View Agenda for this meeting

THURSDAY, AUGUST 18, 2005 – 7:30 PM


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

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

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


Moved by Schwarzlose, seconded by Zyczynski to approve the agenda as written.






A. Approval of July 14, 2005 regular meeting minutes and July 21, 2005 Special Meeting minutes.

Moved by Wingfield, seconded by Staudt to approve the minutes as written.

Voice Vote Carried Unanimously

B. Street tree policy discussion and fall planting.

Director Auler noted that an overview highlighting what staff is proposing was included in the packet for this meeting. In an effort to develop a policy for Novi regarding street tree replacements, staff has been reviewing other communities’ policies. Included in the packet was a summary of the Tree Fund financial account. In July, 2004 there was approximately $60,000 in the account, so it was estimated that $700,000 - $800,000 was needed to replace all of the trees. Recognizing that there was a significant shortfall, the Department embarked on a process to involve the community looking at several options including a 50-50 cooperative policy and a vendor discount program. Concurrently, the Finance Department had a staff member working on closing out the Financial Guarantees for the Tree Fund. We now have enough money to complete the tree replacement program; funding a fall planting of 800 trees and a spring planting of 1,600 trees, which would completely catch us up with the 2,400 trees lost to the Emerald Ash Borer Disease. That program will be followed up with 233 trees from Catholic Central next fall, with an additional commitment from them over the next nine years. The 800 trees in the fall will be nearly double the amount we’ve ever planted in the fall, so we may need to use contractors. The 1,600 trees in the spring will be nearly quadruple the amount we’ve ever planted in the spring, so we will definitely need to use several contractors. We may also need to use consultants to oversee the planting process. Director Auler noted that the Department has also had two successful tree grant applications and staff will be applying for another grant soon.

In the past, the Department replaced the trees in the order of which they were removed. Director Auler explained that this policy resulted in some addresses in a subdivision receiving trees before other addresses in the same subdivision. Due to the fact that residents were unhappy with this policy, the Department adopted a new policy. The new policy allows that subdivisions will be scheduled for planting by the date that of the removal when the entire subdivision was completed. A subdivision schedule and the number of trees needed per subdivision were included in this month’s packets.

Director Auler wanted to highlight that the number of trees to be planted in the fall was a lower number for diversification purposes; only 8 - 10 species are available in the fall and that number goes up to 22 - 28 species in the spring. Also, with Commission and City Council approval this item could go out to bid immediately.

Commissioner Enright asked if there would be a policy made for a reserve in the tree fund for another potential emergency, such as the Emerald Ash Borer Disease.

Director Auler answered that Kathy Smith-Roy indicates there will still be a number of outstanding financial guarantees. He also pointed out that there continues to be development, with the developers depositing in the tree fund.

Commissioner Enright asked if the 2,400 tree includes those that lost trees other than ash.

Director Auler replied yes.

Commissioner Staab asked if the Department has completed a tree inventory.

Director Auler answered that the grant that staff has applied for would allocate funds for a company that will come in and perform those services. If the grant is not awarded, staff will begin the process with volunteers after the fall planting.

Commissioner Staudt asked if the trees on the spring planting would be included in a separate request for funds.

Director Auler replied yes.

Commissioner Staudt asked why not ear mark all the funds for tree replacement.

Director Auler replied this could be an issue to look at, but that has not been his direction.

Commissioner Staudt asked how much of the $800,000 is encumbered with other things that have been budgeted for Parks and Recreation. Director Auler replied that the tree chipper, stump grinder, and various other things were included leaving an available balance of $793,000.

Commissioner Staudt asked if the dead trees in the parks were included in those numbers. He thought it wasn’t the Department’s intention to remove dead trees in the park system, but now that there seems to be funds available he wondered if there was a plan to replace those trees.

Director Auler replied that after the subdivision trees, the parks trees would be a priority.

Commissioner Staudt commented that the list of thirty three subdivisions didn’t include all of the subdivisions within the City of Novi. He noted that some subdivisions that had ash trees weren’t included on the list.

Director Auler replied that all of the 2,400 trees that the Department had removed will be replaced. He would follow up with the City Forester on problems with the list.

Commissioner Staudt commented that he lives in Village Oaks Subdivisions and finds it interesting that they are not on the list.

Commissioner Staudt asked if planting so late in the season poses a risk to the trees.

Director Auler replied that the staff prefers to plant in the spring. However, the stats point out that we lose 13% of trees from the fall planting; as opposed to 9% in the spring. He feels that 4% is not that big of a difference to not merit a fall planting.

Commissioner Staudt asked if Director Auler felt that the various subdivisions and citizen groups were in support of this program.

Director Auler replied that since the program is of no cost to the homeowners, he thought that citizens would support the program.

Commissioner Staudt said he felt that the Department is taking the citizen’s choices away; by taking away the costs we are also taking away choices.

Director Auler replied that at the last City Council meeting the Council gave the direction that this should be a city funded program, rather than a citizen shared program.

Commissioner Schwarzlose asked if the tree bid process included guarantees.

Director Auler replied that the specifications call for a one year warranty; it is incumbent upon the homeowners to water and take care of the trees.

Commissioner Zyczynski clarified that the Department was planning on planting a variety of trees. When her subdivision was built 8-10 years ago, the same trees were planted throughout the entire subdivision, which led to problems like the Emerald Ash Borer Disease. She thinks she hears it being said that she thinks she hears that a variety of trees are being planted on any given block, any given subdivision.

Director Auler replied that was correct.

Commissioner Zyczynski asked what type of key criteria is used to select contractors to help plant these trees.

Director Auler replied that the Department prepares specifications that the contractors review and utilize to prepare their bids. Some examples are the availability of species, past performance records, availability of manpower and equipment, etc.

Commissioner Enright asked if residents would be able to request a certain type of tree.

Director Auler replied that he would check into that with Steve Printz, the City of Novi Forester. On the smaller projects the Department has worked with residents, but with a project of this magnitude he was not sure how that would be possible. He said that all of the trees would be selected from the City of Novi’s Species List. The list includes species that grow best within our community.

Moved by Staudt, seconded by Schwarzlose to approve the recommendation of adoption of the policy as presented.





Commissioner Zyczynski - Stated that in preparation of serving on the Commission, she toured Meadowbrook Commons. She thanked Rachel and her staff for taking time for her but thought it was difficult to find.

Director Auler replied that when the facility was built, it was not intended to house the senior program. He added that additional signage would either be a capital improvement item or a partnership opportunity.

Commissioner Schwarzlose - Said he is very happy to see the tree policy move forward.

Commissioner Staab - Commented that the past City Forester was unresponsive to the citizens, so often they removed their own trees. He asked if in the future, the City would have the capabilities of replacing those trees.

Director Auler replied that he thought we could revisit that issue in the future.

Commissioner Staab thanked everyone that supported the Foundation’s golf outing, which netted out $20,000 plus.

Commissioner Wingfield - Thanked the Parks Foundation and everyone that helped the Foundation with the golf outing.

Commissioner Staudt - Wanted to advertise the Novi Town Hall Lecture Series, organized by Kathy Crawford to raise funds for the Novi Public Library.

Commissioner Staudt noted that he applied for a $5,000 grant for a scholarship offered by the Novi News through the Gannett Corporation.

Commissioner Staudt also pointed out that there was a picture in the paper of a golfer using one of the parks to drive balls on. He asked why there wasn’t signage posted that golfing was not allowed on the fields, as it is in other communities.

Director Auler replied that all parks have signage posted that no golfing is permitted.

Commissioner Staudt also thanked everyone for their support of the golf outing. He noted that five new board members were appointed to the Parks Foundation.

Commissioner Enright - Said she hopes that the grant applications are successful and that she is very happy to see the tree policy is coming to completion. She also said that she would like to see updates on the September agenda regarding the Naming Rights Policy, the new software program, and the ADA policy, which were on the agenda of the agenda for the cancelled meeting on August 11, 2005.

Director Auler replied that the Commission should expect a long agenda in September.




The meeting was adjourned at 8:01p.m.



Signed, Marie Enright, Chairperson


Signed, David Staudt, Vice Chairperson