Park board discusses hiring process for new super, building renovations

Culver's park board looked to some major decisions for 2014 at its first formal meeting in weeks, involving the hiring of a new park superintendent, major renovations to the park's beach lodge, enhanced lifeguard training, and more, at its March 12 meeting.

After a reorganization which retained Tammy Shaffer as board president, Patty Stallings as vice president, and Rhonda Reinhold as secretary, Shaffer distributed a sheet requesting audience members to sign up ahead in order to participate in citizen input (though she emphasized anyone who wished to make comments by the end of the meeting could do so even without signup), and requested comments be limited to three minutes. Board members also welcomed Union Township appointee to the board Bob Osborn, in his first voting capacity.

Regarding plans to fill the vacant park superintendent position, Shaffer said the board has received resumes, applications, and letters of interest. She queried other board members as to whether they wished Culver's town council to weigh in, something met with some resistance from Stallings and Reinhold. Stallings suggested the board knows what it needs more than the council would.

Audience member Bill Githens, also a member of the town council, touched on the interview process used by that body and affirmed the council likely wouldn't want to weigh in on the superintendent hiring process.

The board voted to set a deadline of March 31 for further resume submissions, something they will advertise.


Representing the park's building committee, Russ Mason said 28 needs had been identified on the park's property in four categories: safety and security, protection of the property, efficiency and functionality, and visual enhancements.

Several items had been identified as critical, including the state of disrepair of the chimneys in the lodge's lower level; leaks in the building's roof; the concrete deck surrounding the beach lodge (which Mason said is "in dire need of repair" and causes flooding in the women's restroom during heavy rains); and leaks in the two window wells on the north side of the lodge.

Mason said the committee had not identified costs for the needed repairs yet, and he said the deck could be either re-pitched to redirect flowing water, or completely replaced. Audience member Tom Kearns suggested a surround with windows could also be considered on the deck.

It was discussed that placing the park on the National Register of Historic Places to qualify the beach lodge for possible grant funding.
Stallings said board members hope to make the repairs using the park's Rainy Day Fund. She also said most repairs were not truly structural, and many additional improvements needed are visual enhancements. The necessities defined by the building committee are hoped to be fixed before summer and any other changes or repairs afterwards.


The board spoke with audience member Jeanette Geiselman of the Culver Golden Agers, who had met for over 15 years in the beach lodge's meeting room in conjunction with the REAL Meals program, concerning folding tables and chairs left in that room. Geiselman said the Golden Agers would be willing to sell the tables and chairs to the park for $1,000, money they would give to a local charity.

Stallings said previous park superintendent Kelly Young had informed the board last year that the tables and chairs had been donated anonymously to the park, rather than the Golden Agers. She also noted the park never charged the Golden Agers rent or other fees for use of the meeting space, though Geiselman countered the group had initially been charged but the park agreed to waive any fees when the Golden Agers ran out of money (and the park encouraged the group to keep the building in use).

In response to Stallings' request that the items be donated to the park, Geiselman said she already had another offer to purchase the tables.

It was also discussed that no documentation exists regarding the donation and its intended recipient. Geiselman said the donor is deceased.

Board member John Helphrey and audience member Vern Chmielewski Jr. offered to deliver a piano still at the beach lodge to Geiselman's home.


Reporting on behalf of the finance committee, Helphrey said the park fund balance as of Feb. 28 is $251,000, with $41,975 derived from pier slip rentals. Projected pier revenue is $126,000 this year, and claims of note include $2,460 for insurance, bonds, and workman's comp; $2,498 for gas and electric for the beach lodge and park lights combined; and $2,540 for salaries in January.

Of immediate consideration going forward, he said, are a salary package for the new superintendent, possible loss of rental income during beach lodge rehab, building repair for critical issues, boat pier slip installation and removal (which cost $20,200 for 2013), and park grounds maintenance. However, he said, no salary or benefits were paid in February or March, and there should be a reduction in seasonal work force cost, including the activity director's salary.

Helphrey also discussed revenues from building and room rentals in years past, which totaled $3,200 last year ($1,800 of which was meeting room rental). He noted the gazebo costs $80.25 to rent, the meeting room $107, and each pavilion $58.85. The combined rental revenue for 2012 was $4,512, with $2,700 from meeting room rental.

He also noted this year's budget was reduced -- last year by request of the park superintendent -- by $30,000, but no reduction was requested for salary increases. He also said building improvement funds allocated had been $40,000 but were requested last year by the superintendent to be reduced to $10,000. Helphrey projected $55,000 for the year.

In 2013, the park spent $84,000 in payroll, he added, which included 22 people, 14 of them lifeguards, and four maintenance workers. He reiterated previous meetings' suggestions that grounds keeping can be contracted to an outside business, eliminating some of the four maintenance people.

Shaffer and Reinhold emphasized the goal is not, however, to eliminate jobs, but to trim the budget, and that new employment opportunities should arise off-season in conjunction with board plans for the coming year.

Shaffer added the board is considering various options regarding means of funding the needed work on the beach lodge.


Culver area youngsters will hopefully have an Easter egg hunt April 12, something which would have fallen by the wayside in the absence of a park superintendent, thanks to a volunteer committee. Tim Yuhas proposed the Culver Beard Club take on the project, with audience member Tracy Gordon joining the effort, all of which the board voted to approve.


The board voted to adopt -- subject to changes discussed at the meeting -- a policy handbook developed by the policy committee, as represented by Tom Kearns. There was some discussion of specific changes to text in the document, and focused attention given to documentation of any rescue attempts made by beach safety staff. Board members said no policy manual existed prior to this one.

There was also lengthy discussion regarding what board members called an evolving process of tightening up the park's boat slip rental policy, with Shaffer noting she takes phone calls and emails from renters and Reinhold maintains a diagram of who has paid and other information.

Discussion centered on whether to allow single persons or families more than one boat slip space when others are "in line" and have no space, and whether local residents take precedence over those renting space but residing out of town or out of state.

Mason, in the audience, suggested a time limit be placed on notifying the park of rental intentions, with second slips opened up once that limit has expired, subject to availability. Chmielewski, noting he ran a marina in Chicago, echoed that suggestion.

It was agreed the policy committee would have to examine the matter more closely.

In response to a query from Githens as to whether those on the board currently handling pier slip rentals are bonded, Reinhold replied that she is not, but that she doesn't touch any money coming in, but instead simply receives the paperwork regarding the rentals and sends out receipts.

After an update from community volunteer Jeff Mansfield explaining that the software offered by former Culver hardware owner Dave Beggs was outdated, the board opted to look more closely at vendors towards purchase of new Point of Sale cash register equipment and software. Mansfield said he will look at specifications outlined by the board and return with more vendor options.

Voted in by the board was a change of venue to the beach lodge meeting room for all future park board meetings, starting with the next one, which will take place March 19 at 6:30 p.m. instead of the following week, since it was concluded a quorum was unlikely on the originally scheduled date.

Also approved was purchase of a new American flag at the beach lodge meeting room, $1,106 for cleaning and maintenance of the five chimneys at the beach lodge (which Reinhold reported were deemed in bad condition by the chimney sweep), and $1,807.99 for new locks and keys at the beach lodge. Stallings reported the locksmith found some broken door knobs and locking systems, and also installed a box with a programmable code in which to place a building key, so renters of the space may access it in case no one is available to let them in.

Approved was a request to donate a family beach pass to the Culver After Prom committee, and the use of the park over the weekend of July 18 for the 2014 Lake Fest, as well as use of the park May 10 by the Lake Maxinkuckee Environmental Council for a 'Naturepalooza' event all day.

The board also voted to establish a pier committee, similar to the existing building, finance, and policy committees, to look specifically at improving and maintaining the park's piers. The committee will be made up of a park board member and volunteer citizens.

Reinhold will follow up on her report that she's investigating the hope of offering lifeguard certification training to local high school students for work at the beach in the summer, with the possibility of Culver Academies offering training more reasonably than other places. The park would consider paying for the training, she added.

Shaffer noted anyone wishing to rent rooms, pavilions, or other amenities at the park should, for the moment, contact Shaffer herself.
Audience member Gerry Burkett asked if the town website could be updated to reflect the current meeting schedule of the park board, which is the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at 6:30 p.m.; she noted the site currently lists the old schedule.

She also asked that park policies be posted on the website, though board members responded that, up to now, the park has had no policies to post, though the aforementioned committees are working to establish them. Some audience and board discussion followed suggesting communication about park events and the like had been sporadic in the past and that social media, internet, and other means be employed rigorously to communicate with the public.