Park Board meeting, April 9, 2015

Paula Smalley, who is in the midst of recovery from a traumatic hit-and-run injury sustained in December, returned for the business meeting tonight. (She was recently re-appointed the 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 tonight, Public Services Superintendent Berkley Squires was absent after his wife experienced medical symptoms, cause unknown, and was taken to Brookwood Hospital. She will likely be released tomorrow, according to Mr. Holley.

The main business items tonight were an earlier summer pool closing and a final version of a shared parking arrangement, provided here, to be submitted to the Exceptional Foundation.

Members present: Tom Blake, Jody Brandt, Chris Meeks, chairman, Becky Morton, Keith Stansell, Marjorie Trimm, Michael Murray, and Tyler Vail, who left shortly after the first vote. Also present was council liaison Richard Laws.

Members absent: Marjorie Trimm, Michael Murray, and, leaving after the first vote, Tyler Vail.

Staff present: Rusty Holley, Rec Center Supervisor, Jakob Stephens, athletic director, Angie Montgomery and Heddy Fitts, taking minutes.

Staff absent: Berkley Squires. Mr. Squires was absent due to his wife’s sudden illness.

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 and park board have been at odds over the Foundation’s expansion, which was more extensive than announced and happened ahead of schedule, taking up precious parking spaces. Some have said the park board was equally insensitive during the rec center’s expansion.

Approved a shared-parking agreement to present to the Exceptional Foundation: After long months of conflict over sharing limited parking with the Exceptional Foundation, which is undergoing an expansion, the park board settled on a final agreement that softens some language and, after review by the city attorney, removes car towing as a possible penalty for unauthorized parking. Mr. Meeks said he was reluctant to drop the towing option because it might weaken enforcement.

In general, the agreement gives the park board priority for its lot and restricts any after-hours use by the Foundation to what the board’s Facilities Committee pre-approves. The committee must get a calendar of events with estimated attendance one month in advance, according to the agreement.

The lot is off-limits to the Foundation on Saturdays, 8 a.m.-2 p.m., during basketball season, defined as December through February. Violations immediately terminate the agreement, i.e., the Foundation will lose all parking privileges.

Ms. Morton objected last month to using such definite penalties, but this one remains.

Click here to read the final shared-parking agreement.

Let drop a proposal to use pool wristbands as a safety feature for special needs children: The so-called “Lucas Band,” proposed last month by the mother of a special needs child, could be worn voluntarily by certain children who may not hear or respond appropriately to hearing a whistle or other alert from lifeguards. Mr. Stansell said the park board would be assuming too much liabiity to adopt a program that told parents, in essence, that it would give extra attention to certain children over others.

“If this information comes from parents, that’s one thing,” Mr. Stansell said, “But we as a park board can’t look out for one child more than another.” The matter died in committee for lack of a motion to recommend it.

ATEAMApproved the following events:

  • A-Team Ministries community kick-off event to raise awareness of Childhood Cancer, at Central Park, Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015.
  • Christ Fellowship Church vacation Bible school at Patriot Park, June 1-4. This second annual program at Patriot will use two pavilions and attract about 25-40 children. It does not reserve the park grounds or restrict other activities.

Approved an earlier closing of the central park pool: Traditionally, the West Homewood Pool closes on the first day of school, leaving the main pool open through Labor Day. This year, recognizing typical attendance decline after the first two weeks of school, the board is closing the pool those weeks Monday-Thursday on these dates:  Aug. 24, 25, 26, 27 and Aug. 31, Sept. 1, Sept. 2 and Sept. 3, 2015.

The Homewood Youth Baseball program presentation was postponed to next month’s meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 6:45 p.m.

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