Resolution passes committee with changes

At tonight’s Board of Park Commissioners meeting, the resolution proposed by Alderperson Steve Bostrom regarding the allocation of funds for the purpose of saving and renovating the Southport Beach House was approved unanimously with several amendments.  The resolution did not appear on the last meeting’s agenda.

Chairman Michael Orth said that he was surprised that it was on tonight’s agenda, because it was a different version than the one provided by the city attorney.  Nevertheless, the commissioners worked through the resolution, made changes to it, and unanimously approved it for forwarding on to the next Common Council meeting, which will be next Monday, October 1st.  Alderperson Chris Schwartz was not present at the meeting.

Alderperson Anthony Kennedy reiterated what he said on the Common Council floor at the last meeting.  “I wanted to stop the issue of who supports it and who doesn’t support it, and start talking about how we can work together to get this done.”

Some amendments had to do with the fact that Alderperson Jan Michalski no longer was a sponsor of the resolution.  Therefore, the city attorney wasn’t sure if the amendments he made should be deleted or kept in.

Bostrom was present at the meeting and spoke several times.  Orth wanted to take out the specific date of December 21st for the SAA Design Group study to be completed.  Bostrom understood the chairman’s need for flexibility, but he was of the opinion that keeping a specific date in the resolution would keep the city on track and send a message to the citizens of Kenosha that the city was committed to the work involved. Bostrom was agreeable to extending the date, and it was then amended to January 31, 2013.

Another amendment had to do with the date for the requests for proposal (RFP’s) being sent out.  The date in the original resolution was March 1st, 2013.  Orth stated that he felt that it was “foolish to put a date on it.  We don’t know the plan yet.  The date is artificial; not informed by facts.”  He wanted to strike the entire item.  Bostrom said that he understood the chairman’s position, but again felt that goals with deadlines were the way to go.  He asked Orth to pick a date that he could support.

Alderperson Kevin Mathewson agreed with Bostrom on setting a date.  “To be clear and promote confidence in the system, and to give it some teeth, I think March 1st is a feasible date.  There will be four parks committee meetings, four Common Council meetings, plenty of time for us to work on this issue.”  Mathewson supported the March 1st date, as written.  Again, Orth was again  concerned with having a “hard and fast date.  We don’t know how the plan will come out.  I don’t want to pre-suppose what will happen.  There are two options:  one is a complete package, and the other is a phased-in approach with steps one, two, three, and four.  The early date is do-able.  But, if it’s a larger item, with a single package, it will add to the complexity of the RFP.  It will take longer to implement.  I just think we’re jumping the gun on how the plan comes back.”

Kennedy then proposed changing the language to read, “as soon as possible based on recommendations from Parks Engineering and Public Works.”

Mathewson said that he had a hard time with the destiny of the park coming from a third party (the SAA Design Group).  “We should be the drivers of what happens to our park, not SAA.”   Orth defended the company.  “They’ve been working with us for several years.  The planning process, the listening sessions.  These are reflections on what’s shared with them by the public.  They are held in a non-confrontational, open forum, citizen directed, and full of input.  We are not the smartest guy in the room.  They have assisted the city in obtaining greater than a million dollars in grants for parks projects.  They are the ones with the experience, not the city.  We all want a cost-efficient way to implement the plan.”

Bostrom said that we all know that the “money in the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) is fictionary until the money gets borrowed.  If there is no hard date, there is no incentive to get the work done in an appropriate manner.  We all know that we are not bound by the RFP’s.  If they don’t come back the way we want them, we can redo them.  I’d like to see that some kind of date is kept in there.”

The language was revised to read, “The city would then begin the process for RFP in accordance with the approved adopted Master Plan.”  Mathewson was the only one who voted against this amendment.

The paragraph having to do with finding alternate sources of funding was kept in unanimously.  The next two paragraphs having to do with the Friends of the Southport Beach House organization was felt by all to be a fantastic idea.  Orth thought that the group “needed to be modeled on the Friends groups we already have:  the Friends of the Museum, the Friends of the Library, etc.  These groups are a separate independent entity which promotes the mission of the bodies.”  Bostrom said that he was very interested in seeing this enacted.  He pledged his support to work on this issue.  Orth stated that the Parks people would be available as a resource.

Orth also wanted the removal of the group’s nine-member specification.  He felt that that was a by-law issue of the group and something they should resolve themselves.  Kennedy moved to strike the number, but not the whole paragraph.  Orth said that it was starting to look like ordinance speak, not resolution speak.  “Let the group develop their by-laws,” he said.  Kennedy then said that he would not support it.  He made a motion to strike paragraphs six and seven, but that motion failed for lack of a second.

Orth wanted a clause added to the last paragraph delineating that “any revenue generated be put into a separate account” and not added to the city’s general fund.  This amendment was also approved unanimously by the commissioners.

The entire resolution, with the amendments mentioned,  was then approved unanimously by the commissioners.

Bostrom said that he spoke with Mayor Keith Bosman, who told him that $1 million has been set aside for the building over the next four years.  He did not have a breakdown of how that money had been allocated over the time period, though.  Bostrom also said that he would be proposing a CIP amendment at the next council meeting to move funds to this year’s CIP for the building.

Robert Merletti spoke at the beginning of the meeting, saying that, “It is important, as it gives the citizens a statement of the city’s intent.”  At the end of the meeting, he thanked the commissioners for coming, working through the resolution, and showing the commitment to the city of Kenosha and its citizens.

Ellen Ferwerda called the beach house a “great resource to share with the whole city,” and she hoped that early morning yoga classes would continue there.

Simmons Island resident Tom Riley applauded those who supported the beach house, and said that he hoped that the city would also consider addressing the Simmons Island Beach House.  “That building is also in need of some work,” he said.

Dr. Margaret Heller mentioned that she had received an e-mail on Friday afternoon asking her to return the key to the beach house due to liability issues.  She had been holding yoga and stretch classes there in the early morning hours, and she had been given a key to open up the building.  The e-mail also told her to stop the classes unless she intends to pay the rental cost for the building, which would amount to $160 a class.

At the meeting, Heller said that she can’t afford paying that.  Bostrom said that he hoped the city would consider different rates for use of the building during non-peak hours and by non-profit groups.

Heller said that she received a communication from the city administrator, Frank Pacetti, that looked positive.  In it, he said, “I would like to discuss an opportunity with you regarding your yoga program(s) and the city of Kenosha’s wellness program.  I had an opportunity to speak with Susan Andrea-Schlinker this past weekend, and she mentioned the possible expansion of your yoga program into more of a city-wide initiative for wellness.  I think this is a positive idea that should be further explored.”  He then asked Heller to contact his office to meet on this issue.

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