Mr. Connelly nominated Mr. Moffitt to serve as board vice president. Mr. Boersma seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (3). Nays (0). Abstention- Mr. Moffitt.
Mr. Moffitt made a motion to defer the minutes. Mr. Connelly seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (4). Nays (0).
Mr. Moffitt so moved. Mr. Boersma seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (4). Nays (0).
Mr. Bouvat asked for consideration to accept the Schillings proposal. Mr. Moffitt so moved. Mr. Connelly seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (4). Nays (0).
Mr. Moffitt complimented the job Mr. Hernandez is doing plowing the bike paths.
Mr. Bouvat complimented the work Mr. Boersma does with Mission One in supporting veterans. Mr. Boersma reported his organization is also supporting first responders now.
Mr. McLead mentioned the board could elect to take a few actions at this particular meeting; decide whether to transfer all of the CDBG funds to the Founders Park Project and to appropriate an additional $250,000 for the project.
Mr. Bouvat asked Ms. Hernandez to provide more details on the project. Ms. Hernandez mentioned the board could transfer the Prairie West CDBG funds to Founders Park since both projects have ADA related improvements. Ms. Hernandez stated Lake County’s June 15, 2021 deadline is related to the ADA improvements, including the sidewalk and the parking lot. Ms. Hernandez noted it is uncertain if the department could move the CDBG funds for Prairie West and Founders Park to an entirely different project. Ms. Hernandez stated that since the Town Council initially applied for the CDBG funds, they will have to approve of any transfer of those funds. Regarding the Park Impact Fee Fund, Ms. Hernandez the department has sufficient funds to make an additional appropriation to have the full project amount in place for Founders Park. Discussion ensued regarding the bid process for Founders Park as it relates to the CDBG funded portions of the project. Ms. Bennett recommended to grant Mr. McLead the authority to act on the CDBG funds, whether it involves a transfer of funds to a current project or an entirely new project.
Mr. Bouvat asked for a motion to grant Mr. McLead the authority to determine the best use of the CDBG funds. Mr. Boersma made the motion. Mr. Moffitt seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (3). Nays (0).
Mr. Moffitt asked what action is needed to proceed with Founders Park. Ms. Hernandez noted the board needs to decide if they want to proceed with the project now with it being undermined when the DNR’s reimbursement will take place. Ms. Hernandez further stated the board would need to approve an additional appropriation of $250,000 out of the Park Impact Fee Fund.
Mr. Bouvat asked for a motion to proceed with the bidding process for Founders Park. Mr. Boersma made a motion. Mr. Moffitt seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (3). Nays (0).
Mr. Bouvat asked about the liability for the project. Ms. Bennett noted the project would be covered under the town’s general liability insurance.
Mr. Bouvat asked for a motion for a favorable recommendation to adopt an ordinance establishing a community garden gift fund. Mr. Boersma made the motion. Mr. Moffitt seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (3). Nays (0).
Mr. McLead referenced four fence quotes he received for the project and noted that the prices are fluctuating due to suppliers struggling to maintain an inventory. Mr. McLead that the quote from Reeves Fencing was significantly lower than the others and came in at just under $7,000. Mr. Moffitt gave a favorable recommendation to Fence Masters due to prior projects they have worked on for the town. Mr. Bouvat voiced support for the quote from Reeves Fencing.
Mr. Bouvat asked for a motion to accept the quote from Reeves Fencing for the project. Mr. Boersma made the motion. Mr. Moffitt seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (3). Nays (0).
Mr. McLead stated the board will also need to take action on the proposed fees and guidelines for the project.
Mr. Bouvat asked for a motion to accept the fees and policies for the garden project as presented. Mr. Boersma made the motion. Mr. Moffitt seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (3). Nays (0).
Adam Eichorn and Vince Onel from Spohn Ranch, a skate park firm based in Los Angeles, attended the meeting virtually to discuss their services and present conceptual renderings of the skate park. Mr. Eichorn reported he recently met with Mr. McLead and Mr. Pondinas at the Gates park property site. Mr. Eichorn presented a few conceptual renderings of the design that was taken from previous projects the firm has completed. The designs presented were placeholder renderings to give the board an idea of the footprint and sense of scale relative to the proposed site. Mr. Onel stated that the Hammond project is 9,000 square feet with an approximate cost of $425,000 and the Highland project is 7,000 square feet with an approximate cost of $300,000. Mr. Onel mentioned their average project is in the $400,000 - $500,000 range.
Mr. Pondinas asked if the designers would take other local parks into consideration to make sure St. John’s complimented others in the region. Mr. Onel confirmed that the design would not duplicate other projects they have completed in the area and would make efforts to ensure variety.
Mr. Pondinas asked how the Sourcewell Cooperative Purchasing Agreement works. Mr. Onel stated that Sourcewell is a government agency whose services streamline the bidding process and saves a lot of time for municipalities.
Mr. Bouvat asked for Ms. Bennett’s advice on how to proceed with the project and bidding process. Ms. Bennett asked Mr. Onel what the process is to engage Spohn Ranch for their professional services. Mr. Onel reported that the Town of St. John is already a member of Sourcewell. He further stated that if the park board is interested in utilizing Sourcewell for this project’s bidding process, Spohn Ranch would offer design services pro-bono. Ms. Bennett recommended for the park board to engage Spohn Ranch for their professional services, citing positive feedback she received from other municipalities who have worked with the company. Ms. Bennett further stated that if the town has used Sourcewell previously, the legal mechanism would already be in place to help the park board use their services and expedite the bidding process.
Mr. Bouvat asked for consideration for a motion to enter a Professional Services Agreement with Spohn Ranch for the development of the skate park. Mr. Boersma made the motion. Mr. Moffitt seconded motion. Motion carried. Ayes (3). Nays (0).
Mr. Bennett asked for a second motion to utilize Sourcewell for the bidding process for the project. Mr. Bouvat asked for consideration for the motion as stated. Mr. Boersma made the motion. Mr. Moffitt seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (3). Nays (0).
Mr. Boersma made a motion to proceed with St. John Paving for the project in the amount of $37,500. Mr. Moffitt seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (3). Nays (0).
Mr. Moffitt made a motion to defer the minutes to the following month. Mr. Boersma seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (3). Nays (0).
Mr. Boersma made a motion to accept Resolution No. 2021-03-16 PB to enter into a Cooperative Purchasing Agreement with Sourcewell. Mr. Moffitt seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (3). Nays (0).
Mr. Moffitt made a motion to accept the agreement with Sourcewell. Mr. Boersma seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (3). Nays (0).
Ms. Bennett stated the CDBG funds can only be used for specific areas of the project and would be paid directly to the contractor from the county.
Mr. Moffitt made a motion to accept Resolution No. 2021-03-16A PB to authorize entry into Intergovernmental Agreement with the Town Council for the 2021 Improvements at Founders Park. Mr. Boersma seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (3). Nays (0).
Mr. Moffitt made a motion to accept the Intergovernmental Agreement with the Town Council for the 2021 Improvements at Founders Park. Mr. Boersma seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (3). Nays (0).
Mr. McLead informed the board of the proposed timeline for the project. The bids will be opened publicly at Town Hall on Monday, March 22 at 3:00 pm. The Town Council will award the contract to the winning bidder at their regular meeting on Wednesday, March 24 at 7:00 pm and also approve the Intergovernmental Agreement. The Park Board will also award the contract at the special meeting scheduled for Thursday, March 25 at 5:00 pm.
Mr. Boersma asked if any changes were made to the agreement. Ms. Bennett said a few revisions were made that serve the interest of both the town and the Keilman family in regards to liability.
Mr. Moffitt made a motion to accept the Keilman Field Lease Agreement. Mr. Boersma seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (3). Nays (0).
Mr. McLead reported the egg hunt is scheduled for Saturday, March 27 at Lake Hills Park. Two hunts were scheduled this year to accommodate demand. The first one will take place at 10:30 am and the second at 12:30 pm.
Mr. McLead also reported the Co-Ed Sand Volleyball is set to begin on Wednesday, June 9. The league is open to boys and girls in grades 5-12. The proposed fees for the league are $50.00 for residents, $60.00 for non-residents. Additional participants of the same household will receive a $20.00 discount.
Mr. Moffitt made a motion to accept the proposed fees for the Co-Ed Sand Volleyball League. Mr. Boersma seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (3). Nays (0).
Mr. McLead provided an update on the community gardening program. A local Eagle Scout, Alistair Conrath, constructed ten boxes for the garden as part of his project. The lumber has been delivered and qualified volunteers are on board to help construct the remaining boxes. The fence materials have arrived and will be installed at the end of the project. The program currently has 12 gardeners signed up.
Mr. McLead reported on the St. John Farmers Market. The market has previously been organized through the Town Manager’s Office. Given the current vacancy in the office, the Town Council requested for him to oversee the market for the upcoming season. Mr. McLead thinks this is a good opportunity for the department as it continues to grow and be more visible in the community. The market has two staff members and its own non-reverting fund for revenues and expenses. Mr. Boersma asked what the fees for the market are. Mr. McLead said the full season fee is $350.00, half season is $250.00, and a single date is $50.00. Mr. Bouvat voiced support for the department’s role in the market.
The summer seasonal positions will be advertised soon. The positions will pay $10.00 per hour.
The new park truck has arrived.
Mr. Pondinas thanked Mr. McLead and Ms. Bennett for expediting the Founders Park project. He also recommends to maintain as much as the prior season’s summer staff as possible given the great job they did. Mr. McLead reported that we have made contact with all of the previous employees and a few of them will be returning.
Mr. Moffitt asked when the portable restrooms are typically put out. Mr. McLead mentioned the contract has flexibility and is usually based on weather. The tentative date that has been coordinated with St. John Youth Baseball is April 1, but they can be put out sooner if needed.
Edward Marek: I live across from Lake Hills subdivision. When it was developed the surrounding neighborhood was promised we would have access to the park and trail via a path. This was stated at April/May plan commission meetings in 2003. To date access is still not available despite published map from www.nirpc.org Greenways and Blueways Northwest Indiana Regional Map showing a path. I have included with this letter two pictures and also a map. Listening on YouTube to park board meetings, the town is looking to use some grant money due to expire. Please consider this long overdue project. Thank you, Edward Marek.
Mr. Bouvat asked Mr. McLead for additional insight on the comment. Mr. McLead mentioned he hasn’t spoken to Mr. Marek directly. The grant funds Mr. Marek is referring to have been committed to the Founders Park project. Mr. McLead said the Lake Hills HOA has expressed similar concerns and is eager to have their subdivision connected to other areas of town. Mr. Bouvat would like for the board to give this matter some attention and remain open for discussion until a solution is determined.
Mr. McLead referenced a recommendation letter from The Arsh Group to award the contract to Integral Construction as they were determined to be the lowest, most responsible and responsive bidder.
Mr. Boersma asked why the bid for Integral was significantly lower than the others. Mr. McLead mentioned the reason could be related to their expertise in parks as nearly half of their current projects are park related. Ms. Bennett referenced the company’s financial documents and the volume of park related projects on their schedule. Integral has several contracts with park departments in Indiana and Illinois. Ms. Bennett also mentioned the company’s familiarity with grant funded projects such as Founders Park. In addition to the substantial amount of park work for surrounding communities, Integral was also the hired contractor for the playground at Prairie West Park in St. John.
Mr. Bouvat voiced support for the bid received from Integral.
Ms. Bennett referenced the funding for the project, which includes a $250,000 grant from the DNR, $250,000 in Park Impact Fees, as well as $85,912 in CDBG funds, which the Town Council approved for the park board to manage. Ms. Bennett advised that the Town Council approved the Intergovernmental Agreement at their regular meeting on March 24, which authorizes the Park Board to manage the total funds for the project.
Mr. Bouvat thanked Ms. Bennett for her work and asked for consideration to award the contract to Integral Construction.
Mr. Boersma made a motion to award the Founders Park Construction Contract to Integral Construction for the amount of $593,200. Mr. Connelly seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (3). Nays (0).
Ms. Bennett also recommended for the board to give Mr. McLead the authority to negotiate and execute a contract with Integral on their behalf to proceed with the project.
Mr. Boersma made a motion to give Mr. McLead the authority to negotiate and execute a contract with Integral. Mr. Connelly seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (3). Nays (0).
Mr. Zielinski thanked the respondents for their feedback and introduced local skater, Billy Dzienski, to the podium. Mr. Dzienski voiced support for the skatepark and discussed the difficulty in learning how to skate in St. John was growing up. He also highlighted the impact skateparks can have on a community by providing a facility where youth and learn and grow. Mr. Zielinski thanked Billy and introduced Adam Eichorn from Spohn Ranch to present the conceptual design to the public.
Mr. Eichorn revealed a design that was tailored to the site and needs of the community. The proposed site is at the park property in The Gates where soccer fields are located. The proposed skatepark is roughly 300’ feet long and nearly runs the entire length of a soccer field. The park will be situated on the southeast corner of the property near Cline Ave. Mr. Eichorn proceeded to describe the various skating elements in the park.
Mr. Boersma expressed his support for the design and mentioned how he has wanted a skatepark in St. John for a long time.
Mr. Eichorn mentioned how Spohn Ranch has designed and built the skateparks in Hammond and Highland. The firm’s goal is to deliver a skatepark that is unique to St. John and will complement others in the area. Mr. Eichorn that the overall footprint of the park will most likely not change, but certain elements within the skatepark are up for discussion.
Mr. Dzienski expressed concerns with the design elements surrounding the bowl. Mr. Connelly asked about the possibility of adding a spectator area near the bowl and suggestion a guardrail or something similar. Mr. Eichorn thought it was a great suggestion, but the addition of amenities like this will drive up the project cost, which could result in less skating features. Mr. Eichorn then engaged in a back and forth with attendees regarding a few specifics on the proposed skating elements.
Josh Keith, a local resident and skater, stepped to the podium to thank the board for pursuing this project. Mr. Keith voiced support for the conceptual design and liked how it incorporates elements for all talent levels. He also appreciates the pump track since very few skateparks in the area have one. Mr. Keith asked about the possibility of the park having lights. Mr. Bouvat stated that lights are a possibility, but we have to keep the park within the proposed project budget. Beth Hernandez, Clerk Treasurer, also mentioned the importance of keeping the project within the budget.
Mr. Connelly asked if a spectator section that included seats was necessary as many parents will have their own chairs. He asked if we were to remove the proposed spectator areas, would that free up some project funds for other amenities such as lighting. Mr. Eichorn stated that the park amenities including the seating areas are not included in the proposed project budget.
Mr. Dzienski stepped back to the podium to express concerns over a few of the design elements, most notably the pump track. Mr. Boersma wanted everyone to remember that the park was designed based on the feedback received from the survey and that the goal with the park is to serve as many people as possible. Mr. Pondinas echoed Mr. Boersma’s remarks.
Mr. Zielinski mentioned he would setup a Zoom call with anyone interested to finalize a few of the design elements in the park.
Gabe Hernandez, Maintenance Foreman, stepped to the podium to talk about the plans for the entire park property of The Gates. The park department would like to develop the property to make it a multi-use park for all ages to enjoy. Other potential amenities that could be added in the future include a playground, walking trail, pavilion, and permanent restrooms.
Mr. Bouvat thanked everyone for their feedback and mentioned it is the park department’s goal to meet the needs of as many residents as possible.
Mr. Boersma addressed the skaters in attendance and said lighting would be included in the park’s future plans. He also complimented the job Spohn Ranch did with the design.
Mr. McLead the outstanding minutes now include Thursday, November 12, 2020 and Tuesday, February 16, 2021.
Adam Eichorn of Spohn Ranch asked if the board would like to discuss the entire contract, or if they had any questions about any specific items on the contract. Mr. Bouvat said he didn’t think it was necessary to review every line item and recommended only discussing how to approach the additional amenities. Mr. Moffitt recommended for the board to use the entire budget for the actual skatepark and then use some of the funds allocated for the bathroom facility for the additional items. Mr. Connelly agreed that the board should focus on building the best skatepark possible initially, and work to add other items in the future. Mr. Connelly said he would like to see lighting at the facility since it was set the skatepark apart from others in the region. Mr. Connelly referenced that the conduit for lighting is itemized for $10,000 and recommended to include that item in the contract for future lighting.
Mr. Bouvat asked Mr. Eichorn if the prices on the additional items will change if the board decides to include them in the future. Mr. Eichorn said the prices on the proposed contract are for all items being completed at the same time. Mr. Eichorn said the board would be saving money by completing as much of the project as possible at once to avoid additional mobilization charges.
Ms. Bennett noted the department is currently working to update park rules, and advised the board to approach the project, including lighting, within the context of the park rules.
Mr. Bouvat asked Mr. McLead to comment on the project budget. Mr. McLead said the department budgeted $500,000 for the skatepark and $50,000 for bathroom facilities at the location. Mr. McLead said the board has $550,000 to commit to the project at this time. Mr. Moffitt recommended using the funds allocated for the restrooms for some of the additional items on the proposed contract. Mr. McLead noted that the access pathways and landscaping are two important items to include in the project at the onset. Mr. Bouvat asked Mr. Eichorn if Spohn Ranch would be willing to negotiate the price of a few of the additional items. Mr. Eichorn said if the board is willing to commit an additional $50,000 to the project, Spohn Ranch will include all of the alternative items in the project.
Mr. Bouvat asked for consideration for a motion to accept the Sourcewell proposal for $550,000 with the alternative items included the contract. Mr. Moffitt made the motion. Mr. Connelly seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (3). Nays (0).
Mr. Bouvat asked Mr. Eichorn for a project timeline. Mr. Eichorn said as soon as the project is executed, Spohn Ranch will finalize the design and complete construction documents for the board to review. Mr. Eichorn estimates the project would break ground in July.
Mr. Connelly made a motion to allow the St. John Lions Club to plant a memorial tree in our parks. Mr. Moffitt seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (3). Nays (0).
Mr. Moffitt made a motion to approve the Request to Purchase for the plow. Mr. Connelly seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (3). Nays (0).
Mr. Bouvat asked where the parking lot will be in relation to the garden. Mr. McLead noted the parking lot will be directly north of the garden, and will be made of grindings used from town paving projects.
Mr. McLead advised that the project has received a lot of support from the community and mentioned B and D Sewer and resident John Quinlan for their efforts.
The farmers market is scheduled to start on Sunday, May 2 from 8 am – 1 pm. The market will take place every Sunday at the Community Hospital Outpatient Center until October 31.
Robert Visdal (8173 W. 102nd Street). My wife just made a bunch of comments. I know that Gabe and Tyler came out and talked to her for a few minutes and everything. We got a few problems. We're 100 to 200 feet away from where this park's going to be built. Six months ago I came to a park board meeting. I think Wayne was here. I don't know who else was here, but I talked about the fact that we didn't have anything in the entire gates as far as a park for the kids. I'm talking about the little kids, you know, like my wife was saying. The majority of the kids on our block are like eight years and younger. Someday they're going to be using this skate park but right now they needed a kid's park and what you're going to build is not going to help them at all. This park that they're going to build on Parrish; that's a mile from where we're. That's at the other end of the Gates. There's still not going to be anything for them at all on our part of the Gates. One of the things that I didn't really feel was fair was the fact that all this stuff got passed and everything what in the last month or something like that? Because the first time I heard anything was last week Monday. I was driving and I heard an advertisement for this on the radio on northwest Indiana radio station, which means all of northwest Indiana knows that this is being built, not to mention the fact that northeast in Illinois knows about it too because the radio station goes all the way. I can pick it up when I go to Tinley Park to visit my kids and everything you still get this station, so there's a big area that knows about this. You guys are spending a lot of money on something that's going to be a destination park. A destination park not something for St. John. We had nothing at all and now all of a sudden we're going to have this great big gigantic park there that's going to draw like my wife said. We went over to Schererville to check it out just to see what that one looked like. It was nothing. You know, I’m sure all the other parks are kind of similar to that. We're going to have the best one around where are the kids going to go. They're all going to be coming to St. John, so what's going to happen? We're going to have all these people coming and you didn't even ask our opinion and we lived right next to the park. You guys should have been talking to us and asking us first what we see because I’ll tell you what we've seen. We've been there for three years now and they put the walking path in about a year ago. You know what happens? There's ATVs going up and down the thing yet even when there was a soccer game going on. We'll call the police takes them like 10 or 15 minutes to get out there. By the time they get out there, these people are gone, so they don't even get arrested. What's going to happen when you can have kids on skateboards? You know this is going to happen. They're going to be coming down the path to get over to the where the park's going to be at the skate park's going to be. There's going to be people walking on there. Where we used to live in Tinley Park they had uh a skate park inside a Centennial Park which is a big park inside of Tinley Park. It's a half mile by a half mile square. The skate park was in the middle of it, so nobody lived within two blocks of it. There was yellow lines down the entire walking path in the entire park, you know. I think what you need is to put that on the walking paths and put an arrow on each side for the people that can't figure out which side to be on, so at least there's a chance that people aren't going to be hit going to get run over or something by these skateboarders. If they get hit or something like that I’m sure the city will get sued because it's town property. I’m sure that we'd be responsible for it at some point, and we don't want that to happen. We just want to see safety there. The other thing is right on the other side on the north side of the walking path we have about 60 feet to our property line. I’d love to see you put some kind of like a natural berm up there of arborvitaes or some other kind of fast-growing plants. That would give us a separation between us and the skate park. It doesn't really need it on the soccer park because we haven't had anything in the past in the soccer games. Maybe once a game or two a ball rolled down towards our property but that's no problem at all. We don't want to see the kids that are going to be over there cutting across our property to get to the skate park because they might park on 102nd or as has happened in the past where the ice cream guy happens to be on our block, and everybody's cutting across our property to get to the ice cream guy. We'd love to see us build some kind of shrubbery thing as opposed to a berm because a berm I think would create the water going down at a different spot on the bottom. I think what we really need is some kind of greenery there. For you to stop that but the big thing is preventing it from becoming a destination park. I think that's more than anything else. The thing that we're hoping that you cannot have happen because otherwise you're using the tax dollars of the town of St. John to supply entertainment for the kids in the rest of the other towns around us, and that just isn't right. You should be using it for our kids and like I said before, there's still nothing in the plans for the real little kids and that's the thing I’d really like to see you do. Spend some of this money that you're spending on the skate park and use that for the little kids. There's no reason why you can't put a couple swing sets and a couple slides right next to the skate park and not a year or two from now. Do it all at the same time. Put that in your plans if it's not etched in stone already with this guy that was on the screen there. That's what I’m asking from you and I’m still disappointed that you didn't contact any of the neighbors at all and ask us our opinion about this. Thank you very much.
Tom Allen: My name is Tom Allen. I’m here concerning Founders Park. My wife and I were the owners of 9884 Parrish. When Steve Kil was Town Manager at that time, they went to widen Parrish Ave. They needed more easement from Joliet down to 231. I went to many meetings. The easement went because the house sat so close to Parrish. It went right down the middle of the house. You can't have that can you so Steve Kil went to work and they moved the easement, tweaked it where it went right by the front porch. They could dig right by the front porch for cable lines and somebody stepping off the front porch would fall. He suggested to my wife and be willing instead of selling the frontage for the easement to sell the whole property for a town park. My wife and I were ecstatic, happy because to have green space for the citizens of St. John to enjoy. Steve said there was a shortage of property on this side of St. John.
(Mr. Allen proceeded to discuss the history of the property at length).
My legacy is deep with the town. Steve Kil said the park will be named Allen Park. He said that's how they do it. He mentioned Rorman Park in Schererville and Patnoe Park in St. John as examples. You have Rainwater Park over here on this side of the town which was he just passed away within the past year or two. They do name parks in Indiana after the last person of succession. This property was in my family since 1949. That's where I was going to with my legacy. I see Founders Park, I hear Founders Park. Steve Kil isn’t here. I guess he's talked to Tyler on the phone. The other day he said he talked to Steve, and Steve couldn't remember that conversation.
(Mr. Allen discussed the property in further detail and requested for the board to consider naming Founders Park after his family- Allen Park. Mr. Bouvat thanked him for his comments and mentioned the board was in a difficult spot since there is no formal record of the agreement to name the park after his family. Mr. Moffitt suggested the board could look into naming another area of the park after Mr. Allen’s family or finding another way to honor their legacy. The board agreed that this was a good idea).
Jeff Zielinski (Driftwood Collective): Hello everyone. My name is Jeff Zielinski and I really just wanted to step up here and hopefully ease some concerns that I heard tonight. I’m a big supporter of the local skate park. I have been a skater for 17 to 18 years and I just wanted to take the podium and maybe I can help put you guys at ease a little bit. The skate parks that have been built around the region are of a similar budget and somewhat of a similar scale. St. John might be going big with it and we’re very excited about it but it's still a local skate park. A regional skate park is roughly about a million dollars. It's going to be extremely exciting for the people around here because I grew up skateboarding with metal ramps that had sharp edges and that's what was provided and you didn't complain otherwise it might get taken away. It's defined me as a person. I’ve been able to and had the privilege of skating in professional competitions and you know it's been an exciting part of my life and built me up as a person. The most dangerous place to skateboard is the street. More injuries are of our children getting hit by cars than breaking an arm at a skate park, so offering these facilities is a great way to keep them safe and it's truly appreciated. Some of the younger kids that we do see skating are about six years of age and we see people up to 30. I am 32 and I still actively skateboard and it's something that I thoroughly enjoy. I was from a single parent household. I didn't really have access to a lot of other types of sports. My local skate park was about a 45 minute skate away and that's what I did every day after school. That's what defined me as a person. It's what made me who I am today. I think that there are some concerns from the audience that are valid. I think the reality of what is trying to be built here will be pleasant for the community. I think it will truly bring a vibrancy that will be appreciated. I hope it's not a nuisance. The skate park construction has changed a lot and you do see a lot of sound dampening inside of the concrete versus the metal ramps. One thing I do want to say more than anything else is my name is Jeff Zielinski and I’ll be at the park. I’ll be your ally and I’m happy to help in any way I can. Thank you everyone for your time.
Brittany Hock (8067 W. 102nd Street). Good evening, Mr. President and fellow board members. I appreciate your time, so I’ll make this quick because I know there's other people that need to speak. I'm a resident of the gates as well. I am a home that is directly behind where the skate park will be. I recently watched the Schererville Soccer Club move the goalposts. I was curious so I went out and talked to them my husband and they said that everything was moving forward with the skate park. Mind you we were the third home in our circle built. We purchased our lot which was considered a premier lot or a more expensive lot because everyone that purchased lots on that row were told that nothing would be put or placed behind them. We did our due diligence. We called Steve and the town council. We made sure that we expressed our concerns that if we were purchasing a home of this caliber in this community which we love. We're from Utah. We chose it for safety and amenities and it’s growing so we were never opposed to more parks and more things accommodating the older kids. Our daughters is 8. She eventually will be doing these activities that will interest her. The biggest thing is I honestly felt like we are lied to. We have a berm that was placed in our backyard because the walking path went directly behind it. Steve placed it there and promises of landscaping it to protect us from noise. It is just a pile of dirt now. It looks like garbage and I’m very concerned. How are we to keep ourselves enclosed? We're always going to be facing this. I’m not opposed. I just wanted to express my concerns and really try to get more information on how large this skate park is going to be because the previous drawings that were sent by Spohn Ranch was going to be about 10,00 to 15,000 square feet. That is a huge skate park. I just feel like we're not being given all the information to make adequate decisions as the residents that are going to be directly affected. I appreciate your time.
Carlo Demma (9701 Hart Street). Hello. Good to see you guys again. I just want to say that I am full support of St. John’s Skate Park. I'm very excited that we have this opportunity to build something that's magnificent and good for the town and good for the kids in the town. I think skateboarding is very low entry level. It provides inclusion and diversity for young communities, especially like ours that are growing. We see lots of construction going on 41. We see new roads being built. We see new houses being built, so why not provide something great for our community and our kids such as a skate park. I am 28 years old and I still skateboard. I’m not going skateboarding out in the streets anymore and I don't really have a place to go skateboard that's close. I have to drive to Schererville or Hammond or Dyer. I don't have a place that I can call my own. Also, skateboarding has a lot of good community members in it that will keep the concerns of the residents who have spoken today in mind. I’m 28 years old and if I see someone doing something bad I’m going to walk up to them and tell them to stop. I’m going to tell them to mind their manners. I am a scientist. I work for the government. A lot of my friends are skateboarders who have great jobs and are great productive members of the community. They’re designers. They're engineers. Skateboarders are good people and they're not to be looked upon in any other light than that. As far as the lights that we've all discussed tonight, you know, based on our geophysical location and the fact that we have to deal with Chicago's time zone lights are pretty important especially when daylight savings time rolls over. Because of climate change it's getting warmer around here and it's staying warm into November and December and it starts getting warmer earlier like we've seen in April and February. I mean, the weather has been great. Having lights at the skate park is going to allow those kids to be out and have fun and skate and be safe for a lot longer instead of when the lights go out or when the sun goes down. As far as the destination entertainment kind of concerns we've heard tonight, you know, I do see the point there but at the same time bringing people from other communities, we used to call ourselves the tri-town area. That's a great thing getting people to come from Schererville to skate in St. John. They're going to get hungry. They're going to want to eat. They'll stop at local businesses like Welch's and that's going to be good for us. It's going to provide a lot of additional income into our community so I think it's a great thing. I'm in full support of it. I’ve been at every meeting that you guys have had and I’m very happy to be here tonight. Thank you.
Billy Duszynksi (12700 Goldenrod Place). I would maybe like to say something really quick if that's okay. I just wanted to maybe address the concerns where I think the gentleman had said it would be a destination park. Realistically, I’ve seen a bunch of new skate parks sprout out over the years and what usually happens is there might be that like first month maybe less maybe three weeks where there are going to be a lot of people interested in something like that because it will be a very good park. But after that first month to month and a half, it's going to start to die down. It’s going to start to be the kids that want to learn how to skateboard and it's going to be all the local people using it as their facility. Again, it's like a baseball field or a soccer field. People have to go there every day so they can keep their skills up. I just wanted to make sure that there was no like confusion thinking that we're building some like Six Flags or like I think he said Disney World. I don’t think it will be like that at all. We're hoping that it won't be a bunch of high school kids causing problems for anybody. You know, especially the residents that live there. A skate park will get all the annoying skaters off of everyone's property. I think the big misconception is that skateboarders are like dirty and they're bad kids and misfits. But all the skateboarders that I know and the skateboarders that are using the parks every day, those are the kids that actually want to get better at what they're doing. They’re not just going there to mess around or cause any type of disturbance.
Mr. Moffitt made a motion to approve the summer programs and instructors as presented. Mr. Connelly seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (3). Nays (0).
Mr. Bouvat asked if the additional items discussed at the April meeting were included in the executed contract. Mr. McLead assured him they were. Ms. Bennett stated the contract with Spohn Ranch was executed on April 26, 2021 with the board’s terms from the April meeting. Ms. Bennett then advised the board to ratify the Sourcwell price proposal dated April 21, 2021 and executed by Mr. McLead on April 26, 2021.
Mr. Bouvat asked for a motion for the Sourcewell price proposal dated April 21, 2021 to be ratified with the board’s modifications. Mr. Moffitt so moved. Mr. Connelly seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (3). Nays (0).
Mr. Connelly asked for an updated timeline on the project. Mr. McLead mentioned the previous month that Adam Eichorn from Spohn Ranch reported that the company would mobilize in July.
Mr. McLead reported the Co-Ed Sand Volleyball for grades 5-12 is scheduled to start on Wednesday, June 9. The expectation is to have between 125-150 participants this season.
The concert series at Lake Hills Park is returning this summer with four scheduled dates. The Michelle Velez Trio will perform on July 10, LeAnn Stutler on July 17, Jordan Miller on July 24, and the Gary Shakespeare Company will perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream on July 31.
Mr. Moffitt asked for an update regarding the issues at the Lake Hills Amphitheater. Mr. McLead previously reported that the surface that was installed in the fall of 2020 did not hold up well over the winter and is already beginning to fail. Mr. McLead contacted the contractor immediately to meet onsite and assess the problem. Mr. McLead reported the contractor advised that the concrete under the surface failed and not his company’s product or the method by which it was applied. Mr. McLead mentioned that defective concrete or substrate is excluded in the product’s warranty. The board expressed concern about the situation. Mr. McLead stated he would meet with the contractor again soon to discuss potential solutions.
Stacie Smits (14195 W. 89th Place). Per our earlier email exchange, I got in contact with the surrounding tow park departments and confirmed the number of tennis and pickleball courts per village. As you can see by the table below, Saint John is woefully behind in these amenities. I would argue that Saint John has a higher number of 50+ residents than the surrounding villages and has invested in playground equipment for young families, but is not keeping up with the needs of their more mature citizens, which I believe is numerous. We need more tennis courts and we need at least one pickleball available for Saint John residents. We are already way behind the times in this area. I would hate to see this take years to make happen. I am willing to get petitions signed, attend meetings, or whatever is necessary to get these courts approved. I would greatly appreciate communication as to what the plans for future courts are when that is determined. Thank you for your efforts for Saint John residents. You are appreciated.
Mr. McLead referenced the table Ms. Smits provided and agreed that the town is deficient in this amenity. Mr. McLead mentioned he has detected a lot of demand for pickleball within the community and would like to keep this project on the radar. Mr. Moffitt asked if developers would consider constructing courts in one of the new subdivisions.
Mr. Pondinas mentioned there has been discussions with developers regarding installing another sled hill at The Gates. The board expressed interest in the sled hill and would like Mr. Pondinas to follow up with the developer.
Mr. Hernandez mentioned parking is an ongoing issue at several of the parks. He supports the addition of various amenities at The Gates, but would like for parking to be considered since a large skatepark and a playground will be constructed in the near future.
Mr. Moffitt made a motion to approve the Independent Contractor Agreements as presented. Mr. Connelly seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (3). Nays (0).
Mr. Eichorn mentioned that positioning the park farther south on the property will provide his team with more design options, but AT&T easements are limiting how far it can be moved. Ms. Bennett strongly advised against constructing on easements. Mr. Eichorn confirmed the design will be kept away from the easements. Mr. Eichorn will provide an update on the project at the next regular Park Board Meeting scheduled for Tuesday, July 20, 2021.
Mr. McLead provided an update on the work completed at the site, which included tree and underbrush removal, and other site cleanup efforts. The contractor has experienced weather delays due to heavy rainfall. A progress meeting at the site is scheduled for Wednesday, July 7.
Mr. Bouvat and Mr. Connelly complimented the staff efforts for all of the projects that were reported on for the month.
Mr. McLead also mentioned the department will be helping with the fireworks at Heartland Park scheduled for Saturday, July 3. The duties include assisting with setup, providing general onsite support the night of the event, and also coordinating cleanup efforts.
Mr. Moffitt asked why the control panel continues to cause problems. Mr. McLead stated the panel is located in an underground vault and water has leaked into the structure a few times the past two seasons. Mr. McLead mentioned a long term solution would be to move the panel into an above ground structure sometime in the future, which could also include a restroom facility. Mr. McLead noted he will look into both temporary and permanent solutions to the issue.
The target construction schedule for the project was also reviewed. Mr. Eichorn noted that once the final design receives board approval, his firm will prepare construction documents and then proceed with construction once they are finalized. Mr. Eichorn stated that October will be the busiest month for construction.
Mr. Moffitt asked if the project would have a fence around it during construction. Mr. Eichorn said there are no plans for a 6’ construction fence, but a snow fence is a possibility. Mr. Eichorn noted the construction team will be onsite or nearby at all times during construction.
Mr. Moffitt made a motion to accept and approve the final construction design for Gates Skate Park Title Block 1-B. Mr. Boersma seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (3). Nays (0).
The board reviewed an updated construction schedule for the project.
Mr. Moffitt asked about the status of the needed repair work to the batting cages at Civic Park. Mr. McLead stated the summer staff spent the better part of a day recently cleaning the cages up, but additional repairs are needed. Mr. McLead noted the project is still on the list for this year.
Ms. Bennett stated the police department will have to be involved since they will be the primary enforcers of the updated rules, and detailed some of the steps in the process.
Mr. Bouvat asked when the last time the park rules were updated in relation to the Town Ordinance. Mr. McLead stated a section related to fishing was codified in the late 90s, but the park section hasn’t been updated since.
Mr. Boersma asked what work needs to be done to the field at Larimer Park. Mr. Moffitt noted that the entire infield needs to be completely restored.
Mr. McLead stated he is continuing to make efforts to expand program offerings as well as seeking partnership opportunities with other facilities. Mr. McLead noted he recently had a productive conversation with Cathy LaReau, St. John Township Trustee, on potentially hosting programs and events at their Community Center.
Mr. Moffitt made a motion approve the Independent Contractor Agreements as presented. Mr. Boersma seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (4). Nays (0).
Mr. McLead presented a rough draft of rules for the facility. Mr. McLead researched rules from several other skate parks and also referenced a list of recommended rules from Spohn Ranch. The draft includes both safety and etiquette guidelines. Mr. McLead noted the rules can be formally approved at a later date.
Upcoming events include a fishing derby scheduled for Saturday, September 25 from 8 – 11 am at Prairie West Park. The annual Halloween themed Boo Bash is scheduled for Saturday, October 23 from 10 am – 12 noon, also at Prairie West Park.
Mr. Boersma mentioned the possibility of hosting a Fishing with a Veteran event at some point in the future. He has several rods and reels he would be willing to lend for the fishing derby.
Mr. Moffitt made a motion to approve the Pet Waste Station Sponsorship Program. Mr. Connelly seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (4). Nays (0).
Mr. Boersma asked if we would limited to what we could accomplish with the building since it’s already constructed to be a church. Mr. Pondinas mentioned the building is currently designed for multipurpose usage. Mr. Pondinas also noted the options for land and current buildings in town is very limited given all of the ongoing development. Mr. Boersma asked about the status of the settlement involving the 40 acres south of Heartland Park. Mr. Pondinas replied the status of that property has yet to be determined.
Mr. Bouvat asked Mr. McLead if there are other opportunities in town. Mr. McLead noted that Suncrest Church or the 40 acre lot south of Heartland Park appear to be the only viable opportunities at this time.
Mr. Boersma made a motion for the department to continue pursuing the opportunity at Suncrest Church. Mr. Moffitt seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (4). Nays (0).
Mr. Bouvat asked if the contractor will complete the project within the proposed timeframe. Mr. McLead noted the updated date of substantial completion is November 24.
A general discussion ensued regarding the sport of pickleball. The board also discussed the plans for courts in the park system. The project is being strongly considered with a location for the courts to be determined.
Mr. Bouvat asked if grant funds could be available for this sort of project. Mr. McLead mentioned he is sure there would be grant opportunities for projects that make parks more accessible for all users.
Mr. McLead stated the park will complement the other parks very well since the equipment is unique and unlike what we currently have at other locations.
Mr. Boersma made a motion to approve the registration details for the 2022 Patnoe Park Family Gardens. Mr. Connelly seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (3). Nays (0).
Mr. McLead reported on a few upcoming events. The Boo Bash scheduled for Saturday, October 23 from 10 am – 12 noon at Prairie West Park. The event will include a trunk or treat, games, pumpkin decorating and train rides. The final date of the farmers market is Sunday, October 31. Suncrest Church is hosting a Community Serve Day on Saturday, October 30. Mr. McLead noted he has targeted a few park locations for volunteer projects, including Prairie West Park, Civic Park, and the Patnoe Park Family Gardens.
Mr. Pondinas asked about the status of Suncrest Church and the possibility of the department buying it to use as a community center. Mr. Bouvat stated the option is still on the table and the department is still exploring the opportunity.
Ms. Bennett noted the proposed document is simply a draft for the board to review. Ms. Bennett stated the board should consider the rules they would like to see enforced in the parks when reviewing the document. Discussion ensued regarding the proposed document and the process to adopt the section into the Town Code.
Mr. Moffitt voiced support for this process since the police department has difficulty enforcing any of the park rules currently since they are not in the ordinance.
Mr. Bouvat asked about the process to finalize the document. Ms. Bennett replied that the board would make a recommendation for the Town Council to adopt the section by ordinance. Mr. McLead stated he would meet with Police Chief Steve Flores prior to the next board meeting to receive his input on the document.
Mr. Bouvat mentioned the possibility of having The Arsh Group and the construction company, Integral, attend the next board meeting to discuss the project. Mr. Bouvat asked if there were any legal provisions related to the project worth discussing. Ms. Bennett stated that contract has provisions regarding the contractor not meeting deadlines or being unresponsive. Mr. Bouvat asked Mr. McLead if he thought it would be productive to have the consultant and contractor attend the next meeting. Mr. McLead stated he was unsure how helpful that would be since he had a meeting with both parties recently and is still not seeing progress on the site.
Mr. Pondinas noted the most recent target construction schedule shows a substantial completion date to be November 24 and the project is nowhere near being finished. Mr. Bouvat noted that the contractor could be dealing with some impediments or obstacles, but would like to have answers either way in time for the next board meeting. Ms. Bennett stated she would discuss a course of action with Mr. McLead.
Mr. McLead also reported on the recent Community Serve Day in partnership with Suncrest Church on Saturday, October 30. Over 70 volunteers assisted with projects at three park sites, including Civic Park, Prairie West Park and the Patnoe Park Family Gardens.
Mr. Moffitt mentioned that the dumpster enclosure at Heartland Park should be locked as the fields are now closed for the season.
Mr. Bouvat stated that a community center still remains a priority for the department and would like to discuss the project in more detail at the next board meeting. Mr. Boersma asked if the town had an update on the 40 acres of property potentially available off White Oak and 109th. Mr. Pondinas stated that discussions with the developer regarding that property are ongoing. Mr. Pondinas mentioned Suncrest Church remains a possibility as well.
Mr. Moffitt made a motion to amend the agenda to remove the 2022 Landscaping Contract under new business. Mr. Connelly seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (3). Nays (0).
Mr. Bouvat asked what the warranty is on the piece of equipment. Mr. Hernandez stated the equipment has a standard three year warranty.
Mr. Moffitt asked what the interactions have been like with the three companies that presented quotes. Mr. McLead noted that Russo Power has been responsive and is the closest company the department could find that sold this piece of equipment.
Mr. McLead noted this piece of equipment has been discussed a few times since he started his position in August of 2020. The department currently doesn’t have its own equipment and is heavily reliant on Public Works when completing projects. This piece of equipment will provide the parks with its own versatile machine for various projects.
Mr. Connelly asked if the department has a way to transport the machine to the parks. Mr. McLead stated they have access to a trailer that will work for now, but a new trailer will have to be purchased at some point.
Mr. Moffitt made a motion to approve the Request to Purchase from Russo Power in the amount of $40,062.96. Mr. Connelly seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (3). Nays (0).
Mr. Moffitt asked how the town procured these items. Mr. Hernandez stated some of the items were purchased by the town while others were donated to the town from other similar events.
Mr. Moffitt made a motion to donate the haunted house items to the Cedar Lake Knights of Columbus. Mr. Connelly seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (3). Nays (0).
Mr. Moffitt made a motion to accept the 2022 Portable Restroom Contract from Service Sanitation. Mr. Connelly seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (3). Nays (0).
Mr. Moffitt made a motion to accept the 2022 Broadleaf Weed Control Contract from Forever Green. Mr. Connelly seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (3). Nays (0).
Mr. McLead noted the project has experienced delays due to disagreements between the contractor and architect, but is confident both parties are now on the same page and work will continue to progress.
Mr. Bouvat if everything the contractor has completed was listed on the construction schedule. Mr. McLead responded in the affirmative noting the schedule is comprehensive.
Ms. Bennett asked if the funds for the CDBG grant have been processed. Mr. McLead stated the first two pay requests for the project have been submitted to the county and covered the full amount of the grant. Mr. McLead also mentioned that the department will be reimbursed $250,000 worth of project expenses from the DNR grant.
Ms. Bennett advised the issue related to cars being left in the parking lot is addressed in the current town ordinance with the solution being the posting of signage. The question was posed which entity is authorized to post signage since the town is listed as the owner and not specifically the park board. Ms. Bennett asked the park board if they had the opportunity to review the document and if they had suggestions or noticed needed revisions. Mr. Bouvat mentioned he was satisfied with the document as presented with only a few revisions that were previously discussed. Mr. McLead noted this document is just a starting point and can be revised as needed in the future. Mr. Bouvat recommended finalizing the document at the next meeting.
Mr. Moffitt made a motion to defer this item to a future meeting. Mr. Connelly seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (3). Nays (0).
Mr. Bouvat stated he has sensed support for the project based on a few conversations he has had with various council members. Mr. Bouvat also cited the project being listed in the town’s 5 year plan. Mr. Pondinas stated he has also sensed support for the project. Discussion ensued regarding some of the amenities and potential uses for the facility.
Mr. Bouvat asked for an update on the 40 acres of property located on the west side of town. Mr. Salatas noted there are no major developments to speak of regarding the property as it is part of ongoing litigation. Discussion ensued regarding the course of action moving forward for the project. Mr. Bouvat recommended scheduling a joint meeting with town council members to discuss the project.
Mr. Moffitt made a motion to pursue a meeting with the Town Council. Mr. Connelly seconded. Motion carried. Ayes (3). Nays (0).