Park Board meeting, Oct. 8, 2015

The baseball league has asked if their healthy bank account could be used to improve fields at West Homewood Park. The board president specifically mentioned drainage problems. (A 2013 photo from the league's Facebook page.)

Background checks will now be required for coaches, volunteers and employees of the Park and Recreation department. Class instructors who teach adults may be added soon.

The park board will soon post on its website the policies for background checking volunteers, employees and coaches working with minors, see below, and hopes anyone with a questionable background will be deterred from applying. Examples of disqualifying crimes include: Click here to see the full policy document.

  1. All sex offenses, including indecent exposure and prostitution;
  2. Any felonies; misdemeanor violence offenses committed within the last 7 years, such as hit-and-run, domestic violence and basic fighting;
  3. Two misdemeanor alcohol offenses within the past 5 years or multiple offenses in the past 10 years; ditto drug offenses.

Members present:  Paula Smalley, presiding, Michael Murray, Marjorie Trimm, Tyler Vail, Tom Blake, Becky Morton, and Jody Brant.

Members absent: Keith Stansell and Chris Meeks. Also absent was council liaison Richard Laws.

Staff present: Berkley Squires, public service superintendent, Rusty Holley, Rec Center director, and Jakob Stephenson, Athletic Director.

Audience attendance: 1

Approved minutes of the September 3, 2015, meeting.

Homewood city schools volunteers last fall helped plant over 100 native tree seedlings around the Central Office. The program enters its second year this fall.

Homewood city schools volunteers last fall helped plant over 100 native tree seedlings around the Central Office. The program enters its second year this fall.

Public Comments: Liz Ellaby (reporting) announced the second annual Native Tree planting program was about to begin, with an organized seed collection followed by mass plantings of seedlings grown from Homewood trees since last fall. The program is sponsored by the Homewood Environmental Commission and Birmingham Botanical Gardens, with one planting so far scheduled on Saturday, Nov. 14, at the parking lot and south side of the Greenway Trail. The group and volunteers will plant about 100 trees there. Another small number will be planted during an earlier weekend at the traffic triangle at Morris and Sterrett. The group is also considering planting large nursery trees and maybe a demonstration area at the Homewood Central Park.

The baseball league has asked if their healthy bank account could be used to improve fields at West Homewood Park. The board president specifically mentioned drainage problems. (A 2013 photo from the league's Facebook page.)

The Park Board approved using a third-party backgrounding company to run criminal background checks on coaches, volunteers and employees. About 85% of park and recreation departments already employ such companies, parks staff say.

Approved contracting with an outside company to perform background checks on employees, volunteers and coaches: The board last month discussed the need to background adults working with minors, looking at one company’s policies as a sample. Tonight, the board accepted the Program Committee’s recommendation to use another, similar company, Protect Youth Sports, whose policies were simpler and easier to understand, she said. The web-based company’s policies were incorporated into this document, which will be posted on the park and recreation website and information on the process will be included in volunteer packets. Basically, volunteers will be directed to a website to fill out personal information; the $15 charge per application will be paid by the parks department and has already been budgeted. The company will return only a pass or fail decision to the Park and Recreation staff, and will also handle any appeal from applicants. The park board particularly wanted to avoid ruling on appeals. 

Approved the Exceptional Foundation’s November calendar: The board must approve the Foundation’s monthly activities calendar to avoid parking problems. November presented only one problem, which was waived, a meeting of about 75 people from the Mass Mutual Financial Group on Nov. 19, 6-8 p.m. The group will park offsite and be shuttled in. 

One of many designs available for ready-made community lending library kiosks, operated on the honor system. This one runs about $300. The versions to be installed in Homewood will likely be custom made.

One of many designs available for ready-made community lending library kiosks by the Little Free Library organization. This one runs about $300. The versions to be installed in Homewood will likely be custom made.

Approved the installation of Little Free Library boxes at Central Park, Patriot Park and the Soccer Park  The park board approved the idea of installing the popular freestanding book kiosks at each of the major parks. Designs vary and are available to purchase or to build, but according to company parameters. Not surprisingly, Homewood builders Twin Construction, proposed the project and will handle the production of the three libraries, with the Park Board deciding the exact locations at each park. For more information, follow the link: http://littlefreelibrary.org/shop/library/the-yoder-barn/

Approved extending park memberships to non-resident Homewood school employees, but with a caveat: Memberships will only be available to current employees and their families. A number of families had been accepted whose qualifying members have long since left their Homewood schools jobs. From now on park and rec staff will check applicants against a list of current school board employees.

Accepted the City Council passed FY2016 Parks and Recreation budget: As a formality, the park board approved the council-passed budget for operating and capital funds, previously reported. The final budget for operating funds was $4.4 million, with only minor changes, Mr. Squires said. The capital fund budget was $223,700, which was $60,000 less than requested after the loss of a landscapers truck, reduction for playground equipment at Overton Park, and ball field bleachers.

 

 

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