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PARKS, RECREATION AND FORESTRY
The meeting was called to order with Commissioner Staab presiding.
ROLL CALL: Commissioner Engebretson (Present), Enright (Absent)
Kopeika (Absent), Paul (Absent), Place (Present), Staab
(Present), Staudt (Present).
ALSO PRESENT: Randy Auler, Director of Parks, Recreation, and
Jack Lewis, Deputy Director of Parks, Recreation, and Forestry
APPROVAL OF AGENDA:
The motion was to move item #4: Approval of recommendation to City Council for Soft Drink Vending Services Contract from Action item to Discussion item. It was unanimously passed.
1. Park Development Committee
a. Community Sports Park Ballfield improvements: Commissioner Place stated that a meeting was held on Monday to discuss the status of the ballfield improvements. The infield has been skinned, the irrigation is in, drainage should be done this week, and professional surveyors staked the field to be sure that the baseline, pitching line, foul poles, etc., are in the right place. The fence has been ordered and due to the late start date, the grass will not be put in until the spring. The outfield will be seeded, aerified, and fertilized. Weather permitting, the dugouts will be worked on, otherwise that part of the project will have to wait until the spring.
Commissioner Engebretson questioned the timetable and whether things were progressing accordingly. Deputy Director Lewis assured her that everything is on schedule.
2. Strategic Planning Committee
a. Commissioner Staab reported that the committee met a week earlier discussing the plan that has been submitted to the State of Michigan for approval, and what roles will be played. Ground rules will be determined later. Commissioner Place reiterated that next week a direction will be determined and some great strides have been made already.
3. Resource Development Committee
a.Commissioner Staab reported that in the future he hoped to start looking for potential candidates for a foundation board, and he’d been cutting out articles in the local paper of people who seem to be active in the community. He’s also asked the other commissioners to review the different park foundations in the packet. Some are more applicable than others, but it would be a great starting point for the commission. It’s critical that there be some discretionary funds through a foundation to fill in the cracks where revenue is being lost with programs.
b. Director Auler was asked to comment on his recent attendance at the NRPA annual conference. He stated the current trend across the country involving citizen board members, city administrators, parks and rec directors, etc., is to become self-sufficient. One key mechanism other cities are using is the park foundation. He referred to the packet and the Oglebay Park in the Wheland Park District in West Virginia as an example of a self-sustaining park system, which is also giving money back to their city. Other sessions at the conference dealt with garnering sponsorships, partnerships, alliances that can be created, activity-based costing (many departments have completely gone toward activity-based costing). He stated that the committee’s strategy is to work with attorneys in establishing the foundation. A draft of bylaws is being prepared and at the next meeting, the goal is to put together a timeline of each process and move forward. It will be a two or three-pronged approach, establishing a committee that will set up a potential board of directors, working concurrently with a group working on articles and bylaws, and a group working on fund raising strategies. Commissioner Place reiterated that she has been to Oglebay Park in West Virginia and that it is a beautiful park. Commissioner Staab wondered if there was a way to do a comparison and contrast, but realized that would be unrealistic. Commissioner Staudt asked about the forming of committees and wondered if that would be commissioners or outside parties. Commissioner Auler said that he wanted to discuss that part of the plan with the commission and see what would better suit our city.
1. Deputy Director Lewis
Deputy Director Lewis referred to his report and opened the floor for any questions. Commissioner Staab asked when the Ringing in the Holidays event was taking place. Deputy Director Lewis stated that it was on December 4th from 6 to 9p.m. and that Tracie Ringle would like to have Commissioner assistance for the event and will be in contact.
2. Director Auler
Director Auler highlighted a couple items from his report. He stated the Ice Arena is currently without power due to the high winds. All programs have been cancelled until further notice. An outline of the Capital Improvement Budget and process is in the packet. Staff are preparing the C.I.P. Budget now and soon will begin sharing the information via email and/or through the committee process. Budget needs to be submitted by December 5th to the Finance Department. At the December 11th meeting the budget will be submitted for Commission consideration and recommendation to move forward. Any revisions will be made and resubmitted on the 12th. Director Auler stated that also included in the packet is the city’s outline for the Capital Improvement Budget process and in January the meetings will begin with the Planning Commission and the Capital Improvement Committee. The commission is welcome to attend and support. Eventually the City Manager will make a recommendation to City Council, and the Council is the deciding body. This is tentatively scheduled to take place in March or April at the joint meetings. He stated that the plan is a five-year plan, identifying equipment needs, vehicular replacement, etc. Capital Improvement items are any item that is $25,000 or greater. Commissioner Staab asked to clarify the date of Kathy Crawford’s retirement- March 14th 2004, not March 14th 2003 as was stated in the report. Director Auler reported that Kathy Crawford’s retirement will be effective as of March 15th 2004, which he reluctantly accepted. He praised Kathy’s 20 years of service to the city and noted that she will be difficult to replace. He is putting together the position announcement and evaluating critical functions for a candidate profile. The idea is to have someone hired and on staff to work with Kathy approximately one month before her final day. Commissioner Staab questioned as to the whereabouts of the studty that was supposed to be included with the "Review of Firestation #4". Director Auler stated that the decision was made to pull the study, but that it would be included in a future packet. Commissioner Staab requested an update as to what the issues are relating to that, especially the Firestation #4. Deputy Director Lewis answered that the City Assessor did a survey and gave a report on the value of the station. Originally it had been talked about being used for the Forestry Division – moving the Forestry Tech over to that site. Unfortunately the Boom Truck would not fit into the garage. Other staffing issues arose, and the decision was made that it would not be a good use for the facility. The next step was to see if it could be used as a storage facility, as storage at the Civic Center has been filled. That report has not been completed, but it will be updated and included in the next meeting. Director Auler added that this item was identified as a policy issue by City Council during the budget process for ‘03/’04 budget. Commissioner Staab, referring to the Community Recreation Plan, wanted to know when to expect a response from the State of Michigan, and what kind of a response is generally expected. Director Auler stated that he spoke with the State and generally the turn around time is 4-5 days, but due to a heavy workload, it could take a couple weeks. They indicated that a ‘yes’ response will be communicated through mail, and if they require more information, they will contact us. They did call requesting a copy be sent to the County Planning Agency, and that request was fulfilled. Commissioner Engebretson, referring to the Capital Improvement Program, asked if it was an annual process contingent upon the approval by the State of our Community Recreation Plan? Dir. Auler affirmed that it was an annual process, and the Capital Improvent Plan is City Council’s ultimate decision as far as what projects are funded and at what level. Commissioner Engebretson clarified that the State wouldn’t be looking at funds, but looking at overall content, and Director Auler agreed, adding that the State would enter in if a grant application was submitted, they would look at our Five Year Plan and our Capital Improvement Plan to see if the request was planned, or a new item and they grade it based on need. Commissioner Engebretson stated that her recollection of the Community Recreation Plan is that a learning curve exists as far as the grants and the Park Foundation are concerned. She surmised that it possibly wouldn’t be until 2004-2005 that we would start seeing those funds, and wondered on the amount being submitted to City Council. Dir. Auler stated that the total was yet to be determined, but guesstimated that $125,000 has been identified for A.D.A., $200,000 for Emerald Ash Borer, hazardous tree removal, money for ballfield improvements at Power Park Softball Complex, Community Sports park, etc. Commissioner Staab wondered, in regards to Firestation #4, if a charge would be made to the Parks, Recreation and Forestry budget if the department were to make use of the facility. Deputy Dir. Lewis affirmed this, and stated that it was estimated to cost $2,000 per year, a $2,000 per year savings from what is currently being spent on storage space. Commissioner Staudt had a question on Matt Wiktorowski’s report, regarding the A.D.A. Maintenance Schedule. There were quite a number of issues dated 2003 Summer and back that were not completed, or had a ‘no actions stated’ remark. He wondered if those items should be reallocated to a future date, do they go into limbo, etc.? Dir. Auler assured that just because they were not completed in that time frame, does not mean they won’t be completed. It’s a matter of reprioritizing those items. The focus had been on the ‘green rated items’, or those that could be handled within the department. The ‘red rated items’ and ‘blue rated items’ are those that will require additional funds. Commissioner Staudt recommended that these items should be reviewed by the Strategic Planning Committee and that this document should be updated by them on a periodic basis.
1. Approval of October 9th, 2003 regular meeting minutes and October 16th special meeting minutes: Approved as written. (Staudt, Engebretson C – UN)
2. Approval of 2004 Shelter Reservation Price: Deputy Director Lewis went over the packet with the marked increases in shelter reservation prices at Community Sports Park, Lakeshore Park, Rotary Park and Wildlife Woods. The moderate increase was based on cost of maintenance and labor and in keeping with current rates. A survey was completed 2-3 years ago from various counties, and our rates are in line or below the rates of comparable communities. Commissioner Place asked if January would still be the month for residents to place reservations. Deputy Director Lewis responded that Tuesday, January 13th through mid-April is the time period for reservations for residents. Non-residents can begin reserving after this time frame. Commissioner Engebretson asked how much the facilities are used. Deputy Director answered that at Lakeshore Park, for example, the shelters and tents are rented 90% of the time from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Community Sports Park was rented 50% of the time in its opening season of facility reservations. Rotary Park was not rented due to the damage done earlier in the season, and there weren’t any reservations made at Wildlife Woods. Motion to approve new park facility reservation rates for 2004 was approved. (Place, Staab, C - UN)
3. Approval of 2004 Lakeshore Park Beach Season Dates: Deputy Director Lewis noted that in the past few years there has existed a serious lifeguard shortage. The city of Lansing did away with lifeguards as did many of the counties on the west side of the state. The problem lies in recruiting, training and maintaining them (due to the shorter summer break for college students). In past years staff have had to fill in as lifeguard. The department is recommending that the beach be open from Labor Day until August 15th. (The last Sunday in August before school starts.) Novi Schools and colleges go back to school about the same time. Commissioner Staudt had an issue with making a reduction in services without notifying the public. Also a reduction in service means a reduction in revenue and cost. He understands the issues at hand but would like to see it handled at the next meeting once public awareness and notification have been made. Commissioner Engebretson wondered about the date for Novi Schools starting back. She seemed to think it was off by a week. Deputy Director Lewis assured her that it was the correct date. Commissioner Engebretson wondered, that since our summers are so short, if it would be possible to leave the beach open those last two weeks unstaffed without lifeguards. Deputy Director Lewis said that the possibility had been looked at in the past, but that no, it was not feasible at this time. If the beach is going to be open, two lifeguards must be on duty. Commissioner Place agreed with the previous speakers and wondered if the lifeguards weren’t staying due to a low pay wage. Deputy Director Lewis disagreed, saying that it was not the money, it was just a timing discrepancy with returning to school. Commissioner Place asked if it would be in the spring brochure, and Deputy Director Lewis affirmed this. He also stated that many of our residents who use the facility are aware of the lifeguard shortage problem. He also mentioned that this past summer toward the end of the season, private homeowners associations were calling to see if we had lifeguards to staff their pools. Commissioner Place asked about recruiting at the high school or the Red Cross. Deputy Director Lewis affirmed that the Red Cross is contacted every year to recruit, as well as Community Education, but the numbers have been steadily declining. Deputy Director Lewis summed up that he is looking at the two weeks at the end of the summer, where the heaviest burden is being placed on the department, and looking to alleviate that. Commissioner Place wondered if advertisements could be placed in the Novi News to recruit lifeguards, starting now. Deputy Director Lewis said that recruiting begins in January with Derek Smith and they’ve been very aggressive and will continue to do so. Commissioner Staab reviewed the proposal again and stated that he’d like to see the beach open at least on weekends, if not during the week for those last two weeks in the season. Commissioner Staudt wondered if waiting until the next meeting to decide on this issue would create any hardships and Director Auler stated that the only issue would be that it might not be in the spring brochure due to the timeframe. But he stated that there are other means of getting the message out. Commissioner Stuadt reiterated that he’d like the totality of the recommendation to be considered and perhaps suggest alternatives (e.g. only closing during the week). Commissioner Place suggested putting the advertisement and need for lifeguards onto the website. Motion to table for the next meeting. (Staudt, Engebretson C – UN)
1. 2004 Walled Lake Small Boat Launch Access Service: Deputy Director Lewis stated that this program was started 10 years ago. Any resident living on Walled Lake would have their boats removed by the city. At the beach there exists an asphalt ramp that goes down to the water – mainly for maintenance purposes, hauling sand, etc. – but it had been used also as a boat launch. For the first few years of the program, 8-10 residents utilized the service (2 Saturdays in the spring were offered to launch the boat, and 2 Saturdays in the fall for removal). A few years ago some problems arose with water levels, vehicles getting stuck, etc. A condition was then made that only residents who had four-wheel drive would be able to participate. Last year, due to the low water level, no boats were removed. Residents had to drive their vehicle 50-60 feet into the water to retrieve their boat. DNR has some restrictions, as well, and nothing can be physically altered with the beach to improve boat launch conditions. It was cancelled last year. This year, similar problems arose. Due to the conditions and the low number of residents who require the service, the recommendation is being made to discontinue the Walled Lake Small Boat Launch Access Service for 2004. Commissioner Place asked about there being a gate. Deputy Director affirmed this and added that safety was also an issue with vehicles trying to back in off of South Lake Drive with oncoming traffic. Commissioner Engebretson asked for clarification on the times of the launch/removal. Deputy Director Lewis explained that the resident would call and make an appointment on that particular Saturday between 9am and noon. There was a $10 launch fee and a $10 removal fee. The cost of having staff to run the program outweighs the revenue generated from the program. Director Auler added that he received a phone call that potentially the service drive on South Lake Drive will be removed as a part of the renovation. More information will be available at the next meeting. Commissioner Staudt commented that public notification is an essential issue in our community right now and fears accusation caused by not communicating with an individual who is affected by this. He wondered what is the most effective and economical way to notify residents. He personally preferred a letter sent out, rather than a phone call. Deputy Director Lewis agreed and added that he had been working with the Homeowners Association and they would notify their residents. Commissioner Staudt asked if the Homeowners Association had been notified of this recommendation and Deputy Lewis stated that he has been in contact with the Association and it’s residents and they are aware of the situation. Commissioner Staab echoed what Commissioner Staudt had previously stated, requesting a letter sent out to residents as a means of notification. He added that it didn’t seem to be a large enough issue to put on for Public Hearing, but wanted to make sure the residents had an opportunity to come to a meeting.
2. Soft Drink Vending Contract: Director Auler stated that the Soft Drink Vending Contract information in the packet would be submitted to council for approval at the December meeting. When he arrived in Novi, the soft drink contract in place was a five-year contract, with a five-year renewal option. The contract stated that our department would provide their product exclusively and they in turn provided four score boards that were installed at the Power Park Softball Complex. The scoreboards valued out at a total of $20,000. The first five-year period was up and at that time, the company was notified that we were not going to renew the contract into the next five years. Tom Anastos, Manager of Novi Ice Arena, and Director Auler began meeting with vending companies to see what they could bring to the table in terms of service, product and revenue opportunities. Two proposals were garnered: a five-year proposal and a seven-year proposal. In looking at the proposals, the focus was on service, quality and diversification of product, a share in the marketplace, revenue to the city and the park department. The overview of those proposals, as well as the dollar amount and what they can offer in terms of resources, is in the packet. The figure in bold, is the guaranteed amount. One of the vendors offered an ‘incentive package’ that was calculated into the guaranteed value. The department currently sells about 2,200-2,300 cases of product per year. If 3,000 cases were sold, an additional $2500 would be generated. One focus was determining how to enhance the service in order to increase the volume and provide better revenue. Commissioner Staudt praised the negotiators and commented that although the department is not in the ‘soft drink selling’ business, the incentives are too good to turn down. He wondered if it was possible to work with the tournaments in having them purchase their product from us? Director Auler agreed and added that these vendors would help market these tournaments and events in order to facilitate the higher sales. A coupon system would be used in order to generate user traffic at tournaments, the rink, etc. Also negotiations have been made in regards to ‘free product’ that can be used for community events and specific tournaments at the Ice Arena. Commissioner Staudt lamented about the woeful state of the community center’s current vending machines and it seemed to him that under the old agreement there were no requirements for maintenance of the machines. He wanted to be sure that this was a critical requirement of the agreement. Director Auler assured him that it was. Commissioner Staudt wanted to be sure that the ‘In Kind’ value doesn’t get overlooked. He would like to see it in a better format, broken down by ‘cash’, ‘in-kind’, and ‘total’ in order to better see the financial gains from this agreement. Commissioner Engebretson agreed with Commissioner Staudt and noticed that the difference in value between the two vendors is possibly not as great as it appears in the layout. She wondered what ‘Self fill’ and ‘full service’ meant. Director Auler explained that ‘full service’ is when the vendor comes in to fill and service the machines. ‘Self service’ would be the fountain machines or the bottles that we sell from concession stands. Commissioner Place asked if the ‘Scoreboard Donation after Three Years" was for any park? Director Auler said Commission would decide it, but he felt a need existed at Community Sports Park. Commissioner Place wondered if the vendor would pay for the electrical work required to set up the scoreboard and Director Auler said that the operating budget would have to cover that cost. Commissioner Staab pointed out a math error in the calculation, and asked if the item could be corrected and brought back in December.
Commissioner Place - Commented that the Pumpkinpalooza event seemed to be great fun for the kids and wondered how large of a turnout there was for the event. Director Auler stated that the pumpkin launch had 4 or 5 participants, which was double from last year. SWOCC gave great coverage that can be seen on Channel 13. There are possible plans of having an Enchanted Forest with the pumpkin launch next year, and to move the event to Lakeshore Park.
Commissioner Engebretson - None
Commissioner Staudt – Asked the Park Development Committee to begin the process of making a recommendation to Council regarding the old Walled Lake Casino Park.
Commissioner Staab – December 5th is the Novi Choralaire’s Christmas Concert at the Farmington Methodist Church and December 6th and 7th at Holy Family Church at 6pm. Links of Novi Planning Commission has approved a recommendation to go to City Council proposing rezoning the area for residential. He had a personal concern that down the road, in two years there would not be a golf course in this community. Also he stated that he will not be present at the next meeting on December 11th.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:48 pm.
Signed, David Paul, Chairperson
Signed, Charles Staab, Vice Chairperson