Minutes: December 15th, 2021

Catawba Island Township Board of Township Trustees

Special Meeting

December 15, 2021

Trustee Matt Montowski called the Special Meeting to order on Wednesday, December 15, 2021 at 5:30 p.m. in the conference room of the administration building located at 4822 E. Cemetery Road.

In attendance were: Diane Belden, Matt Montowski, William Rofkar, Vicki Wheatley,
Brad Schwan, Jack Madison, Brian Washburn, and Randy Riedmaier

Matt Montowski said a letter was previously received from Parks Board member Brad Schwan addressing a few of his concerns regarding a resident who has been volunteering at the North Point Preserve and some of the plantings she has done.

Matt Montowski said he believes the North Point Preserve has been neglected by the Parks Board over time, but Suzanne Richard has taken an interest in the preserve over the last three or four years. He said she has requested funds from the Parks Board in the past but Parks Board members denied her requests and she then sought donations and did plantings on her own and has spent hundreds of hours working in the preserve.

William Rofkar said when the community member first began working in the preserve, it was under the supervision of the former maintenance supervisor and a previous Trustee. William Rofkar said he thought she was doing a good job pulling weeds and he didn’t see any need for concern.

Diane Belden said she was addressed by the individual, but told her that if she has ideas she should attend a Parks Board meeting and discuss ideas with the board. She said then the Parks Board would discuss those ideas with the Board of Trustees. Diane Belden said she previously served on the Parks Board and understands the protocol of asking the Trustees regarding expenditures.

William Rofkar said several years ago when there were a couple different members on the Parks Board, they made it clear to the Trustees that their intent was to take care of the Cedar Meadow Preserve and that they had no interest in taking care of Heigel Park or the North Point Preserve.

Brad Schwan said none of the members on the Parks Board now are familiar with that conversation.

William Rofkar said he feels it is a situation that has evolved over time and he is not sure how to handle it now because he feels the individual is doing a good job at the North Point Preserve and he does not want to ask her to stop.

Vicki Wheatley said the Parks Board’s responsibility is expanding and she feels it would be best if people came to the Parks Board first and shared their vision and then the Parks Board would bring matters to the Trustees for a decision. Vicki Wheatley said she feels the volunteer has done a great job, she just wishes that she would come to the Parks Board first and say what she would like to do.

Brad Schwan said he would like the Trustees to decide if the Parks Board is to handle the North Point Preserve or not. He said they would be happy to handle the responsibility of the preserve and that no one on the board realized that the preserve was not their responsibility. Brad Schwan said he just wishes the volunteer would come to the Parks Board first because some of the plantings are not native to the area and the board would like to have input, but he appreciates her work efforts.

Jack Madison asked way it is called a preserve and said he feels that might be the hang up.

Brad Schwan said he does not feel the name is an issue but rather he feels it should be nature as nature should be and not a botanical garden. Brad Schwan said he feels there are compromises that can be made as far as the façade.

William Rofkar said in a perfect world he is one hundred percent behind Brad Schwan’s vision and would rather not have anything planted and minimal trails, but he does not feel that is what the general population feels. He said he thinks they want an area to walk through comfortably and look at flowers.

Brad Schwan said he is in favor of the public using the park and knowledge based information being provided but he does not believe in foreign species and non-native plants and does not believe the community would argue with that logic.

William Rofkar said he would like to come to an agreement and allow the community member to continue working in the preserve but he does not want an automatic answer of no given every time she asks permission to plant something. He said a redbud should be allowed.

Brad Schwan said he does not have any concern with a redbud, in fact it was the one out of three trees being planted that would be allowed and is natural to this area.

William Rofkar said he does not want rejection after rejection.

Brad Schwan said it was twice and only after the board had a specialist in the field come in and the specialist said no, those plantings are not appropriate for the area. Brad Schwan said that is what he feels a Parks Board should do.

Matt Montowski said if you think about it the whole island is covered with peach orchards invasive to the area. He said peach orchards were not original to the area.

Brad Schwan said that does not mean we should bring in plants from the east coast. He said two plants you allowed are only found on the east coast and one is found only in Asia. Brad Schwan said he believes the Trustees should have the final say but he thinks the Parks Board should be involved in the decision making.

William Rofkar said he would like the Trustees and the Parks Board to be on the same page but he feels the Parks Board views it as much more restrictive and he is trying to look at it from what the general public expects because it belongs to the people.

Brad Schwan said that is fine but he believes the public would rather it be a preserve than a garden.

Vicki Wheatley said she doesn’t think the public cares what is in there, whether species are invasive or non-invasive, they just want a space that they can visit and enjoy walking through.

Brad Schwan said either let us be involved in the decision making and the suggestions given to you or take it away from us.

William Rofkar said he believes an agreement can be made and he agreed to come to the Parks Board with suggestions made in the future and at least have a discussion prior to acting on them.

Matt Montowski said in a perfect world the Parks Board should be running it, but he feels the community member is grandfathered in because she has given time when the Parks Board has not been there.

A brief discussion took place regarding a potential community garden.

Brad Schwan asked if the Parks Board should be more involved in Heigel Park.

William Rofkar said the Trustees have a request for pickle ball courts that they want to move forward on likely and recommendations from the Parks Board would be wonderful.

The Parks Board agreed to review the request, recommend a location, and offer input.

Jack Madison briefly discussed the potential for a community path through the center of the island.

William Rofkar made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Diane Belden seconded the motion.
All voted aye. Motion carried. The meeting adjourned at 6:30 p.m.

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Diane Belden, Chairman Karen Shaw, Fiscal Officer