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SPECIAL MEETING OF THE NOVI CITY COUNCIL
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2004 AT 7:00 PM
COUNCIL CHAMBERS Ė NOVI CIVIC CENTER Ė 45175 W. TEN MILE ROAD

 

Mayor Csordas called the meeting to order at 6:57 p.m.

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

ROLL CALL: Mayor Csordas, Mayor Pro Tem Landry, Council Members Capello, Gatt, Lorenzo (Absent/Excused), Nagy (Absent/Excused) and Paul

PARKS, RECREATION & FORESTRY: Commissioners Burke, Enright, Schwarzlose, Staab, Staudt, Wingfield

ALSO PRESENT: Craig Klaver Ė Chief Operating Officer

Kathy Smith-Roy Ė Finance Director

Randy Auler Ė Parks and Recreation Director

APPROVAL OF AGENDA

CM-04-12-437 Moved by Paul, seconded by Landry; CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY: To approve the agenda.

Voice Vote on CM-04-12-437 CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY

AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION - None

PURPOSE OF SPECIAL MEETING

Mayor Csordas stated that the purpose of the Special Meeting was to communicate with a very important commission, Parks and Recreation Commission, with another fairly important committee, the City Council, to understand exactly what was going on. He took a look at all of the information that there was here; it looked as if there was a powerpoint presentation. He just wanted to make sure everyone understood that at 8:00 p.m., City Council would be done.

Community Recreation Plan 2003-2008: one year progress report and revised action strategies.

Randy Auler reviewed that the plan was established for guiding the department and commission to be able to deliver better services to the community. They had completed 51% of the projects, including pathway improvements, parking and concession stand improvements. They had removed 49% of diseased trees and 34% of stumps. They were working with homeowner associations within the community to come up with a tree replacement program that it would be presenting to Council in the near future for consideration. They made a major focus in terms of enhancing revenue opportunities for the department, primarily through a number of means, one of which was grant opportunities. They received a $20,000 grant from the DNR for Ash tree replacement; a $2,500 grant for bike path signage improvement, and they had a pending grant application for $40,000 with the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Additionally, the Novi Park Foundation was created; he knew that was an item on the agenda, so it would be talked about later.

They solicited and secured approximately $23,000 for sponsorship opportunities to support events, programs and activities, and reached an agreement with Coca-Cola which generated about $22,300.

They also implemented activity based costing on programs; essentially what they were trying to do there was to begin 100 percent cost recovery on programs that they could; it was not the goal on all of their programs, certainly not on their Senior programs or some of the other youth programs and free programs that they provided for the community. They tried to cover those through sponsorship fees and other means.

They also reached out to our partners in terms of trying to generate additional revenue; that included the Novi Jaguar Tournament, the Novi Youth Baseball League, and including volunteers. He wanted to highlight that they had approximately 8,500 hours of volunteer labor, and utilizing the dollar figure provided by the National Philanthropy Office, it came out to a $68,000 value to the department.

They implemented a Capital Improvement Program, community sports ball field project improvement; that field would open this spring. They also did improvements to the Lakeshore Park Project in partnership with the DPW. They completed irrigation improvement system and still need to install electronic scoreboard.

He said that one of the goals was to achieve staffing levels to meet maintenance operation demands; they hadnít really accomplished that at this time. They had partnered with organizations in terms of trying to provide better service in that area; had park cleanup days, and involved the citizens in that. Partnerships enabled them to provide a great number of services; they were looking to enhance and expand the partnership opportunities.

They established park maintenance standards. In terms of land acquisition, we have a 253-acre passive park created as part of the Singh donation and the Quail Hollow Development; the Singh Trail will be installed and complete by October of 2005.

In summary, they had increased passive park land by 24%; their program revenue in relation to program costs had increased by 7%; program participation had increased by 1.4% and achieved customer satisfaction rating of 4.7 on a 5 point scale. One of the things they asked themselves was: "were they doing the right things and were they doing them the right way." The department and the Commission believed that they were. They have revised and revisited the action strategies for 2003-2008 Community Recreation Plan.

 

 

Emerald Ash Borer: Tree and Stump Removal Strategy

Commissioner Enright stated all diseased trees could be removed for $90,000, and the recommendation will come from the commission at the 12-20-04 meeting. Discussion followed that it was $80,000 for tree removal by contract. Randy Auler stated many could not be removed by staff and should be contracted. $10,000 was for stump removal.

Mayor Csordas asked about the benefit of having the stump grinder as a piece of equipment for the city. Mr. Auler stated it would be several years for it to be of benefit. Mayor Csordas asked if it was necessary to be certified to remove the trees. Mr. Auler noted 2 staff people were certified.

Member Paul thought $90,000 could be taken from the woodland funds recently deposited. Mayor Csordas asked for the clarification. Mr. Klaver noted this was woodland replacement money that went into the tree fund and could be used in whatever manner the City wished.

Emerald Ash Borer: Tree Replacement Strategy

Ms. Enright explained that 75 trees per year can be replaced with the residents paying the costs and the city providing the labor. Mr. Auler noted they could replace 75 trees each year and a number of properties had been waiting for some time. There could be some negotiations with nurseries for tree replacement or utilize a 50-50 program where the residents would pay 50 percent of the cost of the tree and the City would leverage that with the amount of trees that it would be utilizing. For example, 233 trees will be coming in 2006 from Catholic Central. Residents wishing to expedite the process would participate in the 100% funding program. In January, they will bring it forward again and work with citizens in the process.

Member Capello asked why the limit of 75 trees a year; was it a finance issue or a manpower issue to install the trees.

Mr. Auler stated that it was primarily a finance issue, but with additional funds, that would speed up the program and itís not a manpower issue. The work was contracted if the City had the funds to purchase trees. Itís easier to manage and gets a better quality product with those that are skill based. They are also 3-4 years behind on pruning.

Mr. Klaver noted contractually, a tree planted by contractors was warranted.

Mayor Pro Tem Landry sources of tree funds were from developers.

Mr. Klaver answered that there were three options: to replace on site, to replace off site or to donate money.

Ms. Smith-Roy, Finance Director, answered that the smaller sources were funds from penalties, fines or forfeiture related to woodlands. The average balance in the tree fund was between $50-100,000 per year. This has been money that has been revolving.

Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked if the average income to that fund was $50-$100,000, what we have used it for. Had the City been replacing ash trees for street trees?

Ms. Smith-Roy answered that replacement of ash trees has been the primary use of the money so far.

Mr. Auler answered there had been plantings, and 535 ash trees and stumps were removed with the $90,000 Council allotted. Only trees, no shrubs.

Mayor Pro Tem Landry stated that the $350,000 would be rightfully used for cutting, grinding and removing ash trees. He understood that it cost $300-$400 per tree.

Mr. Auler answered that, based on past bids, it cost between $325 to $350 per tree.

Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked if the $90,000 covered removal of all the ash trees and grinding of all the stumps this year.

Mr. Staudt answered that it was street trees, not the park trees. The ash trees in the parks were not considered in the calculation.

Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked how many trees were in the park.

Mr. Auler answered that there were 900 trees in the park; 200 would need to be contracted out and the remainder could be removed by the park staff.

Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked if we allocated $90,000 for the removal of the ash street trees and the grinding of those stumps and critical park trees, there would be $260,000 left. He asked what it would cost to replace all the street trees.

Mr. Auler answered $500,000-$600,000 would take care of everything, the City paying 100 percent.

Mayor Pro Tem Landry stated if the City used the $260,000 then, and the residents were willing to abide by the 50-50 program, the City could get it all done in 2005.

Mr. Auler needed more time to evaluate that before he committed to 2005 to get it done; in theory that would be right. The question would be if the citizens all participated; if they chose not to participate, then the City would move on down on the waiting list that they had comprised.

Mayor Pro Tem Landry stated what was being proposed in the 50-50 program that if, for example, two homeowners lived on the same street and one chose to replace his street trees and would pay 50 percent but the other homeowner decided not to pay, then his trees didnít get replaced and the other homeownerís did.

Mr. Auler stated that it was discussed at the public meeting they held that they had the opportunity to participate; if they chose to not participate or to wait, then they would go to the bottom of the list until everyone had the opportunity to participate at least once. If the City still had trees or funding available, then they could participate at that time.

Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked what "they could participate" meant.

Mr. Auler answered that it meant at a later date at 50-50.

Mayor Pro Tem Landry stated that this was an excellent analysis; he liked the notion that it was taking a problem and solving it. He liked the direction that the Commission suggested that Council go in and from what he knew right now, he would support it.

Member Capello stated that following up with trying to get this resolved and still being $250,000 behind, policy wise he had always been opposed to the fact that the City didnít allow the developer to use his replacement trees as street trees, but then the City took his money and replaced street trees. Perhaps to solve part of this problem, we would only allow them to replant trees on their own property. If the City could come up with a policy over the next year that for every tree developers replace in the city, they would get credit for 1-1/2 trees. That would be a discussion for Council.

Mr. Staudt stated that, at the time they worked on the proposal, they didnít know that $350,000 would be coming in, and with the Catholic Central trees, it would be easier to replace the trees and not spend the cash on it.

Mayor Csordas stated that they might consider spending it while they had it, because there were significant cuttings in state-shared revenue; it would be a lot harder in the future.

Naming Rights Policy

Ms. Enright stated they were looking at scope, trends and ideas from Council.

David Staudt stated that the Resource Development Committee had been designated by the Commission to make recommendations at some future date; they were looking at policies already in place but wanted to know the scope of what Council would consider such as a ball field or even a concession stand and also what types of things should they stay away from.

Mr. Gatt stated what he wouldnít want to see was a type of establishment that doesnít portray well for the youth or even the high bidder put their name on something such as a park. He would like to see honorable mention to former city founders who made Novi what it was. It would prompt discussion by residents asking who is Lee BeGole or Frazier Staman; he wouldnít ever want to see a barís name on something.

Mayor Pro Tem Landry stated that Member Gatt hit the nail on the head; the City had to be very careful how it did it. One idea he threw out was that the City got the option of naming the park and they could also have sponsorships; the name of the facility would be chosen by the City, but the person donating the money would be getting something in return. It could be the name on the front, "sponsored by".

Member Capello thought it was a good idea and while he didnít know the level of sponsorship, noted there were many opportunities.

Mayor Csordas asked how the dasher boards at the ice arena were sold; he assumed that was done through Parks and Recreation.

Mr. Auler stated that the management company sold them; it was an advertising program that they had; the one rink cost a little bit more because the high school teams played on that side and drew a larger crowd. There was an annual and three-year commitment.

Mayor Csordas asked who was the best group to solicit the sponsorships.

Mr. Staudt answered that those types of things were best done with participation of city staff. This would be general fund money earmarked for Parks and Recreation programs. Itís difficult for staff to solicit and it might need to be done through a staff or consultant group. It would need to be an independent group. That was a difficult question.

Mayor Pro Tem Landry thought this was a potential great source of funds. He suggested that Council get an opinion from the City Attorney first, as to exactly what our limits were. Could they say the City would not accept funds from any

alcohol producers.

Brian Burke noted there was Plymouth Parks and Recreation with a Don Massey sponsored field. He thought the City could have some parks that honored citizens and could also have some parks, for example at Community Sports Park instead of having fields 1-8, we could have Sellars Field, Feldman Field, etc., if the City was able to generate that kind of money from those kinds of businesses and whether it was a one-year or a three-year or five-year, depending on how much money we received and how the funds could be allocated.

Member Paul wished to see this move faster and given to a committee of Council and send it to Ordinance Review so that itís not milling around. Other communities already have this going on and we could see what others do and then move forward. Raising money earlier would be better. Council could discuss it and narrow the options and with the agreement of Parks and Recreation, by spring, we could look at beginning the solicitation of funds. Also, any signs should be uniform.

Mayor Csordas agreed signs should be in compliance with those mandated by the city ordinances.

Mayor Pro Tem Landry felt this should stay with the Parks and Recreation Board and the commission was hearing support. He agreed with the fast track idea and this commission has no problem doing that.

Member Capello felt it would bog it down by going to Ordinance Review. Parks and Recreation should do it and bring it to Council.

Member Gatt agreed it should be done and agreed with Member Paul to look at what other communities already did.

Member Paul clarified that signs are being looked at now as that part of the ordinance was being challenged. Commercial and political signs were being reviewed; that was the reason for recommending Ordinance Review, not to take something away from Parks and Recreation at all.

Mayor Csordas stated that he understood, but the consensus was to have Parks and Recreation go forward with it.

Butch Wingfield noted some cities have Belle Tire Arena, Honey Baked Arena or some other names for the arena. He thought that should be focused on for the ice arena.

David Staudt asked if there were restrictions for naming the ice arena.

Mr. Auler stated they were supportive of naming rights.

Mayor Csordas stated that would be top priority, bring that back to Council in three months.

Ms. Smith-Roy stated that the only issue with the naming rights of the ice arena was a legal issue with regard to the revenue bonds. It didnít look like the income that would generate that much money but must be reviewed first, because the bonds were nontaxable; that was the issue.

Member Capello stated that Ordinance Review could go hand-in-hand and look at this. He wasnít sure if the ordinance even applied to the signage for the dugouts and the fields being within the property; some signs might not even be able to be viewed from the street.

Ms. Smith-Roy stated that the dollar amount of income from that type of advertising was small enough that the City didnít have an issue; it was the same with the pro shop lease. She said it had to do with the dollar amount and the relationship to the total revenue that the arena brought in.

Member Capello asked if Suburban was contractually the exclusive marketer of the boards, or could the Parks and Recreation do that.

Ms. Smith-Roy answered that the City could sell it; they would appreciate the Cityís assistance because they had a slight decline in that area.

Mr. Staudt stated that maybe the Parkís Foundation could do that on behalf of the Parks and Recreation; that made it a nonprofit tax deductible.

Mayor Pro Tem Landry asked if anyone thought about painting under the ice. We could sell that too.

Mr. Staab reinforced the idea of staying within the amounts for the ice arena bonds.

Novi Parks Foundation Update

Ms. Enright noted Mr. Staab was the Chairman of the Foundation and the 501c3 had been received from the IRS.

Mr. Staab stated that David Staudt was the secretary and treasurer and had done a great job of steering the group. He said right now the Board was made up of Kathy Cosentino, Lou Martin, Bob Churella and David Paul, and the two members from the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission, David Staudt, and himself. He noted that some items the Board had dealt with presently: a conflict of interest policy had been adopted; the Board had solicited quotes for liability insurance; it established a separate committee with the resource development and strategic planning committee within the Foundation. It had come to the Foundation with donated fund policies which they had enacted; also, there were different brochures that they reviewed to get the word out to the community; that has all passed and gone to printing. He said they were looking at the various fundraising ideas.

Commissioner Staudt stated that the Foundation developed from the Community Recreation Plan that was approved last year. The Foundation was incorporated with the assistance of the City Attorneyís office, approved its by-laws, and the Board was put in place in early June. After the Board was in place, it began the process of applying for the 501c3 designation which went out sometime in late July. Approval from the Internal Revenue Service was received on September 24th as an exempt organization, meaning that all of its donations received were fully tax deductible. On December 1st, it received notice from the State of Michigan that a license to solicit had also been approved. He said it was now fully compliant with all regulations related to being a nonprofit charitable organization in the State of Michigan. The Resource Development Committee chaired by Kathy Cosentino, who was assisted by Bob Churella, Lou Martin and Dave Paul, met last night to talk about its first potential fundraising opportunities. Some of the things that came up were long-term projects, such as a permanent structure at Community Sport Park, but one of the things it earmarked as being very important at that meeting was to develop a program for children, families and seniors having financial difficulties to participate in Parks and Recreation programs, not only through fee structure reimbursement, but also things such as tennis shoes, tennis rackets, and the things that were necessary for people to participate in activities sports. The Foundation Board had been meeting regularly since April, and they hope to appear on public television and have an event in March or April to introduce the programs to the community.

Member Capello stated everything Council looked at tonight dealt with facilities; he asked what was going on with the programs for kids. The report showed an approval rate of 4.7 out of 5.0, he assumed by the parents who were using the programs for their children. He asked the City was doing anything to change or upgrade programs.

Mr. Auler answered that the City had made many service improvements with the programs: In the event area, there was an enhanced Ringing in the Holidays, and, Halloween, for example, was now an enchanted area; all done by Tracie Ringle. With our youth sports program led by Wendy Duvall, they had engaged the community through steering committees that were volunteers who helped with policy discussions and planning issues for the various youth sports programs. They had gone to adult officials to help with instruction and the balancing of the teams. They had also made an effort with improved communication. They started with the soccer program having an informational flyer when people registered at the counter to obtain information; they had a lot of positive feedback in those areas. With the adult sports program, similar things: they were conducting focus groups now with participants in the adult softball program and taking their input and utilizing that to implement that for improvements as well; the day camp program, led by Derek Smith; a full time concession stand manager led to more profitable stands.

He said they were looking at expanding its camp programs; the opportunity they were looking at would potentially be a road warrior program, focusing on teens ages 12-15, taking them out and doing adventure type programs to develop leadership skills.

At the Senior operation, led by Rachel Zagaroli, there were a lot of improvements; again, it came back to involving the citizens in the process, which had been well received. The Theater program, led by Linda Wickert, continued to expand He said across the board, they had made service improvements, and they were looking at on-line registration, as well. He said the feedback is that the customers appreciate all the improvements made. He said they always were open to more ideas and were looking to partner with more agencies; they had strengthened their partnerships with their various groups, the hockey association, the Novi Jaguars, the Michigan Mountain Bike Association, etc.

Member Capello asked how the City was doing with facilities, as far as fields and gym space.

Mr. Auler answered that the situation had improved; the school worked hard to open the gyms for us. The seasons were split with grades 1-3 in fall and winter and grades 4-6 play January through March; that had helped ease the pain while the school had been through the construction era. He thought that was going to continue to improve, once Catholic Central came on line; they wanted to discuss with them the opportunity to utilize their facilities, as well. In terms of athletic field space, that was a challenge, especially for practice space. He said they were spread out across the City; a lot of the teams got one practice a week. Some of the challenges: the quality of the practice facilities was still not at a high level; that was because they didnít have the ability to maintain it at a high level through staffing and through equipment needs. Practice space was probably what generated the biggest complaint.

Mr. Auler stated that it could be a great help to get the Bosco property for practice space.

Member Capello asked, in regard to their computers and this on-line registration, was that part of what Parks and Recreation asked Council for about six months ago with a new update computer program.

Mr. Auler answered in the budget last year, Parks and Recreation did submit that for consideration.

Member Capello asked if Council gave Parks and Recreation the money.

Mr. Auler answered no.

Member Capello stated that, as seen with the forfeiture money, one of the recommendations was to participate with the City and get a new software program for financing; he asked if Mr. Aulerís software for Parks and Recreation tied into that.

Ms. Smith-Roy answered that it would be the Cityís goal; that was one of the reasons they asked to put that particular software piece off so that the City could get a link so their software would be in communication with the Cityís.

Member Capello asked how much Parks and Recreation requested.

Mr. Auler answered that last year they asked for $25,000; this year they would need $29,000. He said to add onto that, which they would prefer to do, would add a facility scheduling component; right now Parks and Recreation did all the facility management and field management manually.

Member Capello asked if that would fit in.

Ms. Smith-Roy answered that it would be Administrationís goal.

Mayor Csordas stated that Council would ask for wrap-up by Chairman Enright.

Chairman Enright thanked Council for joining Parks, Rec and Forestry to share its one-year progress and review strategies for the upcoming years. She thought the Commission had accomplished quite a bit; this upcoming year they would like to complete some items. She said there were three new Commission members, Brian Burke, Regan Schwarzlose, and Butch Wingfield, and working as a group here, the Commission wanted to establish a great relationship, continue it and see further progress in the next year.

Mayor Csordas stated that the entire City appreciated all of the efforts and the time the Commission put into that; there was tremendous progress. He said the meeting was very important because Council had goal-setting at the end of January and was very valuable to all members of Council. Merry Christmas to all of you.

AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION -- None

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business to come before Council, Mayor Csordas adjourned the meeting at 8:01 p.m.

 

______________________________ _________________________

Lou Csordas, Mayor Maryanne Cornelius, City Clerk

 

______________________________

Transcribed by Sue Troutman

Date approved: December 20, 2004