Apr 6 2015

Recreation Department Outreach, Beach Field New Turf Over Budget, and School District Raises Fees for Fields and other Facilities

Student Report on March 18th Recreation Commission by Kennedy Christensen

On March 18, 2015 at 7:35 p.m., Commissioner Nick Levinson called to order Piedmont’s Recreation Commission’s monthly meeting. The purpose of this commission and meeting is to discuss issues, plans, and news having to do with Piedmont’s Recreation Department. This meeting is held every second Wednesday of every month. However, their next meeting will be April 15th.

The meeting began with an allotted ten minutes to anybody who wanted to bring up any issues or ideas that could potentially help the commissioners better our Recreation Department. At this time three students were able to speak. Xavier Prospero first introduced the idea of a clock at Hampton field. Austin Willis wanted to have more easily accessible teen employment provided by the Rec. Department, and I spoke about better publicity for the pool and maybe having more free hours to advertise the pool.

After we had spoken and the commissioners had asked a few questions regarding our ideas, Commissioner Nick Levinson announced that the School District approved a substantial increase (about three to four times higher) of fees for the use of fields and facilities. This would mainly affect private organized groups and teams.

Recreation Director Sara Lillevand then gave a report on the project at Beach Elementary School. The project seemed to be extremely successful with everybody enjoying the new field turf. However, she said they did go a little bit over the budget due to drainage issues though they were still fairly on point. She then gave various updates on potential changes at Hampton field, the approved landscaping and arrival of new lockers for the Pool, the recently opened summer camps registration for nonresidents of Piedmont, and also the problem of parking and access to the Community Hall and potential need for new parking spaces somewhere.

There are two events coming up sponsored by the Recreation Department. On March 28th there will be an Easter Egg Hunt for children ages two to seven, and on May 16th there will be for the first time ever, a Family Triathlon! It is aimed toward children probably under twelve and will include a swim in the Piedmont Pool, and then a bike ride and a run through the neighborhood around there, followed by food at the pool.

The next item that was discussed was the Community Outreach Project that the Recreation Commission is in the middle of, and this was probably where the members spent the most time discussing. It was also led by Recreation Department Director Sara Lillevand. The project contains a few different parts to really try to involve the residents of the city of Piedmont with it’s Recreation Department.

In early March, they launched an Online Survey to get feedback and ideas from people. It does not take very long and so far they have been getting very good responses. However, they want more people to take it so that they can get a wider variety of opinions. It is apparently aimed at people who might not use the Recreation Department programs due to their kids being out of school or grown up.

They also talked about holding a Town Meeting on March 21st and March 25th to allow for people to have the opportunity to sit in tables with a group of people and discuss and come up with ideas for shaping this Department.

Competitive Analysis is the next part of this project and is focused around getting information and ideas from other cities. Different cities were assigned to commissioners who were going to probably meet with leaders from these cities and share ideas. All of the suggested cities were fairly close to Piedmont or at least around the Bay Area, and so Commissioner Terry London brought up the idea of casting the net wider and maybe going to Sacramento or San Diego for some of their ideas.

The final part of the Community Outreach Project was making a suggestion box. The Recreation Department already has a suggestion box online, but the Council liked the idea of a physical suggestion box that people could write ideas in.

Next was the Capital Improvement Program Update, which was that this year there is 400,000 dollars now available to possibly fund projects having to do with the Recreation Department. In past years there has not been money left over and so this year is exciting in that maybe there can be some new projects happen that have been needing to get done. Various ideas were introduced from a compiled list including actual Rec. Center renovations, Community Hall improvements, projects having to do with Hampton Field or the Piedmont Pool, and a volleyball court. They also discussed the idea of saving the money for bigger, long-term projects to be actually carried out in future years. In the end, a decision was never reached.

At the end of the meeting, it was announced by Commissioner Levinson, who is also the Chair, that there will be some changes happening on the Commission. This meeting was Commissioner London’s last meeting on the Commission and also the Commission will be getting a new Chair next month so there will be a change in leadership as well.

Present at the meeting was Teddy King, a member of the City Council. As a member of the City Council she is in a way, the overseer of the Recreation Commission, as I believe all the members of City Council are assigned a different Commission. She is also in charge of, and as of now, in the process of, working with any new people that join the Commission to make the transition easier. She will also be the one reporting back to City Council the topics discussed at this Recreation Commission.

by Kennedy Christensen, Piedmont High School student

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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