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PARKS, RECREATION AND FORESTRY COMMISSION
THURSDAY, JANUARY 13, 2005 Ė 7:30 PM
NOVI CIVIC CENTER Ė COUNCIL CHAMBERS

The meeting was called to order at 7:36 PM with Commissioner Enright presiding.

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

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

ALSO PRESENT: Randy Auler, Director

Jack Lewis, Deputy Director

APPROVAL OF AGENDA:

A motion was made and carried to approve the agenda.

(Wingfield, Staudt C-UN)

AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION: None

ACTION ITEMS:

1. Approval of corrected November 18, 2004 regular meeting minutes.

A motion was made to approve the minutes as written.

(Unanimous)

2. Approval of December 9, 2004 regular meeting minutes.

A motion was made to approve the minutes as written.

(Schwarzlose, Staudt C-UN)

3. Approval of the December 9, 2004, Joint Special Meeting with City Council.

(Unanimous)

DISCUSSION ITEMS:

1. Park Naming Policy

Director Auler explained that we currently do not have a Park Naming Policy in place, the Tim Pope Playground Project was named by Committee, Wildlife Woods was named through a naming contest, but we have no policy in place. Director Auler said he would be finishing a draft to be distributed for the February commission meeting.

1. Park Naming Rights Policy

Director Auler stated we do not have a naming rights policy in place. We have recently established a tool to enable this to begin happening through the Park Foundation. We also had discussion at the Joint Meeting with City Council and they seemed favorable of considering this type of policy and asked that we bring it back to them within 90 days, at the March meeting. We will also get this draft out to be reviewed by the Committee for the February meeting. As an example, the Singh Trail property and park area consisting of 253 acres is unnamed and a citizen has asked Council to name that property but again there is no policy on how we go about doing this.

3. Sponsorship Policy

Director Auler stated that there is no policy is place, and we have an opportunity to provide businesses market exposure also for us to offset the cost of our programs and invest in our capital improvements in the park system. The draft is prepared and will be sent out this week for review.

4. Park Foundation

Director Auler stated that we will be looking to establish a gift acceptance policy and this will be reviewed by the Committee. This will provide guidelines that protect the Foundation and donors in terms of negotiating gifts. All of these policies inter-relate and puts into place how we name parks, what is available to be named, what is available to be sponsored, purchased, and how this process works through a gift acceptance policy. Also, I will be distributing a structural agreement with regards to who raises the money, and where does the money go.

6. Emerald Ash Borer Tree Removal/Replacement

Director Auler stated that on December 20th, 2004, Council approved the motion for $90,000 for removal of the emerald ash trees and we are now identifying the sites and will have that bid awarded in February. In regards to the replacement of the trees, there was a $351,000 contribution to the tree fund that we learned of that evening. $90,000 that was appropriated for the removal is coming from that $351,000 which leaves approximately $260,000 and now we will revisit what impact this money has on our replacement strategy. We will have a public meeting to present our ideas.

COMMISSIONER COMMENTS:

1. Commissioner Staudt wanted to clarify the issues related to naming rights relating to the ice arena and the limits the city might have regarding naming rights. Director Auler stated he had more information on the positive side regarding this.

2. Commissioner Staudt wanted clarification on the sponsorship policy and the gift acceptance policy. Director Auler stated the gift acceptance policy goes into detail in the types of ways to give money, whether it might be life insurance, real estate, stock, annuities, etc. The sponsorship is more an exchange of money for an event, program, park opportunities etc.

3. Commissioner Staudt asked about relationship with churches and religion organizations. Was this addressed? Is there any policy on the separation of church and state when advertising on public properties? We also should look at making sure the Foundation isnít limited in its ability to use professional fundraisers if we ever get to that possibility (i.e. golf tournament).

4. Commissioner Enright asked if signage would be considered, will there be uniform signage planned for donors. Director Auler stated that there is a need for that issue but it needs to be discussed. It will need to be in compliance with the existing signage regulations.

5. Commissioner Enright asked about a kick-off for the Foundation.  Commissioner Staudt stated that they are looking at a golf outing sponsored by Singh Development and a mail solicitation to businesses. The license has been received.

6. Commissioner Staab asked if the $90,000 for tree removal will include stump removal as well. Director Auler stated that is correct.

DISCUSSION ITEMS:

1. Singh Trail development and operation. Director Auler stated the trail is to be completed by October 2005. We have to address maintaining the trail, a volunteer program, and an opening ceremony and dedication.

2. On-line registration. Director Auler stated that during the joint meeting with Council, the idea of on-line registration was proposed and the ways of funding it. If and when that is funded, we will need to form a team, including IT, Finance, also how we will unveil the program to the community. Commissioner Staab asked if Council will approve the software package for on-line registration. Director Auler stated regarding the funding - whether it is through the budget or drug seizure money; we still need to be prepared internally.

3. Meadowbrook Commons Management contract. Director Auler stated the contract for the operation and rental side of the residential side of the senior complex expires this June. We will put together a request for proposals and get the packages out, and get a recommendation in place. Also, the contract for the ice arena expires in 2006; we will have to do the same evaluation process for them. Commissioner Staudt asked if the Commission had anything to do with the Meadowbrook Commons management contract. Director Auler stated in the past the Commission did not have anything to do with it, originally the Building Authority gave a recommendation, but Council will still approve the contract. Commissioner Staudt asked if we had a more significant role in the ice arena contract and who drives these decisions? Director Auler stated he wants to have a committee to review proposals. Commissioner Staudt asked if public hearings were held. Director Auler didnít think so.

4. Program enhancements/additions. Director Auler stated the group meeting regarding adult softball program was well attended and noted that issues brought up were supervisory issues onsite, communication in regards to league standings and updates. We have resolved the supervision issue by hiring an employee with a background in softball and has been an intern at the softball center. Also, we will utilize the information as to improvements. We look to offer youth basketball tournaments, adult basketball, baseball tournaments, we have had conversations with Novi Youth Baseball League and they are interested in investing in the facility through tournaments at the Sports park with all the money from the tournaments going back into the facility. We are offering Wiffle ball leagues and tournaments to expand service to the community, also flag football, if there is an interest, we will need volunteers for a steering committee for flag football. We also will be talking to Catholic Central about using their facilities since they are opening this fall. We will try to expand our programs to serve more middle school and high school youth that arenít on the high school or middle school teams. One of the last items with sports is to really improve our steering committees to involve people and have them have ownership of the programs. Also with camps, we offered a mini camp during the holiday and it sold out, we had a tremendous response, excellent evaluations and now the residents want more camps. We will offer a road warriors camp this summer which will focus on teams, ages 12-15, which will provide adventure type activities. Regarding marketing, we are looking to expanding our use of SWAK, doing between three and six shows a year that would come out the same time our brochure does to update the information in the brochure and then maybe a follow-up show as a reminder. Also utilize the newspaper, we have a regular senior section feature in the Novi News, also we have revamped the Recreation Reminder, which goes out to the elementary schools once a month. The last item, is the new brochure, I am very pleased with the quality of the brochure. In Theatre, we will have a transition with Linda Wickert retiring and Sheri Sansom taking over. We are looking to building on that program. The Friends group has been working on raising funds for a new sound system. The Senior Center is continuing to expand programs and looking at how we manage the transportation program in the best quality manner. Riders continue to increase and are almost at maximum service for that service. We are working on developing a plan for the next five years. Commissioner Wingfield wanted to comment on the brochure, he added the structure and layout have improved. Commissioner Burke mentioned the tickets for the Best Christmas Pageant Ever were sold out, and asked what was the dollar amount generated from this show? Director Auler stated he would start presenting an overview of the monthly program budgets. Commissioner Burke asked what tournaments are new and do we know how much income we will receive from that. Director Auler stated that we are trying to offer our own tournaments this year in order to decrease our reliance on the general fund subsidy and try to be self-sufficient and also see if we can get a sponsorship for these tournaments. Director Auler thought we should pursue this idea. Commissioner Burke stated he thought we had enough time to sell these tournaments once we have the rights and policies that we are working on. Director Auler stated we are going to talk about a sponsorship book and how to coordinate who we will solicit for the sponsorships. Commissioner Staudt had some questions on the softball tournaments, will they be Novi Parks, and Recreation tournaments, umpires, revenue etc. Director Auler stated that it would be a combination of the two, continuing the ones in the past and expanding on new ones to coordinate. Commissioner Staudt asked if we would go outside of our leagues to fill these tournaments. Director Auler said we would still solicit outside teams in order to generate revenue. Commissioner Staudt asked if we were making any money on concessions. Deputy Director Lewis stated that we cover our costs and we do make revenue on the concessions. Commissioner Staudt asked about the relationship with the Michigan Mountain Bike Association. Director Auler said the relationship has been repaired and they have a trail coordinator in place. We have identified what is required from the group; we have agreed to fill those requirements. The mountain bike race is a great event and Lakeshore Park was completely full last year and we generate revenue from the gate fee and have an agreement that a certain amount will be re-invested back into the trails. They have agreed to match the grant we have received, the $2,500 DALMAC grant award to install signage at the mountain bike trails. The $2,500 and our match of the $2,500 plus the money from the race last year will bring us just short of some funding. The Michigan Mountain Bike Association has volunteered to put the signs in. We have re-instated their night rides and are complying with our requirements and everything is working well. Commissioner Staudt asked if we are going to have any construction surprises this year at the park (i.e. retention ponds wiping out the trails) etc. Director Auler stated that at the on-site meeting, the developer agreed to meet and have discussions on the plans. Council will have to approve the plans. Commissioner Staudt asked about the additional retention ponds. Director Auler stated that we will have to have additional ponds but we will determine the best location for the ponds and the trails and we should be able to work this out. Commissioner Staudt asked if we were done with the issues related to Lakeshore Park drainage. Director Auler stated that the DPW is responsible for the drainage issue. If they have issues this year, they will have to resolve these issues. Commissioner Staudt asked about the growing multi-ethnic programs developing in Novi. Do we have any program enhancements in that area? Director Auler stated that the Asian-Pacific program continues to grow at the senior center; additionally we have started an Indian dance class with good response. We have some requests for making space available for cricket, which we do not have space for right now. Commissioner Staudt asked about the capacity at the recreation center. The center is currently holding between 9,000 Ė 10,000 people per month for meetings, programs or facility use. Many nights you cannot get a parking space. We have had to restructure almost weekly for our groups coming in. Commissioner Staudt asked if they were charged any fees. Deputy Lewis replied no, during the week, most of the groups are civic groups, and they are not charged. During the week-ends, a fee is required for any group. We are getting a lot of returning groups who like the facility and want to come back. Director Auler stated that many of our programs are not run here, we run Theatre here, the mini camps during Christmas break here during our down times. Commissioner Staab wanted to know if we have utilized the rooms at Meadowbrook Commons or the ice arena. Director Auler replied that we have some challenges at Meadowbrook, staffing in the evening and secondly, in the evening we have a security issue since it is a residential facility. Certain types of meetings would fit there. Deputy Director Lewis said the other facility we utilize is the Old Township Hall. Commissioner Enright asked if we had interpreters who could interpret the brochure to other ethnic groups who do not speak English. Director Auler stated he thought we did have availability to interpreters; also we might talk to the schools about providing that service. Commissioner Enright also inquired about the Singh trail, when are they going to develop the trail? Director Auler said the agreement calls for the trail to be done by October and where the location of the trail is does not impact the operation of the golf course. Commissioner Staudt asked if the plan was approved. Commissioner Enright stated they scraped the plans for the additions and other amenities. They scraped the recreation facility and tennis courts. Commissioner Staudt asked did Council approve the RUD agreement? They were supposed to go back to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Director Auler stated that he was not at the meeting. Commissioner Staudt said they probably got the development agreement approved because that was the variance they were looking for. That does have an impact on the whole Singh trail issue. Commissioner Enright asked if the Michigan Mountain Bike Association has an agreement with us? Director Auler stated that we do have a verbal agreement and a sheet outlining the requirements for their Tuesday evening rides. Commissioner Burke asked about the public meeting regarding the tree replacement program, where will the meeting be held and the date. Director Auler stated that they have not set the date yet. It will be here at the Civic Center. I will let you know.

5. Park enhancements/additions. Director Auler stated that the focus for Forestry would be EAB tree removal/stump removal and tree replacement.

At Lakeshore Park, the improvements to the entry booth were done by the maintenance staff. We still have the fence issue, the beach, and the shelter roof on the large shelter. The Lions club is working on having the material donated for that. The installation of the signs on the mountain bike trails will be done and the landscaping enhancement at the park. Internally, we made some operational changes in terms of supervision, rules, as they relate to the park.

At Community Sports Park, we are finishing up field #2, the item left is the electronic scoreboard. Coca Cola will cut us a check and we will go through the bid process. Also, we are working with Novi Youth Baseball in putting together the opening ceremony on that day. Workdays will be scheduled; we have a commitment with Novi Youth Baseball for two workdays, one in the spring and one in the fall. Also, we have the same commitment from the Jaguars for two workdays as well, to work on the soccer side of the park. The new sprinkler system is done to extend the water to all of the baseball fields and irrigate an additional three fields, which means four of the eight fields are irrigated. The other fields have boxes in which we can connect the hoses and spray down the in-fields.

Regarding Fire Station #4, we spent a lot of time taking equipment back and forth to the sports park. We are evaluating and putting together a plan how we can best utilize Fire Station #4 to improve our efficiency at the sports park in the event a building is not donated. If a building is donated, some of the issues we have to look at are the security of the building. The metal storage crates were pretty secure. If you do a pole barn, that could get broken into fairly easily also. Our plan is to talk about how we best use Fire Station #4. Right now it is packed with equipment, and we have laid out a floor plan and identified some things we may need to improve the operation, such as an additional truck, trailer, etc. to decrease the travel time that we have now.

Commissioner Staudt asked if there are any existing plans for park cleanups this spring.

Deputy Director Lewis stated he has been speaking with the Novi Rotary Club about a cleanup. This fall our staff went in to clear out one of the walking trails; we did some pruning and clearing. I did speak with Wayne Bullen about them coming in and taking a day like in the past for cleanup and maintaining it on a regular basis. Also, we are going to talk to the homeowners associations to ask for volunteers. Since we have cleaned it up, Matt Wiktorowski said he has received three phone calls complimenting on how nice it looks and hopes that we can maintain it. Also, on June 4th, which is River Day we are planning on going to Rotary Park this year and getting into the river itself for some cleaning and working on the trails.

Commissioner Staudt asked about the Coca Cola revenue projections.

Director Auler stated that we are receiving the guaranteed portion of the contract; the incentive portion of the contract is not on track with the projections, we do not have a lot of venues to serve that product.

Commissioner Staudt asked about the development agreement for the Singh Trail and the signage involved.

Director Auler stated that the minimum signage would be at the trailhead and safety signage, such as a change in surface. We do not have a clear number on the signs at this point, but we are discussing those issues.

6. Summary of the budget process. Director Auler stated that generally in the past, the Commission has done its work with the capital improvement portion of the budget in Oct., Nov. and Dec. Then it goes to administration, Capital Improvement Committee, which consists of two planning commission members and two City Council members and ultimately ends up at the Planning Commission and Council for their budget hearings. We also do our operation budget, the capital outlay budget. As you are aware, Council has not met to identify their goals, they do that every two years. What drives our budget is the Community Recreation Plan, and the City Council goals. Those are the two major forces in terms of our budget preparation. Council has set the date of January 22nd, for their Goal Session from 9 Ė 2P.M. They generally discuss short-term goals and longer-term goals, which are beyond 18 months. We have been working on our budget internally somewhat, but we have to wait for the Council goals because that may change some of our guidelines. For our Operation Budget we are given a percent of increase for the budget to stay within. Anything you request outside of that amount does not go into the budget and Council considers whether or not to put them in. We havenít been given any timeline for when the budget will be due; I am guessing it will be very quickly. The Commission may want to consider having an additional meeting earlier than the normal meeting because if the budget is due before the February Commission meeting we will need to get together. In particular, to discuss our capital improvement budget and capital outlay requests. At some point we may need to have a recommendation from the Commission on some of these to take forward to the Council, to the Capital Improvement Committee and to the Planning Commission for the Capital Improvement Budget.

Commissioner Enright stated that there would be a special meeting with the date to be determined.

Director Auler suggested the Council budget sessions are always open to the public and you get a better feel for the goals.

Director Auler mentioned the ice arena would be having a free open skate and rental on January 19th. It is an opportunity for the learn to skate program to showcase along with the ice arena. Additionally, on January 22, we are hosting the Michigan High School Figure Skating Competition.

Director Auler stated we are having a Novi Parks and Recreation night with the Detroit Pistons. Children and families get discount tickets. Also, the kids can attend a camp and free clinic before the game.

Director Auler thanked the Commission for their great working relationship and looks forward to the upcoming year.

COMMISSIONER COMMENTS:

Commissioner Burke wanted to thank the Mayor and City Council for the Appreciation dinner and said he really enjoyed it.

Commissioner Staudt stated that the Daddy Daughter Dance tickets were selling out fast for Saturday.

ADJOURNMENT:

A motion was made and seconded to adjourn.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:04 p.m.

 

 

_____________________________________

Signed, Marie Enright, Chairperson

 

Signed, David Staudt, Vice Chairperson