On April 20th, 2016, at approximately 7:30 p.m., the Piedmont Recreation Commission called into session its monthly meeting. The Commission works with allocating, regulating, renovating, and creating park properties. According to Director Sara Lillevand, who facilitated the meeting, these tasks actually have a very “large breadth” in the city.
The meeting, specifically broken down into nine agenda items, began with a warm welcome to three new members of the Commission: Glyn Burge, Jeff Dorman, and Vincent Fisher. Each was given an introduction stating their background. After the meeting, Fisher kindly granted an interview in which he stated that he had previous experience in local government in Connecticut, from where he had just moved. He mentioned that his top priority was dealing with “the space issue” which plagues Piedmont parks and making sure that “Piedmont residents get priority” when it comes to park use. After the members were applauded into their new roles, the Commission voted on the next Chair and Vice-Chair, unanimously electing Elizabeth Smegal Andersen and Brian Cain, respectively.
After a couple of brief formalities, the Commission unanimously approved their minutes and reviewed the Commission’s duties. Then the Commission began its main point of discussion, the Hampton Field renovation Master Plan. Since the plan had already been approved the previous Monday by the Council, the discussion turned out to be more of a recap of events rather than a discussion of possibilities and details.
Director Lillevand led the rearticulation, highlighting her personal investment in the project and noting that the Hampton renovation had been about ten years in the making. She verbalized her appreciation for the many people who worked painstakingly to see the project come to fruition, as well as the private sponsors whose donations made the project feasible.
Interestingly, Lillevand stated that of the $254,000 pledged for the Hampton project at a January meeting, only $199,000 was actually handed to the Mayor at the Monday meeting. While this may seem disconcerting, given the members’ lack of reaction, this drop may have been expected, or the remaining $55,000 may show up later or not be needed at all.
Lillevand concluded by reiterating just how much this development is needed by the community, as Hampton holds league soccer and baseball games, recreational tennis and basketball, as well as summer camps and general park-usage. When asked whether the tennis and basketball courts would be maintained so they do not reach their current level of wear again, she gladly explained that the courts have been placed on a “facility master plan” that has a rotation for resurfacing Piedmont courts.
After going over how the City planned to deal with the loss of park space during construction time, which will occur this summer, Lillivand stated that opening up Beach Playfield for longer hours on the weekends would be done.
The commission began discussing the Aquatics Master Plan. Unlike the Hampton situation, no plan is currently in effect, and so the members were able to share ideas on how they felt the aquatics in Piedmont could be enhanced.
Director Lillevand explained how various stakeholder groups such as competitive swimmers, passholders, and the general public each would get their own meetings in order to express their desires. Additionally, she mentioned some of the current proposals to get more out of the Piedmont Community Pool, which included building new pools, hosting fitness classes, providing adaptive education, and restructuring pools.
While increasing recreational use is not a bad ideal to have, currently the pools are in such high demand that doing so would restrict access to many groups. As Andersen said, “no groups feel like they have enough water space,” and so the most beneficial change would be to create more pool space. Once more pool space has opened up, then the Recreation Department can focus on providing more activities without having to cut into the already limited time many groups receive. While no voting occurred on the aquatics plan, most members seemed to agree that, in general, Piedmont should revamp its aquatics.
To conclude the meeting in a most fitting way, the Commission voted unanimously to give the Betty C. Howard Award to Katrina Morris, an employee, and John Morrison, a volunteer. The annual award is bestowed upon citizens who perform superior service, show programming ability, demonstrate loyalty and dedication, and work many hours in service of the Recreation Department and Piedmont community. Once descriptions of the nominees’ work in service were given, and they were officially put into consideration, they were chosen with a simultaneous “Aye.” With that, the meeting was adjourned.
Report by David Monical, Piedmont High School Senior