Commission members: P. Degener, Chair; V. Alward, P. Darlington, J. Dorenbosch, G. Miyashiro, S. Palmer
Staff present: R. Blick
Public present: Caroline Hunter
Mr. Degener called the Special Meeting on September 9, 2013 to order at 7:58 pm.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Motion: move to approve the minutes of the July 8, 2013 meeting as corrected. Dorenbosch, Palmer. Approved. Unanimous.
Correction: the date at the top of the page should be 2013.
ELECTION OF OFFICERS
The Nomination Committee (Scott Palmer and Vanessa Alward) did not make recommendations, but asked for nominations for the position of Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Park & Recreation Commission.
Mr. Miyashiro nominated Paul Degener for the position of Chairman. This was seconded by Mr. Dorenbosch. There were no other nominations.
Mr. Miyashiro nominated Mr. Dorenbosch for the position of Vice Chairman. This was seconded by Mrs. Darlington. There were no other nominations.
Motion: move to elect Paul Degener as Chairman and Jan Dorenbosch as Vice Chairman of the Park & Recreation Commission. Miyashiro, Palmer. Approved. Unanimous.
Mr. Blick submitted a written report.
- Topstone Beach was closed for the season on September 2. The docks were broken down by staff members Adrian Voss and Rory O’Donnell. The Highway Department was scheduled to move the docks. The summer season at the beach was a good one with few incidents and many great activities. The numbers for swim lessons were down for the summer, which may be related to the decline in population the schools are encountering. Adjustments to the number of offerings will be made for next year to make the lessons more revenue solvent. Rory O’Donnell also submitted a written report that was comprehensive and well written.
- Summer Camp: the summer camp season went very well. While the numbers were low, everyone had a good time.
- Office computers: new computers are being installed in the office. A new credit card processing company is now being used and this should result in some cost savings.
- Softball League: the Softball League ended last Thursday. Providing the bats for the teams was good plan and much positive feedback was received.
- Trick or Treat Street: Due to a continuing pattern of low attendance and the decrease in number of volunteers to staff the event, Trick or Treat Street was cancelled this year. There is a plan to bring it back next year if sufficient parent volunteers can be found. A family special event, a Barnyard Dance, has been planned in place of Trick or Treat Street. The event will complement the Neighbor and Newcomers Trunk or Treat event scheduled for October 25. Mrs. Alward objected to the cancellation of the event and to the lack of communication regarding the cancellation. Both she and Mrs. Darlington have heard from many residents concerning the cancellation and disappointment. The cost for the event is about $3,000 in candy, plus the cost of custodial overtime, police coverage, and staff time to set up and clean. About 40 adults are needed to supervise and manage the event. Following a long discussion, it was decided that a meeting with the Park & Recreation staff would be arranged to go over what is needed for the event in terms of manpower. There was agreement that Mrs. Alward and Mrs. Darlington would solicit volunteer help for Trick or Treat Street; Rob would take care of the getting permission for use of the school and custodial and police coverage. All of the arrangements must be in place by September 24 for the event to move forward.
Motion: move that the Park & Recreation Commission agree to reinstate the Trick or Treat Street event, pending completed arrangements including plans for setup and breakdown, and commitment from 40 adult plus children volunteers within two weeks, or September 24, 2013, as discussed. Alward, Darlington. Approved. Unanimous.
Motion: move that the Park & Recreation Commission accept the Director’s Report as submitted. Palmer, Alward. Approved. Unanimous.
Mr. Blick reported that a letter was received from DAWS regarding their appearance at a Concert on the Green. The intention of DAWS was to raise awareness and bring a adoptable animal to one of the concerts. Due to a zoning regulation, there was a good deal of paperwork to be completed for this to happen. DAWS declined the offer to be at a concert.
DISCUSSION AND UP DATE REGION 9 FIELD PROJECT
Mr. Degener provided a draft of a letter to the Board of Selectmen with the recommendation of the Park & Recreation Commission’s unanimous endorsement for a plan to transfer the remaining STEAP (Small Town Economic Assistance Program) Grant that was approved to the Redding Community Center Athletic Field #2 conversion to an artificial turf field to the Region 9 Board of Education for the specific purpose of installing an artificial turf field on its stadium field.. State Representative John Shaban has confirmed by letter that the STEAP grant is readily transferrable. The Park & Recreation Commission recommends that the transfer should be made only if the stadium project is approved by the Region 9 (Easton and Redding) voters, and that the funds be applied only to the turf portion of the project.
The draft letter was reviewed, discussed and approved.
Motion: move that the Redding Park & Recreation Commission approve the letter, as amended, to the Redding Board of Selectmen regarding the transfer of the STEAP grant. Palmer, Dorenbosch. Approved. Unanimous.
DISCUSSION AND UPDATE ON DOG LEASH ORDINANCE
- A letter was received from David Rybarczyk stating his reasons why dogs should be allowed in Topstone Park without being leashed.
- Mr. Blick reported that an incident report log is now being maintained. The log will include report of those who complain or have an issue with dogs.
- A petition was received from an individual who resides on Topstone Road, with the signatures of about 30 people, including residents of New Milford, New Fairfield and Ridgefield. The petition asked for reconsideration of the dog leash ordinance and that the Park & Recreation Commission continue to allow unleashed dogs at Topstone Park. It was noted that the Park & Recreation Commission does not allow unleashed dogs at the Park, that the regulation states that dogs must be leashed at all times.
- Mr. Miyashiro reported that the comments of the speakers at the Board of Selectmen meeting did not seem to be aware of the regulation that requires dogs to be leashed. The rule/regulation is in place, but the Department has no means to enforce the rule/regulation. Mr. Degener stated that the Park & Recreation Commission does not plan to change the rule/regulation that states that dogs must be leashed. The Board of Selectmen have referred the proposed ordinance to Town Attorney Lavelle for review and possible redrafting. This will be a continuing discussion at the Board of Selectmen meeting on September 16, 2013.
DISCUSSION AND UPDATE ON TOPSTONE PARK SURVEY
About 30 survey cards were handed to Topstone Beach patrons, and six have been returned. Mr. Miyashiro and Mr. Blick are working on an “online” version of the survey.
DISCUSSION AND UPDATE OF RCC STORAGE & OUTSIDE STORAGE PROJECT
Mr. Blick reported that this project will need to be reviewed by the Zoning Commission and that will require an official application. The desire to push the outside storage facility further back from the field to the south into an undeveloped area will need further review by the Conservation Commission.
The Pat Munger Construction Company has proposed these phases for the storage structure to be added to the Community Center:
Phase A: Schematic Design that includes verification and drawing of existing conditions, review of Town Plan and Zoning regulations, schematic alteration studies, including plan layout, building elevations and sections, and a presentation of the plans and project to the Board of Selectmen, Conservations and Zoning Commissions.
Phase B: Design Development/Construction Documents, including refinement of approved alternatives and preparation of construction documents (floor plan, elevations, building section and foundation plan)
Budget for this scope of work, $49,500
Outside field storage structure, 20’ wide by 36’, with an overhead door on each end: Munger is proposing a modular type metal building system. No provisions have been made for insulation, heat or electricity. Once a site is selected, those items can be addressed if desired. The budget excludes site work other than that required to excavate and backfill the foundation and prepare the area for the slab. Zoning approval is required.
Suggested budget for this scope of work is $64,500.
This project needs to be presented to the Board of Selectmen for review and funding, and then proceed through the boards and commissions for approvals.
DISCUSSION OF PROGRAM ENROLLMENT/BUDGET SHORTFALL
Finance Director Gniadek has requested that information on the finances of the department, especially the budget shortfall for programs, camp and extended day be presented to the Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance. Mr. Blick provided an overview of revenue and expenses for the last five years. He reviewed the information with the commission members. The revenue shortage is primarily due to the declining number of children served by these programs. Steps were taken to reduce the expenses associated with those programs, but in many cases that was not sufficient.
Programs that previously were self-sustaining, such as the Halloween Trick or Treat Street, Concert on the Green program, they are no longer bringing in the revenue or donations to cover expenses. Contributions for the Concert on the Green were short of expenses by $2,000 this year. In addition, the Commission is offering a number of additional free programs such as free concerts, special events, events at Topstone, and family open gym. These programs carry expenses and require supervision by staff.
This information will be presented to the Board of Selectmen at their September 16, 2013 meeting. Mr. Degener asked commission members to attend the meeting if possible.
Motion: move to adjourn the meeting. Dorenbosch, Palmer. Approved Unanimous.
The meeting adjourned at 9:36 pm
Mary Maday, Recording Secretary