Regular meeting: Monday, November 13, 2000 at the Aldermanic Chambers of City Hall.
Meeting was opened at 7:19 p.m. By roll call, members present: John Walsh, Al Felice and Karen Izzo. The Chairman noted that there was not a quorum at this time. Beverly Moran arrived at 7:34 p.m. making a quorum and the official call to order of the meeting was noted.
David Mikos and Matt Cripps were excused.
Parks and Recreation Director Dennis O’Connell was present. Athletic Director Kenneth Marcucio was absent.
Also present were Alderman Michael Kelleher, Alderman Ronald Sill, Alderman Samuel Rizzitelli and Alderman Robert Gabianelli.
ADDITIONS AND DELETIONS TO THE AGENDA:
There were no changes to the agenda.
Alderman Michael Kelleher reserved time to speak during the agenda item regarding soccer fields.
Glenn Stevens of 9 Mountain Street reiterated the urgent need for a place to play soccer. When the request was initiated a few years ago, the request was for two fields. As the programs continue to grow, the need has increased to three fields. He stated that the current conditions of the field at Bradley School are extremely deteriorated due to the extensive use. He had strong concerns for the safety of the players. It was his understanding, from the plan presented to the voters, that creating soccer fields would be the start to the overall plan to address concerns in all the programs. He indicated that the soccer program is committed to pursuing the new fields and asked that the matter move forward. He indicated that there will be no place to play in the spring.
Maureen Adamczyk of Academy Hill Road noted the recent inspection of the field and the proposal to spend $12,000 to make temporary immediate improvements. She questioned if the decision would be made this evening to fund this project.
Chairman Walsh noted that the Board of Apportionment and Taxation would be deciding the funding and they have called a special meeting on Wednesday, November 15, 2000 at 6:30 p.m.
Ms. Adamczyk indicated that the long term solution would be to build fields and grants are available. She offered her assistance in writing the grant applications but stressed that the deadline to the National Soccer Federation is within the next week and quick action is needed to avoid missing the deadline.
Sandra August of General Wooster Road stated, as a high school soccer player, that she did not want to continue to play on the Bradley School field due to increased possibility of injury. The number of players on the team is small and the risk of injury and sidelining of a player is critical to the ability to play games. She suggested that a practice field and game field would be appreciated. She stated that the team is tired of sharing a space with the football team.
Chairman Walsh indicated that currently the worse field in the City is the football practice field. He stressed that the true issue at hand is a quality of life issue for everyone in the City. All of the programs are suffering under the current plan.
Ms. Adamczyk questioned if injuries are occurring in all the programs due to the poor conditions. She indicated that she was aware of the injuries in the soccer program and if injuries are occurring in other programs, she felt that it was appalling.
Chairman Walsh indicated that the Commission has not received reports of injuries and encouraged the programs to submit their data on injuries. He indicated that much time was spent on the development of the long term plan for recreation prior to submittal to the voters. The needs were studied in great detail and the plan was designed to address the many concerns that were identified in all the outdoor programs. He noted that the Commission has been working closely with the Public Works Director and his department to stay abreast of any problems that arise. The point was made that overuse, not the lack of maintenance, was the major problem due to the fact that repairs need the opportunity to rest and rejuvenate the land, but there is no free time during the playing season. All the fields are used extensively from March to November leaving no time within the growing season for the necessary work to be done. The solution would be the increase in the number of available fields.
Joan Guliano of Cullens Hill Road stated that her grandchildren play in the program and she is concerned whenever they play. Being that a plan has been worked on for more than two years, she felt that enough time has been spent on meeting and planning and the time has come for action.
Bill Harris of 5 Roosevelt Drive noted his support for the plan that went to referendum but with the loss of the vote, the needs did not disappear. He encouraged the Commission to move forward a step at a time, striving to gradually improve each and every space.
Leo DiSorbo of Benanto Drive felt the Board of Alderman should become more involved with working with the Commission to bring forth a solution. He also indicated that he invited State Representative Themis Klarides to the meeting this evening in the hope of assistance from the State in the development of fields.
Diane Rivers of Park Avenue questioned who was in charge of making the decision to go forward with the plan.
Chairman Walsh indicated that the Board of Alderman, as the governing body would be the deciding body but the joint efforts of them, the Parks & Recreation Commission, the Neighborhood Committee and the programs that bring forth their concerns and needs, would be the device to complete the task at hand.
Marvin Miller of 193 Shagbark Drive indicated that he has documented five years of accident reports to the athletic director or school nurse and nearly half are linked to a field related issue at Bradley School field. He stated that this is becoming a matter of credibility and he was uncertain whether he desired to continue under the current conditions. He felt that the problems must be solved and action must begin. He stated that he did not desire to continue to practice on the field taking the conditions into consideration.
Beverly Moran arrived at this time and the meeting was formally opened.
No one else came forward and public portion was closed.
NEW OR OTHER BUSINESS:
Without objection, the Commission went out of order on the agenda and addressed the matter of the soccer fields.
Alderman Kelleher was invited to speak on the proposal for the improvement to the soccer field. First, he stated that all parks and recreational facilities in the City are under the direct control of the Board of Alderman. The Board of Education do not own or control any of the fields. He stated that inspection of the Bradley School field was done on November 8, 2000. He was present with the City Engineer John Gilmore, Chairman Walsh, Al Felice and Philip Marcucio of Marcucio Gardens. A proposal was received from Marcucio Gardens to top dress the damaged parts of the main soccer field and the small soccer field at Bradley School, an area of approximately 36,000 sq. feet and then the area will be screen loamed, fertilized, seeded and mulched. All work would be done immediately, weather permitting, once a bid waiver is accepted by the Board of Apportionment and Taxation. The Board of Alderman has already unanimously voted to approve the bid waiver. Total cost would be $9,000.00. Additionally, in the spring additional fertilizing and seeded would be done at a cost of $1,000.00. The City would be obligated to water and mow the areas, as needed; and it was stipulated that any and all use would be prohibited until June 1, 2001.
Alderman Kelleher indicated that the work at Bradley School was a temporary repair not a solution, and the intent of the Board of Alderman is to pursue the State, with the assistance of our local State representatives, for funding to build soccer fields at Witek Park. He noted that after the City purchased the property at Witek Park, the State began a program to purchase open space with 65% reimbursement of the cost to the City. At Witek Park, the cost being 1.8 million, this would have translated to 1 million, the amount to be requested for the creation of these fields.
Alderman Kelleher referenced many reports on the Witek Park property dating back to 1971 to the most recent reports. In 1971, after an inventory of the property, Valley Regional Planning recommended that athletic fields be developed on the southeast portion of the property. In 1979, the Yale School of Forestry did a study and they too suggested that the southeast portion was adaptable for playgrounds and tennis courts for this area, if desired by the residents and also passive recreation and at a later date ballfields. In 1984, The KingsMark report also studied the property and found the southeast portion suitable for active recreation. The Derby Conservation Commission, in their report to the Board of Alderman, recommended the development of two soccer fields and the creation of a parking area. The study done by the City Engineer for the development of the Recreation Facilities plan also indicated that this property could support the development of fields.
Alderman Kelleher noted that Little League also has a serious need and in an effort to resolve their needs, property by the landfill has been viewed for possible field location. He noted that the capped area of the landfill would not be usable but there is additional acreage on the northern side that may be suitable for the creation of a men’s softball field and associated parking. This, along with the move of soccer to Witek Park, would then open the fields at Bradley School for the Little League program. Additionally, the City is continuing to pursue the High School issue and depending on the decision, the High School may be moved to a new site with the purchase of sufficient land to house the building structure and school related athletic facilities.
It was reiterated that the temporary repair is contingent on no one using the Bradley School field prematurely. This will be an arduous task. Additionally, the spring soccer program and the girl’s softball program will be displaced due to this ban on use. Temporary arrangements are being worked out to accommodate this displacement.
Mr. Stevens questioned whether the City could pursue other commercial or residential development of the 25% of land at Witek Park, if fields were not built. Alderman Kelleher indicated that was a conceivable option under the terms of the purchase. Mr. Stevens replied that the choice of soccer fields certainly would be far less intrusive that some other development.
Ms. Adamczyk questioned the estimated cost of the building of three soccer fields, parking and associated road access. Taking figures from the plan, it was estimated that the cost would be approximately 1.645 million. She then questioned the time table for construction to begin if it was projected for use in spring, 2002. It was stated that approximately 18 months would be needed for construction and the facilities to properly establish so the spring,2001 deadline had already passed. Alderman Kelleher stressed that the first step is securing the funding.
Alderman Ron Sill, as Chairman of the Neighborhood Committee, stated that the last three Committee meetings have dealt with the soccer issue. He encouraged the citizens to continue their pursuit. He too was dismayed by the delays and expressed the Committee’s support to move forward on this matter.
Ms. Adamczyk, noting the 18 month construction period and the delay while trying to pursue funding, questioned what plans are being developed in the interim to address the apparent safety concerns that currently exist. Alderman Kelleher indicated that additional fields are being investigated by Mr. Marcucio with the intent that his recommendations on field condition improvement can be implemented into the City’s maintenance schedule. Also, the Public Works Department is in the process of reorganization so as to shift more staff to the needed areas in the City. Ms. Adamczyk also expressed her continuing concern for injury. Chairman Walsh encouraged the programs to visit the subject of injuries at the next Youth Council meeting.
Mr. Harris indicated that the discussion of the needs has been ongoing for quite some time. Understanding now that the Board of Alderman has ultimate control over the facilities, he felt the focus should turn to them for action. He fully understood that the task to address all of the needs is immense but stressed that work must begin to start the process.
Pasquale Guliano encouraged the Board of Alderman and this Commission to pursue Senator Crisco for funding. Alderman Kelleher indicated that all the State representatives will be approached. He noted that the state funding program for open space restricts the use of the purchased parcel to passive recreation. He noted that if the City had purchased land through that funding, soccer fields, which is active recreation, would not be allowed.
Alderman Rizzitelli, member of the Neighborhood Committee, thanked all present for coming forward with their concerns. He encouraged them to continue their pursuit. As a parent himself, he supported the desires to improve the conditions and he acknowledged the benefits that these programs provide.
Chairman Walsh concurred with Alderman Rizzitelli and stated that the program participants must continue to vocalize their concerns. He stressed the need for additional space as this was the solution to the overcrowding and overuse that is occurring. He stated that this is a quality of life issue that must be embraced. The Commission’s mission is to provide recreational opportunities to all the residents but this can not be achieved under the current conditions. As the conditions continue to deteriorate, concern is that the only option will be to restrict use, which is undesirable and contrary to the mission.
Veteran’s Center Committee – The Committee met and discussed the schedule for closing for holidays. It was decided to close on the standard holidays, i.e. Christmas, New Years, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, etc. Members plan to review the schedule used by the Ansonia YMCA and possibly use it for a model for their plan.
The whirlpool was discussed and it was decided to replace the working mechanics of the whirlpool with a more industrial strength product. It was determined that this would be feasible and more cost effective than replacing the entire unit.
Youth Advisory Council – A meeting was held on October 30, 2000. Representatives from the various programs were in attendance and discussed their programs. Consideration is being given to holding clinics such as another coaching clinic and also a First Aid and CPR program. A coaching brochure was discussed. A suggestion was made to review possible spectator conduct rules and this will be discussed at a later meeting. As the coaching staff generally patrols and prepares their fields prior to their games, a suggestion was made to create a committee for this task to ease the ongoing demand of time on the coaches. The concerns voiced by the soccer program were discussed as well as the overall condition of all the facilities. The Council will be continuing to unify the programs’ efforts towards better conditions and more fields. It was reiterated that ultimately by proceeding step by step, all programs will benefit.
Another meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, December 5, 2000 at 7:00 p.m. at the Little League field house.
Parks & Recreation Director’s Report: Ms. Izzo noted that the Board of Alderman approved the bonfire, which is scheduled for next week. It was suggest that the location be reviewed with Mr. O’Connell to insure that it is suitable and will not impact any of the ongoing programs.
Athletic Director’s Report: Mr. Marcucio was not present.
Approval of minutes:
A motion was made by Karen Izzo and second by Al Felice. Move to table acceptance of the minutes of the meeting held on October 12, 2000. All in favor. Motion carried.
Nothing was presented.
NEW or OTHER BUSINESS:
Motion was made by Al Felice and second by Beverly Moran. Move to recommend to the full Board of Alderman, being that the Park and Recreation Commission continues to support the need for a long range plan for recreation, that the Recreation Facilities Enhancement Committee’s master plan for outdoor recreation be the foundation for this long range planning. All in favor. Motion carried.
A motion was made by Karen Izzo and second by Al Felice. Move to adjourn this meeting at 8:35p.m. All in favor. Motion carried.
The next meeting will be Monday, December 11, 2000 at 7:00 p.m. at City Hall. If the Aldermanic Chambers are unavailable then the Veteran’s room will be requested.
Karen Kemmesies, secretary
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