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PARKS, RECREATION AND FORESTRY
The meeting was called to order at 7:32 PM with Commissioner Enright presiding.
ROLL CALL: Commissioner Burke (Present), Enright (Present)
Schwarzlose (Absent), Staab (Present Ė entered at 7:37), Staudt (Present), Wingfield (Present), Zyczynski (Present).
ALSO PRESENT: Randy Auler, Director
Jack Lewis, Deputy Director
APPROVAL OF AGENDA:
Moved by Staudt, seconded by Wingfield: to approve the agenda as written.
Voice Vote CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION: None
A. Resource Development Committee
1. Deputy Director
Deputy Director Lewis gave kudos to the Park Maintenance staff for the outstanding work they did on the new Lakeshore Park entrance booth. This will enhance the entrance even more. Last year landscaping and a new driveway were done. It is nice to have staff who have the talent to do these things.
The next kudos goes to Linda Wickert and the theater program for the outstanding job on My Fair Lady. Linda has received many compliments throughout the week by phone and e-mails on what a great show it was. The play is also this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Director Auler stated that as Commissioner Staudt had mentioned, on March 21st at the City Council Meeting the Resource Development Plan would be a discussion item. This will primarily focus on the Park naming rights policy and event program sponsorship policy. If Commissioners are available that evening it would be greatly appreciated if they would attend. He was not sure of the placement on the agenda but will send an e-mail next week when he has the information. He would particularly like for the Resource Development Committee members to be at the Council Meeting.
City Council established the first three dates for the budget process. These dates are April 9th, April 16th and April 30th, which are all Saturdays. They are all tentatively scheduled to begin at 9:00 or 9:30, which he will verify at a later time. The first one goes from about
9:00 a.m. to about 2:00 or 3:00 p.m.
Since the last Commission Meeting, the stump grinder has gone out to bid and should be back in and ready to present to City Council for approval at the April 18th meeting.
The Lakeshore Park fence is out to bid. We are bidding it as black vinyl chain link and also as a decorative fence so we can get prices both ways. The target for presenting this to City Council is April 4th.
The tree planting bids just came in for the spring planting and are favorable. They are being researched and it is hoped this can be on the City Council agenda for March 21st so the tree-planting project can be under way.
The tree removal bids came in very favorably. We had projected we would be able to remove 350 trees but now anticipate removing 850 trees. That work is under way and we are utilizing Owen Tree Service, who was the low bidder and also the same company who did work for us a year ago.
The replacement of the chipper and the tree replacement program will be presented as part of the budget discussion. We have the Commission recommendation on both of those programs and will be presented in the budget presentation for Council consideration.
We are trying to secure a donation of materials for the replacement of the shelter roof at Lakeshore Park. There have been some discussions but there are no commitments at the present time.
Community volunteer involvement with workdays began last year with the preparation of the parks and fields. There is a date scheduled for the Novi Jaguars to participate in preparing the soccer fields for the season but Director Auler was not sure that the snow would be gone by then. The date is March 19th with a back up date of April 2nd.
We will be scheduling a spring date also with the Novi Youth Baseball League.
River Day will be held at Rotary Park this year on June 4th. There will be more information at a later date.
Two dates are scheduled with the Michigan Mountain Bike Association to get the mountain bike trails ready for the spring and summer season and also help install sign posts for the signage which will be installed on the trail system, both bike and hiking trails, before Memorial Day. We are able to do the signs through a grant and from funds that were generated through the partnership with the Michigan Mountain Bike Association in the first annual mountain bike race held at the park last year. There will be a race again this year with the proceeds going back in to the trail system as well. The race will be in June.
Preparations for changes are being made in the sports programs. The High School sports seasons will be changing next year unless over-ruled by the United State Supreme Court. With those changes we are realigning our seasons so they will coincide with the High School seasons. These changes are outlined in Wendyís memo. We will also begin to offer sports for the Middle School and High School age youth which will be kicked of this summer by offering softball to the High School age group and next fall with volleyball and basketball for this age group. We will at that time also offer some alternative sports such as ultimate Frisbee. The following year we will add flag football for kindergarten through grade four.
City Council has had some discussion recently regarding youth serving on commissions. At the last council meeting they directed City administration to prepare a resolution to have youth serve on the Park, Recreation and Forestry Commission, Beautification Commission, Historical Commission and the Housing and Community Development Committee. Three of these are under our operation.
Commissioner Wingfield asked if the City Council approved the fence at Lakeshore Park for this yearís budget.
Director Auler stated that City Council directed the staff to go out for bids and would make an award based on the pricing of the fence. Yes, it will come out of the funds of this yearís budget. The motion has not been made for the award of the bid.
Commissioner Wingfield then asked when the bids come back on the two types of fencing, who will decide which fence will be chosen.
Director Auler stated that it is ultimately City Councilís decision. We will have a recommendation for them. He will bring the bids back to the Park Commission if the timing is such that he can, otherwise he will send out an e-mail because it has to be back to City Council by
April 4th. The decision will come down to the dollar amount. If the bid award is made on April 4th the fence will be up before Memorial Day when we open the beach.
Commissioner Wingfield then asked if there was much of a response for the High School Basketball program.
Director Auler replied that he would need to verify with Wendy, but from his last conversation there was not a good response. He has been monitoring how some other schools are doing this. He believes that next year that it will go well because there will be more publicity and we will hopefully have the gym space secured. The biggest challenge for the High School program is to be able to run it right after school.
Commissioner Staudt wanted to point out that the Commission did make a specific recommendation to City Council for the decorative fence.
Commissioner Staudt asked Director Auler if he had forwarded information to him about the Super Bowl Tree Program.
Director Auler confirmed that he had forwarded the information and that Steve Printz, the City Forester, had reviewed it and found that there was not much information out on it other than that article. It was a pilot program in Jacksonville. It provided 1,000 seedlings and is more or less a mitigation project, to be able to plant a large number of seedlings on one or two parcels of property. We have a call in to the reporter who wrote the story and have not gotten a response. We are trying to find out who the contact person is and what type of projects they are looking for.
Commissioner Burke stated that he too believed that the Commission had a recommendation for the decorative fence. He believed that the price difference between the two quotes was small relative to the over all cost.
Commissioner Burke then stated that originally the stump grinder and the chipper were put together as a submission for money out of the tree fund. He understands that the chipper was taken off the table and we got the OK for the stump grinder. What is the current state of our chipper now and what is the life expectancy of it and will we be able to get through another season with it and are we likely to get approval on itís replacement?
Director Auler stated that the chipper is in very poor condition. It has been in the shop for different maintenance repairs two to three days each week over the last couple of weeks. He is hopeful that it will be operational through July and then hopefully the replacement chipper will be approved as part of the budget process. It is an item which can be funded out of the tree fund and those monies are available.
Commissioner Burke then stated that it would be advantageous to have this on hand before the ash tree removal season starts and hopefully City Council will understand the dire need for this in the current state of our existing equipment. What is the balance of the existing tree fund at this time?
Director Auler stated that he is going to have a budget for that prepared and get it out to the Commission. We have a significant amount of money in the fund now and some of it has been earmarked for the projects allocated, such as the $80,000 for tree removal and the $25,000 for the stump grinder. There is approximately $600,000 in the fund now. In December there was a payment made into the fund of about $351,000 and since then we have had two additional payments. If $200,000 or $300,000 is allocated for the tree replacement program, $80,000 already allocated for tree removal, then take out the chipper and the stump grinder there is still some money available for projects that come up through out the year. Steve Printz is working on that information.
Commissioner Staudt asked if there is any chance that the money in the tree fund can be used for anything else.
Director Auler stated that the tree fund was established for the purpose of forestry operation, planting and removals. It is restricted for its use, he believes, by ordinance. It cannot be used for Parks and Recreation programs, to buy a maintenance truck or build a soccer field, etc. It has to be tied to a forestry operation.
Commissioner Staudt asked if City Council could change the ordinance and take the money retroactively.
Director Auler stated that he did not know.
Commissioner Staudt stated that is a lot of money. In a year when there are many budget issues, it would be interesting to know if City Council could do that.
Commissioner Staab asked for clarification. He asked if the chipper and grinder monies were part of the 2005-2006 budget.
Director Auler stated that the chipper has not been presented to City Council. The stump grinder was presented as part of the budget request because it has been discussed many times. The stump grinder is now out to bid and the chipper will be part of the budget process.
Commissioner Staab asked if there was an update on the land donation from Chase Farm.
Director Auler stated not at this time.
Commissioner Staab then asked about where we stand with Mr. Burke and the automobile and trucks.
Director Auler stated that it was part of the budget discussion.
Commissioner Staab asked if he would expand on the subject.
Director Auler stated there was a meeting, it was included in the budget and City Council considers capital items as part of the budget process.
Commissioner Enright stated that one of the reasons the decorative fencing at Lakeshore Park was suggested was because of snow removal. A chain link fence would breakdown much quicker.
Commissioner Enright asked what kinds of signs were being put up with the Michigan Mountain Bike Association.
Director Auler stated that they are way finding signs for the trail system and for the kiosk there will be a map. He stated that he will provide a photograph or sample of that. Matt Wiktrowski has been working on this with the Michigan Mountain Bike Association. They have utilized GIS to map out the trails and are putting it on a format with which they can go out to bid.
Commissioner Enright then asked, concerning the concession stands, since we have to get certified, are there enough people to be able to work Power Park as well as Community Sports Park.
Deputy Director Lewis replied that Kathy Ballard is the certified manager at Power Park. Derek Smith is also going to be certified and we are getting clarification from Oakland County. There was a meeting today and will get back to him tomorrow. It appears that as long as we have one or two certified managers in our department that we will be alright this year with our license.
Commissioner Enright asked if they have to be on site at all times.
Deputy Director Lewis stated that we are getting conflicting information.
Commissioner Staudt asked how Adult Softball was going for returning teams.
Director Auler stated that there have been many people coming in but he did not know what the numbers are.
Commissioner Staudt then asked how many teams, total, there will be playing Adult Softball or how many have been allocated to the league.
Director Auler stated that it was not in Derek Smithís report but that he would get the information.
Commissioner Enright stated that she had been talking with a parent of a High School Volleyball player about the pending season changes. The parent mentioned that the coach has a fall schedule and a winter schedule in case they do not change. Do we have any idea when this decision will be made and if it does not change will our season schedule revert back to what it has been?
Director Auler stated that we do not have a date as to when that will be known. He knows that all of the school systems, because he officiates and is already getting schedules, are planning for volleyball in the fall. If the seasons change, we will change. If not, we will follow the schedule we had for this year.
Commissioner Wingfield stated that he believes that it is on May 10th that the Supreme Court will give their decision. He stated it is most likely the sports seasons will change from what he has heard.
Commissioner Staudt asked for an overview of how this decision is going to affect club teams and other sports.
Director Auler stated that it will impact programs like AAU because when you are in a school season you cannot participate if you are playing on a school team or you lose your eligibility. In other states it does not have that much of an impact. It backs up the AAU season by a month. The younger AAU grades have their state tournaments in April and May with regional qualifiers for Nationals, which are held in Florida, in late June through the third week of July. The High School age AAU teams start later so they generally start in May and their Nationals are at the very end of summer right before school starts.
Commissioner Staudt asked if Director Auler anticipates a severe shortage of officials in general.
Director Auler stated that right now there is a shortage of licensed officials. In some sports there is a severe shortage. It could impact some of those sports but, in his opinion as a participating official, he does not see it as being an issue. He has worked in other states and it depends on how the schools schedule. It may require Saturday games. Some schools have played some Varsity and JV games on a Saturday evening to prepare for this. Athletic Directors to whom he has spoken said that the Saturday games have been well received in terms of the number of people who attend. The sport he thinks might suffer in terms of officials is volleyball because there is a shortage now and moving it during football season could make the shortage worse since officials are paid more for football games than volleyball games.
Commissioner Enright asked if Director Auler anticipated tighter strain on gym space time for Parks and Recreation programs due to the changes.
Director Auler stated that there are meetings with the School District coming up to discuss this issue. He would like everyone to keep in mind that we will also have gym space at Catholic Central. This will help us by providing two additional gyms. We have not worked out the details of the times we can use but Novi School District and Bob Steeh have always been very helpful with scheduling and accommodating our needs.
Commissioner Enright asked if all of the Novi Elementary gyms are utilized by Parks and Recreation.
Director Auler stated that some of them are utilized for the Community Education programs as well. He believes we are using most of the elementary schools.
Commission Staab stated that we do not use Hickory Woods. He then asked if we used Village Oaks.
Deputy Director Lewis stated that he did not believe that we are using Village Oaks.
Director Auler stated that he could provide a report because Wendy DuVall-Angelocci works with that. He then stated that Deerfield Elementary is used for Community Education. Hickory Woods is in the Walled Lake School District and Walled Lake Community Education uses that facility. We have not been able to access schools in the Northville School District which are in the Novi city limits because their own programs have a large number of youth participating.
Commissioner Staab stated that he did not believe that we are using Village Oaks and Orchard Hills.
Deputy Director Lewis responded that as Director Auler previously stated, some of the elementary schools are designated for Community Education programs only.
Director Auler stated that we have tried to focus our programs at Novi Meadows and Novi Woods so it minimizes the impact on our supervisors. We have a supervisor at each site for practices and the games. When we spread out to other schools we must increase our staff costs.
1. Approval of February 10, 2005 regular meeting minutes
Commissioner Burke requested a correction on page four. The sentence reads: "Commissioner Burke said the company that we would be most likely be dealing with is not necessarily the manufacturer, but the distributor of those companies." He feels the policy should have wording that would "permit" those companies rather than prohibit. He wanted the distributors to be able to sponsor an event and have wording reflecting that and not prohibit.
Moved by Staudt, seconded by Staab: to approve the February 10, 2005 minutes with the modification requested by Commissioner Burke.
Voice Vote CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
2. Approval of Recreation Scholarship Program (participant fees waived) for individuals in financial need.
Commissioner Enright stated that as of this time the department has no formal guidelines to determine if a fee should be waived. The Novi Parks Foundation will raise funds to pay for registration fees and equipment needs of individuals in financial need to participate in Recreation programs.
Commissioner Staudt stated that while the Foundation will consider requests of the City that it is not a rubber stamp. And the department may make decisions that the Foundation has nothing to do with. He feels that the Foundation Board needs to look in to funding levels and how it is going to handle those kinds of things. The Foundationís funds are going to be limited. The policy should not be totally dependent on the Park Foundation. If they have $1000 to spend during a fiscal year and there are $1,500 worth of adjustments. The $500 is still the departmentís discretion and should not be dependent on the Foundation.
Director Auler stated that the department does not have a formal program in place and that is what is being presented this evening based on income guidelines. We have waived and continue to waive fees for families and seniors and youth that are in financial need to be able to participate in programs. A key component of our service is that we serve everyone. We turn no one away. We find ways to accommodate people who may be in financial need or have other scenarios that need to be taken in to consideration. We do this department wide. A scenario is brought to a staff memberís attention and is shared with the administrative staff (Director and/or Deputy Director) and a decision is made involving those individuals in the program. There is a greater need out there than people may realize. It is hard for families in that situation because it is difficult to ask for help.
As we were putting this program together we talked with Novi Youth Assistance, the Novi School District and Counselors on how we can increase awareness about the services that not only we provide, but other agencies and offices. Over the last ninety days we have twelve to fifteen participants that are receiving assistance to be able to participate in our programs. We are now formalizing our program and will begin to market it. The Foundation can use it as a marketing tool for people to contribute and support through a charitable contribution. It is something we can market in our program brochure.
Commissioner Staudt asked if City Council will have to sign off on this policy ultimately or is this a departmental policy.
Director Auler stated that he sees this as a program opportunity and departmental with Commission.
Commissioner Staudt then asked if Director Auler has some discretionary spending within his budget that allows the department to do this currently without having a line item that Council approves.
Director Auler stated that it is not really discretionary money. Essentially what the department does is waive the fee and handle it in different ways. A youth may not be able to afford the fee but may be able to do some things that are of value to us. They may be able to help us in the building by sweeping, etc. to have ownership in terms of what they are trying to accomplish. We may have a donor or a sponsor who has given money for a specific purpose in confidence for that reason. It is not really a line item where we have discretionary funds that are allocated for this. We handle it on a case by case basis.
Commissioner Staudt asked Director Auler how he would envision the funds coming from the Parks Foundation to the City and would you expect a lump sum, which would be Parks and Recreationís budget from the foundation.
Director Auler replied that this is an item that needs to be discussed with the Foundation Board.
Commissioner Staudt then asked how items, which are non-fee related, such as tennis shoes or equipment, would be administered. Would it be handled as a request to the Foundation for those specific things? They have the advantage of being able to get things in-kind and donations made by shoe stores, etc.
Director Auler stated that the Foundation would make those decisions. The department could get the information of what items are needed by an individual and confidentially present it to Foundation. Then the Foundation could either provide the funds or provide the equipment through other means.
Commissioner Staudt stated that his only concern is that the Foundation does not meet that often and it would be better to write a check because of the time limitations on filling the need.
Commissioner Staab stated he feels the same a Commissioner Staudt. He can see getting designated funds in which the Foundation can allocate to the department to be used at the departmentís discretion. He can also see working out an arrangement in-kind with certain stores in Novi, which would be able to supply any equipment needs. He has relationships with people whom he could work with or present this to.
Commissioner Staudt asked if the Foundation writes a check to the City, how encumbered is that money without having to go through warrants and all kinds of oversight. Will that be a problem?
Director Auler stated that he did not anticipate it being a problem. If it was done as a line item to a scholarship program then it is part of the budget process as an expenditure. Another way would be to run it through the Foundation.
Commissioner Staab stated that the Foundation does not have the availability to do that.
Commissioner Staudt stated that he is concerned that if City Council gets a warrant for $20.00 for sneakers they are going pull it off the list. Perhaps they wonít if it is well identified. He suggests trying it for sixty days and seeing how it works and if there is a problem then we develop another plan.
Director Auler suggested that no action be taken on this item and come back with a process outline and have finance look at it as well in terms of what might be the best way to handle it.
Commissioner Staudt suggested that another way to handle it would be to set up an account at sporting goods stores and fund that account and allow individuals to go and purchase items needed and then the money would be coming directly from the Foundation but is going out in one or two checks.
Commissioner Staab suggested setting up an account with Play It Again Sports because all of the equipment does not necessarily need to be new.
Commissioner Staudt stated that as a Board they have not started talking about the outgoing yet because they have been concentrating on the incoming. He feels that because this doesnít affect any capital expense or money going out from the department it does not need to go through City Council.
Commissioner Enright asked if the Foundation wholly owns the scholarship program so if there is a need it will come from the Foundation. What will happen if the funds are not available?
Commissioner Staudt stated that the Foundation is going to have a budget and will provide money for scholarships. Whether the amount provided will fulfill the need or not depends on how big their budget is.
With promotion and publication it will probably expand the program.
This is one of the critical issues for which the Foundation was created.
Commissioner Enright asked if this is a program that will be reviewed on an annual basis.
Commissioner Staudt stated that it is a core element of the Foundation.
Commissioner Wingfield asked if an application will be filled out and a decision will be made as a department or director if they meet certain criteria and if they qualify, turn it in to the Foundation to see if there is support needed.
Commissioner Staab replied that a monetary amount will be provided as a line item and will be available for use by the department for scholarships or equipment. The current Board members do not want to be involved in each and every one of the items. He expressed great faith in Director Auler and the department to make the decisions.
Director Auler stated that there are also other alternatives that are not included at this time but will be included when presented next time.
Commissioner Staab stated that he had attended the Choralaires sing fest at Meadowbrook Commons on the Friday before Valentineís Day. It was well attended and a good time was had by all.
He asks all Commissioners to attend the Parks Foundation kick off on Friday, March18th.
Commissioner Burke stated that he is looking forward to seeing the Novi Theatreís production of "My Fair Lady" this Friday night. He hopes to let City Council know the urgency of the request for new vehicles. The requests are being submitted to replace several vehicles at a time when there are some good government price concessions being offered by Ford to those government agencies needing to purchase vehicles. This is "never seen before" type of money that expires with the model year. He received a report today at work that are billed out for the 2005 model year and the areas of vehicles we are looking at will be in April. This is going to be prior to the budget approval, which will leave us out in the cold. He implores the City Council and the City Manager to look at the requests to purchase these vehicles a little earlier or can approve this portion of the budget prior to the entire budget being approved it will go a long way in helping to obtain these vehicles.
Commissioner Staudt welcomed Commissioner Zyczynski. He wanted to thank Commissioner Staab for the nice article in the Novi News and appreciated what he said and from his perspective all of the help he received from him and from Sue Engebretson in getting the Foundation established. There is an opportunity to make a pledge on March 18th, so bring your checkbook. He found out he was recently appointed to the Board of Directors of the Clinton River Watershed Council, which is an influential environmental group in Metro Detroit. He hopes to bring back some things he learns there to our community.
Commissioner Wingfield welcomed Commissioner Zyczynski. He thought it was a good article in the paper today about the Foundation. It says a lot for the Foundation and the Department.
Commissioner Zyczynski stated that she feels privileged to be part of the Commission. It is obvious that they have done a lot of work over the last couple of years. She realizes that she has a lot to learn. She also thought it was an excellent article in the paper. She plans to attend the Foundation kick off on Friday.
Commissioner Enright gave kudos to all of the work on the Foundation and on the great press. She feels that it is only going to grow from here. She would like to commend Director Auler, Deputy Director Lewis and their staff for all of their accomplishments.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:39 p.m.
Signed, Marie Enright, Chairperson
Signed, David Staudt, Vice Chairperson