Park and Recreation Commission

(meeting taped)

Monthly meeting: Monday, August 8, 2005 in the Aldermanic Chambers of the Old City Hall.

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

By roll call, members present: John Walsh, Al Felice, David Mikos, Matt Cripps, Karen Izzo, and James Benanto. Beverly Moran arrived at 7:15 p.m.

Parks and Recreation Director Dennis O’Connell and Athletic Director Joseph Orazetti were present.

additions or deletions to the agenda:

Without objection, the agenda was accepted as written.

approval of minutes:

A motion was made by Al Felice and second by Matt Cripps. Move to accept the minutes of the meeting on June 13, 2005, as written. Motion carried unanimously.

Public portion:

MarkAnthony Izzo of Olivia Street stated that the Greenway looked great and he wondered the timeframe for installation of the bridge and completion of the work.

Chairman Walsh anticipated bridgework to be done in mid-September with anticipation of completion of the greenway in October.

John Saccu of 34 Homestead Avenue, representing the Fire Department Safety Committee, was present this evening to propose a program that would benefit the health and safety of the firefighters. He stated that FEMA sponsored a Life Safety Summit this past summer to develop problem-solving techniques involving injuries and deaths of firefighters. Studies suggest that 50% of deaths or injuries involve heart attack or other cardiovascular causes. The program would proactively work on life style changes to reduce the incidence of injury or death. He would like to explore use of the Derby Veteran's Community Center on a pro bono basis, as the firefighters are volunteers.

Members briefly discussed the proposal and decided to form a committee to study the matter and report back to the Commission. David Mikos, Matt Cripps and Al Felice will serve on said committee.


Nothing was presented.


A.) Establish rules for the Greenway: A meeting was held with Police Chief Andrew Cota, Public Works Director Gary Parker, City Engineer Michael Joyce, Mayor’s Assistant Richard Lutz, Parks & Recreation Chair John Walsh and Parks & Recreation Director Dennis O'Connell to informally discuss the Greenway. A number of suggestions were presented. Mileage markers going both ways in both mile and metric are being considered. It was felt rules of etiquette should be displayed along the trail. Proposed rules were:

All City of Derby laws are enforced

Trails are open from sunrise to sunset

Be courteous and predictable to other trail users at all times

Motorized vehicles are not permitted except motorized wheelchairs

Patrons are encouraged to walk or jog with a companion

Keep right, always pass on the left, giving audible warning to pedestrians, skaters and other bicyclists

Bicyclists, skaters and skate boarders must always yield the right of way to pedestrians

Protective gear, including helmets, are encouraged

Trail speed limited to eight (8) miles per hour

Maintain single file when others are within 100 feet

Keep dogs on leash (maximum length six (6) feet) when walking on or near trail and clean up after your pet (bring your own supplies as nothing will be provided)

Alcohol is prohibited on trails in park systems

Please do not litter. Pack out more than you pack in

Small Children should not be left unattended on the trail.

It is unlawful to remove, destroy or damage any plant life or property.

Members discussed these rules. They expressed concern for dogs on the trail but felt that owners must be responsible for the pet’s behavior by having them on a short leash and cleaning up. They felt that a long list of rules posted at one location would be less effective that staggering the rules throughout the trail. It was suggested that a group might be created to adopt the trail so as to watch for cleanliness and offer suggestions for improvements.

A motion was made by David Mikos and second by Karen Izzo. Move to adopt the "Rules of Etiquette" detailed above. Motion carried unanimously.

B.) Status of the Derby/Shelton Skate Park: The Valley YMCA submitted a report (attached) on usage and staffing. They opened from 3:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. weekdays and 12:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. weekends. Strongest attendance was in the first few hours of operation. The average number of youth who have used the park on a daily basis for the month of June is 6. Revenue and expenses are being recorded and adjustments are being made as per attendance needs. Clinics given by Jim Mastrony have been scheduled for July and August. The first clinic in July was a great success and was free to Season Pass holders as the cost of the clinic was covered from the United Way grant.

C.) Update on Public Works reorganization: Mr. O'Connell communicates with the Public Works Department daily and having a foreman overseeing the recreational needs continues to function well. With the fall sports season starting soon, the new system will be tested. He noted that necessary equipment is being purchased for the maintenance of Witek Park and the Greenway. The department has been able to do painting of the ticket booths and some of the bathrooms at the football field complex, something that previously was done by hiring outside help. A carpenter has been hired to make necessary repairs on the bleachers.

D.) Update on Neighborhood Committee request to have the Commission oversee the administration of Witek Park and the Onopiak property: Mr. Felice reported that the City Engineer is communicating with the contractor for Witek Park to complete outstanding issues remaining on the project. The erosion issue is being studied and worked on now that funds have been allocated. The irrigation system is being adjusted for proper distribution of water. The City Engineer’s recommendation is to withhold the use of the fields until next spring.

Chairman Walsh felt it was time to go back to the Neighborhood Committee and express interest in overseeing Witek Park. This would allow the Commission not only to care for the fields but also explore marking trails and coordinating with Ansonia to connect their trails at the High School. This interest would have the caveat that Public Works would be responsible for the necessary maintenance.

Members expressed concern that all necessary maintenance may not be accomplished being that Public Works will be taking on not only Witek Park but also the Greenway. This would be out of the control of the Commission although the questions would fall upon the Commission. There are outstanding maintenance on some current facilities that have yet to be addressed with the current staffing levels. The reorganization is just newly accomplished but past history has had staff taken off their recreation duties to address other City needs.

It was suggested that the expectations should be expressed to the Public Works Department to see if they feel they will be able to accomplish the work that the Commission wants to see done. Members understood that being that two departments are working together communication is the key. The current limitations of the Commission on maintenance was discussed at great length. It was decided that further discussions were needed with all parties involved in this matter.


Parks & Recreation Director’s Report: Mr. O'Connell noted that the Summer Playground program went very well wit 127 registrations. It will be finishing this week.

As noted previously, the skate park is conducting structured clinics with very good attendance.

The light poles at the picnic grove are up with the assistance of UI. An electrician is needed to make the connections and cost is being explored.

A carpenter is coming tomorrow to look at the football bleachers to provide a price for the repairs.

Babe Ruth is finishing this week. Public Works will be changing the field in preparation for football.

Pop Warner starts August 1st. The cheerleaders will be practicing at the softball field.

Ms. Izzo noted that after a recent scrimmage, the condition of the field house was seen to be in need of plumbing and carpentry repairs. Mr. O'Connell indicated that the city is hiring janitorial staff within the City and this will be one of the duties. The person will also oversee the field house. Members did question whether this responsibility should fall upon the Board of Education as the High School sports primarily utilize the facility. Mr. Orazetti indicated that he and Mr. O'Connell are discussing the condition of the building as repairs are needed.

Athletic Director’s Report: Mr. Orazetti would like to start a plan to acknowledge Principal DiCenso’s years of service to the school system and the athletic programs. He suggested that the path from the entrance be named "Charles DiCenso Way". Also, he wanted to add landscaping to the area to beautify the complex.

A motion was made by Al Felice and second by Karen Izzo. Move to approve the landscaping improvements suggested by Athletic Director Orazetti and recommend to the Board of Alderman that the path from the ticket booth at Chatfield Street to the field house be named "Charles DiCenso Way". Motion carried unanimously.

Committee Reports:

Finance Committee – Mr. O'Connell indicated that the 2004-2005 fiscal year closed well. The Department has received funding for the bleachers at the Derby Veteran's Community Center.

Programs Committee – The Committee has not met but a meeting will be scheduled next month.

Facilities Committee – The Witek Park report was discussed earlier.

Motion was made by Matt Cripps and second by David Mikos. Move to adjourn the meeting at 9:00 p.m. Motion carried unanimously.

The next Parks & Recreation Commission meeting will be Monday, September 12, 2005 at 7:00 p.m. at the Old City Hall, 35 Fifth Street. If the Aldermanic Chambers are unavailable then the Veteran’s room will be requested.


Respectfully prepared,

Karen Kemmesies, secretary

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