Meeting Minutes 09/15/2004

Friends of Dicken Woods General Assembly

Minutes for the Wednesday, September 16, 2004 meeting at Dicken Elementary School

Attending were Helen and Mason Barr, Mike Champion, Jack Eaton, Kay Holsinger, Doug Wood, Stephanie Hunter, Tom Ivacko, Naela Jenkins, Debbie Johnson, Deb Norbotten, Diane Imredy, Theresa Liete, Sophia Jan, Erik Stalhandske, Mary Lou Unterberger, Max Ziegler and Jason Frenzel (City of Ann Arbor NAP Division).

Erik Stalhandske chaired the meeting and opened proceedings at 7:00. The meeting was moved to Erik's house to escape the heat.

Jason Frenzel, City NAP Division. Jason Frenzel, Outreach Coordinator for the City's Natural Area Preservation Division, joined the meeting and spoke a bit about NAP's role and purpose. The group thanked Jason for all his outstanding work and support over the last few months.

Summer Fundraising. Naela Jenkins reported on the late June garage sale, which raised $1,625. There were less items this year, but they were higher quality goods in general. Erik reported on the late August benefit concert. After expenses for hall rental, the concert netted $1,977. The musicians were wonderful and those in attendance had a great time. Erik expressed the group's appreciation for the business sponsors. Their support was critical to the financial success of the concert fundraiser.

Budget Status. Erik reported that after all expenses have been accounted for, FoDW now has $50,198.90 in the bank! (Editor's note: after the meeting we found that the concert did even better than expected, and we now have approximately $50,591 in the bank.) That will cover the $50,000 contribution to the city, and leave some funds as the basis for the first annual Dicken School Grants program (more below).

Fall Ceremony. Discussion turned to planning for a ceremony in October where we would dedicate the new trails, present our $50,000 donation to the city, and possibly present awards to Dicken teachers through our grant-making program. The target date was set as Sunday, October 17th at 2pm. Tom is tasked to check the date with Dicken School; Erik is tasked to check with Ron Olson; Stephanie Hunter and Naela are tasked with coordinating refreshments. The possibility of a sign or plaque was raised. Jason noted that large boulders with plaques on them are being used at other parks, but that they are very expensive. Erik is tasked with contacting nurseries to see if we could get a boulder donated.

Development of the Trails. An enormous amount of work was done over the summer to develop the trails in DW. More cutting and clearing the trails, placing log bridges in low spots, placing temporary signs and placing woodchips. Erik expressed the group's appreciation, recognizing Doug Wood for his leadership of the trails committee, and Mike Champion and Steph Hunter for their great work on the trails.

Fall Work Day. Doug Wood reported on options for a fall work day, after the meeting on 9/14 between Doug, Erik, Stephanie and Bev Walters of the NAP Division Staff. Doug recommended that we treat work days at this point as smaller affairs than the spring 2004 work day; we do not need huge turnouts for the immediate work on the agenda. Doug reported that Bev identified 4 major options for FoDW to focus on in the near term for park improvements: (1) improving the small grove of hickory trees in the northeast section of Dicken Woods. We would cut and clear some smaller trees in the area to allow better growth for the hickory trees; (2) consider options for the grove of walnut trees by the old farm house on the western end of DW. If we do nothing, the walnut trees are likely to prevent other growth. We should decide if we want that outcome, or some other alternative. We might also consider planting new flowers in this area; (3) plant new trees if we are able to. Bev encouraged FoDW to seek out free and/or inexpensive sources of small trees and to plant what we can get. Ideally the trees should be native to S.E. Michigan, to better fit with the existing ecosystem and for better chances of survival; (4) move the existing trails in a couple of spots where they cross the stream bed too close to large trees. In these instances we might need to move the trails about 10 feet away from their current locations.

Diane Imredy, from Walden Village, will speak further with Doug and Erik regarding the hickory tree grove, since that location is very close to the property boundary between DW and the Walden Village area.

Improvements at Dicken Drive and Carol Street. Jason reported on the options for replacing the ugly rusted guard rails at the road ends. Options include large trash-can like blockers; split-rail wood fencing; split-rail fencing of man-made materials; boulders; or new guard rails. The group asked Jason to check on costs and other issues related to the split-rail options and boulders.

Eagle Scout Project to Build Bridge at Dicken-Carol Pathway. Doug and Erik reported on the possibility that an Eagle Scount might have a project to build a bridge/boardwalk over the low land area on the pathway between Dicken Drive and Carol Street. We need to wait for further contact from this Scout. And we should be prepared to offer assistance.

Grant-making Program to Dicken Teachers. Tom reported on plans for the grant-making program. We expect to have between $750 - $1,300 available for grants this year. The goal of the program is to enhance the environmental education curriculum by integrating DW into the classroom experience, hopefully getting the students into the woods, and the woods into the classroom. FoDW would designate a Grants Committee (Erik, Naela, Tom, Stephanie and Max Ziegler). The Grants Committee (GC) would issue a request for proposals (RFP) with a proposal coversheet and instructions, describing the goals of the program and offering ideas as examples for possible projects. The teachers would make proposals; Mary Anne Jaeger, Dicken Principal, would review them and provide comments to the FoDW GC, and the GC would make final award decisions. FoDW might also provide other support for the projects, such as event photography, assistance with arranging speakers and other outside visitors, etc. Upon completion of the projects, the teachers would submit a 1 page report, along with any other project materials like photos or copies of poems, artwork, etc. Mary Anne Jaeger has reviewed the plans for this program and offers her enthusiastic support.

Discussion of this program ensued. Mike Champion offered a motion, with a friendly amendment by Jack Eaton, to: approve the grant-making program as described; approve the GC; and empower the GC to make further program design, grant award, and spending decisions. Doug Wood seconded the motion. The motion passed with unanimous approval.

The GC is tasked with getting the grant program underway immediately.

Next meeting of FoDW will be on Wednesday October 20.

The meeting ended at 8:42pm.

Minutes by Tom Ivacko