Mayor Sandack called the Workshop meeting of the Village Council of the Village of Downers Grove to order at 6:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Village Hall. The Mayor led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.
Present:Mayor Ron Sandack; Commissioners Martin Tully, Marilyn Schnell, William Waldack, Sean P. Durkin, Geoff Neustadt, Bruce Beckman (6:45 p.m.); Village Manager Cara Pavlicek; Village Attorney Enza Petrarca; Village Clerk April Holden
Visitors: Residents: Diana Jacobs, HRH ; Ted Barlas, HRH ; Mark Thoman, 1109 61st Street; Greg Bedalov, DG EDC , 2001 Butterfield; Andy Clark, Downers Grove Watch, 1226 62nd Street; Nicholas and Joseph Ciraulo, Boy Scouts Troop 516, 2118 Midhurst Road Staff: Wes Morgan, Director, Human Resources, Dennis Burke, Assistant Director, Human Resources; Liangfu Wu, Director, Information Services; Tom Dabareiner, Director, Community Development; Megan Bourke, Management Analyst; Judy Buttny, Director, Finance; Robin Weaver, Interim Director, Public Works; Brandon Deiter, Management Analyst; Robert Porter, Police Chief; Doug Kozlowski, Director, Communications; Phil Ruscetti, Fire Chief; Andy Matejcak, Director, Counseling & Social Services; Mike Baker, Assistant Village Manager
Mayor Sandack explained that Council Workshop meetings are held the second and fourth Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m. The meetings are video taped live and for later cable cast over cable channel 6.
The Workshop meeting is intended to provide Council and the public with an appropriate forum for informal discussion of any items intended for future Council consideration or just for general information. No formal action is taken at Workshop meetings.
The public is invited to attend and encouraged to comment or ask questions in an informal manner on any of the items being discussed or on any other subject. The agenda is created to provide a guideline for discussion.
1. Active Agenda and Informational Items
Annexation of 2525 Ogden Avenue . The Manager said an ordinance has been prepared for approval of a voluntary annexation.
Annual Heritage Festival Parking Garage Assistants RFP . The Manager said a motion is requested to authorize the Village to approve the scope of established parameters and conditions identified within the RFP for the selection of a not-for-profit organization to act as Parking Garage Assistants as part of the 2008 Heritage Festival. She noted that a number of changes are proposed and require Council consent. Changes include increasing the parking to $5.00 for a daily fee. In addition the not-for-profit split of revenues will become 60/40. The Village uses the revenues to offset operating costs.
Commissioner Neustadt asked whether it is fair to charge our regular parkers the extra $2.00 on Friday of Heritage Festival. He is uncomfortable with this. With regard to raising the price, he would like more information as to the number of cars that use the deck.
Commissioner Waldack said that the deck was new during his first year on the Council and people asked why they were charged during Heritage Festival when the citizens paid for the deck. The response was that the $3.00 was going to the not-for-profit organization working in the deck to keep the traffic flowing properly. He would like to see it kept at $3.00 with the proceeds going to the non-profit organization providing the service.
Commissioner Schnell asked if they are being requested to waive the one-week waiting period, and the Manager responded that staff believes there are timing issues with regards to this. Commissioner Schnell said she has a problem waiving this, as it is not an emergency. She concurred with Commissioners Neustadt and Waldack, saying it would be bad public relations to charge the commuters $5.00 for that Friday. In the past, all monies collected have gone to non-profit organizations, and this would also be a change. She understands why the Village would be considering this but she feels it will be difficult to explain satisfactorily. In addition, Commissioner Schnell said, with regard to the process, she would like to see the students be tighter in the way they approach vehicles and how they handle themselves. They are representing the Village and need to act in a professional manner. She also believes they need the Police presence there, especially at Washington Street at 5:00 p.m. Commissioner Schnell stated that her preference is to continue with the $3.00 rate to be given to the non-profit group. She believes increasing the rate to $5.00 will require a good explanation to the public. She asked whether buses will be available again, and Commissioner Tully nodded that they would be present. Commissioner Schnell said that they need to get the word out about the availability of the buses.
Commissioner Durkin said he supports the $5.00 if that is what the majority wants. He understands staff’s reasoning for cost sharing, but he does not want to increase the rate for daily commuters on Friday.
Commissioner Tully explained that when the deck was opened, there were two decisions to be made in regard to its use for the Festival—whether to staff the deck to accommodate ingress and egress all day long for constant traffic, or not to use the deck. People were unhappy about being charged to use the deck, so the decision was to use the fee to cover the costs of having police officers present. However, eventually the compromise was to use the deck, charge for parking and let the money go to the non-profit organization assisting visitors parking in the deck. Commissioner Tully said he supports staff’s recommendation to have uniformed police officers present at the deck to ensure public safety. He said that he does not know how to handle the commuter issue, but he does not think it is unusual to charge to cover costs of public safety. He commented that people are pleased to be able to park so close to Heritage Festival in a covered environment. He questioned what instrumental role there is for the not-for-profit volunteers if the Village is going to staff the deck with police officers for public safety. He thinks the focus should be on public safety. A related aspect to this is the question of why the Village charges for use of the buses. He noted that is done because it is not a normal utilization of the equipment. Heritage Festival is supposed to break even.
Mayor Sandack said he thought this item merits additional consideration. He said the sentiment and purpose behind the restructuring makes sense. The idea of this was as a fundraiser for not-for-profit organizations; however, it has to be determined whether there is value to having the volunteers present. He also felt the one-week waiting period should not be waived.
Commissioner Durkin asked how difficult it would be to reprogram the deck boxes, and the Manager said staff would look further at this.
Commissioner Waldack said he thought in the first year there was some type of split of funds.
3. Consent Agenda Items
Grant Application: FY 2008 Bulletproof Vest Partnership Program. The Manager said this grant is in the amount of $25,000 from the Bureau of Justice Assistance to obtain ten bullet-proof vests. The Village purchases additional vests annually.
Annual Heritage Festival Tent Rental Vendor Agreement. The Manager said staff’s recommendation is to award the contract to Classic Party Rentals in the amount of $33,920.
Comprehensive Branding and Marketing Initiative. The Manager said this would authorize a professional services agreement with North Star in Nashville, Tennessee for consultant services for an integrated branding and marketing initiative in an amount not to exceed $95,400. She asked Doug Kozlowski, Director, Communications, to discuss this further.
Doug Kozlowski , Communications Director, said that this initiative is to achieve a focused snapshot of the values, aspects and priorities of the community to develop a competitive identity or a brand for the Village. Mr. Kozlowski said that North Star will select a variety of research data for clarification of key messages about the community based on the past and present strength of the community. That data can be used to develop a compelling platform by all stakeholders in the Village, and it would become the Village’s brand identity which would provide a consistency of messaging which does not exist now. Staff hopes to take the divergent views and develop them into a composite message.
Andy Clark , 1226 62nd Street, said, with all due respect to Mr. Kozlowski, he believes the Council is forgetting about its fiduciary responsibilities to the taxpayers. The Village has recognized its talents for years and has marketed itself as the tree town, noting the Village’s logo. He doesn’t see that an expenditure of $95,000 will do the Village any good.
Commissioner Neustadt asked whether other communities had any positive feedback regarding North Star.
Mr. Kozlowski responded that staff contacted ten communities and heard back from six of them. They were all very positive. They said that North Star delivered timely, accurate and useful information to coalesce a consistent message about the community. Commissioner Neustadt asked whether this would include other municipal organizations in the Village. Mr. Kozlowski said that stakeholders will participate in this as it is being developed.
Commissioner Schnell said she is having a difficult time grasping what the Village will get out of this. She asked how communities use this, and what they felt they got out of this in terms of advantages and disadvantages. She said there are such differences between the groups in the community it would be difficult to get all groups to use the same public relations logo. She asked for more clarification as to how it would be used and how it would benefit the residents. It is a lot of money and she wanted to have a one-page explanation of what the Village will get from this.
Commissioner Waldack said he appreciated the staff looking into this, and like Commissioner Schnell, he does not understand the branding process or what the Village will get for $95,000. He noted that 80 projects were listed in North Star’s literature, and he did not recognize 49 of them. He felt that the consultant’s material was boiler plate. The Commissioner said he doesn’t know the brands of neighboring communities.
Mr. Kozlowski responded that there has not been much branding activity in the State of Illinois.
Commissioner Waldack said he does not see a benefit to this, and it is a lot of money.
Commissioner Durkin commented that this item came up during the budget talks. He is still foggy about the branding, and asked whether there is a current problem with Village identity. If benefits outweigh the costs, he would support this.
Commissioner Tully stated he has advocated for this because he does not think the Village has a brand. There is a principle of physics, entropy, which states that if you don’t move forward you disintegrate and fall apart. To the extent the Village has a brand, it is tired. There may have been a cohesive vision or identification in the past, but he does not see it there now. He didn’t see this as a TCD III matter. Any organization that is competing for talent, dollars, etc., needs a brand, and he doesn’t see that enough education has been provided on the issue of “branding.” Commissioner Tully supports the need to examine what they are getting for the money. This has been budgeted and is part of the Strategic Plan, but because it is in the budget does not mean it should be spent. He pointed out that this is the 21st century and many communities are doing what they can to set themselves apart from others. Branding is one element of economic development done at a professional level. He said the Village has to be sure it is getting the right services and deliverables, and he pointed out that North Star’s website has some answers to questions asked by the Council members tonight. He agrees that they need to look at this seriously and take the time needed to educate themselves.
The Mayor said he understands the trepidation by some and the enthusiasm by others. The fact is that the Council members budgeted for this unanimously. He agrees that they need to know what they are getting and that there will be a return on the investment. He saw Mr. Clark’s comment as an appropriate question. The Mayor said the old methods may not fit this time. The Village is in competition and needs to be bold. He felt that the Council has to review the materials, and have a clear presentation to be sure Council members and residents understand this as well. The Village wants to present a consistent message and needs the community to buy into this proposed project. He reiterated that all of the Council members agreed with this idea in the budget process. It is not necessary to make a decision on this next week.
Commissioner Beckman apologized for arriving late. He said that his background has been in media and public relations and he is comfortable with this environment. He agrees with what he has heard. He is totally in favor of the concept of having a uniform branded approach, but wants everyone to understand that whatever they do truly reflects who the Village is.
Commissioner Schnell asked that staff provide information to the Council as to how the “Come Home” process was different from this. She also said she is not sure this is part of TCD III , but it could become so.
Manager Pavlicek said staff will obtain additional information for further discussion.
Renewal of Insurance Broker and Re-insurance of Property, Casualty and Excess Liability Coverage. The Manager said this covers a variety of insurance coverages and would cost a total of $316,485. The Village currently pays $313,936.
Commissioner Schnell asked about an excess liability policy for the bus system. The Manager said that the buses are packaged in the auto liability and the umbrella areas.
Wes Morgan , Director of Human Resources, said that the umbrella package includes the buses and would cover a catastrophic event.
Commissioner Tully asked how this compares to last year and the Manager said it is the same.
The Mayor commented that this is an important part of what the Council does, and he thanked staff for their efforts in obtaining the type of coverage needed at competitive prices.
MANAGER ’S AND DIRECTORS ’ REPORTS
There were no reports.
ATTORNEY ’S REPORT
Village Attorney Enza Petrarca said she was presenting three items to the Council: 1) An ordinance annexing 2525 Ogden Avenue to the Village of Downers Grove, Illinois; 2) A resolution authorizing submittal of grant application to the Bureau of Justice Assistance for the bulletproof vest partnership program; and 3) A resolution authorizing an addendum to the contract between the Village of Downers Grove and Classic Party Rentals (f/k/a Chicago Party Rental).
Commissioner Neustadt said that the Chamber of Commerce and the EDC will sponsor an Open House on April 17 at 2001 Butterfield Road. All residents are invited to attend.
Commissioner Tully wished the Council and the staff good luck in their lobbying efforts in Springfield and expressed his appreciation to them for taking the time to do this.
Mayor Sandack said that many Council members are going to Springfield to meet with the Village’s representatives as well as representatives that do not represent the Village in an effort to engage them in an awareness campaign regarding the Belmont Underpass project.
There being no further discussion, the Workshop meeting was adjourned at 7:00 p.m.
April K. Holden Village Clerk tmh