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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 Bamzai (Present), Burke (Present), Enright (Present), Schwarzlose (Present), Staab (Absent), Staudt (Present), Wagner (Present), Wingfield (Absent), Zyczynski (Present).
APPROVAL OF AGENDA:
Moved by Commissioner Burke, seconded by Commissioner Schwarzlose to approve the agenda.
Voice Vote CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION: None.
COMMISSION COMMITTEE REPORTS:
A. Strategic Planning Committee Ė Commissioner Schwarzlose
Commissioner Schwarzlose reported that the committee discussed rewriting the Parks and Recreation plan. Originally the target date for completion was the end of May, but based on the budget and interview dates that date has been pushed back to July. The committee felt that postponing the date would facilitate producing a quality document that will stand the test of time. They also discussed grants, specifically a land donation policy, the goals that the donated land would have to meet, and a timeline for setting that policy.
Commissioner Staudt asked if the Commission was prepared to discuss the strategic plan priorities, in order to have significant discussions prior to July.
Director Auler replied that he had asked the Finance Department to have a fiscal analysis for the department in terms of revenue and cost containment strategies. That report should be completed after the budget process. He also noted that the committee had discussions regarding grants and the land donation policy, which he planned on covering in his directorís report.
Commissioner Staudt asked what the plans are to realign the action strategies. He said that he felt this would be a two to three month process. He asked if there were any plans to have public hearings outside of the Commission meetings like was done for the initial plan.
Director Auler replied that doing that would require throwing out this entire plan, to meet the stateís new guidelines. He said that a plan would take a year to eighteen months.
Commissioner Staudt said when considering the mentioned timeline, he feels the new five year plan needs to be completed by 2007. He asked why the current plan is being updated, rather than starting to work on a new plan.
Director Auler replied that he thought the original plan was to update the capital improvement program, the action plan and objectives because we had completed eight of the ten objectives, and to have discussion relating to land acquisition and grants.
Commissioner Staudt asked if the discussion was going to include the Bosco property and the Walled Lake Landings property as part of the Community Recreation Plan. He noted that several council members made it clear during the budget meetings that they expected the Commission bring forward a recommendation in the next couple of months on the Walled lake property. He asked Director Auler how he sees that property playing into the Community Recreation plan; if it would be a completely separate issue.
Director Auler replied that it was entirely up to the Commission how they wanted to handle it.
Commissioner Burke replied the property is a "volatile football and I donít know if we have a leading direction as to what weíre going to do with that property. Iím certain that there are probably four or five different agendas on the City Council as to what to do with that property. Any conversation or direction and planning that weíre going to do would be premature".
Commissioner Staudt stated "then it will be premature because this issue will come up next month. This issue has been sitting around long enough, itís been around as long as Iíve been on the Commission and itís been around twenty years. Itís nothing weíre going to do anything about finally. If Council gave us direction to move forward, for us to discuss anything about the use of that property without having some kind of feeling that it is going to be designated park land or not puts us in a difficult position. I was reading minutes from a meeting of 2002 where they discussed the property in depth for the last time, at that point there was a lot of discussion that this is the most valuable piece of property the city owns- we should consider keeping it, we should sell it, make it a park. We are kind of in a gray area right now because the City hasnít designated it as anything. It has a bike pathway on it, which we put there I believe, we maintain very little there, residents use the park which is really just a piece of land, and itís not clear if you go off the path if youíre trespassing or not. There has never been a designation by City Council as to the use of that property for any purpose; not even the bike path going through there. Minutes from their meetings discuss this in depth that itís been master planned as park land and they need to at some point deal with that. What weíre going to do with it, if itís designated as park land, is a huge issue and it would be nice to know before we got too deep into modifications of our Community Recreation Plan whether or not weíre going to pursue something there or not pursue something there. Be prepared to take a position next week because itís going to come up and we need to do something about it one way or the other. So be prepared to take a position, if we want to send it forward for consideration by the Commission to City Council for them to talk about and give us some direction at the very least. I think itís such a huge part of any strategic plan because it would incorporate grants and incorporate a tremendous amount of effort and planning on behalf of the Park Commission. I think itís worth letting them decide where they want to go with it. If they decide they donít want to go anywhere with it, then we know where we stand and we go forward. If they decide they want to study it themselves, then at least we know where weíre going. Itís just too big, much like the Bosco property and pursuing that for active recreation purposes, thereís no way weíre going to know before we do this amendment to the Community Recreation Plan whether or not thereís any viable options there, but itís something we need to keep in the back of our minds. Anybody who got this map of the city property and the available property currently owned by the city, can see that thereís nothing there. Itís pretty barren in terms of our opportunity to use existing city property for anything. With the current development situation Iím not holding my breath, I donít know if anybody watched the Planning Commission meeting last night where Blair Bowman presented his plan, which included our $250,000 commitment for a PRO. I would be very, very surprised if Parks, Recreation and Forestry ever saw the $250,000, thereís just a lot of issues there. Weíve got to create our own stuff going forward and itís going to be a much greater challenge. Last time we had a lot of things to focus on externally, we had emerald ash borer and ADA improvements. These are going to much bigger, more difficult issues and if you have a meeting between now and then, I would like to be prepared to talk about the action strategies and it will be an agenda item next month to talk about that property on Walled Lake and see where weíre going to go with it".
B. Park Development Committee Ė Commissioner Zyczynski
Commissioner Zyczynski advised that the committee did not meet this month.
C. Novi Parks Foundation Ė Commissioner Staab
Commissioner Staab was missing from the meeting, so Commissioner Staudt offered that the Park Naming Rights materials are in final edits. He explained that some things were done that day that he hoped would allow for some printing drafts. He noted that the Foundation board members were looking forward to getting it out and done, itís a nice package with a lot to offer.
He noted that the golf outing is scheduled for August 3, 2006 and that there was a new board member joining them.
Commissioner Staudt said that he had hoped it would be done for the meeting, noted there were several changes, and that he hoped it would go to City Council for a presentation sometime in June, not for an approval but for them to see.
A. Administration - Director Auler
Director Auler stated that the budget was approved and pretty much everything that the department requested was approved, with the exception of the emergency vehicle for the trail system. The fire department will ask for that in next yearís budget.
Approved key items include:
Director Auler noted that the Ice Arena is covering costs and bond payments. Originally there was a loan from the general fund to fund the arena, City Council voted to waive that loan to improve the cityís bond rating. In the future it will be completely an enterprise fund, similar to Meadowbrook Commons. This allows for net revenue generated at the facility to be reinvested in that facility or build up a cash reserve for repairs.
Director Auler also noted that the sound system was approved, with a contribution of $5,000 from the Friends of the Novi Theatres. The City will contribute $10,000, and the department is reallocating $25,000 where we currently lease sound equipment from the budget. This will enable the department to add to the sound system in the future or reinvest that in the theatre program. He further explained that the sound system would be used for all of the departmentís needs including the concert series, Ringing in the Holidays, State of the City Speech, etc; with staff being trained to run the system
Director Auler pointed out that in the next month staff will be preparing performance agreements.
Commissioner Staudt asked if there has been any effective change to how the tree fund functions and asked if the long term maintenance issue would be addressed.
Director Auler replied that it has always been that way. Now the tree fund is pulled from the departmentís budget and is now an enterprise fund, there is a maintenance account and a tree fund account. The changes were for accounting purposes and it still falls under the Parks, Recreation and Forestry budget.
Commissioner Staudt asked when Director Auler envisioned a parking lot being built on the Village Oaks property.
Director Auler explained that the State of Michigan has still not approved the revised procedural guidelines in terms of completing the acquisition, as the legislature has not approved the funding. We will have twelve months from the date of agreement with the state to close the deal, He explained that the property owner has communicated that he would like to accelerate the project and believes that we should be done sooner than that, potentially the spring or fall of 2007.
Commissioner Enright asked if the roof at the shelter in Lakeshore Park had been repaired.
Director Auler replied that the project was completed in the fall of 2005.
Director Auler stated the city goes out for bids every three to four years for the contract to manage Novi Ice Arena. He explained that Suburban Ice Management has managed the arena since 1999, under the direction of Tom Anastos. Suburban has taken the arena "from a facility that was losing money to a facility that is generating revenue sufficient to cover itsí costs including the bond service". Three proposals were received, one did not meet the requirements. Of the remaining two, one is Suburban and one company is form a company not from this area. He said that he would review the proposals and have a recommendation for the May 22, 2006 City Council meeting.
Commissioner Staudt asked what type of agreement the Northville/Novi schools made with the Ice Arena.
Director Auler replied that Northville High School was not happy with the size of the locker room that the arena provided them and was being courted by other arenas. A new locker room was built for the skate club, Novi High relocated to that room, and Northville High moved to the Novi room. Both schools will be paying the city back for the modifications throughout the next five years, through licensing agreements.
Director Auler advised the Commission that he was approached by a dance studio whose lease is expiring. The representative of the studio requested that they become a division within the performing arts division, setting up their program similar to the theatre program. The person would be paid through an employment agreement with no benefits. Director Auler recommended a pilot program; relocating the dance studio within the ice arena and turning it into a dance studio twenty hours a week, which should not interfere with present operations. That person is currently the choreographer for the theatre and the department has entered into a two year agreement with her for this program. If the program works out, he said that it will become the second leg of the performing arts division. Director Auler advised that he is looking to have an agreement for the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission and the City Council for review at their June meetings.
Director Auler advised the Commission that the new software program will be available June 1st for viewing the programs on line and register for their accounts and PIN numbers. The online registration component will be available with the September 1st brochure release. A test market focus group will take place before that time.
B. Park and Forestry Operations
Director Auler advised that 1,000 of the street trees are being planted, with a total 1,800 trees that need to be planted. The street tree inventory will be June through August and in the fall the department will begin to plant the Catholic Central trees. He advised that Catholic Central did make an offer of a one time buyout instead of the planting, but withdrew the offer the day they were supposed to make the offer presentation to the City Council.
Commissioner Burke commented that he received his replacement tree and the department sent out a door hanger advising how to take care of the trees a couple of weeks before planting. He said that we might want to send out a second door hanger or a mailbox, as heís misplaced his.
Commissioner Enright commented that a planting time frame should not be listed on the door hangers, as her tree was not planted within the time frame listed on the hanger.
Commissioner Zyczynski complimented the contractor that did the planting, saying that the variety is great.
Director Auler advised that the position for a forestry technician will be being filled soon, as the city won the arbitration for the grievance filed by the previous employee.
Commissioner Burke asked when the summer help was hired. Deputy Director advised that the applications need to be in by January and February, interviews are held in March. He noted that Novi residents that are in college are given first priority for those job openings.
Commissioner Burke asked if the truck for the forester was included in the budget. Director Auler replied that the item was not part of the budget process and that "operationally we are still trying to determine if itís needed".
D. Recreation Services Ė Tracie Ringle
Director Auler noted that Tracie Ringle is not in attendance. He did say that the Memorial Day Parade is the same route, beginning at 10am on Monday. June 3rd is River Day as well as the Out of the Basement Band series.
Director Auler stated that the Wizard of Oz performances are mostly sold out, with a full page write up in Metro Detroit Magazine and a presentation at the mall. He stated that "if you look at the quality of the program now, the quality of the marketing, the process thatís been out there Ė the standard has been raised. I canít say enough about Sherriís leadership, and Sally and Elaine."
Director Auler added that the Novi Jaguars Soccer Tournament would be held the weekend after the meeting, rain was being predicted just like the previous years. He said this year there will be 327 teams in attendance, the tournament started with 60 teams four years ago. It will be running at Lyon Oaks, Schoolcraft College and Community Sports Park. They are covering the operating costs but have not committed to the Parks Foundation.
Director Auler announced that City Council is interested in pursuing grants for two properties. Deputy Director Lewis is currently working on the application process in preparation for an August 1st deadline , working with Council Member Mutch. The information will be in the commissionís June packet.
MATTERS FOR COMMISSION ACTION/DISCUSSION:
A. Approval of April 13, 2005 regular meeting minutes.
Voice Vote Unanimous
B. Commissioner Comments:
Commissioner Staudt Ė Announced his resignation from the Park Foundation Board of Directors effective June 30th, he will reapply as a non commission foundation member. He explained that both Charlie Staab and his commission is up in June, one or both may not return.
Commissioner Burke Ė Asked if the MMBA race will be held this year. Deputy Director Lewis advised that the race is June 17th, the run is the 10th.
Youth Commissioner Bamzai Ė Asked when her commission would expire, noting that the school year is almost over. Director Auler said that he thought through July, but he said it should say in the manual.
Voice Vote CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
The meeting adjourned at 8:30 p.m.
_____________________________________ Signed, David Staudt, Chairperson
Signed, Harold L. Wingfield, Vice Chairperson