Park and Recreation Commission

Minutes

(meeting taped)

Regular meeting: Monday, July 10, 2000 at the Aldermanic Chambers of City Hall.

Meeting was called to order at 7:05 p.m.

Before the roll call, new member Karen Izzo was introduced and welcomed to the Commission.

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

Parks and Recreation Director Dennis OíConnell was present. Athletic Director Kenneth Marcucio was absent.

Also present was Alderman Michael Kelleher.

ADDITIONS AND DELETIONS TO THE AGENDA:

There were no changes to the agenda.

Public portion:

Alderman Kelleher came forward to speak. He indicated that work on the fire code violations in City Hall is progressing and he has had conversations with Eastern Fire Door regarding the entrance doors on Olivia Street and doors poolside. He indicated that there is funding for this work in the general budget and the expenses would not impact the Recreation budget.

Second, Alderman Kelleher indicated that he has had informal conversations with the park ranger regarding possible use of Osbornedale State Park for the development of a soccer field. The deed restrictions are being explored to see if this would be feasible. Chairman Walsh noted that previous uses by the cross-country team were abandoned as the State restricted use for any scheduled activities. Alderman Kelleher noted that he has asked the City Engineer to explore other locations for fields. One site is the parcel of land that surrounds the landfill. Also being further explored is the property owned by St. Judeís. With all these locations, not only fields but also adequate parking are being studied. Members asked if these alternatives were in lieu of Witek Park and Alderman Kelleher indicated that the Board of Alderman has jurisdiction over the park. These suggestions were presented so as to consider all possible avenues. Discussion continued on possible reasons for the referendum decision. The question arose whether the residents would be willing to pursue further purchases of land being that the Witek Park was recently purchased. It was felt that future discussions with the residents were necessary as the problem of overuse of facilities, lack of fields for the programs and imposed restrictions of time and space still posed a serious problem that required a solution.

No one else came forward to speak.

Approval of minutes:

A motion was made by Beverly Moran and second by David Mikos. Move to accept the minutes of the meeting held on June 12, 2000. Motion carried with Karen Izzo abstaining.

Correspondences:

Nothing was presented.

DIRECTOR REPORTS:

Parks & Recreation Directorís Report: Mr. O'Connell reported that the Little League was utilizing their facility the Monday after Derby Days. Scattered over the field were little ball shaped objects and other debris, the remnants of the fireworks display. The coaches and program participants took time to gather many of these objects. The following day a Public Works employee was cutting the grass and struck one of these objects with the mower which resulted in an explosion. Minor injury resulted. Members were concerned and felt this should be brought to the attention of the Cultural Commission. While the event was successful and members encouraged the Cultural Commission to continue scheduling similar events, they felt that future events should clarify the responsibility of the fireworks contractor in regard to after event clean up.

A motion was made by Beverly Moran and second by Al Felice. Move that the Cultural Commission be advised of the debris found on the Little League field after the fireworks display on Derby Days and express concern for the possible safety hazards that arose due to the event which should be considered in the planning of any future similar activities. All in favor. Motion carried.

Mr. O'Connell reported that the Summer playground program has started and the numbers are down. Approximately eighty (80) children have registered to date. Five trips are planned, the first being to RollerMagic next week.

Soccer has scheduled play throughout the summer at Bradley School two nights per week. Topsoil has been ordered for the field with the intent of repairing and reseeding. This will have to be delayed until the end of August. Members questioned whether the field should be used now rather than performing the necessary improvements and allowing the reseeding to take hold prior to the fall season. While the desire is not to close facilities it was noted that the referendum was presented just for this reason. There is insufficient fields to allow play and still give adequate time for maintenance to be performed. It was asked if the soccer could be moved to another field. Mr. O'Connell will explore the possible move and also he will confirm that the work can be done during this field down time as the Public Works is very busy during the summer months. Mr. O'Connell will speak to Public Works Director Gary Parker to explore this suggestion.

Mr. O'Connell noted that the Capital Planning Commission has scheduled a meeting for July 12, 2000 at City Hall at 7:00 p.m. and on the agenda is discussion of the Amendola bathrooms. He will attend the meeting and invited other members to attend.

Mrs. Moran questioned the status of Girls softball. She stated that she has received many inquiries as to the number of canceled games as well as other problems that have arisen. Alderman Kelleher indicated that he coaches one of the older division teams and the teams only have eleven players each. On occasion, a number of players were absent due to other family commitments and as such the games had to be forfeited. Also, playing under the fast pitch rules has proven difficult for the majority of the players. He noted games where a number of runs were scored without a single ball being hit.

Mr. O'Connell noted that the directors from last year stepped down and the start of the season was delayed. A regional schedule was developed with Seymour to afford a combining of players being that Derbyís league was relatively small. Derbyís players decided against this regionalization. Joe DeMartino, the High School softball coach, took on the duty of directing the league after the mentioned delay and this made it difficult to organize as effectively as it would have been had time for preplanning be allowed. Hope is that next year will flow better. Clearly, more instructional play for the transformation from slow pitch to fast pitch will be needed to raise the skill levels of the players. Mr. O'Connell noted that he is exploring possibly having a batting cage in the gym at the Veteranís Center to allow for more practice time. The cage would be portable and could be hung so that it can be pushed out of the way.

Athletic Directorís Report: Mr. Marcucio was not present. It was noted that the fall schedule has not been received. Members understood that many changes are anticipated with the fall season. More soccer is planned as well as other changes to the schedule.

Committee Reports:

Veteranís Center Committee - Mr. O'Connell reported that the transition is going well. New memberships are signing up. He is still studying the hours, particularly on Saturdays. The day care next store has also expressed an interest in using the facility for swimming. Basketball clinics are being planned. The three on three basketball league has begun and they will be able to utilize the facility when weather prohibits play on the outside courts. A youth dance is also being considered as part of the Summer playground program. It was noted that the whirlpool has been repaired. Mr. O'Connell is also working on resolving the outstanding health department issues regarding the pool. The health department requires a certified person to oversee the pool maintenance issues. A member of the staff at the Ansonia YMCA has been contacted to help in resolving this issue.

Mr. O'Connell noted that one problem that has arisen is that a number of past members are now pursing a rebate due to the changes in the fee schedule. As their fees were paid prior to the transition, funds are not available to be returned. It was suggested that possibly their current membership could be extended a period of time to compensate for the change in fee. This will be considered.

It was asked if swim lessons will be offered. Mr. O'Connell indicated that they are being considered.

Members of the Board of Directors for the Veteranís Center had heard that letters would be sent presenting them with free membership and it was asked if the letters had been sent. This was a suggestion made at the Downtown Committee but has yet to be considered by the sub-committee. It was noted that W.W.II veterans now have free membership but some members of the Board served during a different period.

Chairman Walsh noted that conversations with members of the Senior Center have shown interest in having programs in the mornings. This will also be considered.

Discussion continued on the transition. It was felt that many different programs should be considered and tried to see what the public would want. Each day is a learning process. The functions of the Center are being discovered step by step by Mr. O'Connell. New members are coming in and their attitude is positive. Mr. Mikos noted that members are coming in to swim laps and suggested that the pool lanes be delineated to allow for both free swim and laps without intruding on each others space. Another idea is have a separate time dedicated to lap swim.

Youth Advisory Council - Chairman Walsh felt that the groups should be brought together again. Al Felice and Karen Izzo were asked to serve as liaisons to the Council and to organize with Mr. O'Connell a meeting in the near future. Plans would be to have more workshops with the coaches and the parents involved in the programs. Also, the need for fields is still present. While the City intends to have more town meetings to discuss revisions to the referendum plans, comments and suggestions should also be explored with the parents involved in the programs.

NEW or OTHER BUSINESS:

The need of maintenance at the Bradley School playground should be addressed soon. The Parents for a Better Playground group recently closed out their account and gave the Board of Education $1,000 to purchase wood chips for ground cover. Mr. O'Connell will contact Mark Domurad, member of the Board of Education.

The next meeting will be Monday, August 14, 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 Matthew Cripps. Move to adjourn this meeting at 8:28 p.m. All in favor. Motion carried.

Respectfully prepared,

Karen Kemmesies, secretary

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