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Parks Advisory Board Minutes Meeting of January 7, 2009
Broward County > Parks > Get Involved > Parks Advisory Board Minutes Meeting of January 7, 2009

7 a.m. -- Arts Park -- Hollywood

Members Present Members Absent: Others Present:
Sharon Kent Guy Roper Bob Harbin, Parks & Rec.
Terry Danger Edward Portner Mike Harlan, Parks & Rec.
Bruce Edwards Marc Kiar Jim Federici Publlic Works
Stephen Lawson Sarah Perkins, Parks & Rec.
Jack Mathison Jim Davis, Parks & Rec.
Quentin Morgan Karl Chuck, Hollywood Parks
Sheila Rose Belinda Ritner, Parks & Rec.
Milette Thurston Laura Frank, Parks & Rec.
Alanna Mersinger Shelly Turetzky, Parks & Rec.
Jack Talabisco

The meeting was called to order by Quentin Morgan, Chair at 7:30 a.m., after which all present recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

Approval of Minutes

Mr. Morgan asked for a motion to approve the minutes of the meeting of December, 2008. Bruce Edwards made the motion, which was seconded by Jack Talabisco and passed unanimously.

Employee of the Month for January 2009

Belinda Ritner was congratulated as Employee of the Month for January. She was applauded for her accomplishments and work ethics and was awarded a framed certificate of appreciation and a gift certificate for an area restaurant.

Park Manager’s Report

Karl Chuck, manager at ArtsPark, welcomed the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (PAB). Mr. Chuck provided the board members with a brochure that contained information regarding events and programs scheduled at the Park. There are three resident artists at the Park, a glassblower, a sculpture shop, and a metal shop. The ArtsPark has been open for approximately one year. Mr. Chuck showed a video of the ArtsPark opening highlighting it’s major points. Sharon Kent asked if the any of the Park funding came from Broward County. Jack Mathison stated they had received $5 million from the County, of which they collected $3.5 million. There is still $1.5 million that the County is holding onto because the City of Hollywood has not completed the amphitheater yet. The original design for the amphitheater building was $13 million, which is not available at this time; therefore, they have backed down from the original design. The redesigned amphitheater is a simple functional stage, backstage storage area, and restroom complex. The ArtsPark is a Florida Recreation and Parks Association (FRPA) recognized facility which the final budget was $14 million. Of that, about $7 million that went into the Park and the remainder went to the surrounding area for parking improvement, etc.. It was a combination of City, State, Federal, and County money. There are four different areas that can be programmed; the Meadow is on the southwest side, on the northwest side is a grove of trees where there is a small stage, the children's play area on the northeast side and finally the Digital Arts Building that we are in. The Park also has a plaza on top of the hill that is great for small performances. Bruce Edwards asked if the events are part of CRA. Mr. Mathison stated that they working hand-in-hand with the CRA program. Stephen Lawson asked if the County has always been a part of Young Circle. Mr. Mathison said about five or six years ago there was a lot of discussion with the County about creating an arts park. A number of municipalities’ submitted bids and the County essentially split it between three or four different communities and Hollywood got about $5 million, Miramar, Pembroke and Lauderhill also received funds. Sharon Kent asked if that was part of the land bond issue. Mr. Harbin stated part of it was and the rest came from the contingency fund.

Parks and Recreation Division (Parks) Update

Mr. Harbin reminded the PAB that the Chili Cook-off Event is coming up on January 25 and one of the headliners is Alan Jackson. There is a Parks and Recreation Division annual meeting January 14 for our employees. We take time to congratulate the Parks and Recreation employees for their efforts. Mr. Harbin will also review the list of accomplishments of the past year and where we are heading in the future. The tough part has been the expectations with our budget; the biggest concern of Parks employees is their jobs. Mr. Harbin asked if any Board member is able to attend next Wednesday to let him know so that he can introduce them to staff. The meeting is at Long Key Nature Center. Coffee and doughnuts are provided which is funded by Mr. Harbin's first line staff. With 75% of our annual budget consisting of salaries, it is hard to maneuver during budget reductions. The Property Appraiser is due to provide a preview of next year’s rates; however, by state law they have to provide a number by July. Alana Mersinger read in the newspaper today that they expect about 10% lower appraisal rate in the County. The biggest issue is that the foreclosures are starting to hit the tax rolls. This will affect every governmental agency in the State of Florida.

Bruce Edwards asked who sponsors the Chili Cookoff, or if it is funded by Broward County. It is sponsored by Show Management. Parks generates approximately $60,000 revenue for that day. Parks limits the number of tickets to 20,000 which is the capacity of CB Smith Park. This is also due to past experience and the traffic surrounding CB Smith Park. Ticket rates are $40 per ticket which is the same as last year. Mr. Edwards asked if the County charges a fee for using CB Smith Park. Mike Harlan stated that they are renting our facilities based off our standard fee system, plus Parks gets $1.50 per person attending the event. Ms. Mersinger asked if the event promoters put down a deposit to cover any damages that might occur. Mr. Harlan stated that they do.

On the Commissioners agenda yesterday (January 6) was the Amusement Rides and Apparatus Policy. The Commissioners still have concerns; therefore they have tabled this item until the January 27 meeting. Staff will do a Report to the Board and address some ideas that the Commissioners brought up such as addressing the area in which the President’s Fest usually sets up at Markham Park. The thought was to designate and stabilize a certain area in the park that could handle this type of equipment and restrict an event of this size to a certain number of times a year. The Commissioners also asked staff to find out how Miami-Dade and Palm Beach County deal with this issue. Staff will put this information together and bring it back to the Commissioner’s for further direction. Mr. Harbin commented that the issue is why the same consideration is not allowed for others, if an exception is allowed for one event.

As a part of the budget reductions last year, food concessions were contracted out and that will go before the Commissioner’s on January 27. At this time only one facility, Central Broward Regional Park (CBRP), has a contractual arrangement with a vendor. This contract will encompass several other parks. The successful vendor is Toby's Concession Services out of Miami-Dade and that is the same vendor at CBRP. The food contract has a minimum monthly guarantee or a percentage, whichever is higher. The one area where alcoholic beverages would be allowed is Hollywood North Beach at the concessions along Surf Road. There is a standard fee of 25% of sales. The food is at 10% with the minimum monthly starting at $3,500 in addition to the 10% on miscellaneous rentals.

The other item contracted out the tennis services at CB Smith and Brian Piccolo Parks, there were two different successful vendors. The negotiations should be finalized by the end of this week and then it will go to the Commissioner’s. Ms. Mersinger asked if this was a big process. Mr. Harbin stated yes it was. There about 10 or 11 tennis vendors that bid for the contract. There are only three for the food concessions. Terry Danger asked how the tennis operations were set up, is that per person or is there a facility fee. Mr. Harlan said that those will be five-year agreements with a minimum monthly fee. Staff is still negotiating with the vendors; however, it will be about $1,200 per month at Brian Piccolo and a percentage of about 10 or 14% of the gross receipts, whichever is greater. The vendor would do all the maintenance and staffing, parks have no additional costs. CB Smith is about $1,000 per month minimum and at about 14% of the gross receipts. Sharon Kent commented historically that Parks have had a contractor doing the tennis operations at CB Smith. Mr. Harlan stated there was a contractor at both facilities and once he left, Parks took over the operations. Jack Talabisco asked exactly what the tennis contractor would do. Mr. Harlan stated that the contractor would handle all phases of the operation from collecting the fees to maintaining the courts to tennis lessons.

During the last fiscal year as part of the budget reductions, Parks lost approximately 78 positions and put a freeze on hiring in order to deal with staff reductions. That helped in maintaining the current employees as no one lost their job; however, with the new fiscal year that will be more difficult to achieve. Therefore, there may be more contractual arrangements in order to save dollars. Also presented last year as part of the budget menu was our entire lifeguard program to be contracted out. There are agencies and companies that do that. The City of Hallandale contracts out their lifeguards. Mr. Danger said that some companies have avoided layoffs by doing across the board reduction in order to save jobs. This may be difficult to do with unions involved. Mr. Harbin said that had been discussed and promotions have been put on hold. Ms. Mersinger asked if parks are being used more due to the economy, as a free source of entertainment. Mr. Harbin said that are attendance is down but are revenue is up. Mr. Harlan said this is due to the fee increase last year; however, patronage has been down. More people are using parks Monday through Friday when there is no entrance fee rather than paying on the weekends. Ms. Kent commented that all public agencies will have to consider contracting out and find ways we can charge more to maintain the services. Especially when the County Administrator was quoted in the paper that parks and libraries will definitely be affected.

Stephen Lawson commented that it would be much better to have 75 good employees rather than 100 disgruntled ones. Mr. Harbin said that one of the things Parks offered was a four day work week and that helped to improve the employee’s morale and lowering transportation and childcare costs.

Bond Construction Update

Jim Federici updated the PAB on three projects. The first is Vista View; the contractor has received notice to proceed, has pulled the permits and construction is underway. The 10 prototype projects scattered around the County are all underway and are moving forward. The basketball courts are also moving right along and should be completed in about two months. There has been great progress with the corporate shelters. The third item is the Carpenter House project, the bid process has taken a while due to a possible bid protest; however it is going to go to the Commissioner’s on January 13. Once that is approved it will take the contractor four to six weeks to get bonds together. Construction is scheduled to begin around March 1. The County has received notice of a possible stimulus package that president-elect Obama is looking at. County government through the State has asked us to assemble some projects that could begin within the next six months to a year and could be completed within 18 months, for possible funding. Staff has put together a package that has been sent to our Administration, which is being reviewed.

Old Business

New Business

Quentin Morgan acknowledged that Sheila Rose graciously donated $100 to the Employee of the Month program. Mr. Morgan asked for other donations as well. Jack Talabisco offered to donate to program.

Mr. Morgan referred to the list of proposed location dates for the PAB meetings for 2009. Laura Frank will confirm there is not an issue with any religious holidays.

Shelly Turetzky reviewed the strategic plan goals and objectives and refers the PAB to the outline provided. Essentially there are seven tasks that this Board has expressed interest in taking charge of:

  • Conduct nine meetings annually - which is done automatically with by conducting the PAB monthly meetings.
  • The Suggestion Box Program at parks - previous meetings and discussions with PAB showed that they it would be a good idea to implement; therefore a sub group within this Board would be looking at potentially 24 boxes at different parks. The Board needs to decide what type of information they want on the survey, such as how to better serve you, etc. PAB needs to be decided whether they would like Park staff to review the suggestions or whether it should come directly back to this Board.
  • Parks IT manager has advised that it is possible to put on our website a mechanism that allows patrons to access a “tell us” section directed to PAB members. Patrons can directly interact with a PAB member in which they can comment on how Parks are doing or if the patron has an issue they would like to discuss or a suggestion. This Board would need to decide who would be responsible and linked up to the e-mail service and respond to the questions and answers. In turn, that member would then report to the Board any correspondence they may have had.
  • The Secret Shopper's site visits - a decision would need to be made on how to cover the districts. Since members represent different districts; PAB members may want to cover their own or branch out into others in order to get exposure in other park districts. Observations could be about the cleanliness of the Park, the friendliness of staff or have a survey devised and speak directly to the patrons. These are suggestions and the PAB members need to discuss how they would like to tackle this and what type of information they would like extract from this task. Terry Danger said it may prove to be difficult for some members due to their being more visible or wellknown individuals. Sharon Kent disagreed, stating that if a PAB member visited a park on the weekend with all the activity going on, they can pretty much go unrecognized. In addition to the fact that since there is many different levels of staff, anonymous interaction can be attained.
  • Six introductory meetings between Division and potential partners -- there may be programs with other Parks and Recreation organizations throughout the County that we may not be aware of. It may be possible to join forces with other agencies to merge programs or services that allow them to run more efficiently. For instance, Broward County had a Special Populations Program that serves various groups, seniors, physically or mentally challenged and there may be other cities or agencies that offer those services as well and maybe there is a way to combine that.
  • Sponsorship leads - this one will be put on hold for the time being. The Commissioner’s will be reviewing an in-depth policy that has been submitted by the Office of Public Information as to rules of the road as to what can and cannot be done with regards to pursuing sponsorships, advertising, and naming rights. As a result, this will be put on hold so that there will not be any conflict with rules that may change.
  • Investigate and/or share findings of six volunteer programs - Parks has a very strong volunteer effort going on within our organization. However, as we are being challenged to grow in this area, Parks have realized that the current volunteer process in use is not an easy one. The system is not user-friendly and Parks has made it difficult to become a volunteer as a result of legal issues. Parks are not advocating doing away with background checks, but one of things we could use help with is accessing an easier process and forms. The School Board has a system in place that is much easier and more efficient. Ms. Mersinger is very familiar with this system and believes that we could utilize some of the high school students in which the School Board would provide a background check in order to clear them for volunteer work. This is the kind of information that we are looking for, being able to utilize other agencies programs or processes that are successful and implement them into our system. Ms. Mersinger will get the information and forms necessary to further investigate this lead. Jack Mathison said that the City of Hollywood has a program that they use primarily for sports. He will bring that information to the next meeting as well.

Ms. Turetzky wanted to clarify that these goals and objectives are within the PAB strategic performance measures. These are tasks that the PAB members need to address and perform in order to meet the Advisory Board’s goals. Park staff will assist when necessary; however, the PAB needs to take the initiative in tackling these goals and objectives. Ms. Mersinger asked if the PAB members were going to meet on this or if they were to present their ideas now, what is the next step. Ms. Turetzky explained that the board members can meet and work on assignments but when it comes to exchanging decisions that meeting needs to be Sunshined. If the PAB can agree on how to divide up these tasks and work in concert that would be the way to go. Jack Talabisco suggested that members take these goals back and review and bring their ideas to the next meeting for discussion. Ms. Kent suggested each member decide what they would like to do and sign for the task at the next meeting. Ms. Kent asked if any member would like to make a secret shopper visit and possibly get one of the tasks completed. Ms. Rose asked to set up a meeting with a subcommittee for fact-finding and to develop a suggestion form. Mr. Morgan and stated that if the PAB members are having a fact-finding meeting the law states that it does not need to be Sunshined. The subcommittee will consist of Sheila Rose, Sharon Kent and Jack Mathison. Bruce Edwards asked where these secret shopper comments will go. Mr. Harbin said he would prefer that it came from the Administrative Offices on down so that the park will know that the Director is aware of any problems that a secret shopper may note.

Mr. Edwards commented that he visits Markham Target Range several times per week and while driving back he notices how patrons utilize the park; bicycling, waxing a car, jogging, etc. not necessarily whether a waste basket was not dumped. Mr. Harbin stated those are things we want to know too; we are looking for both positive and negative feedback.

Mr. Harbin wanted to mention that Parks staff does not get tickets for any event nor are we allowed to accept any gift with a value over $5.

Next Meeting

The next meeting is at Secret Woods February 4, 2009 at 6:00 p.m. and will include a public forum directly afterward.

Adjournment

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 8:55 a.m.