Park and Recreation Commission


(meeting taped)

Regular meeting: Monday, September 11, 2000 at the Aldermanic Chambers of City Hall.

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

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

Parks and Recreation Director Dennis O’Connell was present. Athletic Director Kenneth Marcucio was absent. Also, from Public Works were Joseph Babjak and Ronald Culmo. Gary Parker arrived later in the meeting.


There were no changes to the agenda and without objection, the agenda was accepted.

Public portion:

No one came forward to speak.

Approval of minutes:

A motion was made by David Mikos and second by Karen Izzo. Move to accept the minutes of the meeting held on August 14, 2000. All in favor. Motion carried.


Discussion on the safety of the playing fields:

Without objection, the Commission went out of order on the agenda and thanked Mr. Babjak and Mr. Culmo for attending. They were invited this evening to discuss any safety issues related to the fields. Mr. Babjak began by advising the Commission that, at Bradley School, the Principal has brought it to their attention that cars park on the grass against the building. Also, the adult teams appear to party in the parking lot leaving behind beer cans (both empty and full), broken glass and litter. This area is utilized by the school children and these materials are a hazard. There are trash receptacles available and the area is posted for no alcoholic beverages. It was suggested that the leagues be given a written set of rules of conduct that would have to be signed for acknowledgment. Also, the Police Department should be asked to monitor the situation more closely.

Continuing at the Amendola Complex, Mr. Culmo stated that low spots on the softball field by the pitcher’s mound and home plate are addressed by filling in these holes but the teams will often come after a rain and in an effort to remove any standing water, they will sweep away the water and mud. That action moves the water but also recreates the holes. On the soccer field, the conditions are the result of the extensive wear and tear on the facility. Ongoing maintenance tries to address the problems and loam continues to be applied. One thing that is occurring is that holes are being cut in the fence in order for the players to retrieve the balls. There is a gate but cutting the holes seems to be the shorter route to retrieval.

It was stressed that all the fields are aerated, fertilized and overseeded every year but the extensive use does not allow time for the fields to rejuvenate.

At Ryan Complex, a recent problem arose when the fence became energized during a Pop Warner game. Apparently the sleeve that was installed to hold the fence that is put in place seasonally between the baseball and football fields was located relatively close to the underground wiring for the lighting. Over time the wire insulation wore away resulting in a short circuit which electrified the fence. Emergency personnel were called to the scene and, by use of a hot stick, identified the problem and power to the lighting was interrupted. Minor injuries to a number of bystanders leaning on the fence did occur. The following day the area was investigated further and the wiring was uncovered and repairs were made and the fence was relocated. Apparently, the wiring was installed relatively shallow in the ground. It may be advisable to excavate the wire and reinstall it deeper although it may be that only a small section of the wiring is actually at this shallow elevation. The Building Official inspected the repairs and indicated that play could continue on the field but recommended that the depth of the wiring be further explored. Reports have been filed by the departments involved and no claims of injury have been filed, as of yet. The Chairman encouraged Mr. O’Connell to gather all pertinent information on this incident to have on file, including the confirmation from the Building Official.

Continuing discussion on the fields at the Ryan Complex, Mr. Culmo indicated that the fence at the girl’s softball field should be studied for replacement. The bottom of the fence by the backstop is curled which could result in injury if someone fell on it or if the ball kicks backward and upward due to the curl.

Gary Parker arrived at 7:40 p.m.

Mr. O'Connell noted that the bank behind the backstop needed to be regraded or retained as surface run-off and earthen material erosion are an ongoing problem in this area. Mr. Parker indicated that some work was done a few years ago which improved the conditions but further work was needed to properly address the problem. This area was earmarked for improvements within the master plan submitted for referendum. This area will be investigated further for repairs.

Mr. Culmo reported that the fence behind the visitor’s bleachers at the football field is scheduled for repair in the next few days.

Mr. Parker noted that replacement of the wiring in the lights was identified a few years ago as an upcoming need and now with the recent incident, possibly the work should be considered for a capital improvement.

Just as a note, Mr. O'Connell advised the Commission that Hamden is building a new field and they will be installing astroturf. Members discussed the rising trend by the schools to use this artificial surface.

Another area where safety is an ongoing concern were the playgrounds. It was noted that the insurance carrier did review the Bradley School playground a few years ago. The Public Works employees are knowledgeable in the safety concerns and often check the area for any needed repairs. The Irving School playground, being that it is new, has not been reviewed. Presumably, the Board of Education has taken necessary precautions.


Nothing was presented.


Parks & Recreation Director’s Report: Mr. O'Connell reported that Pop Warner and Youth Soccer are underway. Boy’s Babe Ruth, ages 14-15, are playing in the district league. Girl’s softball, High School age league, has started.

Addressing the Center, the whirlpool is not working. It has been determined that the model is constructed more for residential use than for the extended use desired and that is the reason for the ongoing problems. It was felt that continuing to service the unit was not cost effective and a replacement unit should be found. The Mayor has been advised of the situation and funding options are being explored.

The Boy’s Club has delayed the use of the facility to work out details of this new program. They will be featuring the pool with an afternoon swim and lifeguards are being retained by the Club. They should be starting use within the next week or so.

Mr. O'Connell stated that with the start of school, his part time staff has dwindled. He is now interviewing for new personnel to fill these positions. He is also seeking to hire additional lifeguards so as to open the pool more for youth swimming. Evenings currently are unguarded and only adults are allowed to swim.

Another matter at the Center is the air circulation/venting system in the locker rooms. It is not functioning. Chairman Walsh felt the Board of Alderman should be apprised of this maintenance issue, the whirlpool and any other items that have arisen as these items were not identified for funding in the budget. Their assistance would be needed to continue the forward progression of the transition.

It was noted that Pop Warner cheerleaders have inquired about use of the gymnasium. Mr. O'Connell explained that it was his intent to utilize the facility optimally for all the programs and schedules are being developed. He will be studying the finances of the Center to determine costs of this scheduling. Possibly a portion of the program’s registration fee or City’s stipend could be earmarked to go towards the Center’s expenses. This is being reviewed for a equitable solution.

Reviewing the budget, Mr. O'Connell noted that he is carefully watching the maintenance line items. With the rollover of funding in the Ryan Field capital line item, he intends to address necessary issues. It was noted that LoCIP funding for the Amendola bathrooms and for the Ryan Fieldhouse storage facility are also in this year’s budget. Capital Planning has recommended a modification to the City’s Plan to address the necessary funding for the bathrooms. With the funding, work could be done next spring.

Athletic Director’s Report: Mr. Marcucio was not present. Chairman Walsh noted that he did receive the fall schedules subsequent to the last meeting.

Committee Reports:

Veteran’s Center Committee - Plans are to meet and discuss maintenance issues as well as new program ideas.

Youth Advisory Council - No meeting has been set.


Ms. Izzo questioned who receives the proceeds from the vending machines at Ryan Field. Mr. O'Connell indicated that it was the High School Booster Club. Another question was a possible catch and release fishing program at Witek Park. Chairman Walsh noted that the Board of Alderman and the Open Space Committee have jurisdiction over the Park at this time. Also, a concern was voiced by participants of one of the programs as to the litter clean-up at Ryan Field. It was questioned whether the programs were responsible. Mr. O'Connell noted that Public Works does do the clean-up and makes every effort to do so on a timely basis. They are not scheduled to patrol during the events. Chairman Walsh indicated that again it must be remembered that the Parks & Recreation Department consists of only one part-time employee, the director. With the addition of the Community Center, the overall Parks & Recreation budget remained relatively the same, and the director’s position remained part time. Future consideration should be given to weigh the demands and determine an appropriate balance.

The next meeting will be Monday, October 9, 2000 at 7:00 p.m. at City Hall.

A motion was made by Matthew Cripps and second by Karen Izzo. Move to adjourn this meeting at 9:00p.m. All in favor. Motion carried.

Respectfully prepared, Karen Kemmesies, secretary

Send your e-mail questions or comments to Derby Recreation Commission

Back to Parks Rec Home Page

Back to City of Derby Home Page