After discussions at a few meetings and some minor changes, the DeForest Village Board approved the rules and regulations for the village’s new 25-acre athletic complex last week.
Trustees began examining the proposed rules for the complex in January, with discussions mostly centered around carry-ins, smoking, alcohol, recreational vehicle (RV) parking and food vendors. After hearing board members’ feedback last month, Director of Public Services Kelli Bialkowski and other village staff reached out to representatives of other similar facilities and tournament directors to gain insight about potential rules.
Some of trustees’ original concerns included RV parking restrictions and the complex’s carry-in policy. With families traveling to the area for sports tournaments hosted at the complex, Trustee Jason Kramar asked if the village had considered auxiliary parking for RVs and campers during the Jan. 21 Committee of the Whole meeting. However, after receiving feedback from officials at similar complexes, village staff opted to keep that rule as originally written, prohibiting RVs, campers, semi-tractors and trailers unless drivers receive advanced approval. According to a memo provided to the board by Bialkowski, officials with other complexes and tournament experience don’t see many RVs at their locations.
As for the carry-in policy, Trustee Abigail Lowery expressed concern back in January about not allowing residents to bring in food or beverages during non-tournament events. Currently, the village anticipates the athletic complex will be used by local leagues and programs Mondays through Thursdays, with sports tournaments hosted on the weekends. After initial discussions, a change to make the rule regarding outside food and beverages specific to tournaments was made – during tournaments, items consumed on the complex grounds must be purchased from on-site vendors, mainly the concessions stand. The rule also states alcoholic beverages are not permitted at any youth sporting events.
During the Feb. 4 Committee of the Whole meeting, Bialkowski said during local weekly events, such as the adult softball games, players will be allowed to bring in alcohol, as they have in the past at other venues. She said ultimately the goal was to ban alcohol during youth activities, as she’s heard from other facility representatives that parents’ attitudes mixed with alcohol at tournaments doesn’t always end well.
“To not prohibit alcohol is somewhat to welcome or encourage it,” Bialkowski said. “I don’t think we want to go there.”
The majority of trustees voiced support for only allowing smoking and use of tobacco and inhaled vapor products in the facility’s parking lot during last week’s meeting. There will be receptacles and signs directing individuals to smoke at least 25-30 feet away from the complex’s entrances.
Back in January, Kramar also asked if the village had contemplated allowing food trucks and outside vendors to be on-site. Bialkowski proposed restricting food carts, as she was concerned the offerings would take business away from the concessions stand, which will be a revenue generator for the facility. Additionally, the village intends to have an exclusive agreement with a beverage provider and if a food vendor sells the same beverages at the complex, that would violate the agreement, according to Bialkowski’s memo. Other vendors, such as those selling tournament merchandise, must be preapproved by village staff, and obtain the required permits necessary.
The athletic complex rules and regulations, which were approved unanimously by trustees at the Feb. 4 village board meeting, also include policies about pets, player and spectator behavior, prohibited items and activities, property damage/theft, assumption of risk, cameras, inclement weather and trash/litter. The facility, located near the intersection of Windsor Road and River Road, is slated to open this spring.
Board not in favor of parks committee return
Also during the Feb. 4 Committee of the Whole meeting, trustees discussed a proposal by resident Dawn Clemens to re-create a village parks committee.
According to Village President Judd Blau, while the past parks committee “did some good things,” there wasn’t much for the body to accomplish on a regular basis and in the end, the village board often did the opposite of what was recommended by committee members. He said the village has been receiving more resident feedback through park surveys and other outreach activities than it did through the parks committee.
Trustee Colleen Little said it seemed to her the village has enough expertise on staff to take care of the parks and recreation system. She also echoed Blau’s comments.
“We already know that feedback is non-existent, unless we screw it up,” Little said. “… I’m afraid we’re going to get a committee that’s going to want things and this body is going to vote them down.”
Trustee Jeff Miller said he was trying to figure out “what’s broke” and how a parks committee would fix it. Kramar, who said “sometimes getting feedback from the public is like trying to get water from a rock,” voiced support for possible task forces, focused on one project, instead of reinstating a parks board.
“I don’t know that I would support a full committee again,” Kramar said. “We’ve gone down that road and it had less than thrilling results… Maybe a task force. We have a lot of talent in the community and people that might want to offer their expertise on a certain project.”
Blau said the village is currently putting together a pool task force and explained when the village disbanded the previous parks committee its intention was to create task forces to address specific things.
Lowery was the only trustee who voiced support for re-creating a parks committee. She said it could be “an additional mechanism for oversight on our big projects.”