Park Board, Feb. 5, 2015

The Exceptional Foundation has expanded in more ways than one. Excavating a basement has taken up scarce Rec Center parking area. After construction, the park board wants tighter controls over parking space shared with the growing Exceptional Foundation.

The Exceptional Foundation has expanded in more ways than one. Excavating a basement has taken up scarce Rec Center parking area. After construction, the park board wants tighter controls over parking space shared with their growing nonprofit neighbor.

For years the Rec Center and Foundation campuses shared the limited parking area between them on little more than a handshake. That all changed when the Foundation announced plans last year for a building expansion that would offer more space for current enrollment, not an expanded clientele. A written agreement thrown together at the request of the Planning Commission was basically shredded months later when the Foundation announced a stepped up construction schedule and pushed its staging area into the shared space so it could excavate a basement. A showdown over parking problems last fall hasn’t led to a resolution–apparently–and the board tonight took a hard-line as it drafted terms for a revised contract. See details below.

Members present: Chris Meeks, chairman, Keith Stansell, Marjorie Trimm, Michael Murray, and Tyler Vail.

Members absent: Tom Blake and Paula Smalley, who is recovering at home following serious injuries sustained in a hit-and-run accident. (Ms. Smalley’s duties as Programs Chairman were given to Michael Murray.) Also absent was council liaison Richard Laws.

Two vacancies: The council this month will select one of two candidates who applied for the at-large vacancy created in December by term limit of Tom Walker. Also, Fred Azbik of the Planning Commission has applied for the Ward 3 seat occupied by Ms. Smalley, who has applied for reappointment. The council will fill this seat shortly as well.

Staff present: Berkley Squires, public service director and Dianne Rice, board secretary.

Audience attendance: 1

Approved minutes of the January 2015 meeting.

CHEERLEADERSReport of the Homewood Patriot Youth Cheerleading program

Amber Kelley summarized the written report, showing a 2014 enrollment of 101 compared to 84, last year, 91 in 2012 and 64 in 2011. By far the largest age group is the combined First and Second grades, with 47 signed up. For last year’s report, click here.

Ms. Kelley said the grades 1-6 were divided into three squads because there weren’t enough football teams for a squad for each grade.

Financially, the organization opened the year with a $4,601 balance, brought in $24,164 in revenues against expenses of $23,741, leaving a year-end balance of $5,023.

As requested last year, Ms. Kelley said the squads needed the park board to provide weekly practice space. Registration will open April 6 this year.

Director’s report: Mr. Squires said the Rec Center was recognized as the Facility of the Year by the Alabama Recreation and Parks Association at its recent January conference in Florence. It was selected in the category for cities of population 15,000 and above.

Notebook-Logo-no-yearApproved schedule changes for summer camp: The Programs Committee recommended reverting the summer camp schedule back to 9 a.m.-2 p.m., with an additional after-camp care extension and an early morning (8 a.m.) pre-camp care option for working families. The board, at staff request, moved the start time from 9 a.m. to 8 a.m. for parents needing earlier drop-off time and had anticipated higher enrollment in the new facility. In fact, few parents took advantage of the earlier time and enrollment rarely got over 15, Mr. Squires said.

Approved the following upcoming events:

  • Grief Support Services Memory Walk, June 6, Central Park.
  • Grace House Ministries fall festival, Central Park, no date given.
  • Witches Ride, popular fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, Friday, Oct. 30 (date could be changed if it conflicts with final high school football game.)
  • Homewood Arts Council’s Handmade Show, May 9, Patriot Park.–The group is adding the spring show due to the success of the fall show last year.

Mr. Stansell left the meeting at this point.

Shared parking has been  problematic during construction of the Exceptional Foundation's addition. The board will be proposing a new, tougher agreement to resolve conflicts after construction is finished.

Shared parking has been problematic during construction of the Exceptional Foundation’s addition. The board will be proposing a new, tougher agreement to resolve conflicts after construction is finished.

Tabled, or postponed, voting on a final Exceptional Foundation parking agreement while new terms are being drafted: Members discussed making changes to the parking agreement to add clearer, and in most cases tougher, language, as well as penalties for noncompliance. (The three-year agreement would go into effect when the Foundation occupies the new facility.) Members will continue revising the agreement in coming weeks via electronic means, with Chairman Meeks pulling together a final draft for consideration by the Facilities Committee, and then the full board, before the document is presented to the Exceptional Foundation. The following issues were discussed:

  • The need for tighter controls and procedures, especially on Saturday parking arrangements; Rec Center constituents are angry to find spaces filled by Exceptional Foundation vehicles.
  • Consider making the agreement void in cases of repeated non-compliance, i.e., eliminate shared parking until problems resolved, or even allow vehicles to be towed (not likely).
  • Foundation to present any parking request for special events above and beyond normal operations by the first day of the month preceding the event. This requirement may be reworded to apply to  after-hours special events year round, or for any special event during pool season, Memorial Day to Labor Day. For example, an unscheduled Chamber of Commerce luncheon held at the Foundation building used up Rec Center space one month.
  • When construction is finished, Foundation vans and buses should be parked either in the Foundation’s lot or on the Manhattan Street annex.
  • As a courtesy, require Foundation staff and clients use Foundation parking spaces first, then Rec Center spaces against the Foundation building for overflow. Mr. Squires explained that the Foundation has 14 spaces to use, of which 8 are on Foundation property and six are on park property, but dedicated to Foundation use.

The meeting adjourned at 6:45 p.m.

 

 

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2 responses to “Park Board, Feb. 5, 2015

  1. Conspicuously absent from the Park Board story is any mention of the parking issues experienced by the Exceptional Foundation during the rec center’s recent construction. At the height of the rec center’s renovation, the Exceptional Foundation was left with as few as 12 parking spaces for a building that employs around 25 people and serves well over 100. I certainly don’t recall the Exceptional Foundation complaining to the City Council about its parking woes then. And in regards to the current issue at hand, how many parking spaces is the current construction actually taking up? I drove through the parking lot this week and it didn’t appear that any more than 10-12 spaces were being blocked off. Not to mention there is an extra lot on the backside of the rec center and an additional gravel lot behind the pool. The Homewood Recreational Center and the Exceptional Foundation are both vital entities that help make Homewood such a special place. I certainly hope they can reconcile any differences they might have and forge a lasting friendship. There’s no reason why two benevolent pillars of the community can’t reach an understanding on something as superficial as parking spaces.

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