PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION
September 18, 2006
Present: Commissioners D. Amarotico, Eggers, Gardiner, Lewis, Rosenthal; Director Robertson; Superintendent Gies; Superintendent Teige
Absent: City Council Liaison A. Amarotico
Rosenthal called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. at the Parks Office,
ICE RINK UPDATE
Robertson outlined the topics for the evening’s review, including a discussion about the future of the Darex Family Ice Rink and a report on facilities usage and fees.
In terms of the rink, he reminded the commission of the previous presentation by Mark Moeglein and others regarding potential enhancements / preservation measures for the rink, informing the group that Mr. Moeglein would be on hand to make a second presentation.
With respect to the facilities report, he stated that, during the 2006-2007 budget planning sessions, the commission asked for an opportunity to review information on facilities usage and fees, and he reported that Superintendent Teige would present an overview of her initial findings.
Moeglein provided the commission with a market analysis report, stating that the expansion potentially could have a positive impact on the three other area rinks, with the end result being a strengthened rivalry and larger pool of skaters competing between rinks. He itemized the rink’s income by category, including sections for public skating, high school hockey, youth hockey, tournaments, donations and skate sharpening, adult drop-in hockey, skating classes, and Saturday games. His estimates were based on a full-sized rink and a 180-day season. In terms of expenses, he categorized them as labor, electricity, capital reserve, facilities, set-up/tear down, liability insurance, utilities, and supplies. His capital cost estimates included expenses for the structure, slab, facilities, refrigeration plant, site work, and skating equipment.
Moeglein stated that the fundraising goal for the upgraded facility was set at $1.5 million, with Ashland Ice leading the fundraising efforts but asking for help from the commission, community, and grants. Finally, he thanked all those who helped with the implementation of the original rink, those who worked to keep it operating over the past 10 years, and the professionals in the community who donated their time and energy to create the new business model, including Jerome White, architect.
Jerome White, 253 Third Street, presented three architectural plans, including the existing site plan showing 25 summer parking spaces, a conceptual ice rink expansion plan showing an 85’ W x 185’ L winter skating rink, and a conceptual ice rink expansion plan showing 39 summer parking spaces. He stated that using the existing space to create a permanent, larger rink would bring up a number of issues within the City, and he reported on his initial discussions with Bill Molnar, Interim Planning Director, and Jim Olson in Engineering regarding pushing the curb out, taking out street trees, and other issues relevant to the project.
Discussion Among Commissioners
Commissioners asked Robertson to review the rink’s history and he provided them with the information, stating that the refrigeration mats were purchased as used equipment 10 years ago. He reminded the commission that they budgeted $50,000 in the current fiscal year for limited repair materials as well as some seed money to encourage the community to step forward with donations for the purchase of new refrigeration mats, or as seed money for concrete slab mats that could be embedded into the ground.
Eggers asked a number of additional questions for which Robertson provided answers:
§ Who owns the parking lot property?
The City of Ashland
§ How long can we be assured of the use of the ice rink space?
It is not our decision to make.
§ What approvals are needed for the project?
Planning and Public Works have been contacted regarding the permit process needed for the project.
§ Who can change the time commitment for the rink in that area and under what process?
If the City of Ashland / City Council wanted to change the use of the parking lot or “decommission the rink,” they would need to call a public hearing and implement an ordinance.
Robertson stated that, from a staff perspective, the situation is at a crossroads. He reported that staff has started the process of educating the public about the needed repairs, including placing a statement in the recreation guide and discussing the matter with the local newspaper. The current central concern involves fundraising and, by all appearances, Robertson observed that Ashland Ice appears to want to lead those efforts. He questioned whether Ashland Ice would be interested in helping if they could not implement their entire plan, as his perception was that the commission wished to repair or replace existing equipment and maintain the same size rink, not expand it.
Commissioners agreed to consider the matter further and forward questions to Robertson relating to the future of the ice rink along with any potential concerns about its repair or expansion and Robertson agreed to solicit answers from staff and Ashland Ice. All concerned parties agreed to meet again in the near future to talk about their findings. Moeglein stated that, in terms of fundraising, it would be important to find a major donor or donors to pay for some of the rink’s larger repairs or expenses.
Teige reported that she prepared a preliminary facility fee and policy report based on research conducted over six months’ time for the purpose of evaluating the fees charged to individuals and groups renting facilities and areas within the parks system. She reminded the commission that one of their ’06-’07 fiscal year goals was to look at facilities overseen by the commission and reported that the fees had not been evaluated for many years. In her research, she stated that she focused on rental facilities and park and picnic shelters within
§ Through Dawn Lang, Facilities Manager
§ Through the Recware system on the Internet
§ Through the Parks Department office
In all cases, she reported that the person making the reservation is required to secure it with a deposit and to be made aware of the policies and procedures required for all facilities reservations. She outlined all costs associated with facility rentals, including capital improvement repairs, facility manager’s salary, custodial costs, and utilities expenses as well as operational supplies, general repairs, and maintenance. In terms of revenues, she stated that approximately $39,000 was generated for all park and facility reservations in 2005-2006.
Teige reported on the results from her facilities research throughout
Teige talked about “minefield issues,” specifically referring to groups that traditionally were allowed use of park areas or facilities with discounted or no charges. Groups within this category included the VFW, Boy Scouts, Garden Club, youth leagues, and others.
In terms of ballfields, Teige reported that youth sports groups generally are not charged for their use but are expected to pay for field improvements while ballfield light users are consistently charged $25 per use. She reported that a problem often occurs when a group calls to reserve a field but is already on the field playing at the time of the call. Gies suggested that, in terms of the lights, staff could implement a new security system in which groups would be required to punch in their own specifically designated code, giving staff a method by which to track usage.
Gardiner recommended that, once completed, the new fee schedules could be phased in to allow groups to become accustomed to the higher rates over time.
Robertson summarized the discussion, stating that this would be an ongoing research project with the goal being to “right price” all of the facilities and areas managed by the commission. Eggers recommended notifying all renters of the itemized costs associated with running the areas and facilities, with copies being sent to City Council and School Board members.
Teige asked the commissioners to continue their review of the information packet and to contact her with any questions.
ADJOURNMENT – By consensus, with no further business, Rosenthal adjourned the meeting at 9:00 PM.
Respectfully submitted, Susan Dyssegard,