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PARKS, RECREATION AND FORESTRY COMMISSION
The meeting was called to order at 7:30 PM with Commissioner Staudt presiding.
ROLL CALL: Commissioner Bamzai (Present), Burke (Present), Enright (Absent), Schwarzlose (Present), Staab (Absent), Staudt (Present), Wagner (Present), Wingfield (Present), Zyczynski (Present).
APPROVAL OF AGENDA:
Deputy Director Lewis stated that there is one addition under Matters for Commission Action/Discussion of the Dance Studio at the Ice Arena.
Commissioner Burke stated that under Matters for Commission Action/Discussion Item D, which is the Appointment of Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission’s representative to serve on the greenway/pathway study committee, should be removed for now because clarification was needed from Director Auler.
Moved by Commissioner Schwarzlose, seconded by Commissioner Zyczynski to approve the agenda.
Voice Vote CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
Greenways and Pathways Study Update, Mark Spencer, City of Novi Planner
Mr. Spencer invited the Commission members to call or e-mail him if they had any questions, ideas or suggestions.
A greenways and pathways study has been going on for some time but there have not been resources spent on them but anticipate more being spent on them in the near future. The Environmental Committee of the Planning Commission has been work on this as well and has presented some ideas and suggestions. The study will ultimately be used as a tool the City will use to plan for future pathways and sidewalks. It can also be used to help the City receive grants.
The Study will include an introduction and background section; discuss the benefits to the City; explore transportation and recreation; connections both locally and regionally. It will include some inventories of existing infrastructure; explore existing and potential pools for a pathway and greenway development and financing. It will discuss and provide guidelines for maintenance, safety and design standards. It will also establish some goals, objectives and strategies for completing segments and for public involvement and outreach such as events to bring the plan to the forefront for the community.
A considerable amount of background material and research has been conducted. A pathway and sidewalk inventory has been completed. Mr. Spencer directed attention to a map he provided on a board. They are hoping to complete the project before the Budget and Capital Improvement deliberations begin in the fall.
They are hoping to get more public input in the future but the Committee has so far been looking at producing a draft document before additional community input. They have been at several public events, including events held by Parks and Recreation. There have been some web site and newspaper articles. They were at some Homeowner’s Association Board member’s meetings. They have contacted neighboring communities, MDOT and Oakland County. They have also conducted a couple of surveys. One of the surveys was included with the Master Plan process and the other was included with last fall’s Parks and Recreation Brochure. He included the results of that survey in the packets he provided to the Commissioners. There is overwhelming support from all of the public input forms for pathways and sidewalks and spending City funds to develop those. A majority of the people realize it is an amenity that adds value to their property, promotes good health, can provide alternate transportation connection and provide unlimited recreation opportunities.
The Committee stated that they hope this plan will have the goal of connecting the entire City with pathways and sidewalks and also connecting it with the regional facilities. The Committee endorses the use of a quantitative priority ranking system. A draft of that proposal is in the packet and gives an idea of what items are used to prioritize the construction. Safety is the number one issue. Mr. Spencer provided a map of accidents, both pedestrian and bicycle, since 1998. There are other maps that present different categories that can be used to prioritize sidewalk and pathway construction. Once this is done a more extensive look can be taken at engineering, the actual cost of segments, what financing is available at the time to complete those sections and what could be done and should be done. Many communities use a system like this on Capital Improvement as a whole and it becomes an ongoing list.
On May 22nd the Mayor and City Council appointed two Council Members, Andrew Mutch and Lynn Paul, to join with a future Parks and Recreation Commission Member, and a Planning Commission Environmental Committee Members, Wayne Roble and David Lidski and Michael Meyer, to work on establishing a pathway and sidewalk priority for the City.
Commissioner Zyczynski asked if the funding for this is coming from the City or grants.
Mr. Spencer replied that the funding is coming from the City and it is very possible that some funding can come from grants and other funding opportunities. In the Plan they are not looking to assign specific projects and specific funds at this time unless it is a unique project that would most likely be for some grant money or another entity or a private source. An example is there are places where developers have ongoing projects and there are sidewalk segments that they will be installing as part of their projects. We are looking for and always encourage getting that kind of funding. Singh Trail, on the map, is an example. There are also some potential regional connections. These include extending the I-275 trail up the M-5 corridor; providing east – west connection from Royal Oak over to Lyon Township; a north – south link from Maybury Hines Parkway to join Lyon Oaks County Park. These are discussion and study items that they are considering.
Mr. Spencer stated if there are any questions or additional information need that they can contact him.
COMMISSION COMMITTEE REPORTS:
A. Strategic Planning Committee – Commissioner Schwarzlose
1. Community Recreation Plan Update
The Strategic Planning Committee met with Director Auler. In the packet is a draft copy of a matrix that is the backbone of the changes which will go in to place. The whole plan was broken down in to four segments. The segments are: Customer, Financial, Internal Operation and Employee. Under those separate categories are the components that are working into the plan. In addition to this they worked through many of the components for each of the highlighted sections. At this point they are still looking at sections of the report coming in during June and the draft copy will be in for the July Meeting.
Commissioner Wingfield stated that he is sure the Plan needed to be updated and asked if one of the purposes of this is when it was originally made was to stress that we needed more active park land, not necessarily passive park land, but as we are having these opportunities come up and to go for the grant we need to say all park land.
Commissioner Schwarzlose stated that is exactly right and why it is laid out in the matrix so that an update can be done for the two years and the whole Plan will need to be redrafted again for the Five-Year Plan. By setting it up in this type of format it allows us to address the immediate issues now and also lay a foundation for the Five-Year Plan.
Commission Wingfield stated that realistically speaking by the standards of the National Parks and Recreation Association our passive park land is ample for the Community but we know we need more active park land but since the passive park land is there we are going to go for it.
B. Park Development Committee – Commissioner Zyczynski
1. (Shepardson) Application to the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) Grant Program
2. (Heritage Shoppes, LLC) Application to the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) Grant program.
Commissioner Zyczynski stated that the Committee had not met recently but what is in the packet is a result of an earlier meeting this spring that Deputy Director Lewis has been working on. It has to do with grant applications for the property that is the Meadowbrook Wetlands Park. The other grant is for the property along the Singh Trail. Commissioner Zyczynski then asked Deputy Director Lewis to speak on the grants.
Commissioner Staudt stated that those are items for actions so that information can be deferred.
C. Novi Parks Foundation – Commissioner Staab
1. Naming Rights Program
Commissioner Staab was missing from the meeting, so Commissioner Staudt stated that he would give the report. The Naming Rights materials are printed. Everything has been review and signed off. He will mail a packet to everyone when the material has been converted from the information in the pocket folder. City Council has requested a presentation be made to them on the Naming Rights. An Executive Committee Meeting with the Parks Foundation has been scheduled and the presentation will be discussed at that meeting. They are moving along with the Golf Outing and a mailing was sent to 1,500 people and information is going out to other Boards and Commissions.
Commissioner Wingfield asked for the date of the Golf Outing and how the registration is going.
Commissioner Staudt stated that they just sent out the mailings last week.
He is cleaning out the website so that registrations can be done.
Commissioner Burke stated that there are communications with several companies going on. The Co-Chair has started to build things in terms of the silent auction.
Commissioner Staudt stated that an article on the Golf Outing has not appeared in the Novi New yet but there was one in the Greater Chamber of Commerce.
A. Administration – Jack Lewis, Deputy Director
1. Leasing of space in the Novi Ice Arena for a dance studio
Deputy Director Lewis stated that a memo was provided and that Director Auler has been negotiating this with Elaine Buck who is the owner of the Performing Arts Academy and works for Sheri. Elaine approached us about working with the department and at the same time her lease is coming up from a studio that she leases near Walled Lake. She got together with Director Auler to find space. The Novi Ice Arena Meeting Room, which is a great location, had been used by the After School Program. Director Auler negotiated this for a one-year pilot program. They will be paying $18,000 to the Ice Arena to lease that space for 20 hours a week. About seventy-five students will be coming in. The benefits there are that they students will be going in to the Ice Arena and hopefully stopping at concession stand and possibly from the dance studio to the figure skating program and also feeding into Sheri’s program. If everything works out we would do it for another year.
B. Park and Forestry Operations
1. Street tree planting update
Deputy Director Lewis stated that he had spoken to the City Forester, Steve Printz, today and they are expecting to be 100% completed by the end of next week. They have about 100 trees to finish throughout the City. That will be a total of about 2,000 trees and he will be finished for this spring.
2. Street tree inventory update
Deputy Director Lewis stated that the Street tree inventory is about one-third completed. They are ahead of schedule and should be completed by July 1st.
3. Michigan State University Tollgate Farms Forestry Management Project
Deputy Director Lewis stated that this program is basically an educational Program that is for City Foresters throughout the state, homeowners or residents who would like to learn how to manage that type of a forest area.
4. River Day 2006
Deputy Director Lewis stated that River Day was a huge success with about 100 volunteers. A lot of work was done in the river. Many people actually got in to the river and removed a lot of debris and got the water flowing and that is the main objective. They also worked on the trail that goes along the river and through the park. They planted flower, put down mulch and did a litter pick up. Again this year, the Rotary Club provided the food. It was a great event.
D. Recreation Services
1. Out of the Basement
Deputy Director Lewis stated that they were a little disappointed in the Out of the Basement and Into the Day. There were eleven bands and were expecting twelve. They were disappointed in the turn out for the event with only about three or four hundred people during the day. They thought that the numbers would be higher. He spoke with Tracie Ringle earlier in the week and she plans on trying next year to coordinate the event with South Lyon and Farmington Hills. They have been doing similar events with similar numbers where the turn out hasn’t been what they would expect. If the three cities do the event together they hope to get more people involved. It was a new event an obviously you have to build from that.
2. Soccer Referee Mentor Program
Deputy Director Lewis stated that this is a new program that Wendy DuVall-Angelocci instituted this spring and it went really well. The adult referees would walk the sidelines and help the younger referees. It also helped educate some of the coaches and the parents. The mentor would talk to them about certain calls and why it was made. It was an excellent program and she is going to continue that.
3. Kids on Broadway
Deputy Director Lewis stated that the registration for this program is going on now. Sheri Sansom is expecting that to max out soon. The rehearsals will be starting July 11th. That program will run for five weeks. She will have one hundred participants from ages seven to eighteen. She is expecting this to be a huge program. They plan on submitting some video and pictures to the National Recreation and Park Association to compete for an award.
Commissioner Staudt asked for questions or comments
Commissioner Bamzai stated that she thinks that the low turn out for Out of the Basement and into the Day was not well attended because she believes that the event was not well publicized at the High School or the Middle School. There was an article in the High School newspaper but not everyone reads it. She suggested that they talk to Mr. Legg with the TV news or media department at the High School to make commercials for the event and also advertise on WOVI the High School radio station. She also suggested posters in the school.
Deputy Director Lewis replied that Tracie Ringle did whatever she could possibly do with the High School. They will not allow us to send fliers home. We did put some posters out by the parking lot in some visible areas a few days before the event.
Commissioner Bamzai replied that she knows the High School can be a little difficult with things like that but she feels that next year, with the student Commissioners, maybe they can work more toward publicizing the event at the school.
Commissioner Wagner asked if we tried to host the event at Novi High School.
Deputy Director Lewis replied that we had always planned on having it at the Civic Center
Commissioner Wingfield asked if the $18,000 from the Dance Studio at the Ice Arena goes to pay of the debt or does it go to Suburban and then come back to us.
Deputy Director Lewis stated that would be considered revenue by the Ice Arena just as if you were selling ice time. He is 99% sure on that.
Commissioner Wingfield stated that he just wondered because Suburban has a performance contract to run the Ice Arena and since this is something Parks and Recreation has come up with it is a win – win situation for everyone.
Commission Wagner asked if there were any additional High School programs scheduled for over the summer.
Deputy Director Lewis stated that we do not. In the fall there will be some scheduled. There will be volleyball and basketball scheduled.
Commissioner Wagner asked if the Flag Football was for younger children and not high school.
Deputy Director Lewis confirmed this.
Commissioner Staudt asked if we held the Legacy for Life Foundation Softball Tournament.
Deputy Director Lewis replied that it is June 24.
Commissioner Staudt asked if we are expecting a big turn out for the tournament.
Deputy Director Lewis stated that he did not know because they are just using the site. There is an individual working with Derek Smith but they are responsible for the publicity and getting the teams.
Commissioner Burke stated that in a previous meeting he asked if a second mailer was going to be sent out telling the citizens the tree types and care practices.
Deputy Director Lewis stated that Director Auler and the City Forester did have that conversation and Director Auler asked him to follow up on that.
Commissioner Staudt asked if Deputy Director Lewis if he had heard of people marking certain areas themselves for planting, then we have planted trees and then gone back and taken them out..
Deputy Director Lewis stated that this is the first he has heard about that. He knows that the City Forester and his crew have marked that and worked with the contractor so that doesn’t seem right.
Commissioner Wingfield asked if the developer north of the Wildlife Wood field was going to come and do some pathways and some irrigation on the field. He has been using those fields in the last month quite a bit and his son is going to be playing football there. What is the latest on that happening?
Deputy Director Lewis stated that he has not heard anything on that matter recently. When they were talking with the developer and his attorney, Matt Quinn, thought the timing on that would be sometime in 2007. They are still working with the Planning Department. With all of the usage of that field they are trying to figure out the best time to put the irrigation in.
Commissioner Staudt stated that he has heard from reliable sources that Links of Novi is not only going to be open this year but also next year. He then asked what effect is this having on them completing the trails. Is there and additional delay.
Deputy Director Lewis stated that he has not heard any updates in the last several months.
Commissioner Staudt stated that there is a lot of discussion coming from the management company that runs the Links of Novi, that the property is never going to be developed and he wonders how that affects the donation of the property.
Rachel Zagaroli of the Novi Senior Center stated that there is a lot going on at the Senior Center. There is a new walking trail. There has been a huge increase in the Transportation Program with close to one thousand more rides than they had last year. They will get a new vehicle at the end of the summer. She had requested a mini van. They have four vans now that have the lifts and a mini van is a little more economical when you have someone without a disability. It will have doors that open on both sides and swivel seats to make it easier to get in and out. There a lot of people attending the programs and it is a very busy time.
Deputy Director Lewis stated that they had just spoken to Kathy Smith-Roy about the vehicle because the building and grounds department at the Civic Center are also getting a new van and we are waiting for the Oakland County bids to come out. She thought that would be around August.
Rachel Zagaroli stated that with the new traffic light there are people driving through the parking lot to avoid having to wait for the light and driving through the circle drive the wrong way and there have been many near misses. There is now a sign up so that the police can start ticketing people for doing this.
Deputy Director Lewis added that City Council has just approved two capital improvement projects for Meadowbrook Commons. One project is to redo the parking lot with asphalt and striping. The other project is landscaping.
Commissioner Staudt asked Rachael Zagaroli if she has thought about any of the risks of any of the trips that she organizes or that we participate in light of the seniors in the boat accident in New York.
Rachel Zagaroli stated that they take all the precautions they can. Every tour company that she deals with has her home phone and cell phone and Nextel numbers just in case anything would happen. She now requires all paper of liability from the tour companies so that she knows the liability and their insurance policy which she updates every year. She has all of their cell phone numbers and pager numbers. They do a tremendous travel program.
Commissioner Staudt then asked if the Senior Center had any problems with vandalism or things happening on the property.
Rachel Zagaroli replied that they have been very fortunate. A few years back they had all of their stereo equipment stolen from the third floor. Other than that there has not been much at all.
MATTERS FOR COMMISSION ACTION/DISCUSSION:
A. Approval of May 11, 2006 regular meeting minutes.
A motion was made by Commissioner Zyczynski and seconded by Commissioner Burke.
Voice Vote CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
B. Approval of recommendation to City Council for the submittal of a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) grant application (Shepardson Property).
Commissioner Staudt asked Deputy Director Lewis to give some background on this.
Deputy Director Lewis stated that the Shepardson property is adjacent to the Village Wood Lake proposed park property. It is .26 of an acre in size. He walked the property and it is primarily open rolling field space with a limited number of trees but it does run along the lake. It is just east of Meadowbrook Road. The Shepardsons are will to sell and we are just trying to make the decision to submit the grant.
Commissioner Burke stated that he would not support writing this grant. The appraisal is almost two years old and it is arguable whether that appraisal is accurate now or if it was accurate in September of 2004. He asked what are we going to do with it other than add it to the inventory. He stated that we are going to have to pay to write the grant and have to spend some money on it as a condition of the grant and we will get no use out of it. He fears that this may set a precedent for anyone who owns a piece of property that will not sell to come to the City to purchase it. He would not support moving this grant forward.
Commissioner Schwarzlose stated that he agreed with Commissioner Burke.
He feels that we ahead on this one because we do not have the adjoining property as park land at this point. This lot in his opinion is a pretty rough little lot. At this point it is premature until we have the other grant and property in place.
Commissioner Wingfield stated that he concurred with both Commissioner Burke and Commissioner Schwarzlose. That quarter of an acre is not that big of a parcel and is non functional especially since we do not have the other property yet. He also fears people will come to the City to purchase property which they cannot sell. He would also hesitate to support this grant.
Commissioner Burke asked Deputy Director Lewis for clarification. In a letter received from the Sheperdsons, dated January 26th they stated that they would sell the property for $68,600 then in a letter in June it states that they are asking $76,500. He wanted this on the record.
Commissioner Staudt thought City Council gave the direction to submit a grant application.
Deputy Director Lewis stated that City Council requested the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission to make a recommendation.
Commissioner Staudt stated that they then told administration to pursue this and it was delayed. His answer is yes at this point. His comment is that this was very clearly placed in the lap of the administration and it will go forward regardless of our recommendation. He would suggest that instead of letting it die for the lack of a second that someone, at least for the purpose of a recommendation, that we make a motion to approve it. It is important that we put on the record that we did vote on it and did not just let it die.
A motion was made by Commissioner Zyczynski but there was no second.
Commissioner Staudt stated that he thinks it is a mistake to let it die without a vote.
Deputy Director stated that he is not the City Attorney but he feels that a vote should be taken on the Sheperdson property whether it is passed or not.
A motion was made by Commissioner Burke NOT to approve and NOT to recommend the submittal of the MNRTF grant application for Sheperdson Property. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Wingfield.
Voice Vote 3 For, 2 Against, Motion Carries
(Commissioner Burke – yes, Commissioner Schwarzlose – yes,
Commissioner Staudt – no, Commissioner Wingfield – yes,
Commissioner Zyczynski – no)
C. Approval of recommendation to City Council for the submittal of a Michigan Natural Resource Trust Fund (MNRTF) grant application (Heritage property).
Deputy Director Lewis stated that the Heritage property is 16.2 acres of land which is adjacent to the Singh Trail property, which includes a wildlife habitat, wetlands and high quality woodlands. The property owner is willing to sell the property to the City so that it will become park property. A motion was made by Commissioner Zyczynski and seconded by Commissioner Burke.
Voice Vote CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
D. Approval of a one year lease with a one year renewal option of Dance Studio at the Novi Ice Arena.
A motion was made by Commissioner Schwarzlose and seconded by Commissioner Wingfield.
Voice Vote CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
Commissioner Zyczynski stated that she visited the Senior Center this past month and took a walk down their walking trail. It was very pleasant and there are benches along the way. For someone like her, who walks a lot, she would probably walk it twice. She thought an addition to the walking trail might be a stretching bar at the end. She also stopped by the Out of the Basement Concert. She was there about 5:30 in the afternoon. There were about 50 people there and they seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Commissioner Wagner stated that he would like to see the High School programs move forward.
Commissioner Burke wanted to commend the department and staff for the Memorial Day Parade. Every year there are more people. He would suggest that the cooking of food be done after the National Anthem out of respect.
Deputy Director Lewis stated that the food was mostly for the Veterans and that was new this year and he did notice that himself.
Commissioner Schwarzlose stated that the Memorial Day Parade did go very well. He also congratulated the Theatre for their success with the "Wizard of Oz" and that they sold out almost all of the performances. Once people are able to get tickets on line that will be a big success.
Commissioner Wingfield stated that he wanted to acknowledge getting Councilmember Paul’s letter regarding the baseball fields. It is nothing new but he is glad that she is aware of it because Council did support the upgrades. Power Park as well is redoing fields and this reinforces everything that needs to be done. He asked how Camp Lakeshore registration was going.
Deputy Director Lewis replied that most of the popular weeks are full and there are a few openings in some of the other weeks in early June and late August.
Commissioner Staudt stated that he is closing his last meeting and passing the chairperson position to Commissioner Wingfield. He stated that he is not seeking reappointment to the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission. He has enjoyed his past three and a half years.
A motion was made by Commissioner Burke and seconded by Commissioner Wingfield.
Voice Vote CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
The meeting adjourned at 8:32 p.m.
_____________________________________ Signed, Harold L Wingfield, Vice Chairperson