In spite of an unheard of “no” vote, the board tonight passed a tough shared-use agreement to minimize parking conflicts with the Exceptional Foundation. Becky Morton thought the wording was too severe, even after tweaks, and voiced the first negative vote on a park board in recent memory. Earlier, a resident pitched a pilot program to heighten lifeguard awareness of special needs children during pool season. And, the flagging youth football program may be looking at flag football to increase enrollments. The board welcomed new member Jody Brandt.
Members present: Jody Brandt, new at-large member replacing Tom Walker, Chris Meeks, chairman, Becky Morton, Keith Stansell, Marjorie Trimm, Michael Murray, Tyler Vail.
Members absent: Tom Blake and Paula Smalley, who is recovering from serious injuries sustained in a hit-and-run accident. (Ms. Smalley was re-appointed as Ward 3 representative over applicant Fred Azbik, who serves on the Planning Commission, although her duties as Programs Chairman were given to Michael Murray.) Also absent was council liaison Richard Laws.
Staff present: Berkley Squires, public service director, Rusty Holley, Rec Center Supervisor, Jakob Stephens, athletic director, Angie Montgomery and Heddy Fitts, taking minutes.
Audience attendance: 1
Approved minutes of the Feb. 5 meeting.
Homewood Patriot Youth Football report: John Reynolds delivered the Homewood Patriot Youth Football program’s annual report, which showed the third straight year of declining enrollments, although it remains financially sound. The 2014 enrollment totaled 74 players compared to 96 last year and 109 the year before that. Most of the players (29) were in the 80-lb. category, which is the highest enrollment in this category in the last 7 years, he said. The league logged 10 wins and 14 losses. Click here to see last year’s report.
Enrollments are off due to the popularity of soccer and lacrosse and concerns over concussions. There was one concussion reported in the 2014 season. The board is open to offering flag football for younger players, he said.
Financially, the program brought in $14,593, which was also down from last year, against expenses of $31,089, primarily for new helmets ($15,000), plus equipment, uniforms and merchandise. The program started with a positive carry-over balance for the year and has $15,683 in cash in the bank. Six scholarships were awarded to financially needy residents.
Reynolds said this is the first year that a league-wide rule was applied prohibiting players from joining teams outside their home communities. Homewood and other small communities have also suffered in competition with cities such as Hoover, which “runs amok” with so many players, he said. For that reason this coming season, the league has split each program’s age/weight group into divisions based on the park program’s corresponding high school classification. Mr. Reynolds said this should even up the field.
For the upcoming season, registration for 80-90-lb. teams have been dropped from $225 to $99.
Heard a resident pitch a pilot program for pool supervision of special needs children: Jen Breeding, whose son has a genetic disorder called Williams Syndrome, presented an idea for a pilot program in which children with disabilities can wear colored wristbands in the pool to be more noticeable to lifeguards. Ms. Breeding said her son’s disability caused him not to respond when hearing a whistle or other prompts by lifeguards. The wristband–which she calls a Lucas Band— would heighten the lifeguards’ awareness of a special needs child. Lifeguards would receive special training and certification.
There were questions from the board about liability and if the wristband program would raise parents’ expectations about their children’s safety, or require lifeguards to offer service above that offered other children. Mr. Squires said the Programs Committee would discuss it at the next meeting.
Approved 6-1, with minor changes and a major discussion, a final parking agreement to present to the Exceptional Foundation: Ms. Morton objected to several punitive phrases written into the latest draft of the shared-use parking agreement for the Exceptional Foundation, saying it would be like tossing a “fireball” at the nonprofit. Among her objections were automatic towing for vehicles parked in violation of the agreement during basketball season and other high-traffic times, and instant termination of any parking privileges if the Foundation failed to give required notice.
Ms. Morton said violations should trigger only a discussion and “possible” severe penalties. However, Dr. Stansell, backed by Mr. Squires and Mr. Vail, who composed the final draft, felt the ongoing problems and parking conflicts justified the tough wording. Mr. Stansell then relented by relaxing the wording to say the board “reserves the right to” have vehicles towed or terminate the agreement for noncompliance.
The draft now goes to the city attorney for review before being presented for signing to the Foundation board.
Voting no: Ms. Morton, saying the board hasn’t decided on a procedure for enforcing the agreement and the current wording was too adversarial.
The meeting adjourned at about 7 p.m.