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PARKS, RECREATION AND FORESTRY COMMISSION
THURSDAY, MARCH 8, 2007 – 7:30 PM
NOVI CIVIC CENTER – COUNCIL CHAMBERS
The meeting was called to order at 7:32 PM with Commissioner Wingfield presiding.
ROLL CALL: Dooley (Present), Goyal (Present), Policicchio (Absent), Radcliffe (Present), Schwarzlose (Present), Staab (Absent), 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 February 8, 2007, meeting minutes.
Moved by Commissioner Zyczynski, seconded by Commissioner Schwarzlose.
Voice Vote Unanimous
Strategic Planning – Commissioner Schwarzlose stated that the committee did meet. He reported that Monday, March 5, 2007 the Novi City Council unanimously approved the Strategic Plan. He noted that City Council was very happy with the report and the direction the Commission, the staff and the Department is going. He applauded all that were involved with preparing the report and added that the report is just the start of good things to come.
Park Foundation – Commissioner Dooley reminded everyone of the golf outing on Thursday, August 2, 2007 at the Links of Novi. The fee will be $125 per golfer, with the proceeds benefiting the Foundation. He added that there has been a lot of publicity regarding the Naming Rights Program and that the second wave of brochures are going out to Novi businesses soon.
Partnerships – Commissioner Dooley reported that there are a number of meetings in the early stages at this point. He hopes to have updates at the April meeting.
DIRECTOR’S REPORT: Director Auler highlighted three items from his report:
The Department received the Tree City USA Award for the fifteenth year. The Department also received the Tree Growth Award which recognizes cities for education, public relations, planning and management, tree inventory, tree planting and maintenance.
The Department will be hosting a new series starting in June called "Fit Novi". This is a series of five dates that consists of duathlons, triathlons, and runs; culminating with a fitness festival in partnership with the Greater Novi Chamber of Commerce September 9th. Director Auler said that he anticipates hosting almost 3,000 athletes and registrations are already coming in from all over the Midwest. He noted that not only is the series good for economic development, but feels that it ties into one of the Department’s initiatives to promote healthy and active lifestyles.
The Department is preparing to submit an application to submit a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Land Acquisition Grant for 16 acres of property adjacent to the Singh Trail Property. If the grant application is successful it will take that parcel to approximately 269 acres. This grant was submitted unsuccessfully in the last grant cycle, but Director Auler feels the application is strengthened so we are moving forward. City Council voted to support the application at the March 5th meeting and he will take it back to Council on March 19th for a public hearing and final authorization. The grant application is due April 1, 2007 and the results will be announced in December.
The Department is seeking public comment regarding approval to submit a grant application to the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant program for land acquisition of 16.2 acres (Heritage Shoppes, L.L.C. property).
1. Margaret Schmidt 25377 Wixom Road Novi, MI
Ms. Schmidt introduced herself, commenting that children and adults all over Michigan know her as the "Farm Lady". She said that she was attending the meeting to speak from her heart and noted that she should have spoken up for many years. She has a five acre farm that she has owned for almost 32 years. When her family first moved to Novi there was an old farm house and barn across the street with many amazing large trees. One day her husband went to work and when he came home all that was left of the trees was sawdust. Now the farm house, barn and trees are gone and there are just some birchwood trees left. Ms. Schmidt said to the north of their property was a hay field. When the farmer was done with the hay crop, she would let her sheep graze in the fields and it became a wonderful natural habitat for wildlife. They mowed a path through the field and when she conducted youth camps, she would walk the children through a huge tunnel of sumac field on the path. Now that field is a part of the Island Lake development. To the south of their property was the Deaton property and the adjacent woods and the woods behind that were all giant oaks. The oaks are gone and when they were cut down it allowed more sunlight into the woods on her property and she has lost her jewel weed, which was a food source for the hummingbirds. Ms. Schmidt said that she has come to the realization that most of the little natural wildlife habitat near Wixom Road was destroyed. When the machines came she rescued a bird nest in a lilac bush and had three birds taken to the Howell Nature Center. Later a bird returned to the area looking for the nest and kept mewing when it discovered the babies gone. She said that all she could do was cry for all which was lost. When you drive between Ten and Eleven Mile Road on Wixom Road and see all that is new, remember that it is covering what was once wonderful wildlife habitat. She said that sixteen acres will not bring back anything that she has lost, but feels that it would be part of a larger area that would provide passive recreation. The people of this community need a place to walk where they can see a butterfly float through the woods, watch a child run through the fall woods, and be in awe of a black eye susan – we all deserve these things. Ms. Schmidt recommends that the Commission give a favorable recommendation to apply for this grant.
2. Mike Lynch 26026 Island Lake Dr. Novi, MI
Stated that he represents the 1,440 current Novi resident taxpayers and 220 future tax payers of Island Lake. Based on the proposal, Mr. Lynch would recommend applying for the grant and acquiring the 16 acres.
3. LouAnne Kozma 23837 West Lebost Novi, MI
Introduced herself and said that she is representing the Friends of Novi Parks, noting that the Friends were pleased to be a part of the grant preparation both this year and last. She said that they have recently hired Brian Klatt of Klatt Environmental Associates to do a second study of the property; it will be an ecological characterization of the animal life there. She noted that Ms. Schmidt’s impassioned plea for the protection of the environment is what this is all about. Ms. Kozma noted that this summer she went out to the 16 acres with Mr. Klatt and commented that it is a beautiful piece of property and we want to hang on to it. She said that she attended the December trust fund meeting and commented that the City of Novi has tough competition. She said that we were at the dividing line last year and she’s glad that her organization was able to provide another piece of data to strengthen the application.
4. Andrew Mutch 24740 Taft Rd. Novi, MI
Mr. Mutch introduced himself as a lifelong resident of Novi as well as a member of the City Council. He thanked Director Auler and the Department for all the effort to pull together the information to reapply, as well as adjustments to the changed focus of the trust fund board. He noted that last year the City of Novi’s application missed the by only 10 points. He recognized the citizens that have a passion to preserve this property, the generosity of the landowners to not only donate the land but to cover the application costs. Mr. Mutch characterized the land donation as a "win-win opportunity" for the benefit of both Novi residents and the property owner that is donating the land. He feels that the application will score higher this year because the focus has changed to favor urban areas, although nothing is guaranteed. In reviewing last year’s grant application, the DNR noted the positives that this community and this commission made towards our park system. They gave top scores to Novi in the categories of park stewardship, park operations, park maintenance, and planning. Mr. Mutch said that he hoped that the Commission gives a positive recommendation to applying for the grant.
MATTERS FOR COMMISSION ACTION/DISCUSSION:
Approval to submit a grant application to the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant program for land acquisition of 16.2 acres (Heritage Shoppes, L.L.C. property) located adjacent to the Singh Trail property.
Commissioner Schwarzlose thanked all of the speakers that commented during the public hearing. He said it is very clear that the community’s involvement demonstrates that this is the right thing to do.
Moved by Commissioner Schwarzlose and seconded by Commissioner Zyczynski to submit the grant application.
Commissioner Wingfield asked what the dollar amount was that we are requesting. Director Auler said that they are still writing the application and he would have to let the Commission know the dollar amounts at the next meeting.
Voice Vote Unanimous
Commissioner Zyczynski – Commented that the Department has been receiving a lot of positive publicity lately.
Commissioner Wagner – Commented that he went to Meadowbrook Commons for the first time and was very impressed. He also said that he wanted to commend the Department for all the new programs and the Naming Rights Program publicity.
Commissioner Radcliffe – Noted that the publicity for the Naming Rights Program was in the Metro Detroit newspapers not just the Novi News.
Commissioner Dooley – Commented that he attended the City Council meeting on Monday and wanted to give Kudos to Director Auler and Commissioner Schwarzlose, who he felt were both on their "A Game" for the presentation of the Strategic Plan.
Commissioner Schwarzlose – Congratulated the Forestry Department for obtaining another $10,000 Emerald Ash Borer Grant. He also mentioned that the Theatre Department’s production of Divine Stella Divine is this weekend.
Commissioner Wingfield – Commented that there are a lot of good things going on and a buzz is being created around the Department. He did say that the next meeting will be April 12th, although it is spring break he feels there will be enough attendance to hold the meeting.
The meeting was adjourned by Chairperson Wingfield at 8:01 PM.
_____________________________________ Signed, Harold L. Wingfield, Chairperson
Signed, Reagan Schwarzlose, Vice Chairperson