County Parks Group OKs Land Deal, Budget

Purchase of 13 acres in Pittsfield Township preserves natural area along Michigan Ave.; also, park commissioners approve 2014-2017 budget, including $250K for dog park at County Farm Park in Ann Arbor

Washtenaw County parks & recreation commission meeting (Sept. 10, 2013): WCPARC’s September meeting had only three action items, but they were each significant.

County Farm Park, Washtenaw County parks & recreation commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Aerial view of County Farm Park, located in Ann Arbor south of Washtenaw Avenue, between Medford and Platt. The county parks & recreation commission has budgeted $250,000 in 2015 to put in a dog park on the west side of the park. (Photo by Victor Banta, included in the WCPARC Sept. 10, 2013 meeting packet.]

First, the commission gave final approval for a natural areas preservation program purchase: $390,005 to buy 13 acres from members of the Harwood family, located along Michigan Avenue in Pittsfield Township. The property is primarily high quality native woodland, nearly devoid of invasive species. In addition, it is proximate to the Pittsfield Preserve, owned and operated by Pittsfield Township, so existing trails can be extended, and there is a possibility of using a single parking lot for both sites.

Parks & rec commissioners also gave permission to spend up to $100,000 at the Meri Lou Murray Rec Center to replace the HVAC system’s pneumatic controls with digital controls. The project has been delayed because of a recent court ruling related to construction unity board (CUB) agreements.

The final major agenda item was approval of proposed budgets for 2014 and 2015 and projected budgets for 2016 and 2017. Bob Tetens, director of WCPARC, presented the budgets in the context of WCPARC’s millage history and developments since the mid-1970s, as well as budget strategies underlying all the proposals. The budget contains separate sections for the natural areas preservation program (NAPP) and for parks operations & development, because they are supported by separate millages. [.pdf of WCPARC budget document]

The 2013 operations & development budget of $13.79 million in expenditures drops to $10.417 million next year. The staff is proposing a budget of $13.574 million in expenditures for 2015. The projected budgets in 2016 and 2017 are $12.672 million and $10.009 million, respectively. Over the four years from 2014-2017, the operations & development budget – which does not include NAPP – will draw from its fund balance. At the end of 2012, the operations & development fund balance was $12.95 million. By the end of 2017, the fund balance is projected to drop to $2.8 million.

Expenditures for NAPP are projected to remain flat in the 2014-2015 budgets, at around $3.7 million annually, then drop to about $3.5 million in 2016 and 2017.

Commissioners discussed renewing the parks operating millage, which expires in 2016. It’s possible that staff will recommend putting a renewal on the November 2014 ballot. Other discussion focused on efforts to make WCPARC’s operations more self-sufficient, and whether personnel expenditures could be reduced.

The budget section on capital improvements generated discussion about dog parks. In 2015, a dog park is tentatively slated for the Medford Road side of the 141-acre County Farm Park, at a projected cost of $250,000. Some commissioners expressed concerns about WCPARC’s existing Swift Run dog park, which was developed in partnership with the city of Ann Arbor at the southwest corner of Platt and Ellsworth. Complaints focused on the lack of shade and water, but Tetens explained there are constraints about what can be done on that site, stemming from the dog park’s location on a former landfill.

Commissioner Rolland Sizemore Jr. suggested that WCPARC should invest in the Swift Run dog park “or give it to Ann Arbor.” The city of Ann Arbor is currently exploring the possibility of adding another dog park that would be more centrally located. A public forum for that effort is set for Tuesday, Sept. 24 from 7-9 p.m. at the Traverwood library, 3333 Traverwood Drive.

Natural Areas Preservation Program

The county’s natural areas preservation program (NAPP) is funded by a 10-year countywide millage of 0.2409 mills, which brings in about $3 million annually. Voters renewed the millage most recently in 2010, through 2020. The program enables WCPARC to purchase land worth preserving because of its natural features, and to purchase development rights on agricultural land.

The Natural Areas Technical Advisory Committee (NATAC) advises the parks & rec commission on NAPP acquisitions. The Agricultural Land Preservation Advisory Committee advises it on the purchase of development rights.

NAPP: Harwood Properties

There was just one NAPP item on the Sept. 10 agenda: final approval to purchase 13 acres on Michigan Avenue in Pittsfield Township from members of the Harwood family, for $390,005. Tom Freeman, retired deputy director of WCPARC who now serves as a consultant on NAPP activities, presented supporting material, which summarized the information he had presented to WCPARC at the Aug. 13, 2013 meeting.

Pittsfield Township, natural areas, Washtenaw County parks and recreation commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Aerial view showing boundaries of four properties along Michigan Avenue in Pittsfield Township that have been considered for purchase by the county’s natural areas preservation program. Approval of purchasing the two Harwood properties was on WCPARC’s Sept. 10 agenda.

Freeman began by reminding commission members that a month earlier they had approved purchase of the Holley property, 3 acres north and east of the Harwood parcels and separated by a 2-acre parcel.  The adjacency of these parcels to the Pittsfield Preserve to the north increases their value. “Clearing of the Harwood properties would certainly have a serious, detrimental impact on the adjacent Pittsfield Preserve,” Freeman said, “both as a viable habitat and the quality of the viewshed.”

NATAC had recommended the property for purchase. Freeman showed a new slide of aerial and soils, which showed the amount of development around the site. In fact, he said, WCPARC’s purchase had been held up because the owners had received another offer, which eventually fell through for failure to meet contingencies.

Freeman reported completion of all due diligence: Bosserd Appraisal Services gave the two parcels a value of $390,005, about $30,093 per acre; Mannik and Smith Group’s phase I environmental site assessment found no evidence of recognized environmental concerns; and WCPARC obtained a boundary survey including legal description and a sealed survey drawing.

NAPP: Harwood Properties – Commission Discussion

Commission member Jan Anschuetz reminded her colleagues that the property has great historical value because of its owners over the years, the historical quality of the native woods, and Michigan Avenue’s role as an Indian trail. Plus, she said, it would be wonderful to have the WCPARC signs along busy Michigan Avenue.

Her positive comments were followed by objections from commission member Fred Veigel, who also serves on the Washtenaw County road commission. Veigel criticized the purchase price, saying “I can’t see paying $30,000 an acre for anything.”

Freeman reminded WCPARC that August’s purchase of the Holley property had cost $30,000 an acre.

Outcome: On a roll call vote, the motion to purchase the Harwood properties for $390,005 passed 6-1, with Veigel voting against it.

NAPP: Update on DF Land Development

Freeman also gave commissioners an update about the purchase of two parcels in Superior Township, near WCPARC’s Goodrich Preserve. The land is owned by DF (Domino’s Farms) Land Development LLC. At its Aug. 13, 2013 meeting, WCPARC voted to buy the two properties – a 5-acre and 12-acre purchase.

WCPARC had agreed to pay a total of $322,000 for the parcels. On Sept. 10, Freeman reported that the Ann Arbor city council had agreed to contribute 10%, or $32,000, toward the purchase, reducing WCPARC’s cost to $290,000. [See Chronicle coverage: "Ann Arbor Greenbelt Grows Again."]

Outcome: This was not a voting item.

WCPARC 2014-2017 Budget

Director Bob Tetens presented the 35-page budget document, which contained both summary and detailed information about WCPARC’s proposed 2014 and 2015 budgets, and the projected 2016 and 2017 budgets. [.pdf of WCPARC budget document] Earlier this year, the county board of commissioners directed the administration, including WCPARC, to develop a four-year budget, starting Jan. 1, 2014. In recent years, the county has worked on a two-year budget cycle.

Washtenaw County parks & recreation, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

WCPARC 2014-2017 budget chart.

“We are on a tight timeframe,” Tetens said. WCPARC needed to approve or modify the budget that night, so that it could be transmitted to the county board of commissioners by the end of the month. [For additional background on WCPARC’s budget and operations, see Chronicle coverage: "County Parks & Rec System Plans for Future."]

The budget contains separate sections for the natural areas preservation program (NAPP) and for parks operations & development, because they are supported by separate millages.

Parks has two separate millages – one for operations, another for acquisition and development. The parks operations millage is a 10-year, quarter-mill tax that was first approved in November 1978, and subsequently renewed in 1984, 1994, and 2004. The current millage expires on Dec. 1, 2016. Parks acquisition and development also has a 10-year  quarter-mill tax, first approved in November 1988, renewed in 1998 and 2008. It expires on Dec. 1, 2018.

NAPP’s 10-year quarter-mill tax was first approved in November 2000 and renewed in 2010. It expires on Dec. 1, 2020.

Before Tetens delved into the budget details, he presented the strategies that underpin all of WCPARC’s decisions, including budgetary elements. [For overall priorities set by the elected county board of commissioners, see Chronicle coverage: "Priorities Set for County Budget" and "County Board Sets Budget Meetings."]

The WCPARC strategies include:

  • Continue to be conservative & sustainable; maintain operating reserve.
  • Maintain current parks and facilities to existing high standards.
  • Continue the planned development of the county parks system in an orderly, thoughtful, and sustainable manner, providing recreational opportunities to underserved areas or populations.
  • Maintain commitment to ecological stewardship and restoration.
  • Consider opportunities to diversify revenue-generating capabilities – to support future growth and operations.
  • Consider partnerships wherever possible; seek opportunities to collaborate on local recreational efforts consistent with WCPARC’s mission.

The budget, Tetens continued, is tightly tied to the WCPARC’s master plan. [WCPARC staff are currently updating the plan, including a survey for the public to provide input.]

The 2013 operations & development budget of $13.79 million in expenditures drops to $10.417 million next year. The staff is proposing a budget of $13.574 million in expenditures for 2015. The projected budgets in 2016 and 2017 are $12.672 million and $10.009 million, respectively. Over the four years from 2014-2017, the operations & development budget – which does not include NAPP – will draw from its fund balance. At the end of 2012, the operations & development fund balance was $12.95 million. By the end of 2017, the fund balance is projected to drop to $2.8 million.

Expenditures for NAPP are projected to remain flat in the 2014-2015 budgets, at around $3.7 million annually, then drop to about $3.5 million in 2016 and 2017. For NAPP, the fund balance stood at $7.006 million at the end of 2012. That’s expected to drop to $6.923 million by the end of 2013. In 2014, the fund balance is projected to be $6.543 million, dropping slightly each year until a projected balance of $5.960 million in 2017.

Focusing on the 2014 and 2015 budgets, Tetens described the underlying assumptions: personnel costs will increase up to 1%, as will millage revenue. WCPARC plans to tap into its fund balances as needed in all three budgets – parks operations, parks development, and NAPP.

The budget presentation also included a look at revenues and expenses for each of WCPARC’s major facilities, as well as projected capital expenses for six years, through 2019. Total capital improvements and other funding commitments total $25.561 million for the period from 2013 through 2019.

WCPARC 2014-2017 Budget: Commission Discussion

Commission comments and questions concerned renewing the operating millage, which expires in 2016. Also discussed were efforts to make WCPARC’s operations more self-sufficient, and whether personnel expenditures could be reduced.

WCPARC 2014-2017 Budget: Commission Discussion – Millage

Fred Veigel reminded WCPARC members that “at some point, we need to think about whether the public will keep renewing millages. Everyone keeps asking for more money and the public will say no.”

Bob Marans agreed with Veigel’s point, saying “we have taken it for granted that we will get a renewal.”

Two of the elected county commissioners who serve on WCPARC – Dan Smith and Rolland Sizemore Jr. – weighed in on the issue. Smith urged WCPARC to make a decision soon about whether or not to put the millage renewal on the 2014 ballot. Sizemore agreed.

Tetens said it had been WCPARC’s habit to put its millage renewal on the ballot a couple of years in advance of expiration, to allow for better planning and a second chance, if the millage renewal fails on an initial vote. He said he would be recommending that WCPARC put a millage renewal on the November 2014 ballot.

Smith pointed out that many other entities may be putting millages on the ballot, and it would be to WCPARC’s advantage to be “first in line.”

Marans asked Tetens what he had planned in preparation for a possible renewal vote. Tetens responded that the parks & rec master plan is being updated, including plans for public input. Staff also are developing marketing and promotional materials. “We are planning a whole campaign,” Tetens said. “We’ll reactivate the Friends of County Parks. Our story will be about what we have done and what we will do.”

Marans asked Tetens to bring his plans to WCPARC so they could add their ideas, and Tetens suggested a retreat to allow for further discussion and input.

WCPARC 2014-2017 Budget: Commission Discussion – Self-Sufficiency

The topic of making WCPARC more financially self-sufficient came up when Dan Smith asked whether WCPARC should have a “strategy of reducing our need for an operating millage by making our buildings more self-sufficient, such as – hypothetically – making an investment in geothermal at the Meri Lou Murray Recreation Center to reduce heating and cooling costs.”

Patricia Scribner, Bob Marans, Washtenaw County parks & recreation commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Parks & recreation commissioners Patricia Scribner and Bob Marans, who is president of WCPARC. Scribner also serves as Pittsfield Township treasurer.

Tetens responded that the best area to attempt self-sufficiency is in the natural areas preservation program. If NAPP can build up a fund balance for stewardship, then there might not be the need to renew the NAPP millage in 2020, he said, or the millage request could be for a reduced amount.

As to everything else, Tetens indicated that it’s very hard to achieve self-sufficiency because most of the park facilities can’t generate enough revenue to pay for themselves. Many of the parks don’t have a gate – that is, the parks are not staffed and so entry fees can’t be collected.

Commissioner Jan Anschuetz objected to the concept of self-sufficiency, saying that WCPARC’s history is that “we want our parks to be priced to people of all economic levels can use them.” WCPARC tried to make the Pierce Lake golf course self sufficient so that it might even subsidize other operations, she noted, but that didn’t work. When people use WCPARC’s facilities, she said, “we’re keeping citizens healthy.”

Evan Pratt – who also serves as Washtenaw County water resources commissioner – noted that two-thirds of WCPARC’s costs are for personnel. If overall costs were to be reduced, staff cuts would be needed.

Tetens agreed the issue of self-sufficiency would be a good topic to discuss, but observed that “you have to have staff present to have a park facility that people will pay to enter.”

WCPARC 2014-2017 Budget: Commission Discussion – Dog Park

The section on capital improvements generated discussion about dog parks. In 2015, a dog park is tentatively slated for the Medford Road side of the 141-acre County Farm Park, at a projected cost of $250,000.

Commission members Jan Anschuetz and Rolland Sizemore Jr. both criticized WCPARC’s Swift Run dog park, which is run in partnership with the city of Ann Arbor. They agreed it is heavily used, “even on a yucky day,” Anschuetz said. She noted that “people are there because there is nothing else. We owe it to our taxpayers to invest in a good dog park in a good location. There are great county dog parks out there, some including water. Dog parks are for people, not just dogs.”

Bob Tetens explained the strict limits that the Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality puts on Swift Run, because the dog park was built on top of a former city of Ann Arbor landfill. “We can’t pierce the surface, so we can’t put in benches or umbrellas,” he said.

Sizemore responded: “We need to put money into it or give it to Ann Arbor. It’s an embarrassment.”

Bob Marans wrapped up the discussion by noting that commissioners have had a chance to review the overall budget for the last two months, and had been given a good overview by Tetens.

Tetens said he would go over the material with the three absent members: Janis Bobrin, Nelson Meade, and Conan Smith.

Outcome: On a roll call vote, the budgets for 2014-2017 were approved unanimously.

Meri Lou Murray Recreation Center: Digital Control System

At its May 14, 2013 meeting, WCPARC authorized staff to move forward with a request for proposals (RFP) to replace the existing pneumatic control system in the Meri Lou Murray recreation center with a new digital control system. The rationale for getting the new controls was to get better temperature control in each space, reduce downtime when the pneumatic controls break, reduce staff time spent adjusting the pneumatics, and reduce energy consumption.

Coy Vaughn, Washtenaw County parks & recreation, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Coy Vaughn, WCPARC deputy director.

On Sept. 10, deputy director Coy Vaughn reported that there had been a breakdown of air conditioning in the building that week, due to a condenser failure. That’s an example of the need to improve the building’s HVAC systems, he said.

Ten firms responded to the RFP with competitive bids ranging from $96,500 to $178,000. WCPARC staff interviewed the two low bidders on Aug. 27, and determined that the preferred contractor was Metro Controls Inc. based in Clinton Township, which bid $96,500.

However, Vaughn reported, because of a recent ruling by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, the bid process must be redone. In an email to The Chronicle, WCPARC director Bob Tetens explained that the ruling by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati had upheld state law prohibiting the requirement of construction unity board (CUB) agreements. [For background on the CUB legislation, see Chronicle coverage: "County Board Suspends CUB Agreement."]

MLM Recreation Center: Digital Control System – Commission Discussion

Commission member Dan Smith saw the dilemma: the air conditioning system was compromised, the weather was hot, and the process had to be redone. He suggested that WCPARC approve spending an amount not to exceed $100,000 so that staff could move ahead more quickly. There was agreement on that approach, which became a formal motion. Evan Pratt suggested a friendly amendment: adding “lowest qualified bidder,” which Smith accepted.

Fred Veigel wondered why WCPARC would use a vendor in Novi, rather than “local contractors who work and live here and pay taxes, even if they charge a few bucks more.” There was no response.

Jan Anschuetz asked for more information about the bidders, “perhaps who are the lowest five bidders, where they are, to help us make our decision.”

The discussion revealed that the county purchasing agent formerly supplied this information as a matter of routine, and that Tetens would provide it in the future.

Outcome: The motion to approve entering into a contract for replacing the pneumatic controls with digital controls at a cost of up to $100,000, with the lowest qualified bidder, was unanimously approved.

Financial Reports

Staff provide several different financial reports to WCPARC each month, focused on the past month’s expenses (the claims report), monthly and year-to-date reports on expenses and revenues in the form of fund balance reports, and a listing of major non-recurring expenses when they are significant.

The September meeting reviewed reports for August. There are separate reports on parks and facilities, and on the natural areas preservation program (NAPP), which includes preservation of agricultural lands. Each of these has its own, separate funding, although WCPARC administers all of these programs.

Financial Reports: Claims Report

Parks and facilities paid a total of $316,298 in August. Of that, $146,300 was for capital improvements, primarily at Rolling Hills and Independence Lake parks. [.pdf of claims report]

NAPP claims far exceeded that with $2,571,483, almost entirely the cost of completing purchases for the Jarsky, Holley, and DF Land properties. [For background on those deals, see Chronicle coverage of WCPARC's Aug. 13, 2013 meeting.] In an email to The Chronicle, Tom Freeman clarified the components of the NAPP claims in August:

  • DF Land Development: 54-acre parcel – $2,048,270
  • DF Land Development: 5 & 12-acre parcels – $325,532
  • Holley Property: $84,817.83
  • Jarskey Property: $57,839.77
  • Cost of due diligence (appraisals, environmental site assessments, surveys, legal expenses, etc.): $51,664

Total claims paid by WCPARC in August 2013 were $2,887,781.

Financial Reports: Fund Balance – Parks and Recreation

Parks & rec director Bob Tetens introduced this report by saying there has not been a lot of activity in the last month; revenue is down due to bad weather. On the other hand, the dip in revenue is matched by a dip in expenses, he said. The projected fund balance at the end of 2013 is $8,220,788. The fund balance started the year at $12,950,815. [.pdf of parks & rec fund balance statement]

As of Aug. 31, 2013, revenue totaled $8,550,664 – primarily from property taxes ($5,811,813) and fees and services ($2,685,995). Expenses year-to-date were $9,756,948. In addition, the parks budget includes an operating reserve of $6.7 million and ”partnership” funding commitments of $925,000.

Financial Reports: Fund Balance – NAPP

The Jan. 1, 2013 fund balance for NAPP was $10,263,644. [.pdf of NAPP fund balance statement] Through Aug. 31, 2013, revenue was $3,184,873 and expenses were $3,076,995. Tetens pointed out that the August fund balance for NAPP does not yet reflect expenditures for closings that occurred in September. The projected fund balance for NAPP is $10,410,585 by the end of 2013.

There was no substantive discussion of the reports.

Outcome: WCPARC unanimously voted to receive, accept, and file the financial reports.

Recreation Reports

These monthly reports include attendance at WCPARC facilities where attendance can be counted, with information about participation in measurable activities and revenue received at those facilities. The reports include the current year-to-date summary as well as similar information for the prior two years.

On Sept. 10, WCPARC director Bob Tetens introduced the August reports with an explanation about the impact of weather on attendance, especially in comparison to 2012, which was much hotter and drier than this year.

Recreation Reports: Meri Lou Murray Recreation Center

The Meri Lou Murray rec center is, Tetens highlighted, doing better financially this year than the prior two years. Year-to-date participation as of Aug. 31, 2013 was 220,042 and revenue was $800,166. In 2012, year-to-date participation was 217,352 and revenue was $750,034. In 2011, participation was 234,162 and revenue was $764,410. [.pdf of MLM rec center report]

Commission member Rolland Sizemore, Jr. asked whether attendance at MLMRC was affected by the existence of the rec center at Washtenaw Community College. No, Tetens responded: “We saw an impact only when it first opened.”

Recreation Reports: Pierce Lake Golf Course

Tetens recommended comparing Pierce Lake Golf Course’s use in 2013 to 2011 rather than 2012 because of the hotter weather in 2012, when the golf course opened two weeks earlier than normal. “The course looks better now than in the last seven or eight years,” he said. “We get lots of compliments.” [.pdf of Pierce Lake golf course report]

Through the end of August 2013, 13,240 people had paid greens fees totaling $287,432. In 2012, 15,862 people paid $328,973. In 2011, 13,100 people paid $269,139. Programming and retail operations brought in $83,028 in 2013; $92,301 in 2012; and $70,719 in 2011. Total revenue in 2013 was $453,151, compared to $510,179 in 2012 and $413,957 in 2011.

Recreation Reports: Rolling Hills Park and Water Park

There is an entrance fee and gate count for everyone who enters Rolling Hills Park. There is a separate fee, and gate count, for those who go on to enter the water park there. [.pdf of Rolling Hills report]

As members of WCPARC looked at the report on Rolling Hills, Jan Anschuetz reminded them: “Last year we had 10 days over 100 degrees. This year, we had a month of rain.”

In 2013, 29,234 people paid $230,683 to enter Rolling Hills Park. That compares to 32,862 people in 2012 and $256,938 in revenue. In 2011, 32,858 people paid $254,995.

The water park proved much more popular, but still showed declining attendance compared to previous years. In 2013, 92,117 people paid $697,321. That compares to 111,944 people and $760,764 in 2012, and 114,440 people and $751,811 in 2011. Total revenue for all operations at Rolling Hills was $1,171,715 in 2013, compared to $1,284,273 in 2012 and $1,258,579 in 2011.

In spite of these numbers, Tetens said, “the two busiest days ever at Rolling Hills were this year, and they were not on holidays.”

Recreation Reports: Independence Lake Park & Blue Heron Bay

Blue Heron Bay is a water-feature area separate from the rest of Independence Lake Park. Unlike Rolling Hills Water Park, Tetens described Blue Heron Bay as “not the type of facility where parents leave their kids all day.” [Blue Heron Bay’s water features appeal to younger children, who stay for shorter periods with their parents; Rolling Hills is more popular with older children.] [.pdf of Independence Lake report]

Because Blue Heron Bay opened in 2013, there are no comparisons to earlier years.

In 2013, 14,691 people paid $117,651 to use Independence Lake Park. That compares to 16,803 people and $131,463 in 2012; and 15,856 people and $125,345 in revenues during 2011. Attendance at Blue Heron Bay was 17,312, for $68,416 in revenue.

Total revenue for all of Independence Lake Park was, through August, $288,330 in 2013; $204,392 in 2012; and $195,895 in 2011.

Outcome: The recreation reports were received and accepted for filing unanimously.

Projects and Activities

Staff of WCPARC provide monthly updates to commissioners about ongoing improvements at facilities, and activities at parks and natural areas. Some of this information is provided in a written report that’s part of the board packet; more is provided with visuals and informal commentary during the meeting. This report summarizes the most significant items at the September 2013 meeting.

  • Rolling Hills Family Camp Out: WCPARC director Bob Tetens reported that this event, held in August, had the best attendance ever this year. To include more people, it would have to move to a different location. Commission member Rolland Sizemore Jr. remarked that “kids don’t have camping experience anymore, but they can [get it] here.” He noted that he’d seen cars with Ohio and Pennsylvania license plates at the event. Tetens explained the event includes setting up tents, nature walks, games, arts, crafts, and stories and s’mores around a campfire. In the morning, Boy Scouts prepare a big pancake breakfast. 
  • NACPRO award to Blue Heron Bay: This national award was in Class 1 and will be awarded at the National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials annual conference in October, in Houston.
  • Ann Arbor skatepark: Construction has begun, and is “going fast,” Tetens reported, noting that it was a $400,000 grant from WCPARC that got the project off the ground. The skatepark will be located at the northwest corner of Veterans Memorial Park, a city of Ann Arbor park.
  • Aerial photographs of WCPARC properties: Tetens showed several photos by Victor Banta. The photo of County Farm Park brought a discussion of the difficulty of mowing the sloped strip adjacent to Washtenaw Avenue, which several commissioners had noticed. Evan Pratt, the county’s water resources commissioner, suggested that his staff could help with that next year, since the land is near a county drain.
  • Programming and activities: Tetens showed slides of several public programs: a prairie walk at Independence Lake; a nature walk at Spike Preserve; a spider walk at the County Farm Park; a stream walk; day camps; a summer picnic at Willow Run with free fishing; the annual employee golf outing at Pierce Lake, which collected $245 and 113 pounds of food for Food Gatherers; and a United Way event in which staff “stuff the [school] bus” with school supplies.
  • Henry Ford event: Tetens pitched an event to honor Henry Ford’s 150th birthday (1863-2013): “Henry Ford: A Historical Perspective,” a talk by Mike Skinner on Sunday, Oct. 6 at 3 p.m. at Sharon Hills park.

Present: Jan Anschuetz, Robert Marans, Evan Pratt, Patricia Scribner, Dan Smith, Rolland Sizemore Jr., and Fred Veigel.

Absent: Janis Bobrin, Nelson Meade, and Conan Smith.

Staff: Director Robert Tetens, deputy director Coy Vaughn, and consultant Tom Freeman.

Next meeting: Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013 at 7 p.m. in the county parks and recreation department’s office at 2230 Platt Road in Ann Arbor.

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