Town Board Work Session
February 3, 2016
Observer’s Note: Although advertised as an open meeting that would go into Executive Session “for the purpose of discussing the employment history of particular persons,” the meeting included a 90 minute open session discussion of the activities of the Parks and Recreation Department.
6:05 pm- 7:10 pm
After opening the meeting, Supervisor Grace motioned to go into closed executive for interviews. In response to the CIY observer’s question, “Interview for what position,” the Supervisor responded: “Town Engineer.” When the observer asked the follow up question, “As a consultant or staff position,” the Supervisor responded: “Don’t know that yet.”
7:10 pm-8:40pm Discussion of Parks and Recreation Department programs and activities
An open session with Brian Gray, Superintendent of Parks and Recreation, and three department staff members: Todd Orlowski, Erin Riedel and Barry Gelbman.
Supervisor Grace explained the purpose of the discussion was to acquaint the new board members with the operations of town departments, noting that last week’s work session dealt with the Engineering Department and the need to replace the services of Sharon Robinson . (Note: that entire meeting was a closed executive session.) He said there was a need for an open and frank discussion.
For most of the discussion, Mr. Gray, referring to a handout he had prepared for board members, outlined the many activities and projects, completed, recurring, and planned, for both the recreation and parks units of his department.
In general, Mr. Gray said the department had been handed an ever increasing workload and staff was concerned that it was sacrificing quality for quantity. Mr. Gray said he was also concerned about department morale because of the increased work load. He pointed out that many tasks that had previously been contracted out, e.g., tile work around the pools, were now being done in-house.
During the discussion, the following issues were noted that would require additional discussions with the Town Board, Recreation Commission and/or Planning Department. (See earlier discussions about some of the same park and recreation issues.)
1. Tennis courts. Six of the town’s 12 courts are closed and three open ones are close to needing to be closed. About 4-5 years ago, there was an estimate of approximately $500,000 to fix the six courts. Mr. Gelbman, the park foreman, explained that paving over the existing cracks doesn’t work; when it was tried in 2008-2009, the cracks reappeared two years later.
2. Lights at Commerce Street basketball court. Supervisor Grace noted that there were no lights at the court or an adjacent pathway and wondered why not. The sense of those present was that the “no lights” decision was probably meant to avoid noise to the abutting residents.
3. Railroad Station Park. Even though the town did not get the state grant for the renovation of the station building, Supervisor Grace said that something needed to be done to preserve the building lest it suffer more vandalism.
4. Senior programs. Mr. Gray noted that his department has taken over responsibility for several senior programs operating at the YCCC, such as bridge and mah jong, that had developed on an ad hoc “drop in” basis over the years. These programs were in addition to those offered by the department.
5. Online registration. The department would like to move to online registration for all its programs. The software to handle pool registration would cost $15,000.
6. Parkland. What to do with the town’s existing parkland parcels needs more discussion. It was noted that several park parcels are strewn with litter.
7. New recreation building. Citing the limitations of using both Yorktown and Lakeland schools for the summer camp programs, and limitations of the YCCCC, Mr. Gray talked about what he called his “Field of Dreams,” a new recreation building that could have classrooms, a gym and offices for the department. If the town had such a building, he said, it could offer a full 8 week summer camp program and enable the department of offer additional programs, which he said, could generate revenue. Supervisor Grace agreed that such a building could pay for itself and he believed that taxpayers would support such a plan. It was noted that many potential home buyers were looking for towns with quality recreation programs.
8. Working with two non-profit groups that provide services to the disabled: Norwest and SPARC. The town makes an annual contribution to Norwest and waives YCCC fees for SPARC.
9. Erecting banners. Mr. Gray noted the staff time involved in putting up and taking down banners for outside groups.
10. Foreclosed property. The department mows the lawns for bank foreclosed properties but has not been putting a lien on the property to recoup the cost of providing the service. (Note: this was done in past years.) Supervisor Grace directed the department to develop a charge and the town attorney to draft appropriate legislation.
Super visor Grace said that the department’s presentation should be repeated, at a televised meeting, so that members of the community had a better understanding of what the Parks and Recreation Department does.
8:45 pm-10 pm.
Closed session with the same participants.