First Full Year of Operation as a Stand Alone Organization
On July 1, 2008 the Howell Area Parks & Recreation Authority took its first steps as a stand alone organization having transitioned out of a department within the City of Howell. The Authority board is made up of 5 individuals – Todd Smith (Chairman, Genoa Township), Sean Dunleavy (Vice-Chairman, Oceola Township), Steve Manor (Secretary, City of Howell), Paula Wyckoff (Treasurer, Marion Township) and Mike Peterson (Howell Public Schools) and continues to develop policies and procedures that keeps our organization operating with high professional standards.
NEW! Two Tier Fee Structure
Four municipalities (the City of Howell, Oceola, Marion and Genoa Townships) joined forces back in 2006 creating the Howell Area Parks & Recreation Authority. Our goal then as it is now…to provide our community with the very best in recreational programs and leisure time activities. Over 80,000 individuals are served each year through our youth and adult sports leagues, enrichment classes, special events, teen center, senior center, preschool and summer day camp, aquatic center, beach and boat launch.
Our operating budget of $1.25 million is supported not only by participation fees but by healthy contributions that are provided by these four municipalities. All municipal partners each contribute $100,000 to the overall operations, . When combined, these amounts equal approximately one third of our operating budget. In recognition of these contributions, we have adopted a two tier participation fee structure that we feel provides an equitable solution to the differences between contributing members and non-contributing government entities. Residents of the four municipalities that are members of the Authority are afforded a lower participation fee because approximately half of their program participation fee is already paid for through their local unit of government. A normal program fee for a non-resident of $100 would be $50 for any of the participating municipal members. If you need additional clarification about the Authority’s fee structure, please feel free to contact Deborah E. Mikula, Director, Howell Area Parks & Recreation Authority at 517/546-0693 ext. 7702 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
The 5 year master plan of the Howell Area Parks & Recreation Authority was completed in August 2008 and was accepted by the Department of Natural Resources and the 4 municipalities that make up the Authority in January/February 2009. We are now assessing park acquisition and development projects in our community that we would apply for funding through the DNR grant process.
The Howell Area Parks & Recreation Authority has 3 full-time staff members – the Director, Asst. Director and the Operations Manager. We have 3 staff members who work part time in the front office and these administrative assistants also handle the finance/bookkeeping duites and marketing responsibilities. We employ 2 part-time staff members at our Teen Center, 1 part-time staff member in our Senior Center, 2 part-time staff members to direct and teach in our preschool, numerous building/site supervisors, and a part-time custodial/maintenance staff member. We have also added a full-time Aquatic Center director and 2-3 building/site supervisors at the pool. In the summer, we increase our employee population by hiring seasonal staff including 5-6 individuals to run our Summer Day Camp, and 10-12 individuals to manage the Howell City Park beach/boat launch. Our staff is supplemented by hundreds of volunteers.
Over 10,000 hours of volunteer time was recorded during the past year and in recognition of this, we recognize these volunteers at our annual Recreation Recognition Reception in November and recognized 7 individuals and organizations who are extremely active within our organization.
Leases for Athletic Fields in Genoa and Oceola Township
The Howell Area Parks & Recreation Authority controls and maintains the programming and athletic fields in the City of Howell, Oceola Township and Genoa Township.
Aquatic Center Management Contract
In early 2009, the Howell Public Schools began looking for ways to cut $2.4 million from its budget. At that time, the Howell Area Parks & Recreation Authority was approached by the Howell Public Schools administration to outline a proposal to manage the Howell Area Aquatic Center to help reduce costs associated with the current structure. As of August 2009, the Authority signed a management agreement with HPS for the Aquatic Center and has increased programming and marketing across the board during the ensuing years. This has been a very successful partnership and we hope to continue our arrangement in the future.
Beach/Boat Launch Management Contract
A management agreement with the City of Howell was reached in May 2009 for the Howell Area Parks & Recreation Authority to manage the Howell City Park Beach Front and the Boat Launch. The City of Howell contracts with the Authority each year to hire a seasonal Beach Front Supervisor and 12-14 part-time seasonal staff members to operate the entrance gate at Howell City Park, monitor the boat launch, operate and clean the restroom and concession facilities at the beach, clean up the goose droppings on the beach, provide weekly water testing, deposit revenues collected, work in collaboration with the Fire Department to set up and take down the buoys and rope lines, and other duties that were assigned for a smooth and efficient operation during the summer months. All entrance fee revenue continued to be deposited with the City of Howell, the concession revenue and expenses became the responsibility of the Authority. All municipal partners of the Howell Area Parks & Recreation Authority are afforded two free annual passes to the park and boat launch areas. Non-residents can purchase passes for $80.
We continue to keep lines of communication open with our constituents by producing a weekly e-mail newsletter sent to over 6500 patrons and participants with news and information from the Howell Area Parks & Recreation Authority. We continue to receive great reviews and comments each week and are still averaging about a 30% open rate. We have also added a facebook page where we are able to connect with our 300 “friends” on a daily basis. We successfully produce a spring/summer and a fall/winter program guide which are distributed to over 35,000 households by direct mail, and to all elementary age children in the Howell Public Schools through their Friday packets. Our website is updated on a daily basis.
Scholarship and Reduced Fee Policy
The Howell Area Parks & Recreation Authority established a viable strategy toaddress the needs of children who are not able to participate in our programs because of economic conditions. The Howell Area Parks & Recreation Authority board of trustees adopted a scholarship policy that is designed to provide financial assistance to children who wish to experience and participate in our recreational activities and programs. So that we can serve as many individuals as possible that live in the City of Howell, Genoa, Marion and Oceola Township, each family showing need is limited to a maximum scholarship of $50 per child per year or $150 per family per year.
We are able to offer many new partnerships while providing quality enrichment programs. Working together with LESA and the adult transition team we were able to offer programs for students that will give them life long skills and much needed social interaction. Also we were able to work together with Michigan Rehabilitation Specialists to provide senior chair exercise to help promote healthy and active lifestyles. Every year we look to offer new and exciting programming opportunities. Last year we were able to add the following new classes: Bridge Lessons, The Basics of Selling on Ebay, Astronomy, Drop-In Tai Chi, Zumba, Chair Exercise, Kindermusik, Beginning Watercolor and Tae Kwon Do for Beginners. We continue to offer programs in art, dance, martial arts, photography, continuing education, dog obedience, exercise, gymnastics, horseback riding, music, safety/first aid, and skating.
Sports Leagues, Clinics and Events
The Howell Area Parks and Recreation Authority Sports department has put on many events that have benefited the citizens of Howell. As we have in the past we run sports leagues for children in pre-school up to adults including soccer, flag football, softball, basketball, and volleyball. Throughout the school year, we also provide 2 nights of drop in basketball, and 1 evening of drop in volleyball at local gyms. We also provide classes in tennis and golf. The sports department also runs special events which include MLB Pitch, Hit and Run, NFL Punt, Pass and Kick and the Flip and Flop Fishing tournament to name a few. We also hold special race events - the Splash n' Dash Indoor Triathlon, the Howell Melon Run, the Kids Crosstown Triathlon as well as the Headless Horseman 5K that brought in many people from all over the state and even the country. The sports department continues to add new and exciting programs each year.
The special events that take place give us a great opportunity to take our events and think outside the box. Our highlight of the year is the Annual Howell Melon Run with us hitting a new record of over one thousand runners!
The Senior Center membership has been slowly growing since its incorporation 5 years ago and we now boast close to 300 active members. We also secured a $8,500 grant from the United Way for services and staffing. Food and bread donations are received daily from VG’s, Pepperidge Farms, Panera Bread and Gleaners. We also receive other cash and gift card donations to help purchase supplies for the senior center like coffee, CD/DVD’s, paper products, etc. Programs include an active travel program, bingo, exercise, bridge, computer classes, and socializing. A monthly newsletter is produced and distributed to all members and others can pick up a copy at the Senior Center.
Since the installation of the Internet Café at the Teen Center, attendance has increased to close to 50-60 teens each day ranging from 6th grade – 12th grade. We continue to promote a no-fee policy for teens that attend during the day from 2:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. Monday – Friday during the school year. We continue to hold monthly late night events that draw anywhere from 50-75 youth who pay to participate. On the last day of school in June, we celebrate with our ”Last Day Breakaway” and then we close the Teen Center during the summer months due to funding shortfalls. An $8,000 grant from the United Way was secured for staffing and services.
The Howell Recreation Preschool & Learning Center offers 3, 4 and 5 year olds social and cognitive skills to prepare each child for success in school. This year we have made changes to create additional opportunities for more families in our community to attend. We have combined 3, 4 and 5 year olds in the same classes. This promotes children to progress by skill not age, which keeps children engaged and supports self esteem. An additional change this year is with our Tuesday/Thursday class, which offers two choices in class time – 9:15 – 1 p.m. or 9:30 – 2 p.m. The choice of a longer day is offered where children bring a sack lunch and participate in extended activities. These changes have increased enrollment and proven to be successful in affordability and opportunity.
Summer Day Camp
A full 10 week program of summer day camp happens each summer at the Barnard Community Center. Close to 20 kids ages 5-10 attended each week. Daily walking trips for swimming and beach activities took place at Howell City Park and Beach and weekly field trips are incorporated.
Partnerships - Melon Festival
The Howell Area Parks & Recreation Authority took an active role in the newly formed committee that took over the Howell Melon Festival after the Jaycees turned it over to the Howell DDA in March 2009. This event was a highlight of the summer as we incorporated changes to the 32nd Howell Melon Run and brought the start/finish line right downtown creating a vibrant opening to the festival. The Authority was also inspirational in adding new events to the line up including: The Melon Candy Hut, the 1st annual Doc May Commemorative Bike Ride (15 miles), a sand melonball (volleyball) tournament, trebuchet competition and watermelon skiing!
Partnerships - Legend of Sleepy Howell
Another great event that the Authority partnered with the DDA on was the Legend of Sleepy Howell. For the past couple of years, the Authority has added programs to this event including the famous Witch’s Caldron on Grand River Ave. where everyone can come and roast a marshmallow and have a smore. We served 3000 individuals in October 2009. We also got many of the kids involved in playing “Broom Ball” – which is similar to street hockey only played with brooms. To capture the real story of the Legend of Sleepy Howell, new this year we added to the festivities by incorporating a nighttime run, called the Headless Horseman 5K. Over 330 runners came out to participate in its first year. The race route began at the Howell Depot, and leading the runners out of the gate was a horse and rider dressed as the Headless Horseman. The route took the runners north to the Crosstown Trail in the neighborhoods between Byron and Michigan Ave.