Field financing and Village Pool upgrades discussed
At its meeting on Thursday night, February 2, the Village Board of Trustees approved a $2.4 million bond resolution for the new 105-yard Community Park Multi-Use field, debated by first the Recreation Commission and then the Village Board last fall and ultimately decided on to accommodate the most local sports organizations.
The field is the first part of Year Two in the 2016-2020 Parks and Recreation Strategic Plan with its many capital investments. It follows the success of the two new synthetic turf fields, Fields 3 and 4, completed last September.
An appropriation from the village surplus account was authorized for the field’s plans and specifications to be funded. The trustees also approved a SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act) resolution at their meeting as the project is exempt from further review.
Village Treasurer Irene Woo explained that municipal accounting in place as the project will commence prior to the Village of Garden City issuing a bond.
“Because the project was not planned for in this fiscal year (June 1 2016 – May 31, 2017) and it was planned initially for the 2017-’18 fiscal year and for a different amount, the request was to use funds from surplus to get it started this year. The bond issuance would follow the budget process we are under at the moment,” she said.
Trustee Robert Bolebruch addressed a concern raised by Deputy Mayor Brian Daughney, who asked about the fluctuations in interest rates with the bond market. Bolebruch works in finance and is the village board’s commissioner of finance. He said most Wall Street analysts predict that the Federal Reserve will not seriously consider raising interest rates until this June.
“Being that our village budget will be completed by the beginning of April, I think any raise in rates would only be maybe a quarter of a point. I think we should concentrate on the budget and then look to address the bond process,” Bolebruch said.
Mayor Nicholas Episcopia asked when a rate could be locked in on this or any bond the village pursues. Woo answered with the resolution approved now at the start of February, a period to wait “for permissive referendum and estoppel period” would likely be for 54 days. She says two months would be the time the village can go to bond the project. The mayor acknowledged that wording on the February 2 meeting agenda was confusing as it mixed the bonding plus borrowing from surplus, but only for the project to start before the bond is issued.
In attendance at the February 2 board meeting was Kevin McAndrew of Cameron Engineering, the village’s consultant for Community Park and presenter of its geo-technical analysis of ground conditions there in late 2015. McAndrew was not called upon to comment on the third turf field project and installation last week, but as Woo alluded to, the new target date set for the Multi-Use field is June 30, 2017, a full year ahead of the original timeframe Recreation had in mind. Last year Trustee John Delany had raised questions to the Recreation Commission on the impact to the soccer players, and he was told then the Multi-Use field was considered a mid-2018 project.
Pool Projects in Place
Also at its February 2 meeting the Village Board of Trustees took more steps toward improving a key and evolving village facility: the always popular, highly visible enterprise that is the Garden City Pool. A sum of $19,600 for the purchase and installation of a new shade structure was approved in two separate Recreation expenditures. A little more than half that amount was part of a transfer of $77,500 into the pool enterprise fund’s “Pool Maintenance of Plant” account, taken out from the Village General Fund. The latest upgrades, detailed at the meeting, come one year after significant changes at Community Park and the modernized pool bathhouse facility, plus monthly member appreciation nights, alcohol sales and better pool deck furniture.
Daughney, who has been nominated by his Estates’ POA to become the next mayor of the village this April, had a few questions on the unbudgeted spending for the pool. He asked Kevin Ocker, department head of Parks and Recreation, about an apparent shortfall.
“If I look at the pool budget for the fiscal year ending 2017, it isn’t going to be shown as this money having been spent on the pool. Pool revenue will not cover these expenses, the money comes from the General Fund,” Daughney said.
Ocker confirmed with Woo that the $77,500 will show up on the 2017-2018 budget as a prior year’s encumbrance. Woo said the transfer allows Ocker to expense the purchase of items from the pool enterprise. The installation portion for the shade structure cost approximately $10,000. The rest of the $77,500 includes $39,300 for the replacements of underwater lights at the main and adult pools; $15,600 to repair and replace 26 return filtration jets inside pools, and $12,600 to install and expansion joint and replace tiles at the interactive pool.
As a separate transfer of funds the trustees approved February 2, the $9,600 will cover the cost of a direct purchase of the new shade structure. That money does come from the 2016-2017 pool budget, as it was moved from “pool administration services” to “pool equipment” in the current budget. Ocker told Daughney the cost was less for this than for the other shade structure at the pool.
The other deputy mayor of the village, Trustee Richard Silver, is also liaison to the Recreation Commission. At the meeting he commented on the budget appropriation and a hint towards the 2017-2018 pool budget as that will come forward next month, with all the other budgetary discussion.
“This is the second year in a row when we’ve not had the money at the end of a pool budget year to pay expenses that we need to in order to get the pool ready for the next year (summer). We are doing the right thing to make sure that we don’t wait until pool season to order and pay for these items. But having done this two years in a row, the Recreation Commission has focused on how we will build a budget for the pool that includes an allowance for what we will need to re-open the pool and make these kinds of purchases a year from now,” Silver said.
Ocker followed up by saying that when the pool budget is presented to the Board of Trustees in March a contingency line “is activated, and we have $50,000 in that line on the expense side of the budget for that purpose.” Daughney contended that while he is all for keeping the pool infrastructure and operations up to date, there will be a time when the Village of Garden City must think in-depth.
“We will have to say what are we doing with this pool? Why don’t we just put it on the tax roll and every resident becomes a member? This is my own view and this type of expense leads me to that conclusion,” Daughney said.
Several minutes later Ocker delivered his biweekly update on Parks and Recreation to the Board of Trustees, with the pool work for summer 2017 as the priority. With the financing approved the pool shade structure will be ordered immediately, and it will be installed before June.
“We are in the middle of converting the game room to indoor dining space. Our own employees are doing the work in-house, and it will be air-conditioned space. We’re more than 50 percent done with that project,” he said.
Ocker expects pool brochures to be printed by Presidents’ Week as the Recreation Department is offering incentives for residents to sign up early. He says March will feature cost savings on memberships plus savings that can be attained with discounted guestbooks for admission, as those passes have remained popular.
He says as part of the Parks Department Strategic Plan, the next phase for improvements includes landings on steps and carpeting for entryways for Cluett Hall and the Fieldhouse of St. Paul’s, topping off the interior renovations with floors and lighting. The Fieldhouse will also receive new curtains inside to match its paint scheme.
The village’s Recreation Commission was scheduled to meet at the new senior center on Thursday, February 16, and an update from Ocker would follow at the Tuesday night, February 21 Board of Trustees’ meeting. Budget sessions for 2017-2018 will commence at Village Hall at 7:30 pm on Wednesday, March 1, with one session planned for each of the following weeks and annual budget adoption on Monday, April 3.