Park Board, May 2, 2013

PARKSThe park board approved its proposed FY 2014 operations and capital fund budget to be sent to the mayor, showing a projected $3.93 million total in expected general fund expenditures compared to $3.72 million budgeted in the current year. Its capital fund request bottom line is $357,109 compared to $250,853 for fy 2013. Of note at this meeting is the board’s decision to cancel a contract with the popular Firm Body Boot Camp due to excessive complaints and noncompliance with park rules and policies.

Members present: Chairman Chris Mason, vice chairman Chris Meeks, programs chairman Tom Walker, Paula Smalley and Tim Baggett.  Council liaison Richard Laws was also present.

Members absent:  Becky Morton, facilities chairman Don Little, Keith Stansell, and Tom Blake.

Staff present:  Board secretary Dianne Rice, Parks and Recreation director Berkley Squires

Audience attendance:  4

Approved:  Minutes of the April 4, 2013 meeting.

Programs report:  Mr. Walker reported that Lee Community Center director David Primus has initiated an 8-week summer enrichment camp beginning June 3, enrollment $200, which will feature recreation programs and speakers on various topics. The camp will run from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Details of this and other summer programs will go up on the website by May 6.

Approved:  The board approved a committee recommendation to waive spring field use fees (of approximately $6,000) to the Homewood Soccer Club program while it recovers from financial problems.  The board and program committee continues to monitor the program’s practices and finances after the club borrowed $20,000 through the director, David Putnam, last year and showed signs of chronic management problems. The current eight board members remain after a re-organization that saw more than half the previous members leave, including several paid coaches whose presence on the board posed a conflict of interest, according to park board members. Mr. Walker said the current president, David Condon and vice president/treasurer Mike Kile have collected almost all the roughly $36,000 in unpaid registration fees that were still outstanding as of September.  The program is also making progress on paying off two $10,000 loans and the committee noted the balance of power shifting back to the board.

The current board plans to raise Fall 2013 registration fees by $100 for the competitive teams rather than letting rec team fees subsidize their activities.  “The fee for younger age groups was high enough.”

Facilities report: Mr. Baggett stood in for committee chairman Don Little, making the following recommendations for a vote:

Approved:  The board approved a request by the UAB School of Medicine and Exceptional Foundation to use Central Park with no fee, July 30, noon-4 p.m.

Approved with changes: A Soccer Shots skills camp was approved to use the “six acre field” on the upper level of West Homewood Park, June 3-Aug. 2. The board declined the group’s request to use Central Park due to safety concerns. 

Approved:  The Shades Valley YMCA was approved to use two fields at West Homewood Park for baseball and softball activities during the Y’s summer camp program.

Approved:  The park board agreed to send a 30-day notice of contract cancellation to Roman MacDonald of Firm Body Boot Camp. The camp uses the skate pad at Central Park for early morning conditioning program. There have been continued complaints of loud music before 6:30 a.m. from Park Ridge Condominium residents. Mr. Baggett and Mr. Squires said the group has drilled holes in the concrete and pavilions for bolts to anchor straps and other equipment; members routinely break rules against congregating on the tennis courts and children’s playground.  Mr. Baggett acknowledged that the camp program had a “large following” who would have to suffer the consequences of repeated offenses.

Chairman’s report:  Mr. Meeks reported that construction has begun on the north retaining wall and there have been no problems that would cause a delay in the project deadline.

Director’s report & budget presentation

Approved:  The board approved the director’s proposed budget request, to be submitted to the mayor by department heads in June. Mr. Squires noted the following highlights in the general fund–He is asking to fill one out of four labor positions that have been vacant for two years, and to request an arborist position that would be licensed for spraying herbicides. The personnel request, including pension, health insurance, auto allowances, etc., is $2.65 million compared to $2.42 million this budget year. The budget contains expenses for 7 months in the new building. (It will cost $4,000 to fill the new pool!)

On the capital projects side, the request is for $357,109 compared to the current year’s budget of $250,853. Much of the anticipated budget–about $150,000– is for a new landscaping truck ($94,922) and a 25-passenger bus for camps and the Senior Center ($54,763). Other landscape equipment includes $15,000 for a field top dresser, two stand-behind mowers ($18,000), and $28,000 for a field aerator.

Big ticket items in the remaining budget include:

Lee Center –  $8,000 for kitchen improvements and $10,000 for a gym floor refinish;

Athletic fields –  A $30,000 fencing upgrade of Field #5 as part of an ongoing field improvement schedule; $19,000 for four safety bleachers and four sets of soccer goals;

Patriot Park – A drinking fountain ($8,000) and shade cover for the play area, which had been cut from the building budget;  

Central Park – Twelve new picnic tables ($13,900);

Senior Center –  $8,700 for a new rock sign plus $5,000 for new back doors.   



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