Broward County > Parks > Get Involved > Parks Advisory Board Minutes Meeting of June 4, 2008

7:30 a.m. -- Fern Forest Nature Center -- Coconut Creek

Members Present: Members Absent: Others Present:
Sharon Kent Gretchen Menk Tindle Bob Harbin, Parks
Alanna Mersinger Stephen Oyer-Owens Mike Harlan, Parks.
Quentin Morgan, Chair Bill Spute Gretel Porcaro, Parks .
Guy Roper Sheila Rose Jaime Plana, Parks
Jack Tlabisco Gayle Preston, Parks
Terry Danger Sarah Perkins, Parks
Marc Kiar Jim Davis, Parks.
Ed Portner Maureen Broderick, Parks
Stephen Lawson Lou Metz, Parks
Milette Thurston Shelly Turetzky, Parks
Melanie Mercado, Parks
Laura Frank, Parks

The meeting was called to order by Quentin Morgan at 7:34 a.m., after which all present recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

Approval of Minutes

Mr. Morgan asked for a motion to approve the minutes of the meeting of May 7, 2008. Alanna Mersinger would like to correct the minutes showing her being present and she was absent, which was duly noted. Ed Portner made the motion, which was seconded by Sharon Kent and passed unanimously.

Steve Lawson stated that he did not think they should vote in front of groups that are presenting items to the Board. Members may be more open to voicing concerns regarding an issue. Quentin Morgan replied that this is a public meeting therefore they have the right to be in attendance during voting.

Employee of the Month for June & July 2008

Susan Mallinson was congratulated as Employee of the Month for June and Jennifer Smith for the month of July. They were both applauded for their accomplishments and work ethics and were awarded a framed certificate of appreciation and a gift certificate for an area restaurant.

Park Manager’s Report

Nikki Hochberg, Park Naturalist III, welcomed the Board to Fern Forest Nature Center and provided an update on the facility. She reported that the Park restrooms are under renovation at this time. The overlook area is also being renovated, a roof will be put on it and the viewing area will be expanded. Groups are starting to come in and the summer camp program is completely booked this year. The area is a little dry, though they can still pump through the South Florida Water Management District, it is greatly reduced.

Parks and Recreation Division (Parks) Update

Mr. Harbin reminded the Board at the last meeting they were briefed on the direction Parks are going with regard to the budget reductions. Staff presented their results to the Commission and some of their concerns were with privatization and that there would be no layoffs, the 112 positions that are frozen will safeguard against that. The Commissioners had issues with safety and qualifications with the privatization of lifeguards. Broward County currently uses Jeff Ellis & Associates, who have contracts with Tamarac , Hillsboro Beach , and several other cities. This company is well respected in the aquatic community and currently train and certify our lifeguards. Another issue was charging park fees during the week. No decisions have been made at this time. Lori Parrish, with the Property Appraiser’s Office was asked to give her best estimate and figured the assessments going down approximately 5.3%. That will add up with a budget of $3.3 billion for the County and could mean as much as a $4-8 million reduction in Parks.

There was general discussion regarding lifeguards operating under parks or whether they should belong under the Sheriff’s Office or the Fire Department. Parks lifeguards are employed more on a seasonal basis. Quentin Morgan asked how much money would be saved under privatization. Mike Harlan responded approximately $650,000 per year. Parks currently has 197 full and part time aquatic staff which equates to $2.2 million per year. Our full time lifeguards do other duties in addition to their aquatic functions.

Another concern of the Commissioners had to do with privatization of exotic removal in our natural areas. The Commissioners thought companies would not be qualified in knowing where to spray around sensitive areas.

On June 3, 2008, there was a Capital Budget Workshop and the only comment had to do with the reservations systems. It was questioned whether this was something that was needed or something that would be nice to have. Bob Harbin explained to them that this was something Parks have been working on for about 7-8 years and are behind the times. It makes reservations a lot more convenient for the patron. They would be able to view the available dates themselves, rather than making several phone calls to several different parks. The reservation system would provide that information instantly. A little over $300,000 had been budgeted for this project. Commission Jacob’s stated that she has used the State Parks system for camping and asked if we could piggyback off that. Parks are looking into that now.

Sharon requested that over the summer recess, if anything comes up that staff keeps the Board up dated. Bob Harbin confirmed that if Parks needed to call a meeting, staff would contact Quentin Morgan and make arrangements.

Terry Danger inquired where Parks staff was regarding closure for budget. Bob Harbin attended the budget results for other departments to get a feel of what Parks would be up against. The Commission seemed to refer back to staff, asking what they recommended. Staff gave menus of options for the Commission to choose from and there has been no decision. There are a couple more workshops scheduled before they take their summer break and more than likely a decision will not be made until they know the numbers. A formal approval will take place in September.

Ed Portner commented that there seemed to be a great deal of talk about privatization was there any conversation with the privatization of the parks system. Bob Harbin responded that it has not gotten that far, just pieces of it. Alanna Mersinger commented that unless it is non-profit, every company is in it to make money. The usual place they cut the money is quality, employee salary or benefits, etc. When government provides the service the idea is not to make money but to provide a service to the public. Guy Roper said there are certain services the government does better than private companies. Jack Talabisco stated short term projects may be feasible but long term it is not the way to go.

Parks had the last public meeting for Everglades Holiday Park . There were a little over 80 people in attendance and many spoke and stated that they felt Parks staff actually listened to them and incorporated amenities they asked for.

Bond Construction Update

Jaime Plana updated the Board with Design Build 2 & 3 going up over the summer break. Design Build 2 is Quiet Waters & Tradewinds South, Design Build 3 is Tradewinds North. Parks will also being doing a lot of work at Hollywood North Beach and West Lake Park . Work will also be done with Design Build 8 which is Miramar Pinelands. A number of projects are on hold. Vista View’s playground project was under a bid protest and should be resolved by the end of summer. Miramar approached Parks and asked for help to finish their project.

Old Business

Quentin Morgan asked for the Performance Measures Subcommittee update from Sharon Kent . The first meeting was last month and the committee will meet again directly after this Advisory Board meeting to further discuss. Their next meeting will be in September and it is their intent to have something to present to the Board for their input at that time.

New Business

Crescent Trail Natural Area master plan presentation was given by Gretel Porcaro. She noted that the agenda lists this site as Helwig and that is incorrect, it should be Site 39. Site 39 is the last Natural Area in Coconut Creek. Parks purchased the 7.8 acre site for $2.25 million in August 2005. It is near Quiet Waters, Helene Klein, West Creek, Saw Palmetto and Hillsboro Pineland, so there is a nice cluster of Natural Areas surrounding this site with approximately 2 miles of trails. There is a protected plant on the site, Cat’s Tongue, due to low population of the species in Broward County . The plan for the park is basic amenities with a small trail and some signage, in which about $350,000 has been budgeted. This has gone to the Urban Wilderness Advisory Board and Coconut Creek Advisory Board and they had approved the master plan and name suggestion. Staff is asking for the Board’s approval of the master plan and suggested name of Crescent Trail Natural Area. Alanna Mersinger motioned to approve, Terry Danger field seconded, all in favor.

Alanna Mersinger noted Central Broward Regional Park had the Memorial Day Tournament, and asked what kind of numbers they had. Bob Harbin answered that the numbers were not as high as expected, the event was from Friday-Sunday and total attendance was 2,800. Much of the problem was due to rain. It started with the opening ceremony and everything had to be brought inside, there was a 2 hour delay of the game the next day and a concert planned for that night was canceled due to the rain. However, the next day a Celebrity Soccer Game had over 3,000 people in attendance.

Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on September 3, 2008 at Long Key at 6 p.m. A public forum will be held at 7 p.m.

Adjournment

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 8:30 a.m.