January 9, 2017

Minutes of the Recreation Advisory Committee held on January 9, 2017. 

Members present:       Anna Blackman                      Dan Brady                  

Lauren Cortinas                      Manny Hadad

Jonathan Meltz                       Michelle Saporiti 

Karen Smith-Gulaskey           Felipe Villamizar

Steven Weber

Members absent:        Jacqueline O'Donnell

Also present:               Angela Dorney, Interim Recreation Director

Leslie Rackl, Executive Assistant

Tom Benton, Village Manager

Frank Hornstein, Resident

Amy McClellan, Resident

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m.

Mr. Brady made a motion to approve the minutes of the December 5, 2016, meeting. Motion seconded by Mr. Weber and unanimously approved. 

Mr. Benton was introduced at this time and gave a brief background of the proposed new recreation center. Eight different recreation centers were toured, including Key Biscayne and Coral Gables.  It was noted that Pinecrest is currently adding onto their facility as it was originally built too small. The Village next hired Ken Ballard & Associates who met with recreation staff and class instructors, then sent out a random survey to residents (over 400 responses were received) and conducted town hall meetings to discuss the results. Finally, an architect was hired to lay out a plan for a facility that includes a fitness center and a gymnasium.  Two separate renderings were shown to the Committee. The approximate cost is $18 million dollars plus demolition costs. The next step is for the Council to approve adding a general obligation bond on the April ballot. Mr. Benton is also recommending the Village pay off the pool bond.  Mr. Benton said the average home in Miami Shores is assessed at $229,000 and they would pay $285 for a rec. center bond and currently pay $48/year towards the pool bond.  If the pool bond is paid off the cost for this household would be $237. A PowerPoint presentation would then be created and presented to area schools, churches and community groups for the proposed center.  Athletics would also move into the new facility.  In regards to parking, 71 parking spots would be created where the existing comm. center is located and the current 'handshake agreement' for parking at the Presbyterian Church would continue. 

Mr. Meltz said people expressing many negative comments at the last Council meeting.  Council will need to approve a ballot question to be put on the April ballot.  At the last Council meeting Mayor Alice Burch voted for the center and Council members Herta Holly and Ivonne Ledesma voted against the center. At least 3 Council members need to vote in favor to be added to the ballot. It was related that bond obligation money cannot be used for any other purpose, such as hiring additional police officers. 

Mr. Weber said that there are many negative comments on Next Door about the proposed center. It was noted that the Village spends a great deal of time correcting misinformation.  Mr. Weber noted it is unrealistic to expect the public to digest the entire Ballard survey.  A suggestion was made that the

R.A.C. mtg., 1/9/17, pg. 2 of 2

Village should do a better job about posting information about the proposed center. It was noted that the $20-million-dollar bond is for the building alone, not any operational costs. 

Mr. Brady said that 85% of the residents who received the survey did not return it. 3,000 out of 3,400 surveys were distributed and approximately 400 surveys were returned. Members noted that a 62,000 sq. ft. facility is too large. Mr. Weber said you need to look at the needs of the community, no matter what the size is.  Ms. Cortinas asked what will happen if the Council does not approve a $20-million-dollar bond referendum.  It was noted that there is no Plan B; the Village will have to go back to the drawing board. 

Mr. Hadad said there is a discrepancy between the numbers in the survey and the proposed building. Mr. Hadad is not opposed to expansion; if there are waiting lists for residents these programs should be expanded. Ms. Gulaskey said she would take advantage of the rec. center if more amenities are available.  Mr. Hadad questions paying additional taxes and then having to pay as a member for a fitness center. 

In regards to the secondary market (nonresidents), Mr. Hadad is questioning the doubling the size if the residents cannot sustain it currently.  It was related that nonresidents are using the facility currently. Mr. Hadad does not want to rely on nonresidents in planning the proposed center. It was noted that currently 25% of the participants are nonresidents and generate 38% of the total revenue. 

Discussion turned to travel baseball. One of the members asked how many residents are participating in the program and about the renewal of their contract. A suggestion was also made for the aftercare counselors to have sensitivity and special needs training. 

Ms. Saporiti expressed concern for the tot lot and its' lack of handicapped amenities. Ms. Saporiti suggested replacing one of the current swings with a handicapped swing.  Ms. Saporiti was encouraged to bring suggestions to the Committee and these suggestions may need to be added as a future capital project. Mr. Weber inquired about Bayfront Park and the fence rails. 

It was noted that the Building Department has shut down the dog park until permitting is received from Miami-Dade. 

Amy McClellan noted that in regards to the proposed center, the outdoor basketball courts are included but not the tennis courts. Ms. Dorney said that tennis courts were originally considered to be put on the roof.  It was noted that the design of the building can be changed if the bond referendum is passed. 

Ms. Cortinas suggested having the various recreation supervisors attend the Committee meetings during the course of the year to get a chance to meet everyone. 

Mr. Hornstein expressed concern for the additional traffic and possible crime with the massive facility that is being proposed for a community the size of Miami Shores.

Mr. Meltz said the decision should be left in the hands of the voters.

The meeting adjourned at 8:50 p.m.