|View Agenda for this meeting
PARKS, RECREATION AND FORESTRY
The meeting was called to order at 7:33 PM with Commissioner Paul presiding.
ROLL CALL: Commissioner Engebretson (Present), Enright (Present)
Kopeika (Present), Paul (Present), Place (Absent), Staab
(Tardy), Staudt (Present).
ALSO PRESENT: Randy Auler, Director of Parks, Recreation, and
Forestry and Jack Lewis Deputy Director of Parks, Recreation, and Forestry
APPROVAL OF AGENDA:
Agenda was approved as written, except Commissioner Paul requested that the Community Recreation Facility Use Update be moved to the first item on the agenda. (Kopeika, Staudt C - UN)
1. Novi Community Education – Mr. Lewis welcomed Mr. Steeh and thanked him for being so cooperative with the department during this difficult time. Mr. Lewis reported that Novi schools have allocated at least 44 hours of gym space Monday-Friday and enough Saturday gym time for games, for fall sports. The department will meet with the school district again the beginning of October for winter sports. We have also had Walled Lake schools cooperate with the department, they have offered four nights a week, 6-9 PM. We are also working with Northville Parks and Recreation, trying to acquire gym space. Northville schools have communicated that they only will allocate gym space if we have over 51% of Northville students participating.
Mr. Steeh said that the schools also appreciate the cooperation from the department. He said with all the construction Novi residents need to be flexible and patient. The winter gym space will be the most difficult.
Commissioner Staudt asked what that meant. Mr. Steeh explained all teams
(cheerleading, basketball, pom, volleyball, wrestling, etc) all need to be housed in the Middle School, Meadows or the high school Field House.
Commissioner Staudt asked Mr. Lewis if any recreation programs would be eliminated, due to this situation. Mr. Lewis said Adult Volleyball would have had to be moved to Sundays, the players were surveyed and did not want to play on Sunday. The department is still working on scheduling Adult Basketball, shifting the program to the Novi Middle School on Sunday afternoons.
Commissioner Enright asked how this would affect C.Y.O. basketball. Mr. Steeh said he was trying to accommodate them for fall, but he wasn’t sure if he will be able to accommodate them for the winter season.
Commissioner Kopeika asked about the situation with Northville schools, if it was even possible to guarantee the 51% Northville residents.
Commissioner Paul asked what the differences would be between last year’s youth basketball and volleyball programs and this year’s. Mr. Lewis said the only difference would be the sights. The challenge will be the court sizes in the elementary schools.
Director Auler said that we estimate we need 50-55 hours of gym time, Community Education came up with 44. The addition of Walled Lake schools will give us adequate practice time. In anticipation of that, we have split the seasons based on numbers. The fall season will be girl’s basketball grades 1-6 and boy’s basketball grades1-3. The winter season will be boy’s basketball grades 4-6 and volleyball.
2. Community Playground Proposal, Liz Lani – Director Auler advised that Ms. Lani approached the department regarding a vision that she has. They have met several times and he asked her to come and share her vision with the Commission.
Ms. Lani presented a proposal to create a community playscape for the City of Novi, in memory of her deceased mother.
Director Auler advised that he has brought in 4-5 different playground companies; he hopes that it will be similar to the magnitude of the Tim Pope Memorial Playground at Power Park. This would be a community built, community funded project.
Commissioner Staudt asked how Ms. Lani would begin the fund raising effort. She replied that she has several ideas, including a silent auction. He asked Director Auler if this project would be easier if we had a foundation already established. Director Auler said yes, and that he hopes this project jumpstarts the efforts. Commissioner Staudt asked Ms. Lani how long she envisions the fundraising effort to take. She replied that she hopes to have it done by May.
Commissioner Enright asked if Ms. Lani had visited other parks to get ideas on what she wants. Ms. Lani said she would like to see a similar set-up to Shiawasee Park in Farmington, having pickets and plaques for donators.
Commissioner Engebretson asked if she had any ideas of costs. Director Auler said that when they first started discussing it, they thought $350,000. He thinks if we could raise more, it could go further. Ms. Lani said she is hoping to raise the funds in one or two events; her friends have gotten some commitments from celebrities.
Commissioner Staab said that Ms. Lani’s passion would bring the project from conception to reality. He was one of the co-chairs for the Tim Pope Play structure when there was not a foundation, which he feels is pivotal to these projects. He advised her to look at the write-ups that the committee submitted to the department after construction. He offered to help or advise in any way possible.
Commissioner Kopieka advised not to underestimate how difficult the fund raising project will be and to focus on that end of the project first.
Commissioner Paul asked if she was looking to relocate the play structure in Power Park and build a larger structure that encompasses the volleyball courts. Director Auler said that when the existing play structure was installed, it was designed to be added to in the future. He also said he was excited about the project and hopes that many residents get involved.
Commissioner Staudt asked what the process is to get all city approvals and if City Council needs to approve this. Director Auler said that he envisions the project at "staff level".
Commissioner Staab advised to get Council involved, that support would mushroom.
1. Strategic Planning Committee – Director Auler wants to spend time on this item, as a follow-up to the joint meeting. A few suggestions that were made in the joint meeting discussion were incorporated into the plan.
One common theme was "citizen input". Focus group meetings, a mystery shopper program, and program evaluation forms are the ways that the department has acquired input in the past. Currently, questionnaires have been printed to obtain more input, although it is not a "statistically valid, random sample survey by any means". They are being distributed through the city newsletter and on the department counter, at the ice arena, library and Meadowbrook Commons. Additionally, the Planning Department did a statistically valid, random sample survey in partnership with Eastern Michigan University. The survey asked four or five questions that related to Parks, Recreation and Forestry, Director Auler "captured" that information, and he will be including the information as a revision to our public input process. The surveys have to be back in by September 25th and will be tabulated that evening, the draft will be ready by October 1st, and we’ll "be ready to roll and move forward then".
The other concern was "parkland acreage". Director Auler reported the City of Novi has 673 acres of parkland, 200 of which are utilized for active use and 473 for passive (a 70-30 percent ratio). Most quality parks departments are in the neighborhood of 60-40 ratio. He recommends an additional 100 acres of parkland to be used for active recreation purposes, which make a 69-31 percent ratio. This should meet the City of Novi’s needs at "build out". He stands by the recommendation.
"Geographic balance" was another concern. The approach was to divide the city into sectors; Director Auler believes that our parks are balanced throughout the community. When you add the 226 acres the schools have, that are outdoor, that has active recreational opportunities and serve as community parks, we meet the needs of the community. Neither the National Parks and Recreation Association or the State of Michigan, require that the city be divided into sectors and apply the standards to the sector population.
In terms of "environmental stewardship", Director Auler wrote in the memo that the City of Novi was one of the first communities in Oakland County to acknowledge the importance of preserving its’ natural features and maintaining woodlands, wetlands, and wildlife habitat. He believes with the 473 passive acres of parkland and the 106-acre Garfield Road Conservation site, that we are doing a good job. One of the areas that we could improve on is environmental programming; but we presently do not have the resources for that.
A question that came up in the meeting, was whether or not a requirement of the plan is to note the parkland lost in the Sandstone settlement. That is incorrect, he has contacted the State of Michigan D.N.R. grant division and it is only a requirement on grant applications, at which time they will look at the total picture.
A lot of the time was spent on "Funding". Director Auler feels that the million-dollar goal is achievable for the park foundation and that the $500,000 goal for grant funds is also achievable, over a five-year period.
Our goal of generating $110,000 in sponsorship money is also achievable, in his opinion.
A focus of the plan needs to be connectivity. Pathways and sidewalks need to be connected to each other and then to regional pathway systems. This helps with grants.
All facilities need to be A.D.A. compliant.
The RecWare software needs to be updated; online registration should be a major focus.
There was discussion regarding cultural programs and the need is there.
In closing, the next steps are:
To accomplish this time frame, Director Auler requested a special Commission meeting around the 15th or 16th of October.
Commissioner Kopieka clarified that the turn around time for the surveys was less than two weeks. He also asked about raising user fees, which was mentioned during the presentation to City Council. Director Auler said we would be raising the fees from 32% to 38%, going toward an activity based costing program. Commissioner Kopieka offered his opinion that potentially some programs might be cut and some people may drop out when this program is implemented.
Commissioner Staab thought it was interesting to note that the Sandstone situation would not inhibit grant money and agrees that a free-lance grant writer is the "best way to go". He asked if any properties would be exempt from the A.D.A. rules. Director Auler replied that he feels that we must go forward and bring all property into compliance.
Commissioner Engebretson asked about the Eastern Michigan University survey, Director Auler said that he would include the report in next month’s packet. When asked how he arrived at these questions, Director Auler replied that these were questions asked by one of the top Parks and Recreation firms in the country, in a previous position he held.
Commissioner Engebretson asked if we know where the additional 100 acres of parkland necessary will come from. Director Auler said he felt there were partnership opportunities available, but did not want to discuss them publicly. She also asked how far along we were in the sponsorship program. Director Auler replied that an intern worked on a sponsorship book this summer. He has turned the project over to a staff member to develop implementation strategies. He is looking at opportunities for sponsorship in the areas of brochure advertisement; youth team sponsorship, dasher boards at the rink, event sponsorships, and advertisements at the fields (depending on ordinances). He feels sponsorships should bring in about 10 percent of the operating budget.
Commissioner Enright asked if the surveys are being sent to all Novi residents or program participants. Director Auler reiterated that the survey is on a tear off page in the city newsletter, sent to all Novi residents. She said she feels that we may presenting too many changes at one time (program seasons, prices, etc.) and would like to see more communications to the public regarding what direction the department is heading.
Commissioner Staudt wanted to clarify the name of the plan, as it has been called several different names. He finds this confusing, feels this could easily be construed as different documents, and notes that he has several different documents wherein we call the plan by different names. Director Auler clarified that the name of the document is the Community Recreation Plan.
Commissioner Staudt noted that in the Detroit News Director Auler was quoted as saying that Parks and Recreation was ranked number two in a list of things that businesses look for in a community. Council member Lorenzo was quoted as saying that police, fire and roads were on the top of the list. He feels that there is a wide disparity in opinions. Director Auler said he was quoting a random survey of corporations from across the country and that the top two items they look at before relocating are quality of life and Parks and Recreation.
Commissioner Staudt said he feels that environmental education should be pursued more aggressively in the final plan. Director Auler said that the challenge is "where to divvy the resources", with only enough programmers for core services.
Commissioner Staudt feels that the challenges that have been created as a result of the Sandstone situation should be documented in the plan.
He feels that the foundation should not be referred to as a "Park Foundation", which leads people to believe that it is purely for parkland acquisition.
Commissioner Staudt feels that staff should allocate a portion of their week to looking for grant money in their particular area of expertise. He feels that freelance grant writers who are not familiar with a community are not as effective as staff working in partnership with a writer. He also feels that our list of types of grants to pursue is too broad, that we should prioritize the list (similar to how the action plan was prioritized), and narrow the list down to a handful of specific areas that we will have measurable results with.
Commissioner Staudt asked what the chances are of getting a new computer software program in the budget in the next two years would be, as he feels that the return would be tenfold. He thought the Mayor ProTem was "floored by the number in the report" and that maybe Council was never made aware of that number in the past.
Commissioner Staudt said that Council wanted to be shown the details. He commented that the financial reports in the plan are confusing and feels a summary of the details would be very helpful. He feels that some of the details are hard to pick out of the reports, that when Coucil Member Lorenzo asked for details – he would have liked to be able to pull out the information. Director Auler disagreed as he feels that it is outlined very well in the plan. Commissioner Staudt said he would point those items out in committee.
Commissioner Paul clarified that the input collected from this meeting will be discussed in committee and determined which changes actually will be made to the plan.
Commissioner Paul supports external grant writers and also supports the staff writing grants. He felt there was a lot of support from City Council for online registration and thought the priority should be raised. He feels that we should enhance the programs we currently offer and become "best in class" in those programs before pursuing new programs.
Commissioner Paul supports the October 9th community input forum. He was disappointed that in the joint meeting it was not discussed in which areas we are "best in class", of which he feels the senior program is.
Commissioner Paul feels that we need a better action plan for presenting the budget to City Council and other appropriation committees. He would like suggestions for doing a better job next year with the budget presentation.
Director Auler asked the commission to E-Mail when they would be available to hold the committee meeting and a special commission meeting.
2. Park Development Committee
a. Rotary Park Restroom Facility
Director Auler reported that the facility is almost complete; the contractor is currently working on the punch list, final inspection will follow, and we should have a Certificate of Occupancy next week.
b. Community Sports Park Ball Field Project
Director Auler reported that the bids came in between $92,000 and $170,000, a very wide range. The amount budgeted was $126,000. The low bidder was selected and all three alternates. The contract is currently being drawn out, we’re working on bonds and insurance, a pre-construction meeting is scheduled for the following Tuesday, "dirt should be moving soon", and the fields should be ready in two seasons.
3. Resource Development Committee
Commissioner Staudt said that the focus has definitely been the Community Recreation Plan. He feels that the focus should be brought back to resource development as soon as at all possible. He feels that the foundation should not be the only focal point of this committee.
Director Auler agreed that this committee could work on prioritizing grant and sponsorship/partnership opportunities.
Commissioner Staudt asked if there were "any issues" regarding the commission going out to the community and soliciting funds and if this had been cleared by the city attorney. He is uncomfortable, as he never knows where he stands, in this regard. Director Auler said that due to favorable Council reaction, he now needs to pursue rules and bylaws with administration and the city’s accounting firm. Commissioner Staudt said he is excited to move forward with this, beginning in November.
Director Auler noted the new format for staff monthly reports. He reported we would have a recommendation to City Council regarding the soft drink and vending contracts. He also noted that the final concert of the concert series (that was cancelled due to the blackout) is rescheduled to September 25th. He reminded the commission to have their photos taken, to update their contact information, and that officer elections will take place at the October meeting.
Commissioner Staudt asked what the procedure was for the Power Park needs analysis study (which will be presented in November). Director Auler reported that he is leading an in-house process, primarily regarding the softball complex.
Deputy Director Lewis
Deputy Director Lewis reported the Fuerst Farm Family Picnic is scheduled for Sunday and that September 20th is Fall for Novi.
Commissioner Staudt noted that Deputy Director Lewis mentioned Fire Station #4 in his report and asked what the department’s role with the building is. Deputy Director Lewis said he is working on a report to see if the department can utilize the building (either for storage or for emergency preparedness). He will report to Director Auler and the commission when the report is completed.
Commissioner Enright noted that Deputy Director Lewis mentioned reorganizing the Colt Football partnership. He said that it is out of concern for the condition of the outfield. He has asked for a meeting with them and he’s also contacted Northville Parks and Recreation, trying for a better balance for the turf.
Commissioner Staab clarified that Colts do pay a practice field fee.
Staff Monthly Reports:
1. Approval of July 17, 2003 regular meeting minutes:
Agenda was approved as written. (Staab, Kopeika C - UN)
2. Approval of Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission Organizational Rules and Order of Business: Commissioner Kopeika felt page 3, the section addressing "Debate and Decorum" was inflexible regarding how the commission addresses one another. He feels that if these are the rules for City Council, then they are also not adhering to the rules. He feels some discussion is warranted on items F and H.
Commissioner Engebretson feels that the subjects of ethics and conflicts of interest should be particularly discussed.
Commissioner Staab agreed that sections F and H need to be removed. Commissioner Staudt felt that section H was not a huge item but section F needs to be struck.
A motion was made to accept the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission Organizational Rules and Order of Business, as amended by elimination of section F. (Staudt, Enright C - UN)
1. City of Novi Emergency Preparedness Plan: Director Auler updated the commission on the Emergency Operations Plan. This plan was implemented for the August blackout period. The team learned that a lot of things were done well and a lot of things need to be improved upon. The department’s specific role is in the areas of health and human services. Shelters were up and operational within 3 hours and approximately 25,000 bottles of water were distributed, with people working around the clock. A report is due to City Council by September 22nd and is currently being drafted.
Commissioner Engebretson – None.
Commissioner Enright – None.
Commissioner Kopeika – Commissioner Kopeika commented on the positive feedback he has heard regarding the City of Novi’s handling of the power outage.
Commission Paul – Regarding emergency preparedness, Commissioner Paul feels that two things are very important. He feels that placing the automatic defibrillators in the parks is very important, but he also thinks that everyone should be aware of emergency procedures. He feels that the information should be at every location, with every sport participant and every parent receiving a packet outlining the emergency procedures.
Commissioner Staab – Commissioner Staab applauded the department regarding the handling of the power outage, noted that Derek Smith was running water to Meadowbrook Commons and things seemed to have gone very well there. Regarding the Community Recreation Plan, he said we have reached the first objective, which was presenting the plan to Council. Regarding the survey, he feels comments should be "taken with a grain of salt, we can’t be all things to all people".
Commissioner Staudt – Regarding the election of officers next month, he thanked the chairperson and vice-chairperson for being successful in taking the commission forward this year and he looks forward to continued leadership.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:45 pm.
Signed, David Paul, Chairperson
Signed, Charles Staab, Vice Chairperson