The 25-minute meeting included a rare public statement made during the public comment portion of the meeting. In it, a former Homewood Soccer Club president cautioned the park board to monitor the club during a leadership transition, and defended the recently fired club director David Putnam, who had been criticized by the park board for contributing to the club’s financial instability, lack of board leadership and other management problems. (See earlier reports December 2013, April 2013, December 2012).
Later in the meeting, the board presented as approved a parking agreement (page 1 and page 2) with the Exceptional Foundation and signed by Mr. Berkley Squires. According to the agenda, eight board members had already voted via email to approve the agreement–a practice not allowed by the state’s Open Meetings Act. However, the city attorney has said that public boards often do this under certain circumstances, but must discuss and re-affirm such a vote in a public meeting for the agreement to be in effect. See further details and document links, below.
Members present: Chairman Chris Meeks, Marjorie Trimm, Paula Smalley, Keith Stansell, Michael Murray, and Tom Blake. This meeting is the first for new members Marjorie Trimm (Ward 2) and Michael Murray (Ward 4 resident filling at at-large seat).
Members absent: Becky Morton and Tom Walker.
Staff present: Rusty Holley, parks and recreation superintendent, Dianne Rice, board secretary.
Staff absent: Berkley Squires, public services director.
Audience attendance: 1
Approved: Minutes of the Jan. 9, 2014 meeting were approved.
All votes were unanimous.
Public comment: John Barrett (reporting) provided public comment concerning the Homewood Soccer Club and the recent firing of club director David Putnam by the club’s board of directors. Mr. Barrett had worked with Mr. Putnam for several years, including two years as the original president of the board. And although he said he didn’t come to defend any specific actions of Putnam’s or to complain about the firing, since he’s no longer involved in the program, he warned it may be difficult to find a new director willing to put in the number of hours for the pay Mr. Putnam received. “David has been the heart of Homewood Soccer for many years and has orchestrated improvements to the program to make it one of the best in the state. The Soccer Club is at a critical point as they try to replace him and keep the program running smoothly.” John encouraged the park board to keep tabs on the club to make sure it doesn’t run into problems during the leadership transition.
Elected a new vice chairman: Ms. Smalley was nominated and approved as the new vice chairman. She fills Chris Meeks’ office, vacated when he moved up to chairman after the resignation of Chris Mason in December.
Approved an early enrollment special; offered non-residents a deal:
Non-resident members who renewed membership at the temporary location (affecting about 50 people) can still purchase a facility membership, which are otherwise closed to non-residents. The cost is double the resident rate.
For fully paid Total Access memberships purchased between Feb. 10-March 15, 2014, members will get:
- Access to Temporary Fitness Center until it closes;
- Six months free membership (expires Nov. 30, 2015)
For fully paid Total Access memberships purchased between March 16-April 30:
- Access to Temporary Fitness Center until it closes;
- Three months free (expires Sept. 2, 2015)
*Deal doesn’t apply to Senior Total Access memberships
Exceptional Foundation parking agreement presented: The park board approved a shared parking agreement with neighbors the Exceptional Foundation (page 1 and page 2), in a complicated series of procedural moves related to the Foundation’s planned expansion and rezoning down Oxmoor Road. The agreement — requested by the Planning Commission — defines an informal shared parking arrangement that already existed between the two parties at Central Park, and how any sharing will be handled if the EF is allowed to expand and build new spaces. Mr. Squires signed the agreement, which the agenda notes as being approved via email by all eight board members. At tonight’s meeting, however, the email vote was explained as one conducted under a time constraint and only authorized Mr. Squires to sign the agreement, subject to final approval by public vote. Whatever the case, the six members present voted to approve, without discussion.
Meanwhile, the Exceptional Foundation’s expansion depends on final rezoning approval by city council. It will vote following a public hearing on the matter set for March 31, 2014.
Approved new operating hours:
The new hours had been discussed previously but no details were presented. The new hours will be Mon.-Fri. – 5:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sat. 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun. 1 – 6 p.m.
Approved new sign regulations: The board passed new rules to achieve a uniform look to Homewood Park facilities. Although it wasn’t discussed, Mr. Squires has said rock monument-style signs are being phased in, most recently at the Senior Center.
Rec center report: Mr. Holley reported the center remains basically on schedule and budget except for the swimming pool, which has fallen behind schedule due to weather. The heat is now operational. Pictures showing the progress continue to be added to the Park and Rec website.
Postponed a report from the baseball league: A scheduled annual report of the Homewood Patriot Youth Baseball League was postponed until the March 6, 2014, meeting.
Declared equipment surplus: The list includes unusable equipment, such as pool and exercise equipment that will be replaced, a 15-year-old van, a 16-year-old truck, and a 15-year-old bus declared unsafe by the state highway department.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 6:25. The Programs Committee will meet again on March 4 at 5:30 p.m. at the Senior Center with the Facilities Committee meeting to follow immediately after. The next Park Board meeting will be March 6 at 6 p.m. at the Senior Center.