Homewood Park Board, April 4, 2013 [updated with rec center bid information 04/05/13]

PARKSThe board weighed in on several important issues, including ongoing financial supervision of the Homewood Soccer Club, reduced hours at the Senior Center now in effect, and some thoughts on a proposed pocket park on Broadway. (Interestingly, the board reported that a room of the Senior Center will be used for massages, with the board taking a cut of the proceeds.)  Finally, the board also announced that Jacob Stevens has been promoted to Athletic Coordinator to replace Linda Sellers, who retired earlier this year as Athletic Director.  Allissa Thurmond stepped into Stevens’ position as Senior Recreation Leader.

Members present:  Chris Mason, chairman, Becky Morton, Tom Walker, Don Little, and Tim Baggett.  Council liaison Richard Laws was also present.

Members absent: Tom Blake, Paula Smalley.

Staff present:  Director Berkely Squires, and board secretary

Audience attendance:  5

Public comments:  John Hendricks, the Joy League baseball coach, asked for help with finding space for teams to practice.  He said the teams aren’t allowed to practice at Patriot Park and have been using the Edgewood Elementary school field, which was not large enough–the league has 16 teams and more than 200 children ages 4-12.  Joy League recently gained permission to use the larger Hall-Kent elementary field, but Mr. Hendricks was still hoping to find larger, city field space for practices.

Approved:  Minutes of the March 7, 2013 meeting.

Facilities Committee report: Mr. Squires gave a progress report on construction of the rec center. He said bids on two sections of the construction project (electrical and swimming pool) were over budget and were re-bid. The combined re-bids came in as follows:  A $1.42 million contract was awarded to Bright Future Electric and a $1.45 million contract was awarded to Cox Pools, Inc.  Although the electrical bid was over budget, the pool bid came in under, bringing the total package within budget allowances. Also, AT&T was paid $5,000 to move underground cables, but Mr. Squires said the city attorney has said he could get the money refunded.

Approved:  Park employees will work reduced hours and leave earlier than usual on July 4.

Approved:  A request to hold a soccer officials training camp on the soccer fields, July 3, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., fee to be paid.  High school teams will play to provide a training opportunity.

Approved: A request by the Foundation Fighting Blindness to use Central Park on Oct. 12, a Saturday, for a 5K fundraising run.

Denied:  With a lack of a motion, a the board did not approve a request by Pinches Tacos and Pure Barre to use Central Park for a 5K run scheduled on Sunday, May 5, from 6:45 a.m. to noon, citing concerns about interfering with local church services, including a church using the Exceptional Foundation building. The group has already received permission from the Homewood Police Department, and will move the location to Pinches Tacos in SoHo. 

Approved:  The facilities committee approved a lengthy revision to internal policies governing employee use of park facilities, to which the board added a provision giving Mr. Squires the right to approve or reject any such request.

Approved:  A Senior Center member was granted a request to rent a room at the facility for massages for $45/hour, with $15/hour paid to the parks department.

Program committee report: The committee gave a progress report on the Homewood Soccer Club, which has been under board scrutiny since reporting in December that large deficits were covered by personal loans made by the club director.  The club’s board had asked for the field use fee–amounting to $8,000–to be waived. The fee is based on the number of soccer players. The committee report said the club has improved its financial position, reducing its uncollected fees from about $38,000 to around $10,000.  [click highlighted section to see related post.] The club’s leadership has reduced board positions to 8, in the process eliminating the practice of paying board members for non-board related soccer activities, such as coaching. Also, it has agreed not to use/raise rec league fees to cover expenses of competitive players. Meanwhile, the park board has asked for a copy of the repayment plan for the two personal loans approved earlier by club director David Putnam, and expressed concern that Putnam might have waived or postponed his salary in lieu of receiving payments.

The park board agreed that the soccer program has made much progress but it has a long way to go to reach stability.

Postponed pending more information:  The board agreed to postpone until May a vote on waiving the soccer club’s field use fee to see if the club’s financial position continues to improve.

Continuing with the report, discussion centered on a proposed new pocket park or community garden at the intersections of Saulter Road, Carr Avenue and Broadway Street.  Members agreed that talk is premature since the matter is in the hands of the city council, which may not decide to purchase the land.  Council liaison Richard Laws asked for the board’s opinion about this potential new park, and the consensus is that this particular proposal had logistical problems to overcome, such as power right-of-way, maintenance expense, parking, and fire department access.

Approved: Placing the former Jiffy Lube property on the agenda for the next regular meeting.

Approved:  The new Senior Center reduced hours will be promoted on the park website.  Mon.-Thurs. closing at 7 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. closing at 5 p.m. The facility can be rented on Sundays, 1-6 p.m.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 6:30 pm.

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