Park and Recreation Commission
Regular meeting: Monday, January 8, 2001 at the Aldermanic Chambers of City Hall.
Meeting was called to order at 7:05 p.m. By roll call, members present: John Walsh, Beverly Moran, Matt Cripps, and David Mikos.
Karen Izzo and Al Felice were excused.
Parks and Recreation Director Dennis O’Connell was present. Athletic Director Kenneth Marcucio was absent.
ADDITIONS AND DELETIONS TO THE AGENDA:
Without objection, the agenda was accepted, as presented.
Kim Timpko of 660 Hawthorne Avenue inquired about the status of the spring soccer season.
Mr. O’Connell has been exploring alternate locations. Seymour has expressed interest in trading use of fields. They seek use of the baseball field in late June or July for their Legion Baseball league and in return a couple of nights at the Bungay School field has been offered in the spring. The picnic grove is also being considered and Mr. O’Connell has requested that the Mayor’s office schedule no picnics this spring.
Ms. Timpko questioned whether DeFilippo Field could be used, if not for practice, for games by the travel teams. Chairman Jack Walsh indicated that repairs are needed on that field in preparation for the fall season of programs and he would not recommend the use. As soccer has both spring and fall programs, they would still have scheduling within the year. He felt the travel teams were an extension of the basic program and the priority would be to meet the needs of the basic program.
Marvin Miller of 193 Shagbark Drive indicated that the Derby Youth Soccer’s mission, as stated in their by-laws, is to serve the needs of the soccer community which includes the travel program as part of the basic program. The travel teams are the only vehicle for older players to participate in the program. He indicated that the U15 program is only run in the spring as the age group is fifteen and up and they would be ineligible to play in the fall as their playing would compete with the school program, a conflict with CIAC rules. The U14 program players are also ineligible.
Chairman Walsh indicated that this ineligibility clause had not been clearly explained previously. He clarified that the High School soccer program, played in the fall, includes many of these travel team players and the players do have the opportunity to play as there are sufficient positions open for all interested players to participate. Mr. Miller estimated that 90% of the Intermediate School and High School players do participate in the travel program in the spring.
Mario Tessitore stated that the schedule for the spring soccer season would not be available until March. Last year, there were four travel teams and they each played four or five games at home. Mr. Miller noted that of the four or five games, only three would be league games and the others would be non-league games. He felt the focus should be on the league games. Mr. O’Connell requested their schedule so as to try to work out the schedule with the school and recreational spring programs.
Mr. Miller questioned whether Seymour’s commitment of fields was sound. To make scheduling arrangements with other teams in the league and then have this use withdrawn would be distressing to the program.
Commission members indicated that the repair work authorized for the Bradley School soccer field area was done so after lengthy discussion and it was the understanding that the Soccer program understood and agreed that the spring program would be curtailed during the spring to allow for the growth of the new seeding. It was understood that the work would be started in the fall with completion in early spring and a growing time through June 1st. Mr. Miller challenged the understanding and felt that what was agreed to was that it was understood that play would not occur on that specific field until June 1st. It was not clear that no play was stipulated.
Chairman Walsh indicated that the Commission’s stance has always been and will continue to be that every effort will be made to offer the opportunity for play by all of the programs. The current field shortage clearly makes this task difficult but the Commission and the Recreation Director will certainly review and try to accommodate all requests. Again it was requested that the schedule be provided as soon as possible so a solution can hopefully be found. It was stressed that the matter of adequate fields is not unique to soccer. All the programs are feeling the squeeze and are also dealing with less than adequate field conditions. Being that there is a sharing of the fields by both the school programs and the recreational programs, the demand is far too great. Over the years, many programs have been added and the number of fields has not kept up with the demand. While the long term plan is yet to be finalized, work continues to try to solve this dilemma. The Board of Alderman recently authorized the Mayor to explore the possibility of land purchase and Alderman Kelleher has been conferring with the City Engineer to explore available sites on city owned properties. The process is continuing to resolve both the issue of the school overcrowding and the serious need for fields. Chairman Walsh encouraged all interested parties to attend meetings, not only the Parks & Recreation Commission but also the Board of Alderman, the Board of Education, the School Building Committee and other committees so as to participate in the process to bring this to a positive solution.
Mr. Miller indicated that the school and recreational soccer programs are intertwined and there is a ripple effect whenever there is change. He felt that if the travel teams lost the spring season, it would be felt at the high school level. He stated that the recreational soccer program has provided the vehicle to develop the interest in soccer, to develop the skills and bring forth the creation of the high school program. The growth in the program has been outstanding and this occurred due to the support of the Commission and the Recreation Department. He reiterated again that it would be a devastating blow to the program if the spring season was lost and encouraged the Commission to make every effort to find playing area.
Chairman Walsh and Mr. O’Connell were understanding of their concerns. It was questioned whether the teams could play all of their games out of town. Mr. Miller responded that it was a consideration but practice time would still be needed. Preferably, the teams would at least like to try to play league games at home and with their season of play starting in April, they would like some practice time in March, if possible.
Chairman Walsh noted that Seymour’s football program played all of their games out of town last year due to field construction and historically, this scenario has occurred in most all towns, Derby included. He indicated that the creation of programs is encouraged but as part of that decision, the playing space must be a consideration. Both recreation and education must be cognizant of this fact and address the growth as a whole.
David Rogers of 14 General Wooster Road questioned the timeframe for a decision once the schedule is provided. Chairman Walsh was uncertain of the outcome but urged the program to provide the information to Mr. O’Connell as soon as possible. Mr. O’Connell noted that he would be exploring the Seymour proposal for two times a week and also use of the picnic grove seven days a week. With the Bradley School work being done by private contractor, as per the additional funding received this year, the Public Works will be able to focus more on the picnic grove area in the spring although weather conditions and available manpower must be weighed in determining the outcome.
Mr. O’Connell questioned whether the Derby Youth Soccer program anticipates hitting the Bradley School field on June 1st, the time expressed by the contractor as a ready date. With their season ending in mid-June it was pondered whether allowing additional rest time would be far more beneficial. The program directors indicated that they would be considering this during the scheduling process.
Raphael DiRubba, representing the adult Derby Ketos team and a former resident of Derby, questioned when Bradley School would be available. Their team has been playing on Sunday mornings for a number of years. He expressed his distress for the lack of commitment or foresight by the residents in not addressing this growing need.
Juan Feales, formerly of 89 Minerva Street, also expressed the longstanding commitment to the adult soccer team in the City. He clarified that the field would be available in the fall for scheduling. Mr. O’Connell saw no reason, at this time, that would preclude their scheduling.
Joe Mucci of 18 Commodore Hull Drive asked for more detail on the long term solutions to the need for additional fields. Chairman Walsh indicated that the prepared plan is still viable and possibly phasing the work may be an acceptable solution. The Commission is working with the Neighborhood Committee of the Board of Alderman to explore all avenues in an effort to resolve this issue. Currently, the Board of Alderman who have the ultimate authority to decide on the overall plan is exploring other parcels of land.
No one else came forward and the public portion was closed.
Election of officers:
Chairman Walsh asked whether the election should be tabled being that there were two members absent. Members felt the process should continue and the floor was opened for nominations.
A motion was made by Beverly Moran and second by Matt Cripps. Move to nominate Jack Walsh as chairman of the Parks & Recreation Commission.
Members commended Mr. Walsh for his tireless efforts for recreation in the City and felt he should continue as chair. There were no other nominations and the floor was closed. Ballot was cast for Mr. Walsh as chairman.
Chairman Walsh thanked the members and expressed the urgent need to resolve the issues on fields this year. With the combined strength of all the members, he felt this to be a plausible goal.
Approval of minutes:
A motion was made by David Mikos and second by Matt Cripps. Move to accept the minutes of the meeting held on December 11, 2000. All in favor. Motion carried.
A phone call was received from a former member of the Derby Veteran’s Community Center Board of Directors inquiring whether consideration had been given to offering lifetime membership at the Center to the Board members in place at the time of the changeover. This had been a recommendation of the Board of Alderman Downtown Committee at the time of the change. Other recommendations were to offer special rates to veterans and free membership to WWII veterans.
It was noted that the free membership to WWII veterans had been accomplished but no action had been taken in regards to the Board. As two members of the Board are WWII veterans, this would include the remaining thirteen members of which one has recently passed away.
A motion was made by Matt Cripps and second by David Mikos. Move to allow free lifetime membership to the Board of Directors of the Derby Veteran's Community Center who were serving at the time of transition. Motion carried with Beverly Moran abstaining.
A list of the Board members will be posted at the Center for the employees to reference.
Parks & Recreation Director’s Report: Mr. O’Connell stated that the Boy’s Club intends to start utilizing the gymnasium this week for their afternoon program which will run five days a week. They have been utilizing the pool three days a week from 3:00 p.m.– 5:00 p.m. and are considering increasing their schedule to five days a week. The Boy’s Club will be using the facility through the end of the school year, anticipating use only on school days. Holidays, vacations and school closures would cancel the program for that day. The revenue from this use was anticipated in the yearly budget.
The Irving After Hours Program is slated to begin and has expressed an interest in using the Center. They were advised of the Boy’s Club use of the gymnasium but two days a week will be provided to them for use of the pool.
Mr. O’Connell indicated that the issue of retaining lifeguards is ongoing and he anticipates a continual recruiting process. He hopes to strengthen his group of staff to allow for expanded programming. The swimming class instructors are on board and the announcement of the program should be published shortly. The program is slated to begin on January 27th.
The new basketball program on Sunday nights is doing well. The schedule was interrupted by the holidays but has restarted.
The girl’s bathroom at the Ryan Fieldhouse has been completed. Work is being scheduled to install a handicapped stall in the men’s bathroom.
Mr. O’Connell indicated that he has been participating in the search for additional field space but it was too early to discuss. As the overall plan is still subject to revision, the bathrooms at Amendola Field have been put on hold.
A motion was made by Beverly Moran and second by Matt Cripps. Move to authorize the Recreation Director to negotiate with Seymour for the exchange of field space usage. All in favor. Motion carried.
Chairman Walsh noted that the members toured the Center with Mr. Bassi after last month’s meeting and addressed many of his concerns. Members felt the conditions were steadily improving and were hopeful that community usage would increase. Mr. O’Connell noted that the work on the whirlpool should be complete next week. Members commended the staff for their diligent efforts in maintaining the building and preserving the renovations that were recently done by the previous Board.
Athletic Director’s Report: Mr. Marcucio was not present. It was again requested that Mr. Marcucio attend so as to update the Commission on the school’s spring schedule of activities.
Veteran’s Community Center Committee – The Committee will be scheduling a meeting in the near future. Usage has been increasing due to the scheduling of programs in the facility. The Committee will be exploring ways in which to heighten public awareness the offerings at the Center.
Youth Advisory Council – No meeting has been scheduled as of yet but being that the budget time is approaching, a meeting is anticipated.
NEW or OTHER BUSINESS:
Chairman Walsh suggested that next month’s meeting should discuss the schedule of priorities for the Commission and also to look at the Committee structure currently in place. This will be added to the agenda.
The Board of Apportionment and Taxation will be looking for budget presentations in April and it was suggested that the Commission and the program directors begin the process of development of the 2001-2002 budget.
A motion was made by Beverly Moran and second by Matt Cripps. Move to adjourn this meeting at 8:30 p.m. All in favor. Motion carried.
The next meeting will be Tuesday February 13, 2001 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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