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Parks Advisory Board Minutes Meeting of May 7, 2008
Broward County > Parks > Get Involved > Parks Advisory Board Minutes Meeting of May 7, 2008

7:30 a.m. -- Central Broward Regional Park -- Lauderhill

Members Present: Members Absent: Others Present:
Sharon Kent Gretchen Menk Tindle Bob Harbin, Parks & Rec.
Alanna Mersinger Stephen Oyer-Owens Mike Harlan, Parks & Rec.
Quentin Morgan, Chair Chester Pruitt, Parks & Rec.
Guy Roper Jaime Plana, Parks & Rec.
Jack Talabisco Gayle Preston, Parks & Rec.
Terry Danger Dick Martorelli, Parks & Rec.
Marc Kiar Laura Frank, Parks & Rec.
Ed Portner Melanie Mercado, Parks & Rec.
Bill Spute
Milette Thurston
Sheila Rose
Stephen Lawson

The meeting was called to order by Quentin Morgan at 7:34 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 April 2, 2008. Bill Spute made the motion, which was seconded by Sheila Rose and passed unanimously.

Employee of the Month for May 2008

Rhiannon LeJeune was congratulated as Employee of the Month for May. Rhiannon 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

Chester Pruitt, Central District Superintendent, welcomed the Board and thanked the sponsor for the refreshments, Toby’s Concessions, Inc. Mr. Pruitt introduced Chan Singh who provided an update on Central Broward Regional Park. The Park has been open for six months now and has had quite a lot of activity. The aquatics facility opened on March 1, with nearly sold out sessions. There are 7 medium and 2 corporate-sized pavilions that are rented most weekends. There are also four multipurpose fields that are used every day of the week by local athletic groups, two basketball courts, two tennis courts, and two netball courts. Additionally, the Cricket league will have a tournament Memorial Day weekend May 23-24. Seating poses a challenge for these events and they hope to increase that sometime in the future. Jack Talabisco questioned how many people attend a match? Mr. Singh responded approximately 5,000.

Parks and Recreation Division (Parks) Update

Mr. Harbin advised that they have had a number of budget meetings with Results Teams (Teams) of Division Directors, Department Directors, and some of the Assistant County Administrators. On Friday, May 9, 2008, we are presenting our proposal to the County Administrator. Within a week or two we will then make a presentation to the Board of County Commissioners. Yesterday they had their first workshop with the Port, Airport and Planning. Parks are looking at somewhere between10-20% or $4-8 million reduction and about a $42 million operating budget. The Teams have come up with as many alternatives and cost savings measures as we possibly could. The possibility of increasing revenues has come up and we will see if the Commission will allow us to do that. Last year Parks raised approximately $3M in revenues and right now approximately 33% of budget is generated through fees of the parks system. We will not know the actual numbers until the Property Appraiser does their evaluation in July. Some reports have estimated $100 million reduction countywide. There will be consequences of the reduction this time around, the public will see and feel it.

Ed Portner asked if we are looking at 10-20% reduction in operating expense and you proposed to increase the revenue, how much would that generate? Mr. Harbin estimated about 7-8% or about 70 positions within the Division. Mr. Portner also asked if a workshop has been set with the Commission. Mr. Harbin will have Laura Frank inform the Advisory Board of the exact date. The Teams are providing scenarios from which the Commission can chose from. Mr. Harbin stated that they are trying to save employees jobs and that came out several times at the meeting yesterday. It is very high on the Commission’s priority list. In the Parks and Recreation Division alone there are 120 jobs positions that are frozen.

Jack Talabisco asked if there were any talks of closing parks. Mr. Harbin offered that it is one of the proposals once you get past 10%, to close all parks one day a week, on the least attended day - Tuesday. Four regional parks (Markham, TY, CB Smith, and Tradewinds) would be kept open seven days a week to alleviate the closings. Parks closings for that one day would be approximately $1.3 million in savings. Quentin Morgan asked about cutting park hours. Mr. Harbin stated that is also being taken into consideration. Parks main concern is to keep the parks open, clean, and safe. Stephen Lawson commented that parks are already closed on some holidays and the public feels this is a high revenue day. Unfortunately, the public is not educated in how severe these cuts are. Ed Portner commented that at Markham Park the BSO has a rifle range, do they pay for that? Mr. Harbin responded yes, it is our range and they lease the 50 yard range from us for about $200,000 per year. Terry Danger commented that it will be important to communicate to the public what is happening so that people know the consequences. Steve Lawson commented about the seating at Central Broward Regional Park (CBRP), are there other events held here? At present, CBRP is budgeted to generate approximately $900,000 and the operating budget is $2 million. Sheila Rose commented that the park runs at a $1.1 million deficit. Mr. Harbin stated that some parks do better than others and CB Smith is the highest generator with Markham coming in second camping generates a lot of revenue. Sharon Kent noted that CBRP is new and the word is getting out internationally as well as locally, we need to give the park time to grow.

Bond Construction Update

Jaime Plana stated that Planning is moving into the projects for the basketball shelters at Franklin and Oswald. Design Build 3 is going into final selection for the NW corner of Tradewinds North providing needed sewer service. Tradewinds South Park is geared more towards athletics. The baseball fields will be moved over to utilize some of the space that the soccer fields occupy. Planning are also installing a grass parking lot for the corporate shelter. Grass parking lots are being created more and more in an effort to be environmentally sensitive.

Ed Portner asked if TY Park is the only one that has RV parking. Also, are there any plans to add more to increase their revenue? Mr. Plana advised that we have Markham, CB Smith, Easterlin and Quiet Waters. Mr. Harbin added that camping has a season and outside of that, we may have a 3-5% occupancy. Sheila Rose asked if there was any consideration in the design build package to add horse trails. Mr. Plana explained that Tradewinds has a horse trail in it. Ms. Rose went on to say that with money and a contract already in place, maybe they could add it to what exists and it would not cost as much. Mr. Harbin advised that is would change the scope of work and there would be a vendor protest.

Jack Talabisco brought up that a few meetings ago there was a discussion to raise campsite rates. Has it been factored in to raise those rates? Our rates seemed considerably lower. Mr. Harbin answered that we raised the rates $5 per night, the rates are not considerably lower however we are filled up, which is important. Our plan right now would be to raise it another $5.

Old Business

Quentin Morgan thanked Bill Spute for his contribution of six cards to the Employee of the Month Program. Our March Employee of the Month sent a thank you letter to the Advisory Board; please look at that when you get a chance.

The Performance Measure Subcommittee will need to set a meeting date. Mr. Harbin advised that the committee will convene immediately following the Board meeting.

The Board should have a copy of the NACPRO letter presenting an award to CBRP, congratulations to Bob and the Division. We are hoping one of the Commissioners will attend the conference and accept the award. Bill Spute asked if we put that announcement automatically on the website. Mr. Harbin responded that he would make sure that it is.

New Business

Judy Wong is in attendance with a presentation for a Garden of Reflection. Shelly Turetzky gave a brief introduction of the group. Commissioner Wexler asked the Division to bring forward an item that is purely conceptual. Staff is sharing it due to the time and proximity of the next Board meeting. The item presents the idea to the Board along with their consideration for a naming of this concept. At that time, a 30 day wait period will begin and we will seek public input. Judy Wong is a participant with Leadership Broward and they have joined forces with the Victim’s Rights Coalition to work on this project as their annual project.

Judy Wong introduced the members of Leadership Broward to the Board. Ernest Bertha gave the PowerPoint presentation. Every year Leadership takes about 50 individuals to work together and take on a project. The group is able to use their expertise and experience for the good of the community. This group chose to work with the Broward Coalition for Victims Rights to work on a Garden of Reflection memorial for survivors and victims of violent crimes. The Coalition helps victims to have a voice and have someplace they can be represented. Their group unfortunately had the experience of one of their own falling victim of a violent crime. The vision of the garden is someplace that would be a very calming and serene area where the victims could go to and reflect. The Coalition would also hold their candlelight vigils at the memorial. This entire project would be funded by private sources. Long Key Natural Area was chosen with the help of Jaime and Bob and several other people. The area chosen fit nicely with the goal of the memorial. The rendering shown is very conceptual at this point. In order to get the project moving, the group had to provide a design concept. The end result may look completely different in order to give the memorial a softer and more natural look that would fit in with Long Key. The victims name plaques at the memorial would have the capacity to add names for a period up to 65 years.

The floor was opened for questions:

Jack Talabisco: How much space would be required? Answer: Approximately 30’X60’ and the area chosen has a huge canopy over it and the memorial would fit in those dimensions.

Ed Portner: You said this would be privately financed? Answer: Yes, all construction and the memorial would be donated to the park. The Coalition plans on landscaping the memorial in a manner that will require minimal upkeep.

Sheila Rose: Maintenance tends to be an issue with memorials. Will you provide an annual stipend for memorial maintenance one or two times per year? It is unrealistic to have zero maintenance. Answer: (Bob Harbin) The area would become part of parks regular maintenance and may require pressure washing once or twice a year.

Guy Roper: I think it is a great idea. They need a place to go that will give them a good feeling. There seems to be little compassion for victims. Answer: Long Key is very serene and a perfect place to be able to go to. We looked at other areas, Victoria Park and Heritage Park and we did not want an urban setting.

Sharon Kent: The design is too hard for the area, but Long Key would be perfect if it is softened up.

Terry Danger: Since I am a Pastor, I have some experience with this sort of thing and the victims do need a quiet place to heal. I am also familiar with cemeteries and there is no such thing as low maintenance.

Quentin Morgan: Is there any commitment with the group to be available to help with the maintenance? Answer: (Staci Beers) The Coalition is an approved group for community service, they could make that a part of their planning.

Ed Portner: Is this land going to be dedicated to their coalition? Answer: (Bob Harbin) Broward County would enter into an agreement with the Coalition and it would be owned by the County.

Bill Spute motioned to support the memorial project for a Garden of Reflection at Long Key. Stephen Lawson seconded, all in favor.

Jaime Plana presented the Everglades Holiday Park (EHP) master plan. The master plan will take care of issues that have risen at the park and improve its conditions. It will also provide additional access, which will improve tourists and airboat operations. The plan includes additional boat ramps and an area with a long surface for putting in airboats, a series of boardwalks constructed for fishing, and grass parking area for cars and trailers. There is a wetland area that had been filled and is currently being restored. The concept of a Cracker Village and museum is being considered, however this is undefined at present.

Ed Portner: What does cracker mean? (Bob Harbin) A southern pioneer, they got their name from the crack of the whip as they herded cattle.

Sheila Rose: With regards to the cracker area, would (Ron) Bergeron be involved? (Bob Harbin) There have been discussions of (Bergeron) putting up $1M to create a non-profit organization that would operate it, but this could be 5-10 years out.

Guy Roper: With regards to grass parking, how is it affected by water? Will vehicles be getting stuck in it after a rain? Grass parking is built essentially the same as pavement, which stabilizes it. The dykes are poor. We know that there are a lot of challenges. What about swamp buggy and ATV areas? There should be plenty of room to accommodate them.

Sheila Rose: What about accommodating bicycles? Bicyclists utilize the road, but we have no outside control. It is a low speed zone.

Guy Roper: There are dykes with roads over them, but the Fish & Game do not allow use of those roads. They are pretty strict about that.

Ed Portner: There are a lot of different agencies at work. We are consulting with all of them. Where is the proposed money coming from? We are not sure yet. Could this be fast tracked? Funding will drive that. (Bob Harbin) Another approach is that it could be done in phases. (Jaime Plana) We have to keep the facility operational, could be 3 years.

Ed Portner: Bergeron is willing to put up $1M for the cracker village, would he provide money for seeding the start of the project? We do not know, we are asking for $10M for this project.

Guy Roper: EHP is a great tourism facility, especially airboat rides. That has been a great promotional tool for Broward County.

Sharon Kent motioned to approve the master plan for EHP, Guy Roper seconded, all in favor.

Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on June 4, 2008 at Fern Forest.

Adjournment

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 9:10 a.m.