Oct 26 2016

New Play Structure, Hampton Field Use Allocations, Cavenaugh Advocates Recreation Programs for Elderly, Haunted House, Aquatics Plan, Encouraging Girls to Play Basketball

What happened at the Recreation Commission meeting?

Student Reports on the Piedmont Recreation Commission Meeting of Oct. 19, 2016

   I went to the Recreation Commission meeting on Wednesday, October 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the Piedmont City Hall. The Commission meets every third Wednesday of the month at 7:30 p.m. The Commissioners meet to discuss recreation projects and improvements that are being done around the city, as well as work with the Recreation Department on sports and other programs.

    The major subject addressed in the meeting was the topic of a new play structure that is going to be placed next to the Rec Department and the Community Pool. This structure will have two slides, a tire swing, a small climbing wall and two decks respectively of 3 and 4 feet high.  Kit Stephens, the man who presented the model, is a Piedmont resident and works for a company that makes play structures. The estimated cost of this structure is about $63,000, which will be able to be moved and bolted into a new location once the pool goes under reconstruction. The benches surrounding the area will stay the same and they tried hard to paint the structure natural colors so that it would blend into the environment.

     I asked the Commissioners and Stephens whether the building of this structure would be environmentally friendly. I brought up the fact that they used recycled and some natural materials while renovating Havens School and I wondered if they would do the same in this situation. The answer I received was that, due to regulations, it is difficult to reuse things like swings and metals because they do not meet current standards. They are using recycled materials to make the roofs over the platforms as well as make the structure movable to lengthen its possible lifespan.

     All the Commissioners approved the recommendation of the play structure. I felt that they could have tried a little harder to repurpose the old play structure in other objects or in the new one, but unfortunately too often the environment is placed on a back burner due to financial and logistical reasons.

    Another issue addressed was recreation basketball. The Recreation Director Sara Lillevand brought up the issue that out of the 2nd grade class there were 72 boys playing basketball and only 5 girls. This disparity was unusually high even though boys generally have a higher participation level. Student Will McDonald suggested that in order to raise awareness and boost enthusiasm the Rec Department could host a viewing of the WNBA finals to encourage girls to play basketball and get the community involved.

    They also addressed the progress of Hampton Field. The back section is completed and they are finalizing the field portion and the infield. Student Michael Hebert asked if they are going to refurbish the tennis courts which the Director confirmed has already been done. Student Andrew Meredith asked if the field will be able to host games for older ages (above 5th grade). Due to the field size, they will not be able to have older teams play.

    Commissioner Glyn Burge asked many questions throughout the meeting, clarifying information, and also somewhat critical to discussion. At the same time, the Director spoke throughout most of the meeting, more so than the Commission Chair. The Director had all the updates about events, progress, and finances. It was impressive that she was so organized and interested in her job that seemed like a hefty amount of work.

    Jen Cavanaugh, City Council candidate, was at the meeting as well, and we got to hear some of her views. She said that she was there to advocate for the elderly who pay taxes for the Recreation Department, yet often feel that most of the money goes towards programs for younger people like children and toddlers. She also wanted to voice opinions on whether the new Hampton Field would be hosting softball, because when her daughter played she never got the chance to play on Hampton Field. The Commissioners answered this by saying that the field schedules are split up by the coaches and teams and then divided so it is not discriminating against gender, and it is coincidental.

Yuka Matsuno, Piedmont High School Senior


Student report:

The Recreation Commission met on Wednesday, October 19 starting at 7:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. The purpose of this particular meeting was to consider the recommendation of a new children’s playground and to discuss updates on various recreational improvement projects throughout the city. The Commission meets once a month allowing for enough time to pass to give updates on recreational projects.

During the meeting there were 6 major issues being discussed. The first issue on the agenda was the consideration of the “Tot Lot” play structure at the Recreation department. For this topic the owner of Miracle Playsystems, Kit Stephens was in attendance. Mr. Stephens presented a slideshow for the Commission and answered many questions coming from the Commission members. He talked about the need for the play structure, the old one had been previously torn out due to being outdated. He stated that the new structure is much safer and can accommodate more children playing at once. Also he said that the structure is removable so if the upcoming pool plan goes through the structure can be relocated very easily. From the audience Piedmont High’s own Yuka Matsuno spoke asking the Commission and Mr. Stephens about the environmental effects of the project and if the environment was being taken into account. Mr. Stephens went into detail about all of the recycled materials used in the making of the play structure. The structure was recommended for approval by all of the members of the Commission.

The next item on the agenda was an update about the Hampton Park improvement project. The project is aimed at fixing the drainage of the sports field, resurfacing the tennis and basketball courts, and making the area into more of a park area. Everything is on track and going as planned with the proposed opening date to be February 18 right in time for the upcoming baseball season.

Jen Cavenaugh asked a good question about the usage for the new playing field asking if it is for baseball and softball or just baseball like it has been in the past. Commission Chair Betsy Anderson addressed this by saying that it is planned to be utilized by both baseball and softball.

Personally, I love the new plan for Hampton Park. I grew up playing sports there and the drainage was always an issue as well as bad weather. I think it is wonderful what the Rec Department has done/is doing in terms of making the space more park-like and fixing problems that definitely needed to be fixed.

The third item was an update on the Recreation Department/Veteran’s Hall plan. In this plan the Commission talked about the two buildings having a lot of open space and how they would like the space to be used. Although no official plans have been drawn up there are many proposals being considered and voted upon. Also they are looking to do more safety inspections and retrofitting periodically.

The fourth item addressed was an update on the ongoing search for a new Aquatics Coordinator. The Commission stated that all of the interviews have been concluded and by the next meeting the position will be filled.

The next topic was an update on the Aquatics Master Plan Conceptual Design. The Master Plan conceptual design is (hopefully) coming to the City Council in November at one of the two City Council meetings that month. Also the Plan has been shared and talked over with the neighbors of the area, showing them the plans and taking into account what they had to say. Overall the plans are going well and one member of the Commission asked what the timeline looked like and Commissioner Glyn Burge replied, “probably won’t be on the Rec Commission when it’s finished,” which leads me to believe the process will take a long time to complete.

The final topic addressed was the upcoming Piedmont Recreation Department Haunted House on October 26-28. The Haunted House is going to be very similar to the last few years offering more and more scary options with the first, least scary option on the 26th. Not much will change from previous years.

After the meeting was adjourned, I had the pleasure of interviewing Commissioner Glyn Burge. I asked him why he was a part of the Commission and he replied, “I was asked by other members and decided it would be nice to be a part of the actual decision making process.” When asked about how he would get his concerns addressed, he told me that the people on the Commission don’t have all that much power or pull, however discussing and recommending items to the City Council allows his views and opinions to be heard.

Andrew Meredith, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the authors.

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