Agendas and Minutes

Parks & Recreation Commission (View All)

Study Session

Minutes
Monday, May 15, 2006

City of Ashland

PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION

 

STUDY SESSION
MINUTES

 

May 15, 2006

 

 

ATTENDANCE

Present:    Commissioners D. Amarotico, Eggers, Gardiner, Rosenthal; City Council Liaison A. Amarotico; Director Robertson; Superintendent Gies; Superintendent Teige

Absent:     Commissioner Lewis

CALL TO ORDER

Rosenthal called the study session to order at 7:00 p.m. at the Parks Office, 340 S. Pioneer Street.

BRISCOE / LINCOLN SCHOOL PROPERTY DISCUSSION

Rosenthal asked Eggers to provide an update on the May 2 joint subcommittee meeting between Schools, City Council, and Parks. Eggers reported that discussion centered around retaining Briscoe and Lincoln School grounds as neighborhood parks, with all entities in agreement in principle. Robertson read a proposal from the School Board outlining a scenario in which a portion of the grounds and playground areas of Briscoe—and a portion of the Lincoln School grounds—would be split off and signed over to Parks as dedicated park land with the city gaining ownership in exchange for Parks’ maintenance of all school grounds throughout Ashland in perpetuity. In the event the two schools were to open again, Schools would use the playgrounds for school-related purposes. Eggers reported that the manner in which the three entities envisioned arriving at the same conceptual destination was very different. A. Amarotico, an attendee of the joint meeting, stated that a number of city councilors held the opinion that Parks and the School Board were charged with the issue and needed to find a suitable solution among themselves. Gardiner stated that the two entities might consider a short-tem solution of sharing the burden of maintenance for the two properties for an additional year. Rosenthal and Robertson clarified that the new fiscal year budget allowed for up to $28,000 for maintenance of those two areas and Rosenthal expressed a desire for the maintenance to occur, with an annual review of the arrangement. Eggers expressed the opinion that important elements to consider included:

1.       Keeping Briscoe and Lincoln playgrounds as neighborhood parks in perpetuity;

2.       Ensuring that any decision regarding the two properties would meet the mission / guidelines established by the commission for their work within the community;

3.       Ensuring that the decision would be made in the spirit of the history of Parks’ cooperation, collaboration, and sharing of resources with Parks, Schools, and City for the benefit of all Ashland citizens;

4.       Engendering and building on the trust of the community, ensuring that the solution was fair and transparent to the taxpayers and to all three entities.

Eggers suggested considering the use of Youth Activities Levy funds (not already designated for recreational activities) to cover costs, if they met YAL legal conditions. In trade, Parks could provide an equivalent level of maintenance for the two properties’ non-recreational areas. She expressed the desire to see the increased level of YAL money—which potentially serves a smaller number of students than when it was passed by voters—used for this purpose. Robertson questioned whether Parks would then begin charging Schools for their use of facilities such as tennis courts and ballfields (currently used by Schools at no charge), with Parks utilizing that revenue stream for maintenance of the non-recreational areas at Briscoe and Lincoln.

Gardiner summarized the discussion, stating that Parks would potentially agree to:

§         Maintain all of Briscoe and Lincoln’s recreational areas;

§         Maintain the areas as neighborhood parks for one year;

§         Provide funding for those services;

§         Educate the public about their work during the year;

§         Review the situation at the end of that period.

Rosenthal concurred, stating that the additional year would allow the entities to arrive at a responsible, mutually agreeable, long-term decision. The commission agreed to ask Schools to pay for the water at the two locations.

Robertson summarized Parks’ proposal to Schools as follows: To show its commitment to the community, Parks would maintain all of the grounds around Briscoe and only the recreational areas at Lincoln for one year, with Schools paying for the water. In the event Schools wanted Parks to maintain all of Lincoln, the cost would be $8,000.

The commission agreed to present their proposal at the joint study session on Thursday, May 25.

Public Input

Bryan Holley, 324 Liberty Street, spoke favorably of the temporary solution proposed by Parks, stating that the maintenance provided by Jackson County was inferior to the Parks Department’s.

Melissa Mitchell-Hooge, 271 High Street, thanked the commission for their willingness to help with the maintenance at the two schools and expressed the opinion that the Jackson County maintenance crew cut corners to the detriment of the school grounds and the community.

VOGEL PROPERTY DRAFT PLAN

Robertson reminded the commission that they directed him to contact David Lewis, landscape architect, about providing a rough “pencil sketch” of the Vogel property park plan. He reported that Lewis submitted the draft sketch and Robertson presented his “visual paraphrase” to the commission, pointing out specific features they requested, including an increase in the size of the garden space, a separation between the basketball court and the playground area, and others.

Discussion Among Commissioners

Commissioners discussed a number of details related to the sketch. Robertson expressed the desire to avoid further heavy revisions to the plan, reminding the commission that it was a master plan and that master plans change when the construction process begins. In response to concerns from gardeners in attendance, commissioners agreed to notify them should the park development adversely affect their 2007 planting season.

Commissioners directed Robertson to request minor changes to the drawing, including adjusting the parking so it adhered to city standards and extending the fencing to incorporate the parking area, thereby ensuring that all planting areas were fenced. Robertson also agreed to ask Lewis to provide the commission with a final drawing.

EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK REVIEW

Robertson reported that staff recently worked on updating the employee handbook, as the department had been operating under a handbook dated from the mid-1980s. He stated that staff attempted, with the newer version, to incorporate current employment law and practices into the 1980s version, as well as city policies and procedures where appropriate. He indicated that the draft document was distributed to a number of individuals for review and feedback, including the City Attorney, the Human Resources Director, and Parks staff, many of whom provided suggestions, and that all suggestions and feedback were incorporated into the document wherever possible. He walked the commission through the document and asked them to consider including a section regarding implementing a drug policy and possibly conducting random drug testing for all Parks employees.

Discussion Among Commissioners

Commissioners expressed appreciation for the newer version of the handbook and offered varying opinions about potential random drug testing of employees. Some felt that, while safety was important, random drug testing would be an invasion of privacy or simply not necessary while others felt that it could help provide a safer environment for both employees and the community.

Robertson agreed to consider offering additional educational opportunities for employees regarding the hazards of drug use in the workplace should the commission decide against a drug testing policy.

BUDGET / CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT WRAP-UP

Rosenthal reported that he presented the 2006-2007 Parks budget to the Budget Committee on May 11 and that it was approved. He said that the principle point of discussion involved SDCs, since the Budget Committee was concerned about the substantially lower ending fund balances in contrast to other years, which prompted their suggestion that Parks might consider requesting an increase in SDCs related to building permits. Robertson indicated that staff started the process of reviewing this potential funding source but learned that, while they might be able to collect the money, it would be difficult to spend it due to a city ordinance. He suggested consideration of the development of a new ordinance that would aid Parks in utilizing those funds.

ITEMS FROM COMMISSIONERS

D. Amarotico reported that the Signs, Plaques, and Memorials Subcommittee met with Tom Foster regarding the proposed Jean Marie Chinn memorial picnic shelter / plaque at the Dog Park-Greenway intersection and that the subcommittee members might have been insensitive to the situation, since the offer of a picnic shelter was retracted once the family learned that their proposed plaque’s wording was not fully acceptable to the subcommittee. Robertson agreed to write a letter of apology to Mark Chinn and suggested that the subcommittee revise their policy to reflect any specific wording requirements.

EXECUTIVE SESSION—Employee Negotiations ORS 192.660(1)(D)

ADJOURNMENT – By consensus, with no further business, Rosenthal adjourned the meeting at 9:15 PM.

Respectfully submitted, Susan Dyssegard, Ashland Parks and Recreation

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