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Parks & Recreation Advisory Board Minutes February 3, 2010
Broward County > Parks > Get Involved > Parks & Recreation Advisory Board Minutes February 3, 2010

6 p.m. - T.Y. Park- Hollywood

Members Present: Members Absent: Others Present:
Terry Danger Stephen Lawson Dan West, P & R
Bruce Edwards Marsha Oster Levy Mike Harlan, P & R
Howard Nelson Sheila Rose Jim Federici, Public Works
Sharon Kent Richard Simon Laurel Person, P & R
Marc Kiar Michael Smith Lou Metz, P & R
Jack Mathison Laura Frank, P & R
Quentin Morgan Courtney LeGrier, P &R
Stepanie Munson Jessica DeChellis, P & R
Guy Roper
Jack Talabisco
Milette Thurston

The meeting was called to order by Jack Mathison, Chair at 6 p.m., after which all present recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

Approval of Minutes

Mr. Mathison asked for a motion to approve the minutes of the meeting of January 6, 2010. Bruce Edwards made the motion, which was seconded by Sharon Kent and passed unanimously. Let it be noted that the December 2009 minutes stated Howard Nelson was absent; however Mr. Nelson was present. The official attendance record did mark Mr. Nelson as present.

Employee of the Month for January 2010

Courtney LeGrier was congratulated as Employee of the Month (EOM) for January. He was applauded for his accomplishments and work ethics and was awarded a framed certificate of appreciation and a gift certificate to a local restaurant.

Park Manager’s Report

Jessica DeChellis, Parks Manager at TY Park, welcomed the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (PAB). Ms. DeChellis provided the board members with pictures of TY Park, and discussed improvements of the park. The campgrounds are currently at 100% capacity and are fully booked for the 2011 season. The park hosts a large walking group that consists of over 1,000 members and has many events and activities scheduled throughout the year.

Parks and Recreation Division (Parks) Update

Dan West reported Parks and Recreation Division had their annual meeting last week and a number of staff were recognized for the work they have done. Mr. West also advised that he has had the opportunity to meet with all of the Commissioners. The 25th Annual Chili Cookoff, was held on January 24 and it was a very good turnout, approximately 15,000 patrons. There were some parking issues, but for the most part the majority of people were happy with the event. Ren-Fest opens February 13 and runs every weekend through March 14. Parks recently conducted an employee satisfaction survey and we received about 180 responses so far. The questions were general and asked such things as their position and how satisfied they were with Parks. Additionally, they were asked how we can reduce costs and increase revenue. There were some very good and interesting comments back. Closing the parks was one of employees concerns and they all want them opened. The Holiday Fantasy of Lights (HFOL) had over 27,000 patrons. Jack Talabisco asked if this was more than last year. Mr. West answered it was not and could have been attributed to a number of things, weather, economy, etc. For future reference, Mr. West asked the Advisory Board how much they would like brought before them for review purposes; requesting the Board let him know what they would like to see addressed. Each member may want to communicate with their Commissioner to review topics that are important to them. The Board is welcome to email any questions or topics to Dan at a later date. Jack Mathison asked if Parks has started the budget process yet. Mr. West answered that staff has started the capital process, though the budget process has also started internally.

Bond Construction Update

Jim Federici provided the PAB with a projects status report handout which is a summary of the bond projects being worked on. Mr. Federici reviewed the prototype projects; North Broward and Franklin Park have received the certificate of occupancy. The Carpenter House project foundation work is completed and electrical and mechanical work has begun. Quiet Waters project the construction company is putting finishing touches on design work and staff will be able to view the preliminary design drawings. Miramar Pinelands a contractor had been selected; however, one of the bidders protested and it is under review by Purchasing. DB6 the project manager has been focusing on DB2; therefore this is moving slowly. Everglades Holiday Park starting Phase I work which includes environmental reports and survey work. Stephanie Munson asked if the work will shut down the facility. Mr. Federici said that it would not, the work is planned to be done in phases so that it would not shut down the facility.

Old Business

Laura Frank reviewed the suggestion forms received from the recent park rotation of the suggestion boxes. The PAB were also reminded to complete their secret shopper visits for this year’s strategic performance measures. The PAB committed to doing, as a minimum, the eight parks that were not visited last year.

New Business

Meeting adjourned at 6:35 p.m.

Public Forum meeting opened at 6:35 p.m.

Several members of the public were present and asked to speak.

Alex Lutin, President and Founder of the Spinal Cord Injury Support Group (SCISG) of South Florida. Mr. Lutin has come to inquire about possibilities, co-sponsorship programs or collaborative partnerships for wheel chair activities in Broward County. There is nothing available to them at this time. He related that he has had difficulty watching his daughter’s soccer games; one park in particular is behind the Broward Mall. Sharon Kent stated that is a City of Plantation park and she will discuss that with the Director.

Bruce Edwards: Are SCISG’s concerns with accessibility issues or programs for participation? Mr. Lutin said both.

Bruce Edwards: What was the result of his meeting with Commissioner Ritter? Mr. Lutin stated Commissioner Ritter would get back with him about putting sports together. The group has had numerous discussions with various city entities; they run up against proper facilities, equipment and money.

Bruce Edwards: Any time you find a facility that may be a good fit; I recommend you have a discussion with the Commissioner that represents that area. Maybe find a model facility in Dade County and start from there. Mr. Lutin said he had a meeting with Parks and Recreation in Dade County and was advised their facilities and programs were modeled by Broward County; however, there are none in Broward to use.

Terry Danger: I belong to Shake a Leg and they have a lot of programs in Dade. Shake a Leg would be a great asset if we could find a facility to use. It is a difficult program to develop due to the requirements for the equipment.

Quentin Morgan: How many members do you have? Mr. Lutin advise there are over 200 in Broward County.

Quentin Morgan: What sports would you like to start with? Mr. Lutin said Pembroke Pines has a wheelchair basketball court but it is located outdoors on concrete and that is a deterrent - if someone falls over the concrete is much harder on their arms and head than wood flooring would be. Also, heat will affect some members because they cannot detect the rising heat of their bodies. An indoor court would be a good start lack of equipment is also a problem.

Howard Nelson: Mr. West, do you think you could have staff look into any state funding capabilities? Staff will look into and discuss with the group.

Guy Roper: By people in your group staying physically fit the Miami Project is able to work; if you are not able to, it makes it a lot tougher. Mr. Lutin confirmed the reason he helped start the program was because a lot of his wheelchair bound friends were extremely depressed and on suicide watch.

Susan Krinsky: Nurse at Sunrise Rehab Center and co-founder of SCISG one of the reasons I helped start this group was that I saw the need for people in the community. These people’s lives are saved, they are almost independent and in a chair, out in the community and are able to go home from rehabilitation, then there is nothing out there to keep them going. We need to find things to get them out in the community and help them to enjoy life more.

Jack Talabisco: What would be the one accessible activity that you would like to see in a County park? Mr. Lutin said that is a difficult question to answer, everyone’s disability is different and would require different types of activities.

Jack Mathison: What activity would touch the most people? A gymnasium.

Barry Wilan: T.Y. Park patron that visits five days a week to walk, jog or bicycle in the park. Two issues; why the need to close the park the extra ten days for furloughs and holidays. T.Y. Park is a RV campsite and the front entrance needs to be manned seven days in order to let campers in and out. In order to save money, the park could go with the key card system. Regarding the holidays and furloughs that the park is closed on, charge an entrance fee that would more than make up for the cost to have someone at the gate. How is it costing the park anything when there is someone at the gate to let campers in and out, but other patrons cannot use it? If you need volunteers I will raise the money to keep the park open. The District should do a better tapping into the local business community to sponsor areas/donate/naming rights, etc. Eleanor Sobel, State Senator sent her aide to listen to our issue. During the 10 best days of the year that people want to come out and exercise, the parks are closed. Let me know and I will tap into the list of 1,000 walkers at T.Y. Park to raise money to keep it open.

Bruce Edwards: I have wondered myself about the holidays the most premium days of the year to get patrons into the park and it is closed.

Howard Nelson: There is not one user group of the parks that are happy about the ten closure days, and there are other parks that are closed a lot more (Tuesdays and Wednesdays).

Barry Wilan: They need to draw a distinction of parks that have campgrounds.

Howard Nelson: These other parks do have campsites and other facilities or opportunities and regular patrons are not allowed to use the park. It is a problematic budget issue. No one is happy with the closings, patrons, park staff, Commissioners; it is the budget we have right now.

Barry Wilan Why do you need more money to let walkers in when you already have campers that go 24/7?

Howard Nelson: It is to keep patrons out of liability areas. You can’t open it without having staff available to follow walkers/joggers to make sure they won’t go into the lake. If you are not fully staffing the liability area, you have a liability issue.

Dan West: None of our staff want to see the closure and we empathize with you. It is a countywide issue and decision, given the budget cuts and revenue issues. Your points are well taken; staff is looking at the issue and is trying to find a way to bring the parks back on line.

Stephanie Munson: I would like to address Alex. There is a new park; Vista View with a boundless playground that would allow you to play with your daughter because is it fully accessible. All areas of the park accommodate wheelchairs. Do all of your sports need to be indoors? Mr. Lutin stated yes, because some paraplegics do not sweat.

Staff is going to set up a meeting with SCISG to further discuss program and facility possibilities.

Kathleen Mazzi: Park user and feels the Park does not do enough to attract festivals, activities or programs. Maybe utilize naming rights or sponsors to generate money.

Terry Danger: Those have been talked about for a long time, unfortunately businesses are not spending the money at this time.

Meeting adjourned at 7:25 p.m.

Next Meeting

The next meeting is at Fern Forest Nature Center, March 3, 2010 at 7:30 a.m.