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PARKS, RECREATION AND FORESTRY
The meeting was called to order at 7:32 PM with Commissioner Wingfield presiding.
ROLL CALL: Dooley (Present), Goyal (Absent), Policicchio (Absent), Radcliffe (Present), Schwarzlose (Present), Staab (Present), Wagner (Present), Wingfield (Present), Zyczynski (Present).
APPROVAL OF AGENDA:
It was moved by Commissioner Schwarzlose, seconded by Commissioner Zyczynski to approve the agenda.
Voice Vote Unanimous
AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION: None.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
Approval of December 14, 2006, meeting minutes.
Moved by Commissioner Zyczynski, seconded by Commissioner Schwarzlose.
Voice Vote Unanimous
A. Park Foundation – Commissioner Staab reported that as of January 1, 2007, the Foundation had a total fund balance of $53,484.36. He noted that the figure is not where they want it to be, but in his opinion it was a good effort for two years; factoring in the local economy. Of that total balance, the unrestricted amount was $12,234.00 and he thought it was a good way to start out 2007. He added that the annual golf outing is scheduled for August 3, 2007 (location to be determined) and that the next board meeting is scheduled for January 16, 2007.
Commissioner Staab asked if Commissioner Dooley, the Naming Rights Policy chairperson, had anything to report. Commissioner Dooley reported that he plans on announcing the businesses that have come forward at the January board meeting. He also said he felt that 2007 would be very successful and incoming businesses would see the advantage of the program.
Commissioner Staab thanked all of the hard working members of the Foundation Board.
Commissioner Wingfield asked Commissioner Staab to explain what the procedure is for handling requests for money from the Foundation.
Commissioner Staab answered that "first and foremost the Foundation is glad to hear from anybody that has requests, needs, or desires. We support Parks, Recreation and Forestry and we will ask them to also submit the information to the Department. They will do their due diligence on it, bring it up through the Commission and back to the Foundation with their recommendation. There was a rule and resolution adopted in July/August when the bylaws were re-sculpted".
B. Greenway/ Pathway – Commissioner Zyczynski reported the committee has not met; therefore she had nothing to report.
C. Strategic Planning – Commissioner Schwarzlose reported that the Strategic Plan, which the Commission reviewed at their last meeting was submitted to the City Council. The Department is also looking into an avenue for the public to review the plan and offer their comments this month. The Department is also asking for a joint meeting with the Commission and City Council to discuss the plan, which also ties into the Capital Improvement Plan priorities.
D. Partnerships – Commissioner Dooley reported the committee has not met; therefore he had nothing to report. The committee will meet in January.
Director Auler said that he had two items in addition to the report he submitted in the monthly packets.
Director Auler reported that the City Council will meet the Saturday following the meeting, "for the purpose of reviewing the survey information along with the additional work which the administrative team has done to prepare a vision statement and strategic priorities and setting the stage for goals for the city administration over the next couple years".
Director Auler also reported that the Department is losing two key team members this month. Sheri Sansom, the Performing Arts Director, is relocating to Ohio. Her last day with the Department is January 26th. Jack Lewis, the Deputy Director of Parks, Recreation and Forestry is retiring after 29 years. Director Auler turned over the floor to Mr. Lewis.
Mr. Lewis said that it has been a great 29 years and he feels fortunate to work in the parks and recreation field and work for the City of Novi. He noted that he has seen a lot of growth and development over the years and that the time has gone fast. Mr. Lewis said that he will miss working with everybody and with so much going on he knows that he’ll miss out on the changes coming. He thanked the Commission for their time and efforts for the entire Department.
Director Auler added that Mr. Lewis has been a tremendous asset to the Department and the community; that there is nobody that cares more and that Mr. Lewis has been a tremendous partner to him. Director Auler noted that the Department will miss his efforts and that he’s "going to keep him back here on a volunteer basis". He wished him well on golfing everyday.
Commissioner Wingfield asked Director Auler if he had heard what the survey results were regarding Parks, Recreation and Forestry, noting that there was an article reporting survey results in that day’s Novi News.
Director Auler reported that he can get the information out in the next packet and that it is available on the city’s web site. He said that 70% of the respondents have visited a park and 41% had participated in a program in the last twelve months and that Novi was similar to the norm. He added that the respondents rated Novi parks 66 or 67% in park appearance, 53% of the community said the city should make annual investments in parks, and that the city employees were rated an 89 or 90%.
MATTERS FOR COMMISSION ACTION/DISCUSSION:
A. Discussion of 2007 – 2012 Capital Improvement Plan
Director Auler reported that he provided a lot of information in the packet, but particular interest should be paid to the first sheet. He pointed out that the information is in a rough draft form and that the administration is changing the format and the way the information is gathered.
Director Auler reported that the primary priority is the second phase of Power Park, a significant financial item that we would like to recommend. The improvements include replacing all of the lighting/light poles and replacing the concession stand/restroom/storage facilities there.
Director Auler added that the second item is the senior center master plan at approximately $25,000. The first plan was for a $15,000 to study a plan to add on to the proposed expansion to the library, but the plan did not receive funding to proceed forward. He explained that the census highlighted that the baby boomer age is the largest growing age group in the demographic information. He stated that many times the Senior Center’s programs are full and people have to go on a waiting list. He added that the senior program is staffed with one and a half clerical workers, one senior center manager, one shared position with OLSA that focuses on social services, and nine transportation drivers. The Department would like to have an outside consultant firm to take a comprehensive look at space and operational needs.
Director Auler also briefed the Commission on the Fuerst Farm property, noting that three of the facilities are in poor condition. He added that he would like the Historical Commission to take a look at how they might utilize the properties.
Director Auler noted that one item that is high on the priority list is the condition of the current sports fields. He said that Mr. Wiktorowski was in attendance to answer any questions on this item, reminding the Commission of the cancellation of sports games due to field conditions in the fall. He pointed out that Mr. Wiktorowski’s presentation at that time offered four possible solutions to the problem: eliminate usage, acquire more property, put sports turf down, and renovate fields. The renovations would include components of all the solutions: limiting use along with grading and drainage, which would run about $155,000 per field.
In summary, Director Auler stated that he would recommend the Power Park Phase 2 be priority #1, Senior Center Master Plan be priority #2, Community Sports Park Soccer Field Renovations of one field be priority #3, and the Fuerst Farm Master Plan be a priority funded from the Historical Commission.
Commissioner Dooley asked if all of the renovation options would cost $154,000.
Mr. Wiktorowski replied that as he explained in a previous presentation,
there are multiple options to renovate the fields at Community Sports Park. He explained that there is a way to keep the native soil intact by running an underground drainage system every ten feet, do some land balancing, and bring in some large roll sod. He estimates the cost to be approximately $155,000. He explained that although it is not the best way to renovate a field and will not make the field playable after a torrential rain storm, it will move potentially 3-31/2 inches of water through the soil per hour. He said he feels that this is the most economical solution to fixing the fields.
Commissioner Dooley asked Mr. Wiktorowski when he referred to "per field", if he had a recommendation for the Commission and City Council as to which field should be done.
Mr. Wiktorowski replied that he would recommend to the Director to do one of the larger fields, particularly the field known as "Field A" (which is on the highest plateau and does have the ability to be rotated).
Commissioner Dooley asked why the $515,000 in the Capital Improvement Budget allocated for parking lot paving at Community Sports Park could not be used for field improvements. He said that he was of the opinion and felt that the users of the parks would be of the same opinion, that people would rather park on gravel in order to have the children play on safer/better fields.
Director Auler replied that the Capital Improvement Plan is a six year projection and the items that are listed will be placed in the appropriate year on the schedule based on the life cycle and condition of the items, once the new software is installed. The parking lot paving is projected for 2010/2011. He also explained that it is not taking from one project to give to another program, but an attempt to project the actual cost for the actual project, in the actual year, and balance the years out with a cash flow scenario.
Regarding the Phase 3 improvements to Power Park, Commissioner Schwarzlose asked Director Auler if it would be wise to finish the project while it is under construction.
Commissioner Wingfield explained that the original proposal was 1.2 or 1.3 million dollar improvements to Power Park, approximately $400,000 per year for three phases. He said that he thought the building construction was in the Phase 3 portion of the project and moved to Phase 2, so it seems possible to move the items to different years. He asked Director Auler what he thought the chances were to get the money allocated all in one year, while the construction is under way.
Director Auler replied that this would be a City Council call. He added that the Commission could recommend that Phase 2 and Phase 3 be combined, but there is no way to project what is available.
Commissioner Wingfield commented that Phase 2 of the project originally only included lighting and that he didn’t want to jeopardize what has been added to the original plan by combining Phase 2 and 3.
Mr. Wiktorowski replied that the weather and usage schedule at Power Park were taken into account when the projects were divided into phases. Phase 1 projects included fencing and field improvements, Phase 2 the lighting and building, and Phase 3 the asphalt.
Commissioner Staab asked if Mr. Wiktorowski had made the presentation regarding field conditions at Community Sports Park to any group other than the Commission.
Mr. Wiktorowski replied that he had not.
Commissioner Staab commented that it would be a beneficial presentation for the user groups to see the acute need for field improvements "i.e. soccer people, City Council, schools, whatever". He added that he agrees with the mentioned recommendations and has some additional information and recommendations regarding the Tim Pope Memorial Playstructure at Community Sports Park. Commissioner Staab asked Director Auler if he was able to obtain any information on the maintenance fund that was established in 1997 for that structure.
Deputy Lewis replied that he would get that information for the next meeting.
Commissioner Staab added that there are still people that are willing to volunteer to help maintain the project.
Commissioner Zyczynski commented that she supports the recommendations and that the last few months have indicated a need to improve the soccer fields and to support the senior center. She added that this solution does nothing to alleviate the over use of the fields and hopes that a partnership could be reached regarding the Bosco property or any other properties.
Commissioner Radcliffe expressed concerns about the soccer fields and the future public perception.
Commissioner Wagner agreed with the recommended field improvements at Community Sports Park, but asked if the crowning of the fields was a problem.
Mr. Wiktorowski commented that the improvements would reduce the crowning.
Director Auler commented that the two new soccer fields at the high school (built next to the varsity softball fields) are relatively flat. He added that the Department hopes to utilize them in the spring.
Commissioner Wagner asked what improvements were included in Power Park Phase 3.
Mr. Wiktorowski replied that the $184,400 Phase 3 project included a plan to repave walks, install signage, and landscaping, as well as bleachers and benches.
Commissioner Zyczynski commented that she wouldn’t want the City Council to agree to finishing the improvements to Power Park; only for them to deny the much needed improvements at Community Sports Park.
Commissioner Wingfield asked if the $155,000 a year requested to improve soccer fields one at a time was in lieu of $55,000 a year committed to improve the baseball fields.
Director Auler replied the $55,000 is still in there, but he is "hopeful through our partnerships, just as we are through soccer partnerships, that there should be significant financial equitability in our relationships, particularly for those organizations that may use those facilities exclusively. We do have it in here, but we are certainly going to seek additional alternative revenue sources from our partners".
Commissioner Wingfield commented that he hoped we were still able to upgrade a baseball field every year. He also asked what the "Bosco field land acquisition through partnership item for $110,000 is all about. He asked "since the schools own the land, would the Department just use the land and the $110,000 would be the amount needed to upgrade the fields that are in bad shape?"
Director Auler replied that "projecting out if the opportunity presents itself to utilize fields owned by other entities, that we could bring investment dollars to the table for beginning development of some of that property".
Commissioner Wingfield commented that the money needn’t be a budget item but could come from partnerships. Regarding the recommendations, he asked what the next step would be.
Director Auler replied that he would seek a recommendation that evening if they are in consensus with the identified priorities. The recommendations would then go to the city administration, Capital Improvement Committee, and then to City Council through the budget process. He commented that if approved at that night’s meeting it would be helpful, because the budget procedure is beginning soon.
Commissioner Wingfield asked Director Auler to list the priorities by number, to which he replied:
Commissioner Wingfield asked the Commission if they felt comfortable going forward with the recommendations at that night’s meeting.
Commissioner Wagner asked Director Auler how many items the Department usually recommends.
Director Auler replied that the Department tries to put together projects based on current condition, life cycle plan, projected use and need, strategic plan and community input. He said it all comes down to money and as projects are deferred they deteriorate. It is not a certain dollar amount.
Commissioner Wagner said he thought the Bosco field or a second field at Community Sports Park should be listed as Priority #5, to let City Council know there are other priorities.
Director Auler replied that Council knows what the priorities are by what he submits and from the documents that are sent forward. He encouraged the Commission to attend those budget meetings and share their opinions with City Council.
Commissioner Wingfield said that one of his concerns is that this is a nice package under $900,000 and wondered if the Commission should be more aggressive and submit a #5 and #6 priority.
Commissioner Zyczynski said that the Power Park Phase 2 is the largest expenditure and benefits the community by bringing in dollars from various tournaments. She commented that she would rather go in strong with that request, keeping the amount requested in line with what was requested last year, as she didn’t feel the Department would be receiving a windfall this year.
Director Auler replied that the amount varies from year to year and depends on state revenue sharing dollars. He added that we may get no money; that there are years that we’ve gotten no Capital Improvement money. He said that we know that Power Park and soccer fields are an issue, the senior center program is growing rapidly and this is where the recommendations are coming from.
Commissioner Schwarzlose commented that his point regarding Power Park was that the recommendations for phasing the project was not based on dollars; but based on the least disruption of service. He felt that it will benefit the community with dollars from tournaments already this year and thought it should be noted as a #5 priority on the list.
Commissioner Zyczynski said that she would support an additional priority only if it is after the first four are funded.
A motion was made to approve the Capital Improvement Budget with the four items as the primary focus of the Capital Improvement Budget, with item #5 being the Phase 3 at Power Park if additional funds are available.
Moved by Commissioner Schwarzlose and seconded by Commissioner Staab.
Commissioner Staab clarified the priorities are as follows:
Commissioner Zyczynski pointed out that Mr. Wiktorowski mentioned that there may be a seasonal problem with asphalt on Phase #3. She asked if the money is allocated would the timing be feasible.
Mr. Wiktorowski replied that anything could be possible, with some sacrifices from the users at Power Park.
Commissioner Wagner said that considering the timing problem at Power Park, he would recommend moving the Bosco soccer field in its’ place.
Commissioner Wingfield pointed out that there was a motion on the floor and with no further discussion, a vote needed to be taken.
Commissioner Dooley added that he agreed with Commissioner Wagner to amend the motion to include Bosco land acquisition for additional soccer fields as priority #5.
Director Auler corrected that the amendment should be retitled to read "funding available through a partnership effort to develop additional soccer fields". He noted that as we go through the budget process, we will identify more specific sites. He added that he would not want to be tied to a specific property when we currently have no agreement in place.
Commissioner Wingfield asked how likely it is that City Council will give us $110,000 for something that has no specifics to it. He agreed that it is a great concept but not very likely in this economic climate.
Director Auler replied he would not expect to get money allocated without having the specifics of any arrangement pulled together. He added that it is a focus of the partnership committee to have specifics, which would hopefully be in place by budget time. If they weren’t in place at that time, that item would be pulled off the table.
Commissioner Wingfield asked if a vote needed to be taken and defeated to add a #5 to the recommendations.
Director Auler replied that a vote could be taken or a friendly amendment added to the original motion, if the maker of the motion and the person that seconded that motion agree to the amendment.
Commissioner Wingfield restated the new motion to read to approve the original four priorities as discussed and to add a #5 to read "$110,000 for soccer field land acquisition through partnership".
Commissioner Zyczynski pointed out that this item is added due to community input and concerns.
Voice Vote Unanimous
Commissioner Dooley – commented that this is his first budget process and he thinks "that if it goes this smoothly and strategically with this particular group of commissioners, I think it says a lot about the wealth of knowledge and expertise and passion and conviction as you folks have. Because you’re right, we do speak for the community; we do listen to the community and speak for their best interests. I think that was accomplished tonight".
Commissioner Schwarzlose – applauded everyone’s effort to bring a quality Capital Improvement Plan. He also told Mr. Lewis that he will be missed by the community and Commission and thanked him for all of his efforts over the years.
Commissioner Wagner – thanked Mr. Lewis as well.
Commissioner Radcliffe – wished Mr. Lewis well and thanked Mr. Wiktorowski for the answers to her questions that evening.
Commissioner Zyczynski – thanked Sheri Sansom for her contributions to the theatre program and wished Mr. Lewis well and thanked him for his help over the years.
Commissioner Staab – announced a Valentine’s Day Program at the Novi senior center February 9th and he asked Rachel Zagaroli to elaborate. She commented that the Novi Choralaires will do a concert for that program and that they always do a great job.
Commissioner Staab also thanked Ms. Sansom and wished Mr. Lewis the best.
With the approval of the Capital Improvement Plan, he also encouraged the staff to look for ideas for partnerships with various groups and with the Foundation.
Commissioner Wingfield – commented that of all the times he has been involved in the Capital Improvement Project process, he thinks this is one of the most concise plans the Commission has ever submitted. He also thanked Mr. Wiktorowski and said that he liked one of Matt’s comments, which was to "do something right the first time". He added that in his opinion, this is the problem with Community Sports Park.
Commissioner Wingfield said he attended the volleyball meeting the previous night and he kept hearing that we still do not have enough space for the Department’s programs. He asked whatever happened to Catholic Central allowing us to use their facilities.
Director Auler replied that he had a meeting with them over the holidays and sent a follow up email, but as of right now no time has been secured. He has asked for one night a week in the auxiliary gym, but that has not been secured.
Commissioner Wingfield thanked Mr. Lewis for all his efforts and 29 years of service.
The meeting was adjourned by Chairperson Winfield at 8:48 PM.
_____________________________________ Signed, Harold L. Wingfield, Chairperson
Signed, Reagan Schwarzlose, Vice Chairperson