Category Archives: Park Board

Park Board, June 8, 2017

The park board’s sprawling $30-$35 million facilities expansion and addition has met little opposition. But some residents are asking for more than diagrams.

The following are notes from the park board’s regular monthly meeting, published only to highlight remarks and questions about the fields expansion project that were raised during the public comment period.

Board members present: Chris Meeks, chairman, Keith Stansell, Michael Murray, Jody Brant, Kathy Pope, Paula Smalley.

Absent: Chris Bailey, Tyler Vail, Gary Isenhower, and parks liaison Patrick McClusky

Staff members present: Berkley Squires- Director of Public Services, Rusty Holley, Rec Center Superintendent, David Primus, Lee Center Director.

Audience present: 6

May meeting minutes approved unanimously.

Public comments:  Ward Five resident, Lindsey Chitwood joined the board at the conference table to ask questions in person that she had submitted by email previously.

Q. Will there be a budget-focused public forum for public input into the parks projects?

A. No. Mr Meeks said the board had hosted three meetings for community input, and had included that input into new project drawings. Mr. Meeks offered to show anyone interested the drawings as they were sketched out before and after the forums. He did not offer to show a before and after budget breakdown.

Q. Can the board show the revenue and cost studies used to justify the ball fields expansion? 

A. No. Mr. Squires said that numbers and projections for field use can be unreliable, because of use by independently-run youth programs, and weather. Youth leagues are operated by local boards that pay fees for field use. Programs are not expected to produce excess revenue for the city, he said. “We are a public service.”

Q. Is there a budget for the park board’s capital projects?

A. Not yet. The park board has been allotted $30 million from the bond issue of last fall and staff are in the process of developing a plan now. When a plan is finalized, it will be posted, in advance of the project, on the parks website along with a budget.

Q. I’m concerned about allocating money without a set plan that has been made public. I want to see schools remain a priority, and I’m concerned the park board isn’t justifying its use of the bond proceeds. 

A. The board collectively responded that Ms Chitwood didn’t seem to want more ball fields, and questioned whether she had children and if they were involved in recreation activities (she has three). They said her concerns should be directed to the city if she didn’t like the taxpayer-funded bond deal, or the way the council has split the use of the bond deal money.

Mr. Squires added the following facts that in his mind justify expansion and use of bond deal funds:

  1.  Since 2008 two new sports have been added to parks programs, which compete with baseball fields, lacrosse and ultimate disc. He expects more programs to be added in the next two years.
  2. Ballfields have aged since 1992 and need renovation. In general recreational assets need to be upgraded every 30 years;
  3. New fields are needed to keep families from traveling to other cities; families do not want to travel, he said. This is in reference to recreation for age groups 5-17.

Mr. Brant commented that he had tried to appease his constituents and listened to needs and wants for parks. He reiterated that Harbert will give a project update with hard costs next month at their regular meeting.

Q. Where are the current (working) budget numbers and where are the projections for increase?

A. Mr. Meeks directed her to check the city website for enrollment numbers look up other information in the “State of the Schools” meeting (a public presentation of schools and parks need to expand held Sept. 26 at the high school). Here’s the link to the PowerPoint.

After asking again for supporting data, Mr. Brant told Ms. Chitwood she should trust the expertise and intelligence of the board since they were in charge of the recreational facilities.

Q. Will the board use planning tools like the demographic study that the schools initiated and will complete by the end of August?

A. No. This study wouldn’t be relevant to parks.

Q. What are the city (park & rec) and schools’ shared resources?

A. Mr. Squires said the schools use park board-maintained tennis courts, indoor hitting facility, and gyms. New sand volleyball courts and tennis courts will be open to the public. And, a walking trail will be added near an added ballfield in West Homewood because of resident concerns about keeping trees and natural buffer space.

Q. Is there any possibility to have a year-round/indoor pool?

No. Board members agreed an indoor pool was not a priority and building one would mean having to rent it out at the expense of resident time at the pool, or by increasing cost of pool memberships.

Some numbers batted around: In summary, Mr. Squires said he anticipates a $24 million construction budget, to also include a covered maintenance shed for city equipment. He volunteered that it costs approximately $750,000 to build one lighted youth baseball field and they would refurbish existing fields where possible. He said again the board isn’t interested in cost versus revenue because they are concerned with increasing recreational services.

Q. (From a different audience member) How did the board arrive at the $35 million figure to complete the upgrades? Mr. Squires said that amount was $30 million (or $5 million less than what has been reported up to now, including in the Homewood Star. That $35 million figure possibly included the $4.25 million for the Mason Corp. property, although Mr. Squires didn’t mention this.) He said the amount was based on replacing all existing ball fields t the $750,000 amount. The figure would calculate to a total of 40 ball fields.

Two youth league presentations: The board continued its agenda with Lacrosse and Soccer reports. Baseball and football reports were submitted on paper and imaged below.

Lacrosse: (The lacrosse report was actually taken before public comments due to the director’s schedule, but is presented in agenda order here.)

Mr. Yacu said Lacrosse is gaining more competitive players; the girls leagues are growing, with the middle school girls team going undefeated this year.

Enrollment: Homewood teams picked up six high school players from BHM Magic City, of which 4 were girls.

Funds: A sale of Boston butts raised $15,000

Needs: More field space as four teams are trying to practice on one field. He said soccer and lacrosse compete for field space in the fall.

Soccer:

Soccer director Mason Cooks gave an update on his program.

Enrollment: Soccer has fewer players this years, with 725 enrolled compared with 766 last year, a loss he attributed to players trying other sports. Flag football, which is growing [as tackle football declines] is the sport that now competes with soccer for players, he said. The director said the enrollment rates haven’t changed in a decade. Mr. Mason gave an update on “The Academy”, a competitive soccer program with training, practices, games, and tournaments for 9,10, and 11- year-olds.

Finances and fundraising: Soccer raised $12,000 this spring to use for low-income students. The programs spent $22,000 for financial aid in the fall.

Team composition: About 20% of participants are non-residents. Homewood teams that participate. Mason presented a few positive reports of finances: soccer club outstanding collection balances are very low. Fees are paid on time. Fees and uniform costs compared to many soccer programs are very low.

Baseball report submitted

Football report submitted/page 1

Football, page 2

Facilities report:
  • Budgets and renderings still to come: There are no architectural renderings of the West Homewood recreational facilities plans yet. Mr. Squires said he would have a basic outline of all projects in the next couple of weeks and Mr. Brant said Harbert would have solid project cost estimates in July.
  • Patriot Park Pool changes: No chairs will allowed in the “beach area,” and there will be no 8-foot wall for a lap lane, as requested.
  • Mr. Murray reported several event requests, of which all were approved, including the Exceptional Foundation, Creative Montessori, Homewood Witches Ride, and MotherWalk 2018.

Adjourned 7 p.m.

Park Board, Oct. 6, 2016

Will Homewood parks offer a different kind of winter recreation next year? Ms. Smalley is leading the way.

Park board members in January didn’t seize on a suggestion by Ms. Smalley to investigate a pop-up skate rink at Central. The topic got new life for next year after Birmingham announced a similar project for Railroad Park.

The board accepted the council’s revised budget for FY2017, elected officers, and promised to reexamine for next year the feasibility of a pop-up skate rink in light of the same being announced this winter for Railroad Park in Birmingham.

Members present: Chris Meeks, chair, Gary Isenhower, programs chair, Jody Brant, Paula Smalley, vice chair, Keith Stansell, Michael Murray, and Becky Morton, arriving late.

Members absent: Chris Bailey and Tyler Vail.

Staff present: Berkley Squires, public services superintendent, Rusty Holley, Parks and Recreation superintendent, and board secretary, taking minutes.

Audience attendance: 1

Approved the September meeting minutes.

Announcements:

There will be a Fall Festival at Central Park, Saturday, Oct. 29, 4:30 p.m., a joint event with city police and fire departments, featuring kids’ activities, bounce houses, etc.

Pickin' in the Park will be merged with the Handmade event, both Arts Council projects, to be held at Central Park this year.

Pickin’ in the Park will be merged with the Handmade event, both Arts Council projects, to be held at Central Park this year.

Pickin’ in the Park, an informal music participation event, is scheduled Sunday, Oct. 16 at Central Park, sponsored by the Homewood Arts Council and presented jointly with the group’s other public event, Handmade, which was moved from Patriot Park this year.

Committee Reports:

There was no Programs Committee report. Under Facilities, Mr. Squires briefly mentioned someone had requested some plantings at Woodland Park, which is a passive neighborhood park not requiring active maintenance. Woodland has a deed restriction to allow green space and picnic tables, but no playground equipment.

OLD BUSINESS

Accepted the FY2017 $4.4 million parks budget returned from the City Council:

OPERATIONS BUDGET

The proposed $4,165,550 was increased $71,499 by the council to $4,237,049 to cover additional insurance costs and wage step increases mandated by the county personnel board.

CAPITAL BUDGET

The proposed $204,350 capital budget was decreased $31,475 by the council to $172,875 after eliminating requested expenses for weight room additions and doors.

Elected officers for the FY2017 year:

  • Re-elected as chair – Mr. Meeks
  • Vice chair – Mr. Vail
  • Facilities Committee chair – Mr. Murray, with members Brant, Smalley, and Bailey.
  • Program Committee chair – Mr. Isenhower, with members Vail, Morton, and Stansell.

NEW BUSINESS

The pop-up rink proposed by Ms. Smalley is based on this one operated by the City of Tuscaloosa. The price tag is high and weather uncertain. Will the Park Board go for it?

The pop-up rink proposed by Ms. Smalley is based on this one operated by the City of Tuscaloosa. The price tag is high and weather uncertain. [The board did not follow up on this suggestion for those reasons.]

Dismissed until next year a discussion about hosting a winter season ice rink at Central Park: Ms. Smalley in January had proposed the board host a pop-up skating rink based on one she had seen in Tuscaloosa. A discussion the following month revealed a hefty pricetag, and the topic wasn’t revisited. Board members raised the subject again at this meeting after the announcement by the city of Birmingham to sponsor a pop up rink this winter at Railroad Park.

The next Facilities committee meeting is set for November 1, 5:30 p.m.

The meeting was adjourned at 6:20

High School relocation meeting, Sept. 27, 2016

More than 300 parents and residents showed up to hear why the current high school building is obsolete, and must be relocated.

More than 300 parents and residents showed up tonight to hear how growing enrollments have rendered the current high school building is obsolete. The school will likely be relocated to property purchased by the city on West Oxmoor Road.

Why the High School is moving to West Homewood and other questions asked and answered at a Homewood City Schools presentation tonight:

Most of the 300 + parents showing up tonight at the Homewood High School auditorium already knew the basic plan in play to relocate the 1973 high school building from Lakeshore Drive to a newly purchased parcel on West Oxmoor Road adjoining the West Homewood ballfields. But they were treated to an organized and straightforward presentation of supporting demographics and history, via a study by B. L. Harbert (which built the city’s latest Park and Rec Center) to make the decision more understandable.

Bottom line, the school system and city are partners in a plan to use a $4.25 million property on West Oxmoor Road to relocate the high school, expand ballfields and relocate the West Homewood Park swimming pool to a part of nearby Patriot Park property.

The supporting evidence was provided in an earnest, one-hour initial presentation by Homewood City Schools superintendent Bill Cleveland, who promised no elementary school would be relocated but toured the recent growth statistics at the system’s three elementary schools and middle school to the foregone conclusion that the high school could not long remain functional in its location on Lakeshore.

  • The growth in student enrollment system wide has increased 30% since 2000;
  • An equivalent growth in city park program participation has been tracked since 2009;
  • The median age of Homewood residents has dropped from 40 to 29, parents of early elementary-age students;
  • Kindergarten enrollment from 2009-10 to the current year has grown from 305 to 309, topping out at 349 in the 2013-14 academic year. These large classes are making their way through the grades, ultimately to push the capacity of the high school beyond its 1,177 capacity by 2023.

Current status by school, expansion possibilities and cost of additions at three elementary schools at $29,428,900 for all three and middle school expansion costing at least $13.7 million, probably more: 

hkes

 

 

 

 

Hall-Kent School, west Homewood

  • 588 students total; 42 classrooms
  • Easiest school to enlarge without disruption;
  • Could add 16 classrooms by an L-shaped addition on the north side that would occupy a portion of the track.

edgewood

 

 

 

 

 

Edgewood Elementary School

  • The largest school in attendance and grounds, at 832 students in 55 classrooms;
  • Could build out the east side for more classrooms, including a partial second story, and also expand the cafeteria on the south side, by taking up part of the playground.

shadescahaba

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shades Cahaba Elementary

  • The smallest of the three elementaries and most difficult to expand, with 578 students in 39 classrooms;
  • Expansion to the north could add 18 classrooms and enlarge the cafeteria;
  • Could build a new gymnasium in the “horseshoe”‘ and use the current gym space for more classrooms.

hms

 

 

 

 

 

Homewood Middle School

  • The school has 927 students in 48 classrooms;
  • Considering adding a 5th grade wing angled out to the north toward Valley Avenue, and adding to cafeteria;

Dr. Cleveland,  a Homewood HS graduate and first principal of the new Middle School in 2005-06, said the school system’s working plan had been to sell the 28-acre Magnolia apartment property for single-family residential. Lately, in view of plans to expand, the system wants to hold onto the property, whether to build a new school building or build temporary classroom buildings to house students during elementary school construction (the original plan for purchasing the $10 million property was to develop a cross-country track and other facilities, possibly an intermediate school.)

At this point Dr. Cleveland introduced the parks and rec director to show how park lands were also in need of expansion to accommodate the growing city.

CIrcled area shows 15-acre property adjacent to the West Homewood Park ballfields to be used for park enhancements and potentially a new location for the high school.

CIrcled area shows 15-acre property adjacent to the West Homewood Park ballfields to be used for park enhancements and potentially a new location for the high school.

Park and Rec presentation

Berkley Squires, the park and rec director and now Public Services Superintendent over streets, sanitation, landscaping and parks, presented a case for expanding the park facilities, saying West Homewood Park had been purchased in 1966, enlarged in 197s and had multiple renovations in later years, including the pool and upper fields added in 2003-04.

Parks participation had grown from 3,100 children in 2009 to 4,100 in 2016, he said.

He said the ballfields were inadequate for growing baseball, flag football, lacrosse, peewee football and soccer programs; the pool wasn’t up to the standard of modern families, and the parks maintenance staff worked out of a disordered collection of metal buildings on the grounds. Harbert’s study showed how a new high school could be positioned on the property (already purchased by the city for that purpose) by the stadium and also provide room for a new maintenance facility and three new multipurpose fields on the upper-field (also called the 6-acre field), and add five ballfields. The old pool would be moved to land between the Senior Center and Patriot Park along with tennis courts.

Finally, the high school

Dr. Cleveland returned to the podium to explain how the current high school, built in 1973 for a 1,200 student capacity and undergoing 8 additions since then–most recently to add the alternative school in 2008–could not be enlarged easily at its current location, which is hemmed in by a steep grade to the rear and the floodway from Shades Creek in the front. Can a high school of 1,400-1,600 students be expected to function well in this location, he asked? The answer was obviously, no.

The first hour presentation was accompanied by several offers to answer questions and a promise to post the entire slideshow, demographics, and maps on the Homewood City Schools website, beginning tomorrow.

Park Board, Sept. 9, 2016

Chris Bailey joins the park board for Ward 2.

Chris Bailey joins the park board for Ward 2.

The brief business meeting was the first for new Ward 2 member Chris Bailey, who was chosen out of two applicants to replace Marjorie Trimm, who moved out of Homewood. Mr. Bailey is a baseball program director for the rec program’s under 9 group.

The business meeting was followed by informal discussion of park projects, including pool use, flag football and proposed off-season basketball skills clinics for elementary kids. Mr. Meeks answered questions on the status of several issues before the board–Exceptional Foundation contract, the Gateway Project, and plans for the new property adjoining the parks (no information available on the property).

Members present: Chris Meeks, chair, Gary Isenhower, Jody Brant, Paula Smalley, Becky Morton, and new member Chris Bailey.

Members absent: Gary Isenhower, Tyler Vail, and Michael Murray.

Staff present: Rusty Holley and board secretary, taking minutes. Berkley Squires, public services superintendent, was absent.

Audience attendance: 1

Approved the August meeting minutes.

Approved the Exceptional Foundation Knights of Columbus Rental.

Approved the Homewood Relay for next April: The American Cancer Society fundraising walk, and related family activities, was approved at Central Park for Friday and Saturday, April 21-22, 2017, beginning at 10 a.m. each day and with an expected attendance of 2,500.

Under certain conditions, the board will allow the Urban Cookhouse chain to host its Homewood Farmers' Markets at Central Park this summer.

The Urban Cookhouse chain, after persuading the board to allow its Homewood farmers markets at Central Park, shut the series down when attendance plummeted, possibly because of competition from the Trinity church market.

Discussion of Urban Cookhouse farmers market shutdown: The park board was reluctant to approve the restaurant’s request for a summer-long Saturday spot at Central Park to expand its farmers market, saying it utilized a lot of public property for private gain and citing damage to the grounds from vendor vehicles. But approval was finally granted with some limits set on vehicle traffic, only to have the market abruptly shut down after a couple of weeks. Mr. Holley said no reason was given but it seemed crowds preferred the market at Trinity church parking lot. There has been no talk of trying it again next year.

Discussion surrounding the growth of flag football: Flag football starts Saturday, Sept. 10, with 236 signed up compared to 128 last year. Mr. Holley said he postponed signups last year until regular football had completed registration. Regular football has suffered declining enrollments related to concerns over concussions. The program last year used (unlighted) fields at all three elementary schools, and the 6-acres field and baseball field outfields at West Homewood Park.

Discussion of possibly offering basketball skills classes for K-5: Mr. Stansell said Paul Brown was interested in the park utilizing unused courts in the off-season to offer skills courses elementary students. He will be invited to a future meeting to explore the idea.

Discussion of Central Park pool use for the season just ended: A rainy summer doused the numbers this year at the new pool, according to Mr. Holley. The Labor Day weekend finale saw more than 1,000 to the pool.

Questions addressed about the status of the “Gateway Project,” the board’s intended use for $4.25 million property adjoining ballfields, and parking agreement with Exceptional Foundation. Mr. Meeks could offer no further information on the park board’s share of the property, which the city purchased recently for the high school relocation and park uses. The protracted dispute over a shared parking agreement with the Exceptional Foundation ended in July when both parties signed a final agreement, he said. Copy of agreement is forthcoming.

As for the “Gateway Project”–the two-year-old plan to finish the new rec center with a landscaped entryway monument of some sort–Mr. Meeks reiterated that landscape architect Chuck Kelly had dusted off his drawings and re-presented them to a Facilities Committee meeting two months ago, but no decision had been made to go farther. He went over the project’s history, how the new $15 million rec center came in under budget and the board wanted to use those savings to mark the entryway with a special design. Former member Tom Walker in June 2014 added $200,000 to the board’s budget request for that purpose, which the mayor denied, saying the board could fund the project with private donations. Mr. Meeks said that is still a possibility and ideas about how to raise the cash are still floating around. Davis Architecture also had submitted an idea for the project. None has been made public yet.

*Park Board, Aug. 4, 2016

2015 Witches Ride. The board approved a 2016 event for Oct. 30.

2015 Witches Ride. The board approved a 2016 event for Oct. 30.

The board met briefly and approved two events, denying parking permission for the International Civitans event scheduled at the Exceptional Foundation later in August, see below. (Events scheduled by the foundation are subject to prior board approval because of limited parking in the shared lot.)

Interestingly, a Facilities Committee met Tuesday with landscape architect Chuck Kelly to look over three “Gateway Project” plans Kelly had sketched out two years ago to mark the front Central Park. The project, which originally was estimated to cost $200,000, was nixed during the city budget process and the board advised to raise its own funds. New board members on Tuesday looked at the plans and will have copies of each emailed to them, presumably to share with the rest of the board. The plan is to get updated costs, then share the general designs with the public before trying again for city funding or other funding sources.

Members present: Chris Meeks, chair, Gary Isenhower, Keith Stansell, Tyler Vail, Jody Brant and Michael Murray.

Members absent: Paula Smalley and Becky Morton.

Vacancy: Marjorie Trimm, former Ward 2 representative, is moving from the city.

Staff present: Berkley Squires, public service superintendent, Stephen Jakobson, athletic director, and board secretary.

Audience attendance: 0

Approved the July 2016 meeting minutes.

The board is dusting off a three entryway designs submitted by landscape architect Chuck Kelly a few years ago. Those designs will be made public to get resident reaction and input before the board takes further steps to fund/install it.

The board is dusting off three entryway designs submitted by landscape architect Chuck Kelly a few years ago for the Central Park corner. The city turned down the board’s request for a $200,000 city appropriate to build an installation marking the park’s focal point on Oxmoor and Central. Those designs were revisited by a board committee and will be made public at some point before any further action is taken.

Discussed dusting off designs for the Entry Project: None of the new members had ever seen the drawings Chuck Kelly did in 2014 for the so-called Gateway Project to mark the park and rec center property. They got their first look in committee on Tuesday and on Thursday made no motion to go further except to report they asked to receive email copies of the drawings.

Denied an Aug. 27 Civitans International Meeting at the Exceptional Foundation:  Requests are supposed to be presented to the board in time for its meeting the previous month. The request for the Aug. 27 Civitans event came on July 27, three weeks after the July board meeting, and the board denied it because of parking demands from the pool and Back to School Bash.

Approved an Epilepsy Foundation walk/run fundraiser for November: The event will be held at Central Park on Saturday, November 12, from 7 a.m.-1 p.m., and include children’s activities.

2015 Witches Ride. The group plans a ride on Oct. 30 this year.

2015 Witches Ride. The group plans a ride on Oct. 30 this year.

Approved the annual Oct. 30 Witches Ride event benefiting the American Cancer Society: The event is a police-escorted bike ride through Homewood at dusk by women dressed in witch costumes on decorated bikes, throwing candy to kids lining the street. The ride starts and finishes at Central Park, where other fundraising activities and kids’ attractions are planned. Last year’s ride attracted 350 riders. 

*From staff and member reports.

Park Board meeting, July 7, 2016

POOL2016

Pool membership is “steady” this year, the second since the rec center renovation in 2014

SUMMARY: Two years ago, in June 2014, the park board added a last-minute $200,000 to its budget request to the city for a “Gateway Project,” a structure of some sort to mark the presence of the park and newly built rec center. Several people had asked to informally submit design idea, including Davis Architecture and Homewood landscape architect Chuck Kelly. The mayor ultimately rejected that expense and suggested the board raise its own funds, as reported during the board’s budget meeting in June 2015,  On Thursday, the board announced it would revisit those plans, mentioning the Kelly submission in particular, at its Aug. 2 Facilities Committee meeting. See below.

Members present: Chris Meeks, chair, Gary Isenhower, Jody Brant, Marjorie Trimm and Michael Murray.

Members absent: Paula Smalley, Becky Morton, Keith Stansell, and Tyler Vail.

Staff present: Berkley Squires, public service superintendent, Stephen Jakobson, athletic director, and board secretary.

Audience attendance: 1

Approved the June 2016 meeting minutes.

Approved the Exceptional Foundation August calendar, with comments: The foundation’s events calendar, which is now subject to Park Board approval to prevent parking conflicts, was approved with the comment that the foundation’s Aug. 27 Knight’s of Columbus meeting from 6-11 p.m. would conflict with the park’s Back to School Bash, which begins an hour earlier, and will probably take up all the spaces. After the meeting, the chairman answered a question about the status of the contentious shared parking agreement between the two entities. The board has signed off on a version but not heard back from the foundation. The foundation has said the matter is being handled by its lawyer. 

Approved a Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation Walk/Run for next spring: The ninth annual event at Central park will take place on April 29, 2017, from noon to 8 p.m., with kids activities, music, food, etc., expecting 300.

The next scheduled meeting is Aug. 4, with Facilities and Programs committees meeting on Aug. 2. The Facilities committee will be meeting at 6 p.m. to look at 2-year-old plans from landscape architect Chuck Kelly for an “entrance way” or welcome sign or something to denote the park and recreation center area. The elements of the design would be over the site of the former Jiffy Lube, which was demolished years ago and subject to some environmental monitoring.

Park Board, June 9, 2016

PARKSThe park board approved the FY2017 budget as presented by the Public Works Superintendent this week. That budget will go to the mayor, and probably back to the parks staff for changes, before being submitted to council in September. The FY2017 budget year begins Oct. 1 of this year. A copy of the document is linked, plus highlights by Berkley Squires. Also this week, the soccer club makes a positive annual report after a tumultuous few years. Baseball is on the upswing with changes for post-season play.

Members present: Paula Smalley, vice chair, presiding, Gary Isenhower, Becky Morton, Jody Brant, and Tyler Vail.

Members absent: Chris Meeks, chair, Keith Stansell, Michael Murray, and Marjorie Trimm.

Staff present: Berkley Squires, public service superintendent, Rusty Holley, Rec Center director, Stephen Jakobson, athletic director, and board secretary.

Audience attendance: 1

Approved the May 2016 meeting minutes

Homewood girls soccer en route to a winning tournament in North Carolina.

Homewood girls soccer en route to a winning tournament in North Carolina.

Soccer Club annual report: President Mason Cook delivered a positive report on the once-troubled soccer club, reporting 769 players this spring, compared to 820 last spring, of which 213 belonged to competitive, traveling teams, 196 played at the recreation level and 368 were in the young, Patriots age group, or ages up to 8.

There were 1,012 players in the fall.

Of the total, 16% this spring were non-Homewood players, down by about half from past years. (The percentage is a little less for the Patriot  group and a little more for the traveling teams.) Financial aid valued at $13,460 was granted to allow players from 150 families to play who otherwise couldn’t afford it. Most aid is awarded based on a student receiving free or reduced school lunches, although some is based on special circumstances.

Rates for the upcoming year are $575 per season for the competitive group, which includes tournament and other travel fees up front. Rec players pay $210 for 14 weeks of practice and 8 games. The Patriot group is divided into two divisions, one playing 8 games and 10 practices for $165, and one playing 10 nights for $110.

Mr. Mason didn’t bring or present any financial information at the meeting. That information would be provided later for this report.

The soccer program has undergone a tremendous change from days when the board was inflated with members, paid coaches, and a controversial president whose leadership and financial policies the past park board found objectionable in December 2013. So objectionable, it asked for a follow-up report a few months later, in February 2014, which prompted a defense of president David Putnam from one resident. Some problems persisted, despite cleaning house of board members and practices and a leadership change. No questions were raised at this year’s report.

Click here for a look at the last report from December 2014.

The pendulum is swinging back to baseball, especially for younger kids. [al.com 2013]

The pendulum is swinging back to baseball, especially for younger kids. [al.com 2013]

Baseball annual report: Outgoing president Howie Myers reported changes in the program since the post-season play was reorganized from the Metro Sports Baseball league to the Greater Birmingham Baseball Association, comprised of Homewood, Vestavia, Mountain Brook, Hoover-Shades Mountain, Hoover East, Oak Mountain and Trussville. In a handout, the changes are described as moving away from a selective All-Stars format for post-season play to an inclusive tournament format that allows for more competitive play without traveling across the state. Parks can enter any number of teams, for more games for more boys, after the season, he said.

This first year, the league had 95 teams from 7 parks, finishing June 25.

At home, other changes have been introduced, such as using a mobile phone app for scheduling and communication, identifying and preparing coaches before registration, and overall better organization. The pendulum is swinging back in favor of baseball, he said.

Mr. Myers said there has been an increase in interest among younger players and it’s the board’s job to encourage those players to keep playing. For the spring season, there were 462 players in 48 teams, of which the largest group was 9/10u: with 82 players on 9 teams.

Fees range from $60 for the youngest group 4u: to $150 for the oldest players. Non-residents play $170 and fall ball charges $50 for all ages.

The program’s financial report is difficult to compare with last year’s, which was reported on Aug. 31. At that time, with a starting balance of $51,395, the program took in revenues of $113,354 against expenses of $90,327 for a net of $23,027, resulting in the current balance of $74,422. Mr. Myers didn’t project what the balance might look like in August. For a look at last year’s report, in May 2015, click here.

Approved the following park events:

  • Samford’s Phi Mu 5K benefitting Children’s Miracle Network was approved for Nov. 5 from 6 a.m.-noon at Central Park.
  • The Norma Livingston Ovarian Cancer Foundation Motherwalk 2017, with children’s activities, was approved for Saturday, May 13, 5-11 a.m. at Central Park. This is the group’s third annual event at Central.
  • Wells Fargo employee picnic at Patriot Park for Sunday, July 17, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. The group, being for-profit, was charged $1,000 for use of the park.

Approved the director’s budget presentation for FY2017:

Mr. Squires presented a $4,165,550 spending budget for operations for the year beginning Oct. 1, 2016, (current budget is $4.0M) of which the following big ticket items and/or changes since last year were explained. Link to a faint copy of the entire document.

Parks and Rec is budgeting $14,500 yearly to vacuum sediment collecting in the Central Park stream.

Parks and Rec is budgeting $14,500 yearly to vacuum sediment collecting in the Central Park stream.

OPERATIONS  $4.2 million requested

  • Personnel Services of $2.8 million is subject to change due to timing of finding out costs of yearly health insurance, Workers Compensation, and raises. The figure is an increase of the current year’s $2.7 million budget and includes $1.2 million in wages and the rest associated benefits, such as insurance.
  •  Professional Services, such as contract services for everything from cable TV to turf fertilizer, is $161,249, up nearly $20,000 to include a $14,500 yearly cost to vacuum sediment out of the Central Park stream. Also, the board will request canned music to be piped in at the rec center foyer and pool at $960/year. The largest outlay is $38,000 for Trugreen services, followed by $28,000 for Kelli’s Vegetation, and $17,964 for time-clock equipment and software by ADP
  • Increased costs for such things as janitorial supplies, ball field chalk, pool chemicals, raised the supply budget from $296,000 currently to a requested $304,000.
Capital improvements on the Mayfair side of Overton Park will be duplicated on the Kensington side.

Capital improvements on the Mayfair side of Overton Park will be duplicated on the Kensington side.

CAPITAL – $204,350 requested

  • New doors at the Lee Center will cost $31,200.
  • Renovations at Overton Park on the Kensington Road side will match work completed on the Mayfair Drive side, including a parking area and stone walkway, at a cost of $62,000. This request came from residents on Kensington via the mayor.
  • Upgrades at the Senior Center include $14,000 for restroom countertops, a new kiln, projector and screen.
  • A request for 30 heavy-duty trash cans for all parks, at a cost of $18,750.
  • The biggest capital ticket, beside the Kensington improvements, is $29,000 for a new mower and $40,000 3/4 ton landscape truck to haul it in.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 7:45 p.m.