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April 22, 2018

4/13/2018 7:27:00 AM
Brandy Park Commission sets initial priorities for five year work plan
Changes to joint agreement also discussed
Evan J. pretzer/lakeland times

Brandy Park Commission member Ray Christenson, left, discusses 2018 maintenance and development projects while commission member Todd Morgan listens.
Evan J. pretzer/lakeland times

Brandy Park Commission member Ray Christenson, left, discusses 2018 maintenance and development projects while commission member Todd Morgan listens.
What’s on the maintenance list?
Aside from the ball diamonds, bath house, skate park and picnic tables, other items on the priority list for Brandy Park include the beach area, disc golf course, pavilion, basketball court, volleyball area, parking lot bumpers, tennis courts, warming house and dog park.

Evan J. Pretzer
Lakeland Times reporter

On Monday, the Brandy Park Commission set the first priorities for its initial 5-year maintenance plan and examined adjustments to the grounds oversight deal between Woodruff and Arbor Vitae.

Since the 1960s, the two towns have owned Brandy Park, jointly overseeing development and maintenance.

At the March commission meeting, members worked on prioritizing future projects and at the commission's April meeting Monday, commission secretary Ray Christenson presented a list of items based off what was discussed in March.

Included on the 13-item list are the ball diamonds, which the commission has already approved bids to improve in 2018.

Others this year are repairs to the bath house, improvements at the skate park and picnic tables.

"I drew this up out of what we agreed upon," Christenson said. "The bath house, ball diamonds, skate park and maybe granted, you could even do the picnic tables. This is 2018. Those are things we're working on. I thought we could focus on the next three items or four in the following years depending on their severity but I'd like to know what everyone else thinks."

Commission member Ed Richardson indicated his support for the initially selected 2018 items but wanted to know more about the cost.

"We should also have estimated costs on all these projects," Richardson said. "How many tables will be replaced? Do we have any idea? We need to get figures on all these listed projects for the town boards before we decide what we want to do. It is going to take a while to get figures."

Commission chairman Todd Hunter and Arbor Vitae town chairman Frank Bauers addressed Richardson's concerns.

Hunter - who along with Richardson and others on the commission does some maintenance work at the park - noted he had pulled three tables from the beach area, one from the pavilion, and found two older tables which had been there for 20 years, while Bauers gave quotes on replacing six tables.

"Maybe for replacing all of these, I would say it would cost $1,500 per table for all of the wood," he said. Then you'd have to buy the stuff to stain the wood so this would raise the cost a bit."

From there, the commission went back-and-forth on where good material for new tables could be found before Woodruff town chairman Mike Timmons moved discussion on the five year plan to its conclusion by urging the group to focus on the present before moving beyond that.

"We've got 2018 locked in," Timmons said. "What we should probably do is wait till our next meeting and figure out what we want at the different parts of the park. It sounds like the next part of the discussion is to have the financial wish list, if you will, what we want done. This year's projects are ambitious as it is. Once we look at things we can lock in the others quicker."

Ultimately, other than the previously mentioned approval to improve the ball diamonds in 2018 as well as repairs to the bath house, improvements to the skate park and picnic table replacement also highlighted for this year, no action was taken by the commission on the list of projects

As for the rest, commission treasurer Phil Thieler said "this is a working document and gives us targets."

"I don't think this will look the same in three years," he said. "But for now, we've got a plan anyway."

Joint agreement

Later in the meeting, the commission turned its attention to the agreement between the two towns regarding Brandy Park, an agreement that was originally drawn up in 1963 and ratified at least twice since then, the most recent taking place in 2010.

That agreement has also been a point of contention in recent months, primarily from Richardson, who's contended it hasn't been followed.

The commission heard from Bauers on a recent meeting he, Hunter and Richardson had with Minocqua attorney John Houlihan concerning potential changes to the agreement.

"We went over the current agreement," he said. "In membership, what he recommends is the board goes through a periodic reappointing of Brandy Park Commission members to seven year terms, so we can stagger their terms and we all agreed on this. Arbor Vitae would give up one seat so Woodruff could have four and we'd alternate seven years."

Other changes also being considered include commission members be replaced with approval of town boards and adjustments to compensation. Currently, commission members receive payment from the town of Arbor Vitae.

Richardson, as he has in recent meetings where the agreement is concerned, spoke up, saying this might be illegal.

"Right now, we're paid by the town of Arbor Vitae," he said. "The check is coming from Arbor Vitae, we're employees of the town of Arbor Vitae. I talked to John after you guys left. He didn't understand the procedure and he says it is not legal to do it the way we're doing it right now. He said he'd research it and we'll be able to ask him later to make sure."

When asked to explain how the commission may be in violation of the law, Richardson declined to answer specifically.

"I'll let John explain and clarify it in the future," he said.

Reached on Wednesday, Houlihan clarified his remarks, saying in his view, Richardson misinterpreted him.

"I don't think I told them they were not doing it in a legal way," he said. "This is not correct. I just thought it may not be the right way to do it. He might have thought I was questioning the legality. What the commission is doing is paying its members by out of commission funds, but they go to the Arbor Vitae treasurer who takes this money and pays all of the commissioners including the ones representing Woodruff. This is the way they've done it for all these years. I am reviewing it, maybe there should be another way to do it. We may change the way compensation is paid."

Evan J. Pretzer may be reached via email at evan@lakelandtimes.com.

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