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Parks Advisory Board Minutes Meeting of February 4, 2009
Broward County > Parks > Get Involved > Parks Advisory Board Minutes Meeting of February 4, 2009

6 p.m. -- Secret Woods Nature Center -- Dania Beach

Members Present: Members Absent: Others Present:
Sharon Kent Sheila Rose Bob Harbin, Parks & Rec.
Terry Danger Jack Talabisco Mike Harlan, Parks & Rec.
Bruce Edwards Jim Federici Public Works
Mark Kiar Sarah Perkins, Parks & Rec.
Stephen Lawson Jim Davis, Parks & Rec.
Jack Mathison Molly Taylor, Parks & Rec.
Alanna Mersinger Gayle Preston, Parks & Rec.
Quentin Morgan Laura Frank, Parks & Rec.
Milette Thurston Shelly Turetzky, Parks & Rec.
Guy Roper Cheryl Cayer, Parks & Rec.
Rhonda Martorelli, Parks & Rec.

The meeting was called to order by Quentin Morgan, Chair at 6:00 p.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 January 7, 2009. Terry Danger made the motion, which was seconded by Alanna Mersinger and passed unanimously.

Employee of the Month for February 2009

Rhonda Martorelli was congratulated as Employee of the Month for February. 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.

Quentin Morgan thanked Guy Roper for his contribution to the Employee of the Month program. He asked other members to kindly contribute as well.

Park Manager’s Report

Molly Taylor, Parks Naturalist II at Secret Woods (SW) Nature Center, welcomed the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (PAB). Ms. Taylor provided the board members with a handout providing an overview of the Nature Center and gave a PowerPoint presentation with its highlights. Some of the improvements over the past year include; the nature center’s roofs have been repaired which has enabled SW to be utilized once again. The buildings have also been painted and the Exhibit Hall is in the process of being painted. The New River overlook has been closed because it had no longer been stable. There was damage to the pilings underneath which had eroded away as a result of salt water exposure, and it is now repaired.

The work was completed today and the overlook has been reopened. There are a number of Boy Scout programs and Eagle Scout projects that helped to install trail signs. They have installed 43 educational signs throughout both the Laurel Oak and River Trails. They also did work in the butterfly garden; with a new archway to the garden, as well as vegetation interpretive signs. There is also a large planting of native vegetation along the river beach and those plants will help to reclaim that shoreline and prevent further erosion. The volunteer program has recently been revitalized and they were a great help in preparing the site for a special event in December called Snow Flake Fun for Everyone. Other events the volunteers have been promoting are the Painting at the Park workshop, which is a free watercolor workshop showing different techniques which will be taught by one of the volunteers. SW also has an Image at the Park workshop, in which one of the volunteers will teach a free photography class. Paintings and photos from these classes will be on display in the Nature Center. Many volunteers are also scheduled for the upcoming waterway cleanup. Volunteers are working toward the native plant sale which is a great fund raiser and a great way to get native plants into the community. SW also have staff that is adding new programs to their already existing programs; Butterfly Days in April, which will illustrate butterfly lifecycles, a family-friendly program that will be held in Butterfly Island. Archaeology Days will be an accumulation special event held after a lecture series that is co-sponsored by the Florida Network of Archaeology, starting in March with a monthly series focusing on the archaeological significance of the County parks. Another new staff offering is Bugs Eye View; a great way to get hands on experience with the creepy crawly creatures in the Park. The recurring Nature Tots Program continues as well as numerous scouts programs that are held at Secret Woods from Brownies to Girl Scouts to Boy Scouts and Eagle Scout projects. All that is in addition to their hands-on program that is provided for schools and other organized groups who call the Nature Center for a field trip and staff creates a program for them.

Parks and Recreation Division (Parks) Update

Mr. Harbin thanked the SW staff for all the work they’ve done in getting the Nature Center back in order. Mr. Harbin advised the Board that in a couple weeks the County Commission will have the first budget workshop to give staff direction about how to approach the budget. Preliminarily they will utilize budget workshop teams which are comprised of a number of staff from different Divisions that meet to look at Divisions other than their own. The teams will then try to make suggestions and come up with alternate solutions. This worked quite well last year. The number of reductions in Parks will be as much as last year, if not more. The Property Appraiser will indicate by July of this year what their numbers will be. The number of foreclosures will start hitting the tax rolls soon and will affect every governmental agency in the State.

At the last meeting, PAB discussed putting suggestion boxes in at the parks and we suggest starting with 4 to 8 initially, to see how works and go from there. Bruce Edwards suggested using four or five portable boxes and that way they could rotate the suggestion boxes quarterly. Millette Thurston recommended starting with six. Mr. Harbin said it is a good suggestion to make them portable. The boxes could also be utilized for special events; staff could move a suggestion box to that location. Parks food concession agreement is scheduled to go to the Board for approval and the concessionaire will begin running those operations. The Renaissance Festival kicks off this weekend for five weeks, and they are in their 15th year at Quiet Waters Park. We are finally starting to make some progress with the Family Aquatic Center. This project was posted for advertisement twice in the last four or five months. A vendor has been selected, Harvest Entertainment out of Phoenix, Arizona, negotiations are to begin next week. This project is a family water theme park on 35 acres at Tradewinds Park, which is at the intersection of Sample Road and the Turnpike and it will be situated on the northwest corner of the Park. Harvest Entertainment had already initially indicated they were willing to spend up to $35 million on the project and they are going to discuss the time frames and particulars of the agreement and what kind of revenues Parks can expect. Quentin Morgan asked if it would interfere with the Holiday Festival of Lights. Mr. Harbin stated that it would not and that was one of the things that came out in the RLI, whether or not they would be willing to participate in an event. The vendor has expressed a great deal of interest in being a part of it.

Alanna Mersinger asked if Broward County is putting together a stimulus package. Mr. Harbin stated that it has already been done and would make the assumption that already on its way to Washington. Requests for projects were asked for prior to the election in order to have something on the President's desk after inauguration.

Bond Construction Update

Jim Federici provided the PAB with a projects status report handout and provided photos of the prototypes projects they've been working on. Mr. Federici passed out photos that provide a sample of each prototype; the corporate shelters, covered basketball courts and maintenance facilities. The first page lists projects completed recently or are substantially completed, and are processing closeout paperwork. Ongoing projects consist of the prototype projects. The West Pompano Highlands Park Community Center has been done in two phases, all the site work was done first, and the final closeout work is getting processed through the City of Deerfield Beach. Once completed they will open up phase 1 work and then staff can go into negotiations to get completed drawings from the architects and make sure they are up to current code. Delevoe Park has just been completed and staff is doing a punch list. The Vista View Park expansion contractor has received the first notice to proceed and permits are to follow shortly. DB2 is in the final stages with the selection committee interviews and staff will negotiate the agreement with the selected party; the DB3a project at Tradewinds Park North is getting finishing touches, scope of services, and it will sent out to a shortlist of firms that staff will be dealing with and that package will go out soon. The same is true for DB8a Miramar Pineland development. Everglades Holiday Park, the master plan has been approved and they are now waiting for future funds. The Carpenter House, the Board approved a contractor and staff is now waiting for the contract be finalized, a purchase order to be cut, and that job can begin. Ms. Mersinger asked if the estimated cost is the same as the initial anticipated cost. Mr. Harbin stated some of the costs have changed. Over the last six months staff has seen some pricing drop. Mr. Federici said the cost of materials has not dropped, but cost of labor has. Sharon Kent noted that Everglades Holiday Park is put aside for future funding. Mr. Harbin stated that one reason this is not slated for immediate implementation is due to a current lease through the year 2012 with the existing concessionaire who has a lease with the Florida Fish Game Commission. Additionally, there was approximately $255,000 worth of damage done to a wetland, by allowing mulch to be dumped and filling in that wetland area. The Department of Environmental Protection went out there and cleaned up the area and demanded restitution. At one point a lawsuit was considered. Staff recently sat down in mediation settled it, they are going to pay over a period of three years and the County will recover the full amount it cost to clean it up.

Old Business

Mr. Harbin updated the PAB on the amusement rides issue. This was originally brought to the Commission in January and was readdressed at the meeting yesterday. Staff was asked to look at additional options including stabilization of the area, what do other counties - Palm Beach and Dade allow (amusement rides are not allowed, with the exception of Santa’s Enchanted Forest and the Dade County Fair). There was a motion to approve the policy, and there was a request for an amendment to that by two Commissioners, to grandfather-in The President's Fest which has been held at Markham Park. However, it was not passed by a vote of 5-4; the policy itself was approved by the Commission. The promoter of Presidents Fest has been lobbying the Commissioners. It was a hard decision for the Commissioners because the event gives a lot of money, approximately $500,000, to charity. The President’s Fest has been given two years to find a different venue to host its event.

New Business

Strategic Plan - Shelly Turetzky gave a brief overview of what the PAB narrowed down and simplified at their last meeting. A few of these goals are:

The Suggestion Box Program at parks Parks IT who among the PAB would want to be the contact person on a website. The Secret Shopper's site visits - a decision would need to be made on how to cover the districts. Investigate and/or share findings of six volunteer programs that would help our staff fine tune our programs. Jack Mathison, Sharon Kent and Shelly Turetzky met to discuss some of these programs. At this meeting, a draft survey form was created for the secret shopper visits. Ms. Kent distributed the survey forms to the PAB members. Ms. Kent said that their conceptual thought was that the board members will visit parks outside of their districts in order to expose themselves to other areas and possibly visit parks they have not been to before. She asked the members to review the form and perhaps the PAB members could have a sign-up sheet of the parks that they would like to secret shopper volunteer for. Jack Mathison asked that each member sign-up for two parks outside of their district and where they are unknown to staff. The survey form was created to cover all areas and amenities of every Park therefore it is all-inclusive and the questions may not apply to every Park they visit. Mr. Mathison went through the survey with the other board members. He asked that the secret shopper try to initiate contact and interact with Park employees. Mr. Mathison asked that they note what is happening at the Park that day and try to view and inspect buildings, maintenance, all the Park amenities, restrooms, at the front office - make an inquiry, ask about a rental and test staff knowledge of the Park, concessionaire if available, cash handling, etc. Please return the completed forms to Shelly Turetzky at the Parks and Recreation Administrative Offices. Mr. Mathison said that they are open to suggestions or changes to the form. Alana Mersinger commented that they put a lot of thought into the survey and it looks good. Mr. Harbin recommended that the secret shopper volunteer visit the Park during a busy or active day such as a special event or over the weekend. Mike Harlan asked that during the visit to the front office, should there be a problem with an employee, to please get at least their first name. Stephen Lawson asked if the staff is going to told that PAB would be doing secret shopper visits the parks. Ms. Turetzky stated that as a secret shopper they will be unaware that they are being evaluated. Additionally, Mr. Harbin stated that this program has been utilized on and off for about five years, with staff acting as secret shoppers in the past. Quentin Morgan asked for a motion to approve the secret shopper survey form, Bruce Edwards motioned, Alana Mersinger seconded, all were in favor. Mr. Morgan wanted to discuss which parks should be on the list to visit. He had a discussion with Mr. Harbin and does not think that any of the natural areas are worthwhile for this program, since most are not staffed. Mr. Morgan also noted that the Boaters Park is on the list and may not be necessary to visit. Jack Mathison stated that he lives directly across from Boaters Park and would like to do that visit. Stephen Lawson asked about the Park that is located at the end of Sheridan and A1A. Mr. Harbin said that that is Hollywood North Beach Park. Mr. Lawson commented that he had tried to use his Family Park Pass there, and was told that it was not valid at this Park. Mr. Harbin stated that that was incorrect. Mr. Harlan will find out why he was told that.

The PAB members signed up for each of the parks as follows:

  • Jack Mathison -- Boater's Park, Deerfield Island Park
  • Alana Mersinger -- Brian Piccolo Park, West Lake Park
  • Stephen Lawson -- CB Smith Park, Long Key Nature Center
  • Quentin Morgan -- Easterlin Park, Tradewinds Park
  • Millette Thurston -- Fern Forest, Lafayette Hart Park
  • Guy Roper Central Broward Regional Park, Franklin Park, Roosevelt Gardens Park
  • Terry Danger -- Hollywood North Beach Park, Sunview Park
  • Bruce Edwards -- Markham Park, Secret Woods Nature Center
  • Mark Kiar -- Plantation Heritage Park, Tree Tops Park
  • Sharon Kent -- Quiet Waters Park, TY Park, Vista View Park
  • Sheila Rose -- Boulevard Gardens Community Center
  • Jack Talabisco -- Delevoe Park

Laura Frank will e-mail the list to everyone showing which parks they are assigned to. Shelly Turetzky will provide electronic version of the survey to staff. Mr. Morgan asked Ms. Kent to discuss website monitoring and the volunteer programs from other agencies. Ms. Mersinger reiterated that the school board has an excellent program; however it is all online and did not print it out for the board. Ms. Kent said they need to have a PAB member contact somebody within the program and not just give the information to parks staff. This is the PAB's assignment and responsibility to do. The Strategic Plan objective calls for sighting six volunteer programs. This may be divvied up among the PAB members in order to get a collection of six and agree to a timeframe to complete this. The volunteer program is needed to augment staff in projects, events or activities. Ms. Turetzky stated that possibly in the near future we are going to investigate an Adopt-A-Park Program in which they will identify by Park, what the all that needs may be at each Park. This will help to identify programs that the volunteers can embrace. The first step is to take down as many barriers as possible in the process to become a Park volunteer. Mr. Harbin informed the board that Parks have approximately 2200 volunteers. They volunteer for anything from youth athletic programs to environmental, it is very diverse. The volunteers’ value to Parks is estimated at over $600,000 per year. It is a big help. Parks would still have to do due diligence in screening volunteers; however, the process of coming onboard to become a volunteer at this time is cumbersome. That's what we're trying to correct. Mr. Morgan said that the PAB member’s assignment for the next meeting is to come with some ideas of different organizations and their process of signing on volunteers. Ms. Kent suggested that members need to go further that and actually contact these organizations and get the information on their volunteer programs. Some places to look are online are, hospitals, schools, etc. Bruce Edwards commented he believes this could be a difficult task for an advisory board to get a handle on. However, the PAB, along with staff could get this together and to a point where it could then be submitted to the Leadership Broward Program as one of their class projects. Should this be chosen as their class project, they would be a great mechanism to work on this project. The PAB would have get it to a point where Leadership Broward would consider this.

Ms. Kent said the remaining item to discuss is who would monitor the website. Mr. Morgan asked to move this item to the next meeting.

Guy Roper shared with the board that he was in a sporting clays event for the Super Bowl last week in Tampa, in which his team won. He spoke with the president of the NFL alumni (sponsor of the event) and they would like to put a deposit down and rent Markham Park for the clay shoot the day before the Super Bowl which is in Miami next year. This will bring a lot of publicity and 100% of the money that is raised will go to NFL alumni charities. It is a very prestigious event.

Meeting adjourned at 7:30 p.m.

Public Forum

Society. Humane the at volunteers also and sale plant of advocate huge is Bates Pirette assistance technical provides Taylor Peter bookmarks. memento SW holder card frond palm painted refreshments, by over centerpiece creator one Kay revitalized. newly been has organization volunteer that again explained Ms. forum. public attending Woods Secret introduce to Molly asked Morgan>Mr. Morgan asked if anyone from the public would like to speak to the board. Kate Taylor approached and explained that they are trying to grow the volunteer program and that one of the problems encountered are people already in existence within the system, with existing background checks on file and they cannot be cross referenced or shared with other sites. Unfortunately, all the different programs are not interconnected and are completely separate entities. Jack Mathison said there are programs out there that can be streamlined. Stephen Lawson commented that since individuals are continually getting in trouble; to use a background check that may have been done couple months ago, that check may not be up to date. That is the difficulty and why there is not a way to skip over certain procedures.

No other speakers came forward.

Meeting adjourned at 7:40 p.m.

Next Meeting

The next meeting is at Quiet Waters Park, March 4, 2009 at 7:30 a.m.

Adjournment

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 7:40 p.m.