Park and Recreation Commission


(meeting taped)

Regular meeting: Monday, June 12, 2000 at the Aldermanic Chambers of City Hall.

Meeting was called to order at 7:03 p.m.

By roll call, members present: John Walsh, Beverly Moran, Al Felice and Matthew Cripps. David Mikos arrived directly after roll call.

Parks and Recreation Director Dennis OíConnell arrived directly after roll call. Athletic Director Kenneth Marcucio was absent.

Also present were Mayor Marc Garofalo, Alderman Michael Kelleher, James Mascolo of Pop Warner, and William Harris and Christopher Mastrianni of DECIDE.


There were no changes to the agenda.

Public portion:

Mayor Garofalo stated that the City of Derby, as part of the Naugatuck Valley delegation, was recently named an All-American City and he thanked Chairman Walsh who was very instrumental in making the award a reality.

With the start of the new fiscal year on July 1, 2000, the Parks and Recreation Commission will be overseeing the Veteranís Center, as recently approved by the Board of Alderman. Mayor Garofalo indicated that it was the consensus of the full Board of Alderman that all veterans should receive a discounted membership fee. He looked forward to working with the Commission on the changes to the fee schedule as well as the operations of the Center.

Chairman Walsh expressed the intent that the Center will be a Community Center which will serve as a monument to the Veterans of W.W.II with the hope that as new activities are introduced it further strengthens that commemoration. He was hopeful that the change will benefit the Veterans, the patrons of the Center and the community as a whole.

Mayor Garofalo concurred with the Commissionís intent, realizing that it was a difficult decision for both the Downtown Committee and the Commission. With the Commissionís past successes in progressing the recreational activities for the community, he anticipated success with this merger.

Chairman Walsh also commended the Downtown Committeeís efforts in reaching this difficult decision. He looked forward to a continuing collaboration in this regard.

Next, Mayor Garofalo addressed the defeat of the referendum regarding the school expansion as well as the recreational enhancement plan. He stressed the need for further input from the public to develop a collective solution to the needs that are present. He stated that a meeting will be scheduled in the near future to open discussion on this matter.

Alderman Kelleher commended the Commission on the Recreation Enhancement Plan and concurred with the Mayor and the Commission that the problems do still exist and a solution will have to be explored. He also commended the Commission for taking on the duties of the Veteranís Center. He submitted a letter (attached) dated May 31, 2000 offering some suggestions for the Center.

Mr. Bill Harris of 511 Roosevelt Drive and Chairperson for DECIDE indicated that the group supports the plans, as presented on the referendum. He felt confident that with further information being relayed to the public that a positive result will occur and he voiced his continuing commitment to the plans.

No one else came forward to speak.

Approval of minutes:

A motion was made by David Mikos and second by Matthew Cripps. Move to accept the minutes of the meeting held on May 8, 2000. Motion carried with Beverly Moran abstaining.


Chairman Walsh noted the letter received from Alderman Kelleher. The letter speaks to the change at the Center and touches upon the many contributions over the past 37 years. He envisioned that this could become "Derbyís New Playground". He also offered a number of suggestions for consideration. One being that a special membership rate of $25.00 be offered to the W.W.II Veterans to express appreciation for their constant care of the facility. He also felt all veterans receiving an honorable discharge should receive a "veterans" rate. He mentioned various programs as possible future activities. He expressed his full confidence in the Commission and offered his assistance in any way.


Parks & Recreation Directorís Report: Mr. O'Connell indicated that he is reviewing current status of the fields in light of the referendum decision. He noted that in familiarizing himself with the Veteranís Center, a number of maintenance issues have come to light. In preparing the upcoming budget, he had not taken these items into consideration. First, improvements to the surveillance camera system have been suggested. An additional camera may be needed in the health club area. Repairs are needed on the whirlpool. The Valley Health District has identified issues with the swimming pool that need addressing. Members discussed how to fund these needs. Looking at the current recreation budget there were remaining funds in the special projects line item and it was noted that the gym rental line item was encumbered but has yet to be expensed. If funds could be carried over, they should satisfy the expenditures for the repairs.

A motion was made by Beverly Moran and second by Al Felice. Move to authorize the recreation director to pursue estimates for repairs to maintenance issues at the Veteranís Center and then to submit a request to the Board of Apportionment and Taxation asking that funds in the 1999-2000 recreation budget in line items 340-0341-0000 special projects non-Pop Warner in the amount of $1,473.00 and 390-0020-0000 gym rental in the amount of $3,000.00 be carried over to the 2000-2001 budget to cover the cost of said repairs. All in favor. Motion carried.

Mr. O'Connell noted that he will be at the Downtown Committee meeting tomorrow with intentions to discuss a new fee schedule for the Center. He asked for participation from the members of the Commission. Alderman Kelleher, chairman for the Downtown Committee, stressed that it would be the Parks and Recreation Commissionís decision to set the fee schedule. Chairman Walsh concurred. Further, Chairman Walsh indicated that the recreation directorís duties include the overseeing of the day to day operations of the Center and the coordination of staff to accomplish said duties. The Commissionís purpose is not the day to day issues but rather the development and overseeing of policy and programming. It was determined that a Veteranís Center Committee be designated to assist Mr. O'Connell with this transition. Beverly Moran, David Mikos and Matthew Cripps volunteered to serve on the Committee.

Continuing, Mr. O'Connell reported that Little League, Youth Soccer and Girlís Softball are going very well. The Playground program starts July 3rd and will go for six weeks. It will be held at Bradley School and Coon Hollow picnic grove. It will include a swim session at the Community Center and this swim session will be open to all interested participants, not only those involved in the playground. Free registration is required for this swim session, for safety reasons. The pool will also be open from 12 noon - 2 p.m. for city residents. From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. the Boyís & Girls Club summer camp will be using the pool The Club has also asked for consideration for additional time with the understanding that they would provide their own lifeguard.

Mr. O'Connell indicated that Little League has approached him since the referendum vote. They had postponed needed improvements in anticipation of the vote. The regulation size major league field, minor league score board, city water for the field house as well as irrigation and a batting cage were mentioned. Members felt that upcoming discussions on how to proceed would include discussions on these items.

Plans for the bathrooms at Amendola field are nearly complete. The intention is to proceed forward with LoCIP funding for this project. The location was determined so as to address current needs as well as accommodate any future changes to the layout of the fields.

Looking at the budget, Mr. O'Connell reported that supplies are being purchased which will expend much of the remaining allocation. Topsoil and clay have been ordered for the fields. The fence at the Ryan softball field is slated for repair. Also, the drainage problem at the softball field will be explored for a solution. The backstop area is also being studied.

Mrs. Moran noted that the Irving After School program line item was fully expended. She indicated that the program ran for half the year and it was understood that half was to be spent. Mr. O'Connell stated that the program received their half year funding. The balance, as previously agreed, went for the purchase of the scoreboard at Irving School.

Mr. O'Connell noted that the wrestling line item is unspent. The program has been discussing having a program at the Community Center this coming year and this is being explored.

Chairman Walsh suggested a flyer be developed detailing the various programs, associated funding and the number of participants benefiting from said programs. He considered having them included in the mailing of the tax bills. He felt it important that the residents see and understand the value they are receiving being that much is offered for such a minimal expense. The recreation budget is one half of one percent of the overall city budget. With the inclusion of the Community Center into the programming, many more offerings may become available and members hoped to advertise and welcome residents to partake in the offerings. It was noted that the tax bills often go to mortgage holders rather than homeowners so another means of mailing may be necessary.

Athletic Directorís Report: Mr. Marcucio was not present.

Committee Reports:

Recreation Facilities Enhancement Committee -As discussed previously, the referendum vote was decided and now the Commission will have to further explore a solution. Chairman Walsh hoped that the seriousness of the overuse and lack of facilities can be more clearly represented to impress upon the voters the need for solutions to the problems currently existing. The current conditions are restrictive as they can not accommodate the number of participants of the programs. Conditions even prohibit play in many instances as fields are not regulation size. The High School track team has gone without a facility for more than ten years. The soccer program has no place to call home in the City. The field surfaces are rocky, dusty and uneven posing risk of injury to the participants. It was stressed that lack of maintenance can not be claimed, but rather the fields have no time to rest and rejuvenate. There is no time to do a substantial repair and, if done, the field is not allowed sufficient down time for the repairs to take hold. Understandably, the financial aspects of the plan were overwhelming to many voters. Members indicated that the needs have been accumulating to the current point where this expansive plan was a necessity. They felt it paramount that discussion continue so as to proceed to a satisfactory conclusion.

Youth Advisory Council - Chairman Walsh felt that the groups should meet to discuss the referendum decision and the future direction.


Mr. Felice noted that the surface at the Bradley School playground was in need of maintenance. It was noted that funds were recently allocated.

The next meeting will be Monday, July 10, 2000 at 7:00 p.m. at City Hall. If the Aldermanic Chambers are unavailable then the Veteranís room will be requested.

A motion was made by Beverly Moran and second by Al Felice. Move to adjourn this meeting at 8:15p.m. All in favor. Motion carried.

Respectfully prepared,

Karen Kemmesies, secretary

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