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Parks Advisory Board Minutes Meeting of March 4, 2009
Broward County > Parks > Get Involved > Parks Advisory Board Minutes Meeting of March 4, 2009

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

Members Present: Members Absent: Others Present:
Sharon Kent Bruce Edwards Bob Harbin, Parks & Rec.
Terry Danger Mike Harlan, Parks & Rec.
Marc Kiar Jim Federici Public Works
Stephen Lawson Nikki Hochberg, Parks & Rec.
Jack Mathison Chester Pruitt, Parks & Rec.
Alanna Mersinger Ed McIntyre, Parks & Rec.
Quentin Morgan Gayle Preston, Parks & Rec.
Guy Roper Laura Frank, Parks & Rec.
Sheila Rose Lou Metz, Parks & Rec.
Richard Simon
Jack Talabisco
Milette Thurston

The meeting was called to order by Quentin Morgan, Chair at 7:30 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 February 4, 2009. The February minutes were not posted on the website and will need to be approved in April.

Employee of the Month for March 2009

Ed McIntyre was congratulated as Employee of the Month for March. He was applauded for his accomplishments and work ethics and was awarded a framed certificate of appreciation and a gift certificate for an area restaurant.

Mr. Morgan introduced a new PAB member, Mr. Richard Simon. Mr. Simon gave a brief bio of himself.

Park Manager’s Report

Nikki Hochberg, Parks Naturalist II at Fern Forest Nature Center, welcomed the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (PAB). Ms. Hochberg provided the board members with a handout providing an overview of the Nature Center. Some of the improvements over the past year include; the kitchen in the rental hall has been completely redone, the bathroom renovations have been completed, as well as the overlook. These were all bond projects. We are going to begin work on the outside in the building structure and doing improvements on the surface of it.

Parks and Recreation Division (Parks) Update

Bob Harbin informed the PAB that the water park playgrounds will be opened this weekend.

Parks staff had a meeting a couple months ago with the County Administrator and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau (GFLCVB) regarding promoting Central Broward Regional Park. One of the issues that came up was all the different nationalities that park staff deals with. A private consultant is going to hold the protocol training on “How to Greet People”. About 35 parks staff are going to that training, to assist staff on how to greet people, learn to deal with people, help things run smoother from an operational standpoint.

Next month will be the first budget workshop for the Commission regarding our Division within Community Services Department. This signals the kickoff for starting the budget process. Staff is waiting to find out the amount of reduction that we will need to work toward.

The Broward Caribbean Carnival, who had a very successful event at Central Broward Regional Park last October, still owes Parks a little under $19,000 and we are in the process of turning it over to collection. Due to it the amount being over $15,000, this needs to go before the Board of County Commissioners (Board) for approval to process the collection.

Staff is about to go through the third negotiations meeting for the Family Aquatic Center at Tradewinds with Harvest Entertainment. These negotiations are being conducted via conferencing due to international participation; one of the principles is from Australia. Sheila Rose, who also represents the City of Coconut Creek, and stated that the City keeps thinking they are going to hear from the vendor. During the negotiations with the previous vendor, there were issues raised by the City Commission, including a payment in lieu of taxes or payment based on a leasehold value. Has staff had that discussion? Mr. Harbin stated that staff is in the midst of that and they are not going to allow it. Staff also looked at their track record. Harvest Entertainment has developed approximately 30 different facilities in the United States and abroad. Their pattern is to sell after 3 to 5 years. Staff is going to include penalties in the event of a sale; the County is to have approval of any sale. Ms. Rose said that as long as their presumption is that there is a tax payment and payment for water and sewer impacts the City is fine. There was a lot of discussion in the past as to whether or not the vendor was tax exempt due the project being located on County owned property. Harvest Entertainment is trying to get the agreement set up so that they can work on getting their funding. They indicated two sources they are looking at and it could be a sticking point if Parks does not do a lease hold. This may come to a head at the next negotiation meeting because we have been going back and forth on this issue. Staff has asked several times what their investment is and Harvest Entertainment has assured us that they are going to invest $35M. Mr. Harbin stated that he wants to be careful not to lose the possibility of 600 jobs in Broward County. Staff is not going to be unreasonable; but we also do not want to put the Board in a position where they do not have any say as to who the facility could be sold to. The County will determine which company the facility would be sold to, for example. Ms. Rose reiterated that the City wants to be sure that Harvest Entertainment knows the City must be in that loop. Harvest Entertainment had indicated during their presentation that they had communicated extensively with the City.

This is the last weekend of the Renaissance Festival at Quiet Waters Park. This event has been the biggest generator of revenue in Parks. Mike Harlan said it has generated approximately $140,000 in revenue to Parks over a five-week period.

Bond Construction Update

Jim Federici provided the PAB with a projects status report handout. Mr. Federici showed the PAB pictures of the prototypes projects last month and they are continuing to go well with eight of the ten projects under way. Mary Saunders Park is just about finished, Oswald Park is on its heels and will be done in another couple weeks. Franklin Park is approximately is 70% done, and they are putting up structural steel at the North Broward Park. The basketball courts projects are moving along. Three of the four corporate shelters are under way and getting close to being completed. The maintenance facility out at Tree Tops Park has most of the material there, all the interior walls are up and a roof will be going on in the next week. Vista View Park in Davie - the contractor has been given a second notice to proceed, under the first notice - he started doing clearing and grubbing, they have gotten final approval from Davie and the contractor is off to good start. Sometime late in the summer we should be close to finishing that project. Design Build 2 -- the three finalists will make presentations to the selection committee tomorrow and we will begin negotiations with the selected firm shortly thereafter. Mr. Harbin asked regarding all the bond issue projects -- where are we with completion. Mr. Federici said we are at about 85% completed- the design build is a two-step process, Request for Letters of Interest are put out and received from various firms The selection committee then shortlists three or four firms which are then given our scope of work for the project. They then come back to committee with the proposal for the project. Mr. Harbin asked if there is a time frame as to when they would be completed. Mr. Federici said about two years. Quentin Morgan asked what the status is on the preserve project at Hillsboro Blvd. Ms. Rose said the property that Mr. Morgan is referring to is a City area and FPL may be doing some work in that area. This will include a horse trail and will widen the trail for people to rollerblade, etc. Mr. Morgan also asked if the area of Wiles Road, just east of University, is a County Park. Ms. Rose said that that is a City area as well. Mr. Federici said along with the efforts of the City of Coconut Creek, the County has been able to secure a $250,000 matching grant for a Greenway Trail from North Tradewinds Park to Wiles which winds back down to Lyons Road. Sharon Kent asked as a follow-up for the next meeting, if the PAB could have a status report on the challenge grants.

Old Business

Mr. Harbin informed the PAB that there was a concern from Butterfly World when the Toby’s Concession item went to the Commission and at the meeting. The concession area at the Marina, which is right next to Butterfly World, was pulled. Ron Boender, the owner of Butterfly World, had concerns with the parking area, which is a joint use lot. He thought the food concessionaire operation would create much less parking for him. Staff met with Mr. Boender, and the concessionaire and we came to the conclusion that the docks at the Marina can be moved. At this time, Toby’s will not open that concession. There are two other areas within Tradewinds Park that he will be operating. The concessionaire will have 13 different concessions within our parks. Within the agreement, Parks have the latitude to add or delete and the concessionaire also has the ability to utilize mobile units with the park system. Ms. Rose wondered of the City could piggyback off of his agreement. Staff will get Ms. Rose a copy of that agreement. The issues were worked out and brought back to the Commission yesterday, which has been approved. Mr. Harbin said the only issue left is whether or not they wanted to use our inventory. Mr. Harlan said that Toby’s has decided to make use of our inventory. Ms. Rose asked if the concessionaire gets the licenses. Mr. Harbin confirmed he does.

Mr. Harbin explained that as part of the budget process coming up they may start a hiring freeze again. There is a position that will be filled, which is the Assistant to the Director. This is going to be a part of the succession plan. Mr. Harlan and I are within 12 months of each other of leaving the County. Our financial director, Mr. Martorelli, will be leaving at the same time that I am. We are trying to make a transition with employees that may or may not be the new candidate. There are no guarantees; all employees will have to compete for the job.

New Business

Mr. Morgan turned the meeting over to Sharon Kent to discuss strategic plan projects. Ms. Kent reviewed the PAB goals and objectives.

• Hold nine public meetings -- we are well on our way to doing that.

• The suggestion box programs at parks -- at the last meeting it was decided to construct eight boxes and rotate at Park locations. Mr. Harbin showed a sample of the suggestion boxes that were constructed by maintenance.

• The website inquiries/suggestions directed to PAB members -- a PAB volunteer is needed to monitor of those suggestions or comments. Your name will not be published; it will be a behind the scenes volunteer to handle that task. Mr. Harbin said our IT Section can devise the e-mail to be forwarded to a convenient location so that the volunteer does not have to physically go to our computer system. Ms. Rose volunteered to monitor the e-mail. Mr. Morgan asked if we know how many hits the Parks site gets. Mr. Harbin said we can get that answer. Mr. Morgan commented that the PAB e-mail link will not get that kind of volume but it can give you an indication of the activity. Ms. Rose said that this link should be specific to the Parks Advisory Board and not common questions to Park staff.

• Secret shopper site visits -- please hand in completed the surveys to Parks staff. This objective should be completed within the next two months.

• Investigate and share findings of six volunteer programs by other agencies -- Alana Mersinger provided preliminary research of her contact with the volunteer services of Hollywood Memorial Hospital. She noted that you have the ability to sign up online. When viewing the Parks volunteer services site, it was noted you cannot sign up online the volunteer must go to a Park. That seems to be one of the key issues and could be a deterrent, the ability to complete an application online. These applications should be easier to access. Ms. Kent suggested that the PAB answer the questions Shelly Turetzky sent out and information on each program written up in order to share with the other members. Jack Talabisco contacted the Tamarac volunteer program. They have approximately 30 volunteers and about 15 student volunteers. Their application only lists references and they do check the references; but there are no other checks at all. No background checks. Richard Simon asked if Parks offers community service hours to students. Mr. Harbin confirmed that we do and to community service workers. Stephen Lawson commented that when you drive into a Park you don't see any signs asking for volunteers. This could be crucial in targeting a person that frequents the Park and may live close by. Ms. Mersinger added that when she was looking through Parks literature, there is nothing that stuck out requesting a volunteer. Marc Kiar asked if there is a link on the website for volunteers. Ms. Mersinger said yes, there is one for a special event volunteer and a workday volunteer in PDF forms only. Nothing for an ongoing volunteer. Ms. Kent said they may find more and more things that the PAB can make suggestions on; by comparing the programs we find. That is the PAB goal; to find six different agency programs and provide input that could help improve the Parks process. Mr. Morgan asked if the PAB are looking for six different things or are we going to take pieces from different ones and make a list of suggestions. Ms. Kent said six complete volunteer programs. Then possibly take the best out of the six.

• The sponsorship leads are still on hold -- Mr. Harbin informed the PAB that a selection committee met yesterday on naming rights, advertising and sponsorship. The short listed firms will do their presentations March 17. These meetings are open to the public if the PAB would like to sit in. The firm's were asked to include specific items in their presentations. One of the questions was will your company consider commission-basis-only sales. None of the vendors presented it that way. Their proposals ranged from hundred $140,000 to $180,000 just to do the inventory of assets on what's marketable and what they can sell. Three of the firms have extensive public sector marketing experience. Terry Danger stated the history of naming rights and its venues has been terrible. Mr. Harbin said two commissioners at the selection committee meeting had concerns about changing the name of a Park, but they were okay with cosponsoring the name of a Park.

Mr. Harbin informed the PAB during meetings with Ron Boender of Butterfly World; he learned that his daughter will be taking over the operations. He was also reminded that their lease agreement with Broward County expires in eight years. Mr. Boender has been lobbying the commissioners to get a feel as to whether or not they will be interested in renewing the contract, primarily because he is willing to do additional and substantial investments. Butterfly World has to keep changing or adding things to their attraction in order to keep people coming back, which he has done so over the years.

Guy Roper updated the PAB on a charity from the NFL Alumni. They provided a 14-year-old girl with a carbon fiber wheelchair, which is only about 18 pounds and she is able to handle well.

Meeting adjourned at 8:30 a.m.

Next Meeting

The next meeting is at Tree Tops Park, April 1, 2009 at 7:30 a.m.