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Board Meeting Minutes Sept. 13

Winnebago County Forest Preserve District

District Headquarters
September 13, 2011

Randy Olson – President Tom Kalousek, Executive Director
Judy Barnard Vaughn Stamm, Preserve Operations
Mary McNamara- Bernsten Tom Hartley, Land & Development
Jay Ferraro Mike Durand, Golf
Audrey Johnson Jamie Johannsen, Marketing
Cheryl Maggio Steve Chapman, Finance

Gloria Lind Moe Kielsmeier
Jake Henry
Mark Dahlgren
Constance McCarthy
Katie Townsend
Lenae Weichel
The meeting was called to order at 5:35 PM. Recording secretary Ronelle Johnson called the roll.
Six Commissioners were present; Gloria Lind was absent.

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE Jay Ferraro led the assemblage in the Pledge of Allegiance.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES Minutes for August 24 were approved.

Mark Dahlgren read a statement that he believes the Land Use Plan has been disregarded. He felt the proposed purchase from Don Gasparini is business as usual and the Board needs to understand it is their responsibility to abide by the Land Use Plan because that is what is best for Winnebago County.

Lenae Weichel shared what she believes the citizens of Winnebago County deserve from their elected officials. She believes they deserve completion of a mission and strategic plan and abide by that mission and plan; formation of a Land Advisory Committee consisting of the Board and citizens; transparency; a conflict of interest policy; opportunities for public comment and not have meetings behind closed doors; strategic plan for land acquisitions that would consider full costs; and finally the citizens should be able to expect every consideration will be in the best interest of the District and the people.

Katie Townsend was concerned about the last acquisition of property. She would like to assure public access of permanent natural lands. She would also like to see a good definition of the word “natural” established and have no additional land acquisitions until criteria are in place. She would like to see it kept simple. She commended the Board for working on their strategic plan.

Moe Kielsmeier With these economic times, he was surprised the District wants to buy property. He then asked if the sale had been closed. Randy said yes. He had no more questions or comments.
Strategic Planning Report – Judy Barnard reported that the wordsmithing committee met, and they have further defined the focus groups and re-wrote a number of the questions to keep them from being too general and too leading. They will be typed up and emailed to everybody so they can take a look at them.

Land acquisition – Gasparini property – Jay Ferraro made a motion to approve the payment schedule for the Gasparini property, seconded by Cheryl Maggio. During the discussion Audrey Johnson wanted the Board to have more information regarding the property. Audrey raised concerns about purchase of property. Randy stopped her and said the motion on the floor is strictly for the payment schedule and any discussion would need to be kept to payment schedule. Mary McNamara-Bernsten made a motion to move back to Board discussion to discuss the additional information. The discussion was moved back to Board discussion and out of the payment schedule resolution. Audrey urged the Board to reconsider the purchase. Mary McNamara-Bernsten wanted to know the process for reconsidering. Randy Olson advised that a member of the prevailing side can bring a motion to reconsider. Judy Barnard wanted clarification as to this property being used as a fishing pond as she believes the land may have a higher and better use. She then requested that Tom Hartley find out the total acreage with the Glenny property. Tom Hartley indicated the Glenny property is almost 120 acres. The discussion was completed, and the meeting moved back to the action item of land acquisition payment schedule. The motion passed with 5 yes votes and 2 opposed (Audrey Johnson & MaryMcNamara-Bernsten).

Refunding of bonds – Steve Chapman explained how the refunding of bonds would work, what it would cost and what the money could be spent on. The recommendation is to proceed with refunding $2,240,000 and issuance of new bonds would generate $220,000. Required use would be land acquisition. Debt extension would remain the same, which would result in no additional expense to the taxpayers or the District. This process could be accomplished by the end of November. Judy made a motion to proceed with the procedure of the refunding of the 2002A bonds and issuance of new bonds, seconded by Jay. Motion passed unanimously.

August financial report – Steve Chapman presented the July and August financial report for the Corporate Fund and explained the expenditures and revenue. He mentioned that the golf revenue is down considerably due to the weather.

Executive Director’s report- Sheriff agreement update – Tom Kalousek was asked by the Board at the August 24 Board meeting to look into the part-time Public Safety Coordinator position. He met with Chief Kurt Ditzler and recommends that Terry Nordberg be transferred, as the former Public Safety Coordinator, to the position of Lead Reserve Officer as an employee of the Sheriff’s Department.

Personnel expense – Tom Kalousek was asked by the Board at the August 24 Board meeting to give a breakdown of the $215,600 allocation to “various personnel expenses” that were added to the previously proposed budget. He explained the breakdown that the Board requested.

Marketing – Jamie Johannsen gave a report on the success of the Bike Ride for the Arts. The District was a sponsor of this event and nearly 500 people participated. The longest ride, 64 miles, went through two of the preserves, the Pecatonica Wetlands and Fuller Forest Preserves. Also in the works is the public awareness campaign on the Kishwaukee River. The District will be partnering with a Trustee in Cherry Valley, to make people aware that it is a natural resource and how to take care of it. An ad hoc committee is being formed to work on the marketing costs, etc. Jamie will also be representing the District in an on-going ecotourism project lead by the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Winnebago County, and the District. The District will be working with area organizations and attractions to promote destinations in the rural areas of the county such as trails, golf courses, natural areas, scenic roads, etc.

Preserve Operations – Vaughn Stamm reported that on Thursday, September 15, the staff is conducting the annual river sweep (picking up trash, cleaning up, etc.) on the Kishwaukee River.

Land and Development – Tom Hartley reported that the Villages of Cherry Valley and New Milford are interested in developing the I-39/Baxter Road development. The District has received a letter from the Villages’ attorney, James Stevens. This letter is preliminary as the Feasibility Study has not yet been completed.

Golf Operations – Mike Durand reported that the golf courses are now in “second season”. The revenues have been stable since Memorial Day. He also commented on the compressed prices not only in this area, but throughout the region (including Cook, Dupage, and Lake Counties). The golf courses will be open through October, barring any weather situations. Atwood will stay open through Thanksgiving. He gave an update on the sprinkler irrigation system upgrade. Midwest Irrigation will get started on the project in early October.

The meeting was closed at 6:50 to discuss a personnel leave of absence request. The meeting re-opened at 7:00. Randy Olson declared no action was taken while in closed session.

Leave of Absence request – Jay Ferraro made a motion to approve the IMRF Benefit Protection Leave and military leave of absence for Dennis McKinley from September 5, 2011 through September 30, 2013, seconded by Cheryl Maggio. Motion passed unanimously.

The District received a letter from Klehm expressing their gratitude for participating in the Trees of Klehm 2011 program.

Tom Kalousek distributed an article entitled “Conservation or Recreation” regarding land use that was printed in the Chicago Tribune.

The next Board meetings are scheduled for Tuesday, October 11; Tuesday, November 8; and Tuesday, December 6, all at 5:30 PM, at District Headquarters.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:05 PM.

Ronelle Johnson
Recording Secretary