Ann Arbor park advisory commission meeting (April 17, 2012): The action items at this month’s PAC meeting focused on the upcoming fiscal year, with parks-related budget recommendations for July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013. Sam Offen, who chairs PAC’s budget and finance committee, observed that the FY 2013 budget is in better shape than in recent years.
At left is city councilmember Christopher Taylor (Ward 3), who also serves as an ex officio member of the Ann Arbor park advisory commission. To the right is Sam Offen, chair of PAC's budget and finance committee. (Photos by the writer.)
This is the second year of a two-year budget cycle, and commissioners had recommended approval of budgets for both years at their April 2011 meeting. The recent recommendations for FY 2013 include: (1) increasing the frequency of the mowing cycle from every 19 days to every 14 days; (2) increasing seasonal staffing between April 15–October 15 to maintain active recreation areas better; (3) establishing three seasonal park steward/supervisor positions to improve park maintenance and enforcement; and (4) increasing seasonal staffing at the ice arenas to improve facility cleanliness.
Fee increases at several parks and rec facilities are also part of the budget recommendations, but most have already been implemented in the current fiscal year.
The April 17 meeting included a public hearing on the renewal of the city’s park maintenance and capital improvements millage, which will likely be on the November 2012 ballot. No one spoke at the hearing. In general, “there seems to be a great deal of relative silence” about the millage, parks and rec manager Colin Smith told commissioners. Few people have attended the recent public forums held by parks staff. The final forum is set for Thursday, April 26 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at the Ann Arbor District Library’s Traverwood branch, 3333 Traverwood Drive.
Parks staff gave an update on deteriorating conditions at Windemere Park’s two tennis courts, and provided an initial estimate on costs to replace one or both courts at that location. No formal recommendation has been made, but options include moving the courts to another park. Commissioners discussed the need to assess the distribution and conditions of all of the city’s public courts – including ones in the public school system – as well as their overall usage, to get a better idea of where the greatest needs are.
Another update came from an engineer at the Washtenaw County water resources commissioner’s office, who described a drain replacement project that will affect Veterans Memorial Park later this year. Also related to Veterans Memorial, the request for proposals (RFP) for a skatepark there has been issued. [.pdf of skatepark RFP] The goal is to solicit proposals for a consultant to handle design and oversee construction of the skatepark, which will be located on city-owned property.
During public commentary, commissioners were given an update on the nonprofit Project Grow, which has several gardens located in city parks and is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. Another speaker urged commissioners to take control of the parking lots in city parks, and possibly increase revenues by installing metered parking. [Full Story]