Park Board meeting, March 6, 2014

PARKSThis meeting was the first with all three new members present–Marjorie Davis Trimm, representing Ward 2, Michael Murray, a Ward 4 resident serving at-large, and representing Ward 4, Tyler Vail, who was appointed just a few days earlier. The Homewood Patriot Youth Baseball League delivered a glowing report of increasing enrollments that are pushing the limits of the city’s field capacity, and unfortunately, turning away some prospective players.

This snapshot was taken during a BSC clinic for Homewood Patriot Youth Baseball.

This snapshot was taken some years ago at a BSC clinic for Homewood Patriot Youth Baseball. Enrollments are increasing in 2014.

Members present:  Chris Meeks, chairman, Paula Smalley, vice chairman, Tom Blake, Marjorie Davis Trimm, Michael Murray, Tom Blake, Tom Walker, and Becky Morton, arriving late. Also present was council liaison Richard Laws.

Members absent: Keith Stansell

Staff present: Berkley Squires, director of public services, Jakob Stephens, athletic director, Dianne Rice, board secretary.

Staff absent: Parks and recreation superintendent Rusty Holley, who has been presiding over meetings since the personnel reorganization last fall, was not present.

Audience attendance: 1

Approved minutes: Minutes of the Feb. 10, 2014, meeting were handed out and approved. 

Public comments:  Ms. Liz Ellaby (reporting) spoke to protest a private vote of the board taken via email to approve a shared parking agreement between the park board and the Exceptional Foundation. The agreement was signed Feb. 4 by Mr. Squires–two days before the regularly scheduled park board meeting that month. Ms. Ellaby said such a vote was against the state’s Open Meetings Law. Both Mr. Squires and Mr. Walker responded, saying the agreement only “codified” or put down on paper what had already been a long-standing informal agreement between the two entities. The agreement was then ratified in the rescheduled Feb. 10 meeting, after it was fully discussed. Ms. Ellaby maintained that the email vote–as recorded in the park board’s own agenda for that meeting–was a violation. Mr. Walker added that Mr. Stansell, the facilities committee chairman, had mis-worded the agenda item and should not have used the word “voted.”

Director’s report on the Rec Center: Mr. Squires spoke briefly, saying the pool should be open by Memorial Day, but it would be a close call. The weather has put the pool construction two weeks behind schedule. The building is now lockable and secure. The gymnasium floors are basically done and the cardio and weight rooms will be finished by next week. He asked the board to contact him with times to schedule a walk-through during spring break week.

Mr. Meeks asked for the status of the Exceptional Foundation’s expansion plans. (Rezoning has been approved for two neighboring houses, but awaits a March 31 public hearing and vote by the City Council before taking effect.) Mr. Squires said the Foundation had also scheduled another public forum meeting — he didn’t know when — to discuss the expansion plans with the neighborhood. [The Exceptional Foundation says it has not scheduled any additional neighborhood forums.]

Approved a contract for instructors: Ms. Smalley’s programs committee recommended a contract (copy not provided) and charging $10 per hour [unclear] for private insurance. 

Approved a series of events at Central and Patriot parks:

  1. April 5, noon-7 p.m.Project Homewood fundraiser for Homewood schools’ after-school program scholarships. Patriot Park.
  2. June 1-5, 5-8:30 p.m. – Christ Fellowship Church will have a “Rock the Block” children’s event with some inflatables, art activities and snacks.  Patriot Park.
  3. June 7, 5 a.m.-noonAlabama EDSers (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome) 5K run to raise awareness about the condition. Central Park.
  4. Oct. 11, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. – Grace House Ministries is having a fall Pumpkin Patch children’s event. Central Park.

Homewood Patriot Youth Baseball League annual report presented

Click to open PDF

Click to open PDF

Presenting the report was co-president John Wallace. Mr. Wallace apologized for any oversights in the report, saying the program’s leadership has been divided since president Howie Meyers’ treatment for a seriously illness late last year.

The 2013 spring season showed 439 players of which 378 (86%) were residents and of which 132 played in Metro All Stars teams. Those numbers were virtually identical to the year before, he said. This year, the program has signed up between 450-460 kids, and had to turn away about 30.  Asked why, Mr. Wallace said the Homewood field capacity couldn’t handle more use. He explained that there are 8-10 teams for each of three age categories– 5-year-olds, 6-year-olds and 7-8-year-olds. Each team plays 12 games, two per week, plus one practice. Six of the teams require specific fields for T-ball, etc.

The situation can be addressed by staggering times, he said, but Homewood parents typically don’t like practices that last more than an hour, that begin at 5 p.m., or that require bringing 5 and 6-year-olds out at 8:30 at night.

The Fall figures for 2013 show 89 players, which included several 11-year-olds for the first time, and required putting dads on the field due to not enough numbers for two teams.

Financially, the income from Spring, All Stars and Fall programs brought in $76,945. For the year, revenues stood at $89,856 against expenses of $82,723 for a net income of $7,133. The program lost about $1,000 because of accidentally undercharging for some registrations.

To questions about the board composition, he said that prior to five years ago there were as many as 37 people on the board. It was decided to pare that number down to the number who actually participated. The current board has 15 members, who all have specific tasks.

Mr. Wallace also noted that an anonymous $6,000 donation made several years ago for facility improvement was put in a separate account and still needs to be spent. He has asked the donor to submit his ideas to use as guidance in picking a project.

Before adjourning at 6:30 p.m., meeting times were set for the Facilities Committee at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 1. The Programs Committee meeting will follow.

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