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PARKS, RECREATION AND FORESTRY
The meeting was called to order at 7:32 PM with Commissioner Paul presiding.
ROLL CALL: Commissioner Engebretson (Absent), Enright (Present)
Kopeika (Present), Paul (Present), Place (Present), Staab
(Present), Staudt (Present).
ALSO PRESENT: Randy Auler, Director of Parks, Recreation, and Forestry
Jack Lewis, Deputy Director of Parks, Recreation, and Forestry
Darcy Schmitt, Novi Plan Review Center
APPROVAL OF AGENDA:
Agenda was approved as written. (Staudt, Enright C - UN)
1. City of Novi Master Plan – Ms. Darcy Schmitt of the Novi Plan Review Center stated that for the last few months information has been collected from many different resources about existing conditions in Novi. A web page has been set up at www.novimasterplan.org that will allow anyone in the community to track the progress on the master plan. The 2000 census showed Novi at 47,300 and currently is probably around 50,000. This is a 43% increase from the previous census in 1990. The 2000 population by age group, which is a good indicator of housing needs. Ages 20 to 34 mostly rent or live with parents and go to school. Ages 35 to 64+ range are those who can afford to own homes. This correlates with existing housing conditions. 50% is single-family housing. 16% is condos. 23% is apartments. 11% is mobile homes. There is a slight reduction in persons per household and this is due to healthier lives and living longer. The 2000 census is saying that the median housing value is $236,300 and the median rent is $818. Approximately 36% of Novi acreage is still developable so this is a very critical time for the City of Novi to benefit the tax base as well as assure quality of life. Ordinance changes are being looked at to get more open space that would not be parkland but would have paths through them. They are also looking at public/private open spaces for practice fields or areas. As far as funding, the economic situation is not good right now so creativity is need with getting grants and coordinating is essential. There is opportunity to work with the surrounding communities like the joint venture to link up countywide trail system. As we
connect our sidewalks we can gradually focus on putting a plan together that will bring us out to the park and connect us to surrounding communities and the county trail system. We need to seek creative ideas for fund raising since there is not much federal and state funding for these kinds of ventures. Another Public Meeting will be held around the end of January. This meeting will collect all of the public input, data and existing conditions and analyze them and start to formulate goals and objectives. Then with the goals and objectives the next step will be to put together some implementation parts to the plan.
Commissioner Staudt asked how the Community Recreation Plan that they are working on currently influences the Master Plan.
Ms. Schmitt replied that there will be reference to the current Recreation Plan in the Master Plan.
Commission Enright asked what kind of information is tracked on the web site.
Ms. Schmitt stated that surveys are posted from the Public Meeting and are encouraging people to fill them out and send them in. Demographic information will be posted on the web page as well as upcoming meetings. As soon as components of the Master Plan are in draft form these will be posted as well.
Commissioner Enright asked if the Public Meeting on September 29th was well attended.
Ms. Schmitt said that there were about 25 people, but that they got a lot of valuable input.
Commissioner Paul asked would she or anyone in her department be interested in participating in one of Parks, Recreation and Forestry’s strategic planning committees and would there be opportunity for anyone from the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission or from the department to participate on a committee that would be overseeing the Master Plan development.
Ms. Schmitt replied yes to both questions and stated that the Master Plan and Zoning Committee are open to everyone and are posted in the atrium and in the Planning Department.
Commissioner Paul asked if there were some specific areas where they might ask private developers or companies to have open space for active or passive recreation.
Ms. Schmitt replied that they did not at this time because they were just starting to get in to that and case studies are being looked at for different methods of doing this. She also stated that when applying for grants, if they see that you have done something creative in the community they are more likely to fund you because you are working to get other funding and not just asking for state or federal money.
Commissioner Paul asked if it was correct that ultimately the Planning Commission is responsible for the Master Plan and submitting it to City Council. He also asked if there is a sub-committee that is responsible for working with the Planning Review Center to develop the Master Plan.
Ms. Schmitt stated that this is correct. City Council has the option to approve it. The Planning and Zoning Committee holds meetings at least once a month. The next meeting is, October 14th. They go through and discuss section by section and record recommendations. These recommendations are given to the Planning Commission as a whole in the development of the Master Plan. These are the meetings she would recommend. Gwen Markham is the chairperson for that committee.
2. Community Built Playground Proposal, Liz Lanni – Ms. Lanni presented a slide presentation. Ms. Lanni would like to initiate a fund raising effort to generate $350,000 in grants, cash donations and in-kind contributions toward a new playscape in Novi’s Ella Mae Power Park. The new playscape proposal will contain a picket fence to secure the playscape area, access for the disabled, sitting areas within the play area – such as hanging swing stands, landscaping surrounding the play area, a water fountain, and unique play equipment. Slides showed the park as it is now and then several slides of concept proposals.
Her fundraising efforts will consist of a silent auction. She needs to formalize a location and a date. Some of the donations she has received to date are; dinner for four with Chef Keith Famie, some landscape trees donated by Chapter Landscaping, a casual day donation that the law firm of a friend is doing, and some sports memorabilia. She needs to solicit additional donations. She would like to sell the playscape pickets. She has a professional grant writer who has offered to donate her time to help her write numerous grants which she has listed for the Commission. Some of the grants, like Kaboom, are grants specifically for a playground. Some other fundraising efforts would be community cash donations, local business sponsorships, community club sponsors, in-kind contributions, and volunteer support.
Ms. Lanni’s proposed time line was presented on a slide. She also is going to formalize a steering committee of which she already has some members currently, formalize her fundraising plan, and go before City Council and establish a tax-deductible donation fund.
Commissioner Kopeika asked if, from an approval standpoint, it goes to the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission or Novi City Council.
Director Auler stated that at the last Commission Meeting it was discussed about making City Council aware of the proposal, not necessarily if it would require City Council approval. Since then, Director Auler has received some feedback from some individual Council members who are interested in receiving more information and having it presented at a City Council meeting. He is not sure that it has been determined if Council would require a vote on this or if it is a Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission function.
Commissioner Kopeika asked if it would be the responsibility of the City of Novi to then maintain the playstructure.
Director Auler confirmed this
Commissioner Staab stated that according to the minutes of September 11th that it is wise to get City Council involved and that support would increase. He remembers that for the Tim Pope Memorial Playstructrue the Commission did not get obtain City Council approval but made them aware of the project. His other concern is in getting the not for profit for the fundraising.
Director Auler stated that we have a fund within the City account that is specifically for donations and contributions that citizens or corporations can make and earmark money for a particular project. Those donors are eligible for the maximum tax benefit allowable by law.
Commissioner Staudt asked Director Auler if the fiduciary responsibility for the funds fall to the City of Novi and not to an independent organization.
Director Auler confirmed this.
Commissioner Staudt then asked how money for incidental things, like stamps, is extracted from the account.
Commissioner Staab stated that receipts were presented for those items and the money was then reimbursed.
Commissioner Staudt asked if the actual playstructures were bid through the City or do the volunteers handle that.
Director Auler stated that there are several options. The intent is to look for a request for proposals from firms and then go through a competitive process in terms of design.
Commission Staudt asked if those funds would then be released by City Council.
Director Auler stated that it would go to City Council for approval out of that fund and those funds could only be expended for that purpose.
Commissioner Staudt stated that City Council would then need to be involved from a knowledge standpoint and be fully aware of what they are purchasing. He asked if this is the way Commissioner Staab remembered it being done for the Tim Pope Memorial Playstructure.
Commissioner Staab stated that he brought the proposal before the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission. The Commission approved the proposal.
The concept was presented to City Council and they agreed to it. Updates were given to City Council during the process. It was totally volunteer. The bulk of it was donations via hours or in-kind. They had great arrangements with lumberyards, tool suppliers, etc. The labor was all donated. The Director at the time contacted DTE and they did all of the posthole drilling and also connected temporary electricity. It was a total community effort based on volunteer labor and cost. The design was not approved by the City of Novi; it was approved on the basis that it would conform to zoning ordinances and regulations. In retrospect it should have been approved better from an ADA aspect. The timeframe ran from November or December of 1995 and the design date was December of 1996. At that time letters went out to all of the elementary schools and they got ideas from all of the children and those ideas were incorporated. The design was presented and the community was invited to participate to get support. The building was starting on Father’s Day weekend in June of 1997. It was like an old time barn raising and was put together in one weekend.
Commissioner Enright asked Director Auler since we put up a playstructure that cost $80,000 this spring, is this to be in an addition to this or incorporate it.
Director Auler stated that the playstructure in Ella Mae Power Park cost about $40,000 to $50,000 and was designed so it could be added on to in the future and the design would incorporate that.
Commissioner Enright stated that in the presentation a sand volleyball court is shown. She then asked if that would be eliminated or moved to another location.
Director Auler stated that at this point they would probably be eliminated because there does not seem to be a high interest from any information gathered. There are sand volleyball courts available at Lakeshore Park.
Commissioner Staab stated that the picket sale is an excellent idea from a fundraising standpoint.
Commissioner Paul encouraged everyone to see the video on the building the Tim Pope Memorial Playstructure because it demonstrates the community support that was involved. He also feels that it is very important that the City Council is informed but his recommendation is that the approval is done through this Commission and through the Park Development Committee that would work with Ms. Lanni’s organization and make sure that it is ADA and zoning compliant. He would look for a noncompetitive bid selection heavily involving Ms. Lanni and her organization in the selection process. He does not feel that a competitive bid selection would be appropriate in this case. He wished Ms. Lanni luck and expressed his appreciation for her support and for coming in.
1. Park Development Committee
2. Strategic Planning Committee
3. Resource Development Committee
1. Director Auler
Director Auler stated that he hoped to have a draft of the needs assessment study for the Ella Mae Power Park complex at the November Commission meeting. All of the benchmark analysis information is in. He also hopes to have the Meadowbrook Commons staffing needs assessment in draft form.
The November agenda could be very lengthy and may be a long meeting.
The youth basketball registration is complete. There are approximately 650 youth registered for the program. The season has been split this year due to gym space. The fall season will start in a couple of weeks. The girls grade one through six and boys grade one through three will play in the fall. We will be working with a couple of different associations including one that Director Auler is affiliated with who will help with having some adult officials at some of the key games or older games in the larger gyms. If we can get the right adult officials we can team them up with one youth and have a training program for the youth and start developing them as we go along.
The Pumpkinpalooza event is October 18th. There are fun things to do including the second annual Pumpkin Launch. There was an excellent article in today’s Novi News about the event and activities. There has been a good response to the Pumpkin Launch this year. We have had to ask one participant to scale down their launch device. They have estimated that they can launch their pumpkin 500 yards. We have space to launch one 300 yards. We hope next year to be able to have to launch at another park site.
Director Auler invited everyone to come out to the event.
Commissioner Staudt stated that he would like to see the Park Development Committee retained because of the ongoing activity in park development and would like to stay on top of all of it. He feels that the playground deserves the attention of a full committee, as well as the acquisition of additional land and Commissioner Staudt’s interest in the conversion of the Walled Lake Casino site to parkland. He feels that is a critical job for this Commission to accomplish and feels this would be done more appropriately under a Park Development Committee.
Commissioner Place asked if the dugouts at Community Sports Park would be constructed by volunteers as was suggested at one time.
Director Auler stated that the dugouts are currently part of the project and are being funded out of the project budget, but if volunteers are interested in doing that we certainly would welcome them but after and initial call we have heard no more.
Commissioner Staudt asked if we had approval for grant writers to do an RSQ or something related.
Director Auler replied that on the City Council agenda this past week there was approved to solicit grant writers through a competitive request for proposal process that would write grants on an "as needed" basis for the department and all other City departments. We are preparing the request for qualification and proposals and will be sending those out.
2. Deputy Director
Deputy Director Lewis thanked the clerical staff for getting everyone registered in the basketball program. There was a meeting a couple of weeks ago at the Novi Ice Arena and there will be a Chilly Willy Winter Festival this year. We hope at the Ice Arena we will be able to provide a few more activities. The date for Chilly Willy Winter Festival will be February 28th, a Saturday afternoon.
Commissioner Staab asked what the date is for "Ringing in the Holidays" Deputy Director Lewis replied that the date is Thursday, December 4th. Commissioner Staab then asked why Chilly Willy was being moved to February 28th when historically it has been held in January. Deputy Director Lewis replied that we had to coordinate with some of the Events that were going on at the Ice Arena and we had some other activities in January that conflicted.
Commissioner Place asked if Chilly Willy was during the school system’s winter break.
Deputy Director Lewis replied that it was not, nor did it conflict with the Daddy/Daughter or Mother/Son dances.
Commissioner Paul asked if the 645 youth registered for basketball had grown from last year.
Deputy Director Lewis replied that he thought the numbers were around 730 but we have not signed up all of the travel teams. So it will be about the same.
Community Recreation Plan
Mr. Bob Shaw of 40612 Village Oaks stated that comments that he made before City Council still stand and are in the minutes of the meeting. Mr. Shaw stated that there is no way that what is in the plan for the Chilly Willy Festival has a chance of surviving. You are asking for a million dollars a year for the next several years. The survey said that 64% would provide money but looking at it another way, 60% said that they would give $24 or less a year towards Parks and Recreation funding and that is per household. Mr. Shaw expressed his concern about developing athletic fields further by taking what he feels are adequate fields and making them luxurious fields and believes there are no organizations who would fund this. He does believe that there are organizations that will and have given money for conservation purposes. There are also developers who are interested in giving land to the city for conservation purposes. He feels there needs to be some interest in conservation land, natural areas and passive park land. There is a developer who is talking about 60 acres of parkland in the southwestern core reserve. He feels the plan needs to enable and encourage this and he does not see this. He feels the plan is neglecting Novi Park, Recreation and Forestry’s obligation to stewardship for the natural environment. At the candidates’ debate there were several people encouraging that the 13 acres at Lakeshore Park be turned in to park and is not in the plan yet. He does realize there is a need for more athletic fields but there is also a need for passive parkland to be acquired and developed. He commented that there is nothing in the plan about the arts. Eastern Michigan University did a study for Parks, Recreation and Forestry that has not been brought forward and has a lot of information. He feels cities used as comparisons are not representative of our city.
Ms. Luanne Kozma of 23837 W. LeBost stated that comments she made at previous meetings also still stand regarding disclosure of the lost parkland that needs to be in the plan and not wait until a grant application. Ms. Kozma wanted to discuss the term "passive" parkland. She encouraged the Commission to increase the number of acres for passive parkland to possibly 200 acres or more. The current day definition for passive recreation is non-organized activities, including but not limited to walking, bike riding, picnicking, hiking, sun tanning, bird watching, and kite flying. This is actual definition that a community came up with for their passive recreation. Other definitions consider the impact the activity has on the land or water resources. Others use a facilities test by determining how much effort it will take on the part of the Parks and Recreation department to provide facilities. She stated that this community recreation plan simply equates passive parkland with land in an undeveloped or nearly undeveloped state and natural areas. It isn’t based on what passive recreational activities are taking place in them. Even if an activity is considered passive it does not mean that facilities aren’t needed. An example is picnicking. It is passive but requires a lot of facilities in some instances or parks. Passive recreation can get in the way of natural areas because many impact the environment. Acquisition of passive parkland is going to take as much consideration as active parkland.
Mr. Andrew Mutch of 24740 Taft Road stated that previous concerns which he has stated before still stand. Mr. Mutch would like to see modified the language in the plan that restricts parkland acquisition to active parkland. He feels we should not miss opportunities to acquire passive parkland. Singh Development has proposed donating between 50 to 65 acres of passive parkland to the city but the language of the plan would preclude acquiring that land. He was surprised that the plan did not include any reference to the lakefront casino property. He agrees with Commissioner Staudt’s comments about this property. He has concerns about geographic distribution of the parks. South of Grand River and east of Novi Road is almost 40% of the City’s population and only 9% of the parkland, which would be Rotary Park and Brookfarm Park. The facilities at these parks are very limited. Brookfarm Park has no facilities and at this time, as far as he knows, no plans for any. Rotary Park has some tennis courts, a picnic shelter and trails. Brookfarm is not accessible to a person who is handicapped or in a wheelchair. Rotary Park does have some accessible paths but does not a path that connects to the nearest subdivision, River Bridge, and no plans to accommodate that. There is reference to the schools in the area providing some facilities. There are some playgrounds at Village Oaks and Orchard Hills. If you live north of Ten Mile Road there are no sidewalks that go to a park or bike paths that go to those schools. Despite his concerns, he would like to see a plan approved and application made for a grant with the State in the upcoming grant cycle.
1. Approval of July 17, 2003 regular meeting minutes:
2. Election of officers
A motion was made to elect Commission Paul as Chairperson and Commissioner Staab as Vice-Chairperson by acclamation. (Staudt, Place C-UN)
3. Organization of Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission Committees Commissioner Paul stated that he feels instead of changing the Park Development Committee to the Recreation Services Committee, as suggested by Director Auler, there is still a need for the Park Development Committee to insure the initial success with Community Sports Park and to make sure the park is completed as a whole and also to look at other opportunities in acquiring additional parkland and to determine its use. He also sees the value of the Recreation Services Committee from the standpoint that we have the ability to provide some coaching development and provide influence and ideas for the actual recreation plan. There is a possibility for four committees or it could be restricted to three. We could rely on the volunteers that we have in some of the youth sports activities to increase their involvement on what type of recreation services they would want by having a person from each youth sport committee get together to discuss and recommend. Commission Staudt would like to recommend that a formal chairperson for each committee be appointed because that would be an appropriate way to report back to the Commission on a monthly basis. He feels the Chairperson would be in a position to make those appointments under the rules. He feels that the Recreation Services Committee is an interesting recommendation and he feels it could be done by using a liaison of one or two Commissioners to represent their views in dealing with some of the staff issues that would be brought up by the Recreation Services Committee. He supports having the four committees. Commissioner Kopeika feels that it might be a lot to ask Commissioners to be on two Committees. Commissioner Paul asked if everyone was in agreement to keep the three Committees, Strategic Planning Committee, Park Development Committee and Resource Development Committee as the top three priorities. Commissioner Enright asked if the Park Development Committee could be within the Recreation Services Committee. Commissioner Paul asked Director Auler if that were a possibility. Director Auler replied that he sees the Recreation Services Committee more as a policy, direction, planning and assisting role. There have been times when Commission has had comments regarding programs and services and there is no committee established so that takes place at a Commission level. There are changes that may need to occur with some of the programs like the upcoming state level change in soccer, which will affect our program. The teams will be smaller which means we will need more fields, coaches, volunteers and practice space, etc. Policies and decisions about partnership agreements also need to be considered and reviewed for any issues there might be. This Committee will help determine how the Commission wishes to handle these issues. Commissioner Paul likes Commission Enright’s suggestion. He likes bringing things like the Partnership Agreements to the whole Commission so everyone has an opportunity to review them. He feel that the Park Development Committee could be the Park Development and Services Committee and then look for some additional involvement from the youth sports committees. The youth sports committee representatives could then meet with the Park Development and Services Committee or even the Commission. Director Auler stated that it is more than the youth sports groups and there are not committees for some of the groups such as adult softball and seniors. The Park Development Committee will be dealing potentially with the Playground project, land donations, casino property and other things, that committee is going to be busy. It goes back to Commissioner Kopeika’s observation of being stretched.
Commissioner Kopeika thinks they should be sensitive if they start looking at recreation services from a committee standpoint you start adding more input to day-to-day operations and there is already staff for that. Commissioner Paul added that he would recommend keeping with the three committees that already exist and continue providing input individually relative to any of the recreation services as needed. The Commission is a voice of the community and the three members of a committee are not going to be the only ones providing input, but the entire Commission at different points in time. He suggests that the three existing committees be kept and be re-evaluated next year.
Commissioner Staudt stated that, after chairpersons for each committee are named, he would like to see the role of each committee clarified.
a .Strategic Planning Committee
This committee consists of Commissioner Staab, Commissioner Kopeika and Commissioner Staudt. Commissioner Staab and Commissioner Kopeika have expressed an interest in continuing on this committee. Commissioner Paul asked Commissioner Place if she would be interested in joining this committee. Commissioner Place stated that she would join this committee. Commissioner Kopeika was named Chairperson.
b. Park Development Committee
This committee consists of Commissioner Paul, Commissioner Place and Commissioner Enright. All three Commissioners have expressed an interest in continuing on this committee. Commissioner Enright was named Chairperson.
c. Resource Development Committee
This committee consists of Commissioner Staab and Commissioner Staudt. They have both expressed an interest in continuing on this committee. Commissioner Kerbrat had originally been on this committee. Commissioner Staudt feels that Commissioner Engebretson an excellent addition to this committee with her background. Commissioner Staudt was named Chairperson.
Commissioner Enright - None
Commissioner Kopeika stated that he believed that the grant writer would
fall under the Resource Development Committee. He would like more specific information. Director Auler stated that once the Community Recreation Plan has been approved by City Council, hopefully on the 20th of October, it will be submitted to the State. The State has indicated that it will take a week to two weeks for their approval after which we will be eligible for State and Federal grant money. Several grant opportunities have been identified in our plan. We should be able to start applying for grants in January or February.
Commissioner Kopeika asked if a parallel path could be pursued, anticipating approval, that we could start talking to some companies right now about what they might cost on a fee basis to start writing grants and get a target on the grants we want to apply for so when the plan is approved we can sent the application.
Director Auler stated that he has a targeted list and will include it in the next packet. That is what our request for proposal is for so we can review the qualifications and make a recommendation to City Council so we can have a grant writer on board. Once we have approval from the State we are eligible and will be submitting.
Commissioner Paul stated that putting the casino land in to the Recreation Plan should be one of our goals. The language about acquiring parkland should be reviewed to see if it is too restrictive.
Commissioner Staab stated that he would like to see the Commission take a leadership position on the lakefront casino property because it has been talked about for years. We would like to see it converted to parkland and included in our plan. The southeast quadrant is where he is from and they have no parkland. He does not know where there would be availability of parkland. It would be nice to include some land availability in that area.
Commissioner Staudt encouraged the other Commissioners to get their pictures taken. He then asked Director Auler when the pictures would be displayed. Director Auler stated that they would go up as soon as they are received from the photographer and the Community Relations office. Commissioner Staudt then stated, that since that since the Commission is stable and set, he is assuming that the new letterhead will be ordered after the upcoming elections. Commissioner Staudt then thanked Deputy Director Lewis and Derek Smith for going with the yellow softballs. They were a great improvement. Commissioner Staudt would like to request that the new Strategic Planning Committee allow him to participate in that group until this plan is approved for continuity purposes. At approval he would step down. Commissioner Place assured him they would be happy to have his participation.
The motion was made to adjourn (Place, Kopeika C-UN)
The meeting was adjourned at 9:22 pm.
Signed, David Paul, Chairperson
Signed, Charles Staab, Vice Chairperson