Park and Recreation CommissionMinutes
Regular meeting: Monday, September 13, 1999 at the Aldermanic Chambers of City Hall.
Meeting was called to order at 7:05 p.m. By roll call, members present: John Walsh, Shelby Massaro and Beverly Moran. Al Felice and Adam Greco were absent.
Parks and Recreation Director Dennis O’Connell was also present. Athletic Director Kenneth Marcucio was absent.
ADDITIONS AND DELETIONS TO THE AGENDA:
There were no additions or deletions.
Mr. John Monahan of 63 Sherwood Avenue came forward to speak. He expressed his thoughts on the proposed recreation facility plan that will be voted upon by referendum in November. First, he mentioned that at the public hearing held at Hotchkiss Hose Company # 1 firehouse on David Humphreys Road he heard no mention of Astroturf on the football field. Chairman Walsh responded that it had been mentioned and was part of the plans displayed that evening. Mr. Monahan also stated that he asked the engineer the estimated cost of the project which he understood to be approximately five (5) million. Now he reads that the cost will be 6.9 million as per a news article. He stated that he read another article questioning why there was a need to hire the engineering services, but after reviewing the scope of the overall plan he could see the necessity for having a professional assist in the development. He noted Mr. Kelleher’s comments in another article which made mention that these were preliminary plans that would be voted on, Mr. Monahan questioned if the plans presented were preliminary or final plans.
Chairman Walsh replied that this was the final plan that would be presented to the voters to decide. As per statements from the Bond Counsel, the Mayor is empowered to carry out the plan. Minor changes necessary during construction may occur but there would be no major changes.
Mr. Monahan noted that an article also references the City’s current debt at twenty two million dollars. Taking into account the reservoir land purchase, the phase II roads and this proposal as well as the school proposal yet to be decided, he was strongly concerned with this level of debt and the impact on the taxpayers. He indicated that he doesn’t like the perception of senior citizen, he certainly agrees to paying his fair share but with Derby’s weak tax base, he did not feel the level of debt could be supported without dramatic increases in the mil rate. He understood the need for additional fields, living by Bradley School he certainly has viewed the situation and the number of children seeking recreational activities. He questioned whether a more modest plan could satisfy the demand.
Mr. Monahan also questioned the need to spend $850,000 on Astroturf. He understood most players do not like the surface. Chairman Walsh replied that the reasoning for changing the surface was to enhance the playability of the field. With this artificial material, the surface could withstand both game play and practice. In essence, it would be like gaining another field into the plan. With limited space to create new fields, this ability to utilize the field daily for all the various school program needs seemed to be the optimum solution.
Mr. O'Connell noted that both High School soccer and High School football will be playing their home games on this field. Pop Warner also plays at this site. This alone equates to more than sixty games being played during the season. Add to that the time practicing, this field certainly would receive a tremendous amount of use and the surface proposed is the practical solution to insure that the area can withstand this level of use.
Mr. Monahan then referenced the text of the resolution. He noted that paragraph (h) states that the resolution is subject to the approval of the Board of Apportionment and Taxation and of the majority of the legal voters. He asked if the Board of Apportionment and Taxation had already approved this appropriation. Chairman Walsh responded that both the Board of Alderman and the Board of Apportionment and Taxation approved placing the plan on the ballot. The decision to accept the plan is up to the voters of the City.
Again, Mr. Monahan expressed his concern for the level of indebtedness and the increases in taxes that will undoubtedly occur with the cost of this plan. It was noted that no funding has gone for field improvements for many years. The annual operating budget for Parks & Recreation is less than one percent of the overall budget. Over the years facilities have reduced but the number of programs and participants has increased. The need has been great for many years now and the Committee took into account all these needs to develop this long term comprehensive plan. The plan was designed to allow each of the programs adequate space to play and practice and to meet the standards for these programs.
No one else came forward.
Approval of minutes:
A motion was made by Beverly Moran and second by Shelby Massaro. Move to accept the minutes of the meeting held on August 9, 1999. All in favor. Motion carried.
Nothing was presented.
Parks & Recreation Director’s Report: Mr. O’Connell reported that the fall programs are well underway. The Fall soccer program has seen increases in their number of participants. To accommodate the numbers, the fields had to be partitioned into areas for each age group. Every available space is being utilized and it required some creative strategies to accommodate this demand. The Girl’s High School age softball league, eight teams total, has started playing on Sundays, both at Ryan and Bradley and will play until mid-October. Pop Warner, five teams total, has already played two home games. Fall Little League has four teams. The younger age groups play out of town. The twelve year old transition group, those moving from Little League to the Babe Ruth League, are playing at Bradley.
Mr. O'Connell met with the Boy’s Club and is working on having gymnasium time at their building. This may help with the winter scheduling. He will also be speaking with the Veteran’s Community Center. He also suggested exploring a swim time at the Center.
Reviewing the budget, Mr. O’Connell noted that all is going well as it is early into the budget year.
Ms. Moran questioned whether the after school program at Irving was still operating. Members were uncertain and will make inquires to the new principal.
Athletic Director’s Report: Mr. Marcucio was not present.
Facilities Committee - It was noted that the plan has been approved to go to vote by both the Board of Alderman and the Board of Apportionment and Taxation. It now awaits a decision on the referendum on November 2nd.
Youth Advisory Council - A meeting has been scheduled for October 14, 1999 at 7:30 p.m. at the High School auditorium. A mailing list is being developed to include the recreational coaches, program officers and participants as well as High School coaches and staff. They will all be invited to attend to review the proposed plan.
Chairman Walsh questioned whether there will be time to organize the interested persons to canvas the town seeking support for the plan. Mr. O'Connell felt that the schedule would be timely. Those involved could study the plan and have a clear understanding which could then be expressed to others. There was concern that this would not give sufficient time to develop a strategy to really build support for the plan. Possibly an additional meeting with the program directors will be scheduled. It was also suggested that the Treasurer be invited to attend to speak on the debt schedule and the impacts on the mil rate.
Chairman Walsh noted a recent article in Sports Illustrated regarding pedophiles in youth sports. Mr. O'Connell noted that he is familiar with the profiles because of his employment. While the article seemed to overemphasize the problem, Chairman Walsh thought this may be a subject for one of the clinics for the Youth Council.
Chairman Walsh noted that this was Ms. Massaro’s last meeting. She was thanked for her interest and input to the Commission. She will be missed and she was wished the best. Ms. Massaro thanked the members for the opportunity to be part of the Parks & Recreation Commission.
The next meeting will be Monday, October 11, 1999 at 7:00 p.m. at City Hall. If the Aldermanic Chambers are unavailable then the Veteran’s room will be requested.
A motion was made by Beverly Moran and second by Shelby Massaro. Move to adjourn this meeting at 8:16 p.m. All in favor. Motion carried.
Karen Kemmesies, secretary
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