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PARKS, RECREATION AND FORESTRY
The meeting was called to order at 7:30 PM with Commissioner Staudt presiding.
ROLL CALL: Commissioner Bamsai (Present), Burke (Present), Enright (Present), Schwarzlose (Present), Staab (Present), Staudt (Present), Wagner (Present), Wingfield (Present), Zyczynski (Present).
APPROVAL OF AGENDA:
Moved by Schwarzlose, seconded by Zyczynski to approve the agenda as written.
Voice Vote CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION: None.
COMMISSION COMMITTEE REPORTS:
A. Novi Parks Foundation – Commissioner Staab
Commissioner Staab reported that the Foundation has held two meetings; one regular meeting and one special meeting which was called to discuss the Naming Rights Programs. The committee divided the naming rights programs into two committees; a sales and a marketing division. Commissioner Staudt will be the "point person" insuring the timelines and coordinating things.
Commissioner Staab noted that December 20th is the annual meeting at Gus O’Connor’s; the mixer is at 6:00 and the dinner at 7:00PM. All commissioners should have received invitations. The Foundation will give out awards to people that have helped launch the Foundation off to a solid start.
Commissioner Staudt extended invitations to the high school students as well; but noted they must bring a parent or guardian.
B. Strategic Planning Committee – Commissioner Schwarzlose
The Strategic Planning Committee met and had some preliminary discussion to identify key short term objectives or projects; as well as discussing some long term goals. The committee’s focus was on developing a program regarding partnering with local business for the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department’s programs.
Commissioner Staudt said he was glad to hear that partnerships were the focus because it became clear at the Parks Foundation meeting that the committee needs some direction on the strategic path of the Commission.
C. Park Development Committee – Commissioner Zyczynski
Commissioner Zyczynski advised that the November 22nd meeting focused on potential park land partnership opportunities and capital improvements. It was agreed that the committee must set priorities at a future meeting.
Commissioner Staudt asked if the committee is proposing to bring recommendations and priorities to the January commission meeting.
Commissioner Zyczynski replied that they had set no timeline.
Commissioner Staudt said that "being the chairman that I am, I would like you guys to bring something concrete to the next meeting. I also charge the Strategic Planning Committee with the same. I would like to have January be a meeting where we could really work out some details with the City Council working through the selection of the next City Manager. They’re going to need a lot of information relatively quickly when it all comes down. If we could have some real discussion on this and Director Auler coordinating with you, planning in January to have some really in-depth discussions about priorities and future plans".
Commissioner Staudt asked about the Schaffer development project adjacent to the Wildlife Woods Park.
Director Auler gave a brief overview; explaining that the property on the northern edge of the Wildlife Woods Park was proposed by the developer to City Council on December 5th. It was his understanding that it did pass that meeting and in order to continue forward, the developer must provide public benefit as part of a planned zone re-overlay. Director Auler is going to a schedule a meeting with the developer to discuss opportunities he may provide. Initially the discussion was about signage, irrigation, park benches and pathways to Wildlife Woods Park; but now it seems the developer may bring other opportunities to City Council in January.
A. Administration - Director Auler
Director Auler announced that the Department was successful in obtaining the Michigan Natural Resource Trust Fund Grant in the amount of $846,338. We will soon begin the acquisition and implementation process, which is a complicated and lengthy process. On Monday evening the City of Novi’s application was last of 51 applications and on Tuesday morning the committee voted to fund our project. This was the culmination of the efforts of many people, a great example of team work.
Commissioner Staudt stated that the preparation of a master plan and identification of potential utilization of this fifty one acre park should fall under the Park Development Committee’s agenda.
Director Auler referred to the memo in this month’s packet regarding a joint meeting with the Parks, Recreation and Forestry and City Council. He explained that at meeting time the date had not been set but he anticipated a February date.
Director Auler advised that the budget process has begun and he included last year’s budget process timeline in the packets. The dates have been relatively close year after year. The Department must submit capital improvement project information to the Finance Department by December 22nd. He noted that the Department will not have the priorities ready by that time; but will submit some information by that date. We will work through the Park Development and Strategic Planning committees. He hopes to have the projects prioritized and back to the Commission by the January meeting. He also advised that if the timeline moves forward there may be a need for a special meeting and work sessions in January. He will keep the Commission informed on the progress of this process.
Along with the capital improvement priorities in the budget process, Director Auler explained that there needs to be discussion regarding program component objectives. Some examples include improving the current park facilities, partnership opportunities, improving senior services and transportation enhancement, and the impact of the grant award.
Director Auler updated the Commission on the Planning Department’s Greenway Pathway Study, which was initially presented by Darcy Schmidt at a meeting of the Commission earlier this year. Since that time, Ms. Schmidt has resigned and the lead is now Mark Spencer. The Planning Department has attended several Parks, Recreation and Forestry’s events and a survey was included in the Recreation Guide to gather public input. The Environmental Committee meeting with the Planning Commission was held at the same time of this meeting. Director Auler met with Mr. Spencer and Ms. McBeth (Director of the Planning Department) to discuss"how to make sure that we’re involved and how this partnership can work as this plan moves forward. The plan has to be completed before the end of the fiscal year, because that was the commitment in the budget process". Director Auler looked to the Commission for input on what they anticipated their involvement to be with that study and to have a committee of the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission work with a committee of the Planning Commission.
Commissioner Staudt advised to "put that under the agenda of the Park Development Committee also".
Director Auler pointed out that he included in this month’s packet a target time line based on discussions with the IT Department and the software company in terms of implementing, installing, training, and phasing in the program based on the timing of our programs and the Recreation Guide distribution. The desired outcome of the program is that it is unveiled at the time that staff is completely trained, to guarantee that there are no flaws or negative issues associated with the software. He would like it to be something that the community can celebrate in terms of convenience and customer service.
Commissioner Enright asked if Director Auler had a timeline for the project involved with the grant award.
Commissioner Staudt said it looks like a twelve month process; he wants to do the right thing – the right way.
Commissioner Staudt asked how we would reference the new piece of property. He would like a name going forward, so that everyone is consistent. He thought Villagewood Lake Park was a good name.
Director Auler replied that we have a similar situation with an unnamed park at the west side. At this time, there is no name recommendation for the property.
Commissioner Staudt replied that "for the purpose of talking at the Commission level I’m just going to refer to it as Villagewood Lake Park, it means nothing except for us".
In review, Commissioner Staudt advised that the Park Development Committee is taking on the Greenway Program, the Schaffer Development Project, and Villagewood Lake Park. He asked Director Auler if the Commission could have a brief presentation in January on the budget
process and a review on the annual General Fund contribution.
B. Recreation Services – Director Auler
Director Auler reported on a meeting he held that evening regarding the Out of the Basement Band Series. Currently there are seven bands, the first event scheduled will be held on January 13th.
The Ringing in the Holidays event was a success again this year. He explained that it took an enormous amount of setup time and most people have no idea how much work is involved in that event. The Mayor awarded the Spirit of Giving Award to the Novi Fifties Festival. The parade was the largest in the history of the event; it is getting to the point where we are running out of space the event has grown so much.
Director Auler announced that a member of our community won the Punt, Pass and Kick and is eligible to go to the national competition at the Super Bowl. He hopes to get some recognition for him at a City Council Meeting and the Department wishes him well.
Director Auler announced that the play "A Christmas Carol" is being performed the weekend after the meeting.
Director Auler replied that a concert is scheduled for January. March, and May at the Civic Center. The last concert will be held on June 3rd at an all day activity for "Novipalooza".
Commissioner Wagner advised that Paul Favorite, a high school freshman won the Punt, Pass and Kick Competition. Commissioner Wagner asked Director Auler if the high school recreational sports would be advertised more.
Director Auler pointed out that there are flyers, an announcement would be made in the high school newspaper, and it’s on a screen on the event board at Catholic Central.
Commissioner Wagner asked if a screened event board similar to Catholic Central’s could be done at Novi High School
Director Auler replied that he would discuss it with the school.
Commissioner Staudt announced that the Park Foundation made a donation to the Novi Choralaires for sheet music in the amount of $1,300. He also noted that the Foundation has $2,500 in restricted funds designated for the scholarship program.
Commissioner Staudt said that he had read a good article regarding the Youth Council. He would like an opportunity for our representatives to give a presentation about the activities related to Parks, Recreation and Forestry.
C. Parks and Forestry Operations - Director Auler
Director Auler reported that the 850 + trees on page 1 are completed, with just some punch list items remaining. Phase 2 will be going out to bid soon, with approximately 2000 trees to be planted in the spring. The bid may be awarded to more than one contractor. The project will be completed by June.
Director Auler took the opportunity to clarify some misinformation in the editorial section of that day’s Novi News. He advised that a tree inventory is not done to see which trees are dead. A tree inventory is a management program that identifies all of the street trees and park trees and enters them in a data base. The inventory identifies the health, height, diameter, type, and condition of the trees and prepares a management plan for each of them. This saves staff time and frees them to deliver quality customer service.
Commissioner Staudt asked if Director Auler would write a letter to the editor explaining the purpose of the inventory and he will submit it under his signature to the Novi News. He said that he felt that the letter was just a total misunderstanding.
Director Auler advised that the replacement tree replacement program from Catholic Central will begin next fall, which will be 233 trees per year for nine years.
Director Auler updated the Commission of the 2005 Capital Improvement Projects. He reported that the picket fence around the Tim Pope Memorial Playground, the irrigation at Community Sports Park, the mountain bike signage, the shelter roof at Lakeshore Park (except for punch list items), and the asphalt section at Lakeshore all are completed. The Lakeshore Park playground addition and a drainage system for Field #6 at CSP will be complete this spring.
Commissioner Enright asked if approval from City Council is required for Phase 2 of the tree replacement program.
Director Auler replied that he would have to look that up in the minutes but that the money will come from the tree fund.
Commissioner Schwarzlose commended the City Forester, Steve Printz for obtaining the Michigan Department of Natural Resource Tree Grant. He noted that although other municipalities received funds, Novi was the only city that received the full amount.
Commissioner Staudt asked when the Singh Trail will be completed.
Director Auler replied that one of the last two packets had a letter from the Singh Corporation regarding the status of their action plans. He anticipates it being finished next fall.
Commissioner Staudt inquired when the ADA improvements can be taken off the books and if any more funds would be required to complete the improvements.
Deputy Director Lewis replied that 75% of the projects are complete, with 100% completion by July of 2006. He stated that at this time it does not look like any additional funds will be necessary to complete the projects.
MATTERS FOR COMMISSION ACTION/DISCUSSION:
Approval of November 10, 2005 regular meeting minutes.
Moved by Zyczynski, seconded by Burke to approve the minutes as written.
Voice Vote Carried Unanimously
Regarding capital outlays, Commissioner Staudt asked if the Commission could have an updated report on Power Park at the earliest possible meeting. He said he feels that the study the Commission was presented two years ago was very comprehensive. He added that we now have someone that has been very successful at running tournaments at Power Park and we should support that. Commissioner Staudt feels Power Park has "long been the stepchild of funding". He would like to look at what the priorities are for 2006-2007. He said "the sooner we can have the study to really dig our teeth into, the better that will be". Commissioner Staudt feels that before we can have discussions about naming rights, we need to know what it will take to bring that field up to the quality level ball field for a community like Novi. He said he felt that the concession area should be razed. He has heard from more than one council person that Power Park is on Council’s radar.
Commissioner Staudt asked if replacing the playground and tennis court resurfacing projects at Rotary Park are still "on the radar screen".
Director Auler replied that everything on that list needs to be addressed within that five year period. He added that he was not prepared the night of the meeting to give a priority list.
Commissioner Staudt asked if the Department is responsible for replacing the $100,000 compressor at the ice arena.
Director Auler replied that arenas that have the same age compressors have had to replace theirs.
Commissioner Staudt clarified again that no additional funds are needed to complete capital improvements.
Director Auler replied that at this time, that is true.
Commissioner Schwarzlose commented that Commissioner Staudt has hit on many of the short term objectives that the Strategic Planning Committee is currently focusing on. Both Power Park and Rotary Park are being reviewed.
Commissioner Staab asked if the Department could go to the original sponsors of Rotary Park and ask the Rotarians to help fund the improvements.
Deputy Director Lewis replied that the Rotarians have helped with River Day in the past. He said he would contact them regarding park improvements. .
Commissioner Wingfield said that after the original Park Development Committee meeting the committee concurred that they have their work cut out for them. Power Park was specifically mentioned. He thinks most people feel that the Department needs to maintain and improve what we already have before there are any more land acquisitions.
Commissioner Staudt commented that the items mentioned need to be pushed to the forefront, before pressure is applied to start other projects. He feels that the Commission needs to start looking at updating the Community Recreation Plan within the next six months.
Commissioner Enright thought that the outline of priorities should be prepared for the January meeting, so that the Commission will be prepared at the joint meeting with City Council.
Commissioner Burke wanted to publicly thank Director Auler for a job well done in acquiring the DNR grant. He also wanted to recognize the Department for how well the Ringing in the Holidays Event. He noted that Derek Smith and the rest of the staff did a great job.
Moved by Enright, seconded by Staab to adjourn the meeting at 8:22 p.m.
Voice Vote CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
Signed, David Staudt, Chairperson
Signed, Harold L. Wingfield, Vice Chairperson