May 24 2017

3 reports on May 17 Recreation Commission Meeting

 by Alex Markowitz, Piedmont High School Senior – 

    On May 17th, I attended a Piedmont Recreation Commission Meeting in the Piedmont City Council Chambers at the City Hall. The Commission, which is made up of seven members, is in charge of city-sponsored recreational activities and facilities. Some of the items that were covered in the meeting were summer camps, renovations to Hampton Field and Beach Elementary, and the Capital Improvement Project Review Committee.

    Chair Betsy Andersen began the meeting by touching on the recent hate-related incidents that took place at Piedmont High School. She noted that the Recreation Commission would be very willing to work with the High School, as Piedmont’s Recreation Department has a similar impact on Piedmont’s youth. I thought that it was important to discuss these issues and it was encouraging to hear the city’s desire to take steps against hate speech and discrimination in the city.

    Next, Recreation Director Sara Lillevand gave the Commission an update regarding the Piedmont Recreation Department’s upcoming summer camp programs. She stated that there will be 175 available camps for elementary schoolers, and many of them will offer transportation for campers. She said that they opened registration one month earlier, which has helped enrollment numbers increase, while the revenue has increased by 22% compared to this time last year. Additionally, Director Lillevand noted the success of the Counselor-in-Training and Junior CIT programs, where high school and middle school students apply for jobs assisting camp staff. Applicants must pick up their own applications and conduct sit-down interviews, often for the first time in their lives. Two members of the audience, Chris Conn and Greg Wick gave feedback about the CIT program, mentioning that last year it was overstaffed and the ratio of CIT’s to campers was too high. The Commission recognized these concerns and agreed to take them into consideration while also pointing out that they do not want to reject many CIT applicants.

    Next, the Commission was updated about progress on the Hampton Park and Beach Elementary renovations. The Hampton Field renovation is basically complete, as the last hoop was installed. There were some setbacks, such as damaging tree-falling incidents over the winter and recent graffiti, but both have been repaired. The next steps will be to ensure that proper maintenance steps will be taken in the future, especially for the grass. Since I used to be a frequent visitor of the field, I was aware of the damages that the Under-8 soccer season had on the grass every year. So, I asked if soccer games will continue to take place on the new field, and if so, will any measures be taken to prevent damage. Director Lillevand replied that they were optimistic with this type of grass and that Piedmont Soccer Club will make Under-8 players wear turf cleats which are less damaging. There is also a new project starting at Beach Elementary School which could renovate all areas besides the turf field. The master plan is progressing well and public input is being taken into account when decisions are made about what to do with that space.

    The final subject of the agenda was an update on the Capital Improvement Project Review Committee. On May 6, the Capital Improvement Project Committee invited the public on a tour to see and discuss potential projects throughout the city. They talked about Crocker Park, where trees represent a safety hazard by intruding on the paths. Another dangerous area was the “four corners” intersection near Wildwood Elementary, where pedestrians are at risk from speeding cars. Overall, it was good to see the city listening to residents regarding which parts of the city need improvements.

    After the meeting I spoke to Vice Chair Steve Roland. Commissioner Roland said that his and his daughter’s interest in sports contributed to his decision to join the Commission. He sought improved sports facilities throughout Piedmont and is excited with the projects that they have accomplished thus far, in the upgrades of Beach and Hampton. Although there is still much progress to be made, the Commission is moving things in the right direction and more improvements are still to come.


by Alex Ngo, Piedmont High School Senior –

Although Piedmont is a relatively small town, there are many things that go on within the city that most would not know.  The Recreation Commission meeting, which generally occurs once a month, is a perfect way to learn what goes on within our city.  Every month new topics are discussed primarily revolving around the parks and recreation within Piedmont.  Topics like updates on the new Hampton Field Construction and Programs in the Piedmont Recreation Department were heavily discussed during the meeting.  Additionally, it was very admirable to hear that the Recreation Commission really wants to involve itself with the current issue of hate speech in Piedmont.  One would not immediately see the Recreation Commission as a group that would deal with hate speech within Piedmont schools, so hearing Chairwoman Elizabeth Andersen speak up on this issue was unexpected.  Although it was not on the agenda for this month’s meeting, acknowledgment of the issue was pleasing to hear.   Andersen also went on to suggest this issue be put on next month’s meeting.

After the meeting had ended, I personally addressed Chairwoman Elizabeth Andersen to better understand her interests within the Recreation Commission , and possible goals of the Commission.  When asked what did she want to hear about in this meeting specifically, she referred to the aquatics programs as a topic of her interest, as well as sparking discussion on the current issue in Piedmont, which is hate speech and the anti-semitic events that recently occurred; issues that must never be ignored. It is good to hear that the Recreation Committee would like to take part in stopping this issue in Piedmont.  This issue is a possible discussion topic on next month’s agenda, and is definitely one to look forward to.


by Greg Wick, Piedmont High School Senior – 

  On May 17th, 2017, I attended the Piedmont Recreation Commission at City Hall. The Commission meets every two weeks on Wednesday to discuss issues related to the parks, the pool and the Recreation Department. The major issues that were discussed at the meeting were updates on summer programs and enrollment, updates on Hampton Park and updated facility master planning projects of the pool, the Recreation Department, Beach Playfield and Coaches Field.

On the topic of the summer programs, the Commission members talked about how enrollment for summer programs was up 22 percent from the year before at this time and that they are expecting to have more kids enroll this summer than they had last year. They also talked about how Jr CIT’s and CITS are able to get volunteer and paid jobs to look after kids. At this point, I got up to speak because I have been a CIT for the past 3 years. I talked about how I have not been able to get the amount of hours I have asked for because the CIT’s were overstaffed and the amount of children were under enrolled. An example I gave of this was last year when I worked at Havens Schoolmates and during most of the day how we had more CIT’s than enrolled children. I explained that this caused CIT’s to focus more on themselves than the actual children because there are so few of them to be able to play with. The Recreation Director Sara Lillevand agreed and said that they are trying to work on solutions to fix this issue.

The Commission members then discussed the Hampton Park improvement and how the last basketball hoop had been added as well as the making of donor bricks had started and should be ready by the fall. One of the fellow attendees brought up the concern of the slope near the basketball courts because it was quite steep and could cause people to fall if someone was chasing after a basketball. I agreed with this point because I had played at Hampton before and had seen a couple of my friends get cuts and bruises from falling down the slope.  Lillevand agreed and said that they are trying to build a low fence around the basketball courts to make it harder for the ball to roll down the hill.

    After this the talk switched to aquatics and the Commission revealed that plans for the pool had been approved and that a date for analyzing the cost of the plan had been set for the City Council meeting on June 5th. They then began to talk about Beach Playfield and how they are going to listen to proposals in June on how to upgrade all aspects around the playfield. Finally they announced that they had hired the consulting company LSA which had helped make plans to update Coaches back in 2006-2010. They said that they are trying to restart improvements on it because it has fallen behind in recent years.

    Once these issues had been discussed fully, the Commission chair ended the meeting at 8:30 pm and I went up to interview her. Her name is Betsy Andersen and I asked her about how she felt about the problems brought to the Commission today. She said that she agreed with my point of trying to stop overstaffing at the Recreation Department because she has a daughter who is a Jr. CIT.  She said that the ability to get hours for her to volunteer is, “chaotic and stressful.” In order to solve this, I suggested that the Rec try to reduce the hours that a person can sign up for from 4 hour blocks to 2 hour blocks which would give more people the opportunity to work during the day.

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the authors.

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