on some punch list items. Final payment will be made when those items are completed and the fields will be ready for the 2005 season.

The City Council appropriated $88,000 to the Department, of which half is designated for Community Sports Park irrigation. The project is currently out to bid and the intent is to make a recommendation to City Council at the September 13th meeting.

The committee also discussed the aerator and other equipment.

Several things have been completed in the Lakeshore Park Improvement Project. Paths are completed from the parking lot to the restrooms and concession stand areas, mulched areas were added to improve the aesthetics, DPW has completed the entranceways and drains have been installed, and the entranceway is paved and asphalt is down in the tunnel.

Commissioner Enright walked the park and noted the fence around the beach area needs to be addressed; the west end is open and adjacent to additional property that is not fenced in. Also, along the roadside, the current fence is rusted and the support poles are very crooked and leaning.

Director Auler reiterated that many improvements have been made at Lakeshore Park in the last year and a half. Those improvements include renovating the camp and concession stand building by installing a new roof, water system, doors and windows. Other improvements at the park include installation of new playground equipment and the removal of the old, unsafe equipment.

Director Auler explained that the next phase of improvements is being handled cooperatively with the Department and D.P.W., including handling some drainage issues and improvements to the entryway. Additional parking was added to improve accessibility, funded through the capital improvement funds.

One item that remains an issue is the fencing along Lakeshore Park and the beach there. The beach area has never been entirely fenced in, which is a major liability issue. Along the west area, not only do we have a portion that is an open fence area but also there is a 30-35 foot distance where we lack fencing at all. Along the east area, we currently have a temporary snow fence.

Upon looking at pictures on the overhead, Director Auler noted the fence is rusted, approximately 24 years old, chain link. The fence is leaning due to snow and wind, it is not secure, and is not aesthetically pleasing. This item was requested to be presented to City Council by the administration.

When presented as part of a budget amendment at their last meeting, Council requested the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission review this item and provide a reccomendation. They felt it should be part of a bigger project or considered by the Commission as part of the capital improvement program. Director Auler stated that he would bring the item back to the Commission as a capital improvement item for funding or if the Commission wished to discuss it this evening, they could. Director Auler recommended bringing it to the committee as part of all the park improvements. The preference is to replace the fence with a black vinyl fence, which is low maintenance and blends well in the winter. The bid would include the options of bidding the project as a black vinyl fence, a chain link fence, and Council requested a decorative fence. It will also include bids for one side only and both sides of the street.

Commissioner Staudt said that he was at the City Council meeting when this item was presented and "it seemed to be pretty clear that theyíd like to have these types of issues come through the Commission initially and heís not quite sure why it didnít-but thatís another issue. Is this going to be considered as part of our 2004-2005 capital improvement items or is this something we would consider as an additional item outside? We havenít allocated any money or prioritized anything for this expenditure at this point. We have ten things weíve prioritized already, some of them have been worked on. How are we going to deal with this process?"

Director Auler said he views the beach part of the fence "as an emergency, weíll have to come up with some kind of fencing to secure the beach area".

Commissioner Staudt said the City Council made it very clear that they expected the Commission to bring a recommendation, that it was not adequate for staff to make the recommendation. Are we going to make this part of a discussion? Director Auler recommended that the Commission take this to a committee, maybe the Park Development Committee; he doesnít feel it should wait until next spring.

Commissioner Staudt said he did get the impression Council was willing to spend the money, he thought it should be brought to the next Commission meeting (there will be another meeting in 3 weeks). Commissioner Enright agreed.

Commissioner Kopeika suggested doing the project in two phases, do the priority portion now and the remainder in the spring.

Director Auler said that he would like to do that side of the road entirely, the beach would be secure and there would be one consistent look.

Commissioner Staab summarized that everyone agreed to put this on the Park Development agenda and have that committee bring a recommendation back to the September commission meeting.

3. Strategic Planning Committee

Commissioner Kopeika summarized for the new members that the committee was created to develop long-range plans for the community. The committee looked at needs from both a passive and active perspective, recognizing that parkland was an issue to deal with.

In October, the committee presented a report to Council recommending that the city needed to acquire land and that the budget was low from an operating standpoint. At that time, he feels Council sent a message that a millage was out of bounds for funding the Department.

The Department has begun to implement some of the things presented, some objectives they have made progress on, and some of the lower priority objectives they have not gotten to (due to funding).

The next step for this committee is to create a one-year update and look at what items need to be funded within the capital improvement plan.

Commissioner Kopeika commented that "the plan is good, but it will run out of energy without the correct funding. We have managed to make some progress on A.D.A., which is our #2 priority, but I think we are only 40% there". He suggested creating a one year overview of where weíre at with the Community Recreation Plan, bundled with that would be some items that need to fall within the Capital Improvement Plan, and forward a copy to the City Council. He thinks it is more effective to present three or four items at once, rather than single, random ideas to City Council (where they almost always recommend to bring back a report).

REPORTS:

Deputy Director Report

Deputy Director Lewis noted that the commission packets included his A.D.A. report, of which he gave a brief overview.

In 2003, the report contained 155 infractions that were identified that needed to be corrected in order for the department to become A.D.A. compliant. Currently, we have corrected 40% of the infractions and an outline is included to correct those still remaining. The goal is to have 51% completed by fall 2004, 63% by winter, 72% by next summer and remaining items would depend on budget. He noted that he left off spring 2005 because we only have four people on our maintenance staff and itís a huge undertaking to complete infractions on top of the daily duties that the spring season brings to them. The crew has done an excellent job so far, completing the original 40%, considering the ball field preparations and the day-to-day maintenance.

The anticipated schedule is included in his report and a current estimate for improvements is $279,000 that we need to complete this.

Commissioner Staudt commented that the maintenance schedule shows the first pink capital improvement item as Community Sports Park $50,000 for playground parking. The list says itís done. He is more sensitive, because he did the original A.D.A. layouts, a lot of the pink has disappeared.

Commissioner Staudt appreciates the percentage of completed infractions report, but feels itís deceiving to see the percentage of the original count of items. Commissioner Staudt said heíd rather the report include how many of the dollars are done at this point. He wants to know how many more dollars are needed from City Council to get this work done once and for all. Commissioner Staudt has "heard it loud and clear from many council members that this is their priority. We want to know where we stand.

The $279,000 figure is incorrect. If you go back to the original Capital Improvement numbers in the five-year community action plan, that number was close to a million dollars. Did we knock off $500,000 worth of expenditures or is this a misleading document?"

Deputy Director Lewis noted that the original figure included Civic Center improvements and this report only included the park system. The projects listed for this fall will be funded by the park maintenance budget.

Commissioner Staudt commented that this is not addressing the A.D.A. issue which was in the Community Action Plan, that this is only a portion of that issue. Deputy Director Lewis replied that it addresses the issues in the parks. Commissioner Staudt replied that we donít differentiate different groups. Deputy Director Lewis replied that he would like to bring a report that would include the Civic Center figures back to the Commission.

Commissioner Kopeika agreed that the Commission needs the entire report. Commissioner Staab that in his rough calculations weíve got about $63 or $64,000 slated out of the $88,000 and he would like to see the report that includes the Civic Center and "get a whole panoramic view of this project".

Commissioner Staudt asked when the $66,000 the Commission allocated to Parks, Recreation and Forestry became "parks only A.D.A. compliance money".

Commissioner Enright commented that $44,000 of the $88,000 was for irrigation. Commissioner Staudt said whatever the figure was Ė that money was only designated for Lakeshore Park.

Director Auler said that "some of the monies that are improving Lakeshore are doing the A.D.A. improvements as well".

Commissioner Enright asked if the tunnel is finished yet. Director Auler replied that "a drain on the other side still needs to be installed. As part of the $80,000 appropriated money for access across the beach, and we are looking to have that installed in the spring as a project that will go out to bid this winter".

Deputy Director Lewis stated that at the last meeting he advised the Commission that Oakland County Health Department had some new regulations for the concession stands, the primary rule being that a certified manager has to be at every stand while they were open for business. The Department explained to the county that most of our concession staff is part time college students, they gave us an exemption form, and we are asking for an exemption. We are fine for the fall and hopefully have everything worked out for next spring.

Commissioner Staab clarified that Novi Bobcats Football players are using the Wildlife Woods fields for practice. Deputy Director Lewis stated that itís working out well to have them there, protecting the baseball outfields.

 

Director Report

Director Auler wanted to point out a few items.

Firstly, Mr. Wiktorowski prepared a grant application to the DALMAC Fund. The Department received $2,500 for signage improvements along the mountain bike trails, with the Department matching $2,500, and the Michigan Mountainbike Association contributing $500.

A question came up at the last City Council meeting in terms of park naming, a discussion ensued, and Director Auler recommended that one of the committees develop a park naming policy.

He reported that approximately 2,500 people attended the International Festival and the Department received many positive evaluations.

The concerts have been well received this year, the evening of the meeting was the last date of the concert series and was held at Providence Hospital.

The Novi News has been featuring a weekly section featuring the department; as well as a senior section and a new feature of the commission packets is a calendar of upcoming events.

Commissioner Staudt asked about an item in Ms. Ringleís report regarding a $25,000 donation to the Department by Providence Hospital. He asked who is responsible for the money and wondered how is it allocated.

Director Auler replied that the majority of the money is designated for the sponsorship program for events and activities, with the remainder designated for youth sports sponsorship.

Commissioner Staudt asked how those donations affect the budget because that would probably free up money that was previously designated for that purpose and the Department could probably use the money for other programs.

Director Auler replied that all of the free events, which are many, are planned using sponsorship money that is solicited. In turn they received a full-page ad in the brochure, advertising on the 2 sports teams they sponsored, and on a banner at events.

Commissioner Staudt commented on the subject of the park naming rights, City Council minutes should be consulted because the Mayor asked each member what their preference would be. He thinks it is a difficult issue and asked where we stand with unnamed parks at the moment.

Director Auler replied that there is currently one parcel of land that has not yet been designated as park.

Commissioner Staudt asked if Singh Trail is an official name, Mr. Auler replied that the name was part of the development agreement approved.

Commissioner Staab wanted it to go on the record that he was a co-chair of the Tim Pope Memorial Committee, named for a former City Council member. The committee went to Council with what they wanted to do and they approved it. Commissioner Staab noted that the family wanted the play structure at Community Sports Park, the committee felt it would be better located elsewhere, but they honored the familyís wishes.

Commissioner Staab also noted that in the past the naming issue has come up, specifically with the Novi Ice Arena. He will be very interested to see how this progresses.

AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION:

None.

ACTION ITEMS:

Approval of the July 8, 2004 regular meeting minutes.

Commissioner Staudt wanted to correct the spelling of the names of two Foundation members to Bob Churella, Sr. and Kathy Cosentino. He inquired as to why the minutes have gone from general minutes to verbatim minutes. Deputy Director Lewis explained the new member of the clerical staff transcribed the minutes and felt more comfortable doing them verbatim. Her next turn (the minute transcription duties are rotated) he will make sure that she transcribes the key discussion points and action items. The minutes were approved with those corrections. (Enright C Ė UN)

2. Approval of recommendation to the City Council to implement the Cooperative Street Tree Replacement Program

Steve Printz, the City of Novi Forester recapped his Emerald Ash Borer presentation of July 8, 2004 for the new commission members. He reiterated the devastation the pest has had on Noviís urban forest, the progress of tree removal both on street trees and park trees, and the options available to expedite further removals.

Mr. Printz told the Commission that he feels they should recommend to the City Council allocation of $25,000 from the Tree Fund to the Street Tree Replacement Program, to institute a 50-50-match program.

Commissioner Staudt complimented Mr. Printzís presentation, noting it was "spectacular and wonderful as normal". He feels that he is "way underestimating the will of Council at this moment and the availability of funds". He noted that there is no money for education in the budget and asked Mr. Printz how important he felt education was.

Mr. Printz replied that he has a lot of information and has spoken to many homeownersí association groups regarding this issue, education is a main focal point. Mr. Staudt asked if the rental for a stump remover also comes out of that fund and Mr. Printz replied that is correct.

Commissioner Staudt clarified that this proposal doesnít touch one dollar of capital improvement money, requires no new funding, and is projected for the 2005 year. Mr. Printz replied that it is correct. Commissioner Staudt pointed out that Commission rated the tree replacement issue as #2 on the priority list.

Commissioner Staudt feels itís time to step up to Council and ask for some money. "We have a $200,000 estimated cost, letís not try to make do with what we already have and do the minimum", he said.

Commissioner Burke said that he would be inclined to agree, but he would like to know what the cost is for a stump grinder as opposed to renting one. Mr. Printz replied that it would be between $25-$30,000. Commissioner Burke asked if there was any chance to get one donated. Commissioner Enright said she felt it was not something that we could wait for, the stumps have become a hazard. She feels citizens want to do the 50-50 split on the cost of replacements, just to be done with it.

Commissioner Kopeika agrees with the split and will wait to see if thereís a motion. Heís not clear what Commissioner Staudt is recommending.

Commissioner Schwarzlose agrees itís time to move forward, supports the 50-50 split based on the survey results.

Commissioner Wingfield asked what the response was from residents on a street in Simmons Orchard where all of the street trees were removed and the stumps were left. Mr. Printz said most people are understanding of the situation, certainly some residents are upset.

Commissioner Staab asked what the total bill for removal and replacement would be. Mr. Printz replied that replacement would be in the range of $800-$900,000, assuming $325 per tree. Stump removal would be over $100,000. Tree removal would be approximately $100,000.

Commissioner Staab summarized that the total would be approximately 1.2 million dollars. As a "risk management type person", stump removal concerns him. He feels "Novi has always held itself out to be a community of being very proud of itsí homes and proud of itsí areas and so on and so forth, and we do an excellent job in the parks and so on and so forth" that he thinks the Commission should look at ways to expedite the process.

Director Auler said the goal of presenting the subject was for the Commission to bring a recommendation for Councilís September meeting. He would recommend the initial amount of $25,000 from the tree fund to institute a 50-50 match program, money allocated but not ear marked for replacement trees.

Commissioner Staudt feels that asking for too small of an amount is an easy out. He would like to get it on the books that this is not a budget issue; it is isolated. He would like Mr. Printz to give the same presentation to Council and see how they are going to deal with it.

Commissioner Kopeika said that he understands Commissioner Staudtís stand on the issue. He pointed out that this is a policy change, to move from a 100% funding for replacements to a 50/50 policy. He feels Council is aware of the problem and feels we should not wait for a larger sum.

Commissioner Kopeika, seconded by Commissioner Enright, moved to recommend to City Council to adopt a Cooperative Street Tree Replacement Program. This is a 50/50 match for replacing trees utilizing $25,000 from the Tree Fund to help finance the City of Noviís portion.

Commissioner Staudt moved to amend the motion, seconded by Commissioner Enright, to read that the $25,000 allocation is not annual (as recommended by staff) but instead be reconsidered every year.

(Passed-U)

3. Vice Chairman and Committee Appointments

It was moved to make Commissioner Staab the Chairman and Commissioner Enright the Vice Chairman until the October meeting. (Staudt, Enright C - UN)

Commissioner Burke volunteered to sit on the Resource Development Committee until October.

Commissioner Schwarzlose volunteered to sit on the Park Development Committee until October.

Commissioner Wingfield commented that the choice of committees has narrowed since he was last on the Commission, he will decide at a later date which committee he will join.

Motion to amend to December the time limit to receive in-kind donations to

acquire aerator equipment, before the equipment purchase goes out to bid.(Enright, Burke - UN)

DISCUSSION ITEMS: None

COMMISSIONER COMMENTS:

Commissioner Burke: None.

Commissioner Kopeika: Asked Director Auler if the reason the maintenance trailers were moved to the fire station was due to break-ins. Director Auler replied that the space became available, there was no facility for storage at CSP, so the decision was made after the last incident to move the equipment. It does add time to the operation to transport all equipment, cutting down in the neighborhood of 2 Ĺ -3 hours of work time.

Commissioner Kopeika asked if we have ruled out building a storage facility at CSP. Director Auler replied it is included in the conceptual plan. Commissioner Kopeika felt after hearing Matt Wiktorowskiís presentation, itís obvious that storage is needed to accomplish the maintenance planned there.

Commissioner Schwarzlose: None.

Commissioner Staab: Welcomed the new members. He wanted to clarify that the subject of park naming rights will be addressed by the Resource Committee. He also recommends a park visit for the new commissioners before the weather turns.

Commissioner Staudt: None.

Commissioner Wingfield:Said that heís glad to be back on the Commission and needs to do some catching up on his homework.

ADJOURNMENT:

The meeting was adjourned at 9:48.

_____________________________________

Signed, Charles Staab, Chairperson

 

Signed, Marie Enright, Vice Chairperson