CITY COUNCIL STUDY SESSION
Wednesday, October 6, 2004 at 12:00 p.m.
Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street
CALL TO ORDER:
Mayor DeBoer called the Study Session to order at 12:05 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilor Laws, Amarotico, Hartzell, Morrison and Hearn were present. Councilor Jackson was absent.
City Administrator Gino Grimaldi, Assistant City Attorney Mike Reeder, Public Works Director Paula Brown and Finance Director Lee Tuneberg were also present.
1. Mt. Ashland Record of Decision (ROD) and Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) Discussion.
Purpose of the Study Session:
Public Works Director Paula Brown explained the purpose of the Study Session was to inform the Council of the Forest Service decision on the Mt. Ashland Ski Area Expansion and to conduct a discussion on this issue. Ms. Brown noted that Fire Chief Keith Woodley, Finance Director Lee Tuneberg, Assistant City Attorney Mike Reeder, Representatives from Mt. Ashland Association and four members of the Forest Service were all present to answer Council's questions.
Review of Staff Report:
Ms. Brown stated that after review of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), the City asked the Forest Service to consider the addition of 6 key points. The following is an explanation of the Forest Service's reply to those 6 requests.
QA/QC Team -
The Forest Service determined that it was their responsibility to retain control of quality control and quality assurance and stated they could not transfer this responsibility to a 3rd party. The Forest Service has stated that they have the full capabilities to monitor quality issues regarding the expansion. There will not be a specific QA/QC Team, however both the City and Mt. Ashland Association (MAA) are encouraged to provide input to the Forest Service. It was noted that the Forest Service would require a Quality Assurance Plan and Annual Operating Plans from MAA.
Monitor Creek Impacts / 2060 Road -
Although the Forest Service did not specifically require that MAA produce a monitoring plan for this area, MAA has agreed to monitor this site along with the other identified areas. It was noted that monitoring has already begun at specific areas and will continue to occur at various times throughout the year.
Reclamation Costs -
The Forest Service stated that a new bond would be developed prior to the implementation for the alternative selected. It was noted that the City's Finance Director has reviewed this aspect. Ms. Brown recommended that the City look at the proposed improvements and make sure that the City has agreements in place to ensure that the City financially security.
Fire Risks / Building Materials -
Ms. Brown stated that the Forest Service and MAA are required to follow all of the building code rules. Ms. Brown noted that the City would be able to comment on the design and offer building material suggestions.
Phased Construction / Middle Fork -
The Forest Service decided not to mandate phased construction as suggested by the City, but they have required specific construction requirements that would mitigate some of the negative impacts. Ms. Brown noted that the Forest Service has left the phasing for MAA to define through their design and construction scoping process. It was also noted that the Forest Service has required that MAA prepare and submit a phased development plan to the Forest Service for approval. Ms. Brown stated that Staff intends to be apart of this process and will continue to make suggestions
Community Based Alternative -
The Forest Service stated that they analyzed every element of the Community Alternative, but chose not to create a 7th alternative. The Forest Service determined that many of the elements in the Community Alternative were similar to Alternative 3 and because of that a separate alternative was not created for additional review. Ms. Brown noted that the Forest Service did not select Alternative 3, but chose Alternative 2 with some modifications. Ms. Brown stated that the Forest Service did include some of the recommendations from the Community Alternative, including the addition of the skyway and helispot at the base of LC-6 and the inclusion of a gladed run. Ms. Brown noted that the Watershed restoration improvement would be completed before or concurrent with the first year of construction.
Ms. Brown briefly highlighted the significant issues identified by the Forest Service (Pages 8-9 of the Study Session Packet). She explained that the Forest Service used the Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP) model to evaluate site-specific conditions, and noted this model had a 50% accuracy rate. The model showed that the worst-case scenario would be a sediment delivery increase of 5.3 cubic yards during the first year. Given the results of the model, there would be no impact to water quality, even if the worst-case scenario was doubled. Ms. Brown also mentioned the effects of hydrologic function, and stated the impact shows a potential of 1.4% in the east fork of Ashland Creek, which is less than the normal fluctuation we see from year to year. Ms. Brown stated that with mitigation measures and the use of best management practices during construction, there would be no measurable impacts on water quality.
Council Questions of Staff:
Ms. Brown clarified that Staff could develop a schedule for Site Reviews for evaluating construction, but at this point there was only a conceptual design. Once the design is complete, the City could perform weekly Site Reviews and conduct weekly progress meetings and then forward their recommendations to the Forest Service. Ms. Brown stated that both the Forest Service and the City of Ashland could oversee the work done by MAA. It was mentioned that another option was to hire an independent consultant to perform this work.
Ms. Brown clarified that the construction manager for this project would be the Forest Service. It the City had an issue with the construction work being performed, the City would go to the Forest Service and not the construction crew. It is up to the Forest Service to make sure MAA fixes the problems.
Finance Director Lee Tuneberg addressed the Council regarding the reclamation costs. Mr. Tuneberg stated that the City has asked the Forest Service to provide an estimate as to what the reclamation costs might be. Mr. Tuneberg recommended that MAA's assets be reviewed by their auditor and provided to the City each year. It was noted that the City is held harmless on any accident that might occur on the mountain, including during construction.
Ms. Brown clarified that the Council could choose to appeal the Forest Service decision or continue to work with the Forest Service on this project. If the City continued to work with the Forest Service, the nest step would be to evaluate the design. After that would be the construction implementation. It was noted if the City decided to hire an independent consultant, they could do that a little later in the process. Ms. Brown stated there is no indication that the Forest Service and MAA would stop working with the City.
Council questioned who would pay for the cost of hiring a consultant. One option would be to require MAA to pay for it. The other would be for the City to pay for the consultant, which could likely raise Ashland's water rates. Ms. Brown clarified that a consultant would cost approximately $40,000-$50,00 a year, for the next 3-5 years.
Ms. Brown explained that she felt very comfortable working with the Forest Service and MAA.
Linda Duffy with the Forest Service addressed the Council and stated that she believes the two organizations can continue to work together to see this project through completion.
Ms. Duffy explained that if the City were to hire a consultant that provided input to the Forest Service, they would evaluate their input just as they would input from anyone else. They would ask that MAA consider the consultant's suggestions, but they could not require them to take action.
Ms. Duffy stated that the Forest Service would be the Project Manager and would be at the top of the hierarchy. She stated that they understand that the City has a relationship with MAA, but the Forest Service had a legal relationship with the City. If there was a problem, they would address the local operator, but if action was not taken they would rely on the City to make sure the problem was taken care of.
Council questioned whether to appeal the Forest Service decision or continue to work along side the Forest Service and MAA. Concern was raised that the Council should be wary of appealing the Forest Service decision and risk losing their cooperation with the Forest Service. Comment was made voicing Council's trust in Staff.
It was clarified that this topic would come back to the October 19th Regular Council Meeting for Council's decision.
ADJOURNED: Meeting adjourned at 2:07 p.m.
April Lucas, Assistant to City Recorder
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