Agendas and Minutes

Parks & Recreation Commission (View All)

Regular Meeting

Minutes
Monday, September 25, 2006

City of Ashland

PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION

 

REGULAR MEETING

MINUTES

 

September 25, 2006

 

ATTENDANCE

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

Absent:    None

CALL TO ORDER

Rosenthal called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM at Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

Study Session – August 21, 2006  In the section entitled Ashland Greenhouse Development and Proposed Land Swap, Eggers asked that the spelling for “Zeroscape” be corrected as “Xeriscape,” stating that the root word “Xeric” pertains to dry landscaping. In the last bullet of that section, she questioned whether Dog Park access during construction would include Greenway access and was told it would.

In the section entitled Fire Department Findings for Station Expansion, under “Discussion Among Commissioners,” Eggers clarified that the commission agreed it was their responsibility to notify neighbors about the potential loss of the park, not the proposed bond.

MOTION Gardiner moved to approve the minutes as amended. Lewis seconded the motion.

The vote was: 5 yes – 0 no

Regular Meeting—August 28, 2006 In the “Open Forum” section regarding the request for the use of the bandshell, Eggers clarified that the commission chose not to allow the event to take place at that location based on the fact that it was a scheduling conflict and due to the commission’s policy regarding amplified sound time limits, not on “the political nature of the event.” Rosenthal added that the commission chose not to add the item under “New Business” based on the above rationale, with no commissioners making a judgment on the merits of the event.

In the “Subcommittee and Staff Reports” section regarding the Senior Center Report, Eggers asked that the fifth bullet be clarified to reflect that the senior center board is made up of “citizens,” not necessarily “senior citizens.”

MOTION D. Amarotico moved to approve the minutes as amended. Lewis seconded the motion.

The vote was: 5 yes – 0 no

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION

Open Forum

None

ADDITIONS OR DELETIONS TO THE AGENDA

None

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

SHERWOOD PARK FIRE STATION PROPOSAL

Robertson reminded the commission about the proposed remodel of Fire Station #2, stating that if the November bond measure passes and the project is approved, the fire station remodel would impact the space currently utilized by Sherwood Park. He informed the commission that the City Council / City of Ashland are the title holders for all publicly owned land and it is at their discretion to place such a bond measure on a ballot.

Robertson reminded the commission that, at their September 18 study session, a question was asked regarding how the City would “unpark a park.” He referred the question to City Attorney Mike Franell and Franell quoted the Operations section of the City Charter, Article 19-A, Section 2, which reads:

Before any land or easement that has been acquired for the Open Space Park Program are disposed of and released from the program, there shall be a public hearing. Disposal shall be by ordinance, which shall not contain an emergency clause, thus giving to the people of the City of Ashland the opportunity to petition for a referendum. Land or easements acquired for open space park purposes shall be dedicated by the City Council for such purposes.

Franell recommended erring on the side of caution, since the property is designated as open space in the Comprehensive Plan, and suggested that the Parks Commission follow the procedure set forth in the City Charter.

In response to a commissioner question about how the property was purchased, Robertson reported that Sherwood Park, measuring .93 acres, was purchased in the 1940s for $18,000 using the City’s General Fund. With regard to the commission’s thoughts at the time of purchase (in terms of how they envisioned the property being used), which was another question asked by the current commission, Robertson reported that staff was not able to locate the minutes from the 1940s prior to the meeting. He speculated that the property was probably designated as a neighborhood park at the time of the purchase.

He read two letters received by Ashland citizens:

Eric Setterberg wrote of his concern that the fire station expansion could potentially eliminate two-thirds of Sherwood Park and asserted the importance of neighborhood parks and the Parks Department’s and City’s responsibility to provide parks to citizens.

Rick Landt outlined three points of concern: 1) the Parks Commission is responsible for acting as the custodian of parks and the proposed expansion potentially creates a change and precedent for Ashland parks; 2) custodians of public land must adhere to the City’s Comprehensive Plan goal of providing a park within ¼-mile of every citizen in Ashland; and 3) the Parks Commission has a right and responsibility to publicly state that preservation of Sherwood Park in its current square footage should be retained if it is determined that there is no overlap of service in that area.

Robertson directed the commissioners’ attention to the public notice included within their packets, reporting that staff prepared and posted the notice within and around Sherwood Park to ensure notification to neighbors and other park users regarding the September 25 Parks Commission meeting, and he stated that the notice was also reformatted and sent out as a press release to local media outlets. Robertson provided the commission with a map identifying the local parks within a ¼-mile service radius.

Commissioners asked about the sizes and ages of both Clay Street and Hunter Parks and were told that Clay Street is 3.5 acres and was purchased in the 1970s with an unspecified number of donations while Hunter is 9.72 acres and was purchased in 1978 for $8,050 using the Cemetery Fund.

Fire Chief Keith Woodley along with project architect Bob Thrapp and consulting engineer Jim McNamara provided information about the fire station expansion as it relates to Sherwood Park. He reported that Mr. Thrapp developed a site plan that potentially would require approximately one-half of Sherwood Park and he reported that the affected portion of the park would include the bocce ball court area, which could be reestablished on another section of that site or at another park in the immediate area. He observed that the people who play the game at that location appear to drive to the park, so he surmised that they could drive to another site if needed. He stated that the proposal called for the installation of a fire signal with a pedestrian crossing where Sherwood intersects Ashland Street, giving people access to the other side of the street, the bus stop, the fire station, and Hunter Park.

Bob Thrapp reviewed the site plan, stating that the building will be placed 20 feet from the property line with no fire apparatus traffic in the front of the building. He stated that the original site plan has been reduced by two apparatus, allowing for 30 additional feet of park that were not originally proposed to council. He reported that the training tower is a three-story building with restrooms at the base and that the tower allows the Fire Department to do their training and gives them enough radius to drive a truck around the perimeter. He stated that he contoured the curb to maximize the green space with the vehicles that will be circulating around the site and indicated that there would be a good delineation (landscaping and a wall) between parkland and the building and apparatus. He reported on his efforts to avoid removing the Heritage Oak on the site and said the site plan would reduce the park size by half the square footage, bringing it to 13,500 square feet from its current 27,000 square feet.

Woodley reported that the Fire Department intends to share the land with the park site, stating that it is not their intention to eliminate the park. He indicated that, since the current bathrooms at the park are in poor condition, park patrons would be welcome to use the bathrooms located at the base of the training tower. In terms of the other amenities at the park, he stated that the playground equipment and large oak tree would be retained, with part of the lawn and the bocce ball courts removed or relocated. Woodley apologized for the Parks Commission’s surprise regarding the proposed bond measure and potential loss of the park and announced that the Fire Department plans to host an open house at Fire Station #2 on October 16 to give the community an opportunity to look at designs and ask questions about the project.

Discussion Among Commissioners

Commissioners asked a number of questions related to the site plan, including Gardiner’s question about the feasibility of adding some of Sherwood Avenue to the park land, considering that the street would be closed to thru traffic and it could help offset park land lost to the project, and Lewis’s question about whether a 20-foot street setback might prevent less park land from being compromised. Gardiner asked that the Fire Department and architect consider moving the training tower closer to the building or the street to increase land for the park. Woodley stated that the Fire Department felt a commitment, along with the Parks Commission, to retain green space in the area of the proposed expanded fire station. When asked about the necessity of including the large training tower within the project, Woodley responded that it is an important feature to the firefighters in Ashland, as there is no similar amenity within the City, nor any other location that would be suitable for such a facility.

Eggers reported on details of her recent visits to Sherwood, Clay Street, and Hunter Parks, including the number of people she met or observed and the activities in which they participated. She stated that, while there could be some overlap of service in the vicinity of the three parks, some of the people using Sherwood might not be able to take advantage of the services provided at the other two local parks. She spoke favorably of retaining a significant portion of Sherwood Park for those reasons, acknowledging that park maintenance could be more difficult and expensive on the smaller portion of land.

Gardiner requested documentation of the concerns shared with Woodley, and Robertson paraphrased items to include in a staff memo to City Administrator Martha Bennett:

§         Expand Sherwood Park as much as possible into Sherwood Street.

§         Locate the new station as close to the curb fronting Ashland Street as possible, similar to downtown zoning standards.

§         Relocate the bocce ball courts, preferably within Sherwood Park, space permitting.

§         The commission recognizes that the Sherwood Park service area is partially overlapped by the service areas of Clay Street Park and Hunter; however, the commission believes that, due to neighborhood characteristics, including long block and busy streets, Sherwood Park is in a location that offers a needed recreation resource to the community.

Eggers asked that the commission request the preservation of as many trees as possible, in addition to the Heritage Oak, and Gardiner asked for the replacement of the trees that would be removed for the expansion. Staff was directed to draft the letter as worded above, obtain the commission Chair’s signature, and forward it to the City Administrator for further distribution.

Chief Woodley again announced the Fire Department’s hosting of an open house at Fire Station #2 on Monday, October 16, 2006, from 4-7:00 PM to give the public an opportunity to review preliminary building elevations and designs along with the site plan. He stated that the Parks Department is the Fire Department’s landscaper, with whom the Fire Department has entered into an agreement for the maintenance of land around Fire Station #1, and he asked that the same agreement be made with respect to Fire Station #2. He stated that, should the reduced size of Sherwood Park create an economic hardship for the Parks Department in terms of maintenance costs, he would see whether the Fire Department could help with that situation.

NEW BUSINESS

FRISBEE GOLF COURSE REQUEST

Robertson reported that staff received a request from Mr. Marty Karlin regarding his request for the installation of a disc golf course within Ashland, stating that there are a number of disc golf enthusiasts in the area despite the lack of a formal course.

Marty Karlin spoke of his recent introduction to and enjoyment of the game and reported that, while there is no formal course in the area, there are some informal courses in Ashland and in neighboring towns. He shared some statistics with the commission, stating that it is a game of wide appeal, with 2,100 courses throughout the USA, and he shared some of the discs used in the game, which come in two varieties—drivers and putters. He reported that a course can be made up of between 9-27 holes, the game can be played upon 5-10 acres of land (for a non-tournament course), the courses generally require little maintenance and can be placed on land that might otherwise be underutilized (heavily wooded or sloped areas) and can be built for relatively little cost (approximately $20,000 for an 18-hole course that includes the targets, tees, signage, and some amenities around the course). Karlin stated that the game takes 1-2 hours to play and courses can accommodate up to 72 people. While the game requires some sustained physical activity, it is a low-impact sport that is inexpensive to play, serves as a senior and family recreational activity as well as an educational opportunity for lessons in math, science, and physical education, and provides a year-round opportunity for active play. He asked for the formation of a committee to consider the possibility of identifying the land and a designer, and to create a cost analysis and timeline for the project. He estimated that the committee would then report to the commission to see if the course could fit into the next budget cycle. He proposed that the committee might be composed of a Parks Commissioner, an educator, active disc golfers, a senior citizen, and a representative from the Ashland Family YMCA.

Discussion Among Commissioners

Commissioners asked where he had played the game and he responded that he played at a course in Medford and at courses in Canada and Montana, with most courses located within parks. Eggers remembered that the last group requesting a course stated that it would require a concrete pad on which to launch the discs and Karlin agreed about its usefulness but indicated that the discs could also be launched from a grass tee. The group discussed possible locations for such a course, including Garden Way Park and Glenwood Park, both of which are located near the college. The Strawberry Lane neighborhood park site area was also identified as a possibly suitable location. Gies suggested that the commission consider the Parks-owned area located by the City’s sewer treatment plant.

Commissioners expressed general support for the concept, with Eggers requesting that the course be placed within an existing park and Gardiner asking that the chosen area not conflict with other activities on the site. Lewis invited Karlin to make another presentation to the commission during the budget planning session in early 2006 to potentially move the concept forward. Staff was directed to meet with Karlin to prepare for another discussion of the topic at the October regular meeting.

PETITION FOR NEW PARK

Robertson reported that staff and the commission received a petition dated September 5, 2006, from residents of south Ashland requesting that the commission develop a community park in the vicinity of Clay Street, Abbott Avenue, and Dollarhide Avenue. He stated that the petitioners requested that the park be named Russ Dale Community Park after the developer of the area. He introduced Rod Petrone, the chief representative for the petition signers, pointing out that, according to the Open Space Master Plan, Parks has three neighborhood park sites that have been identified as high priority. One is located adjacent to the YMCA, on the back side along Clay Street, in the lower Clay area; the second site is in the middle Clay Street area between Ashland Street and Siskiyou Boulevard; and the third is in the upper Clay Street area. In terms of the middle Clay Street area, he reported that Parks staff had been in contact with the property owners and they did not wish to sell or develop the property. He stated that Parks was successful in purchasing a significant portion of the upper Clay Street property and that the lower Clay Street area had been pursued for a number of years but the developer/owner had not been interested in selling the property to Parks. Robertson reminded Petrone that the area under discussion is of interest to the Parks Commission.

Rod Petrone, 2324 Abbot Avenue, speaking as a representative of the residents of south Ashland, stated that the southern end of town had experienced enormous development of high density housing, generating much new tax revenue for the city and county, and that in order to maintain quality living for the homeowners and children of the community, it is necessary to develop a usable park facility in the area. He asked about the status of the City’s Comprehensive Plan and questioned whether its statement that the City has an obligation to “give a livable city to the residents of Ashland” was being adhered to. He asked whether development of wetlands was being used as a substitution for development of open spaces and if the terms of the Comprehensive Plan were being avoided. In terms of demographics, he reported that statistics show the largest growth in the City falls in south Ashland where families with young children have been moving, adding to the need for more park land in the vicinity. He stated that the YMCA Park, while close in proximity, is largely made up of soccer fields or otherwise used for the YMCA’s needs, with only a small portion reserved for playground equipment or other amenities for community members.

Discussion Among Commissioners

Commissioners questioned whether the City’s Comprehensive Plan was scheduled for an update and Robertson reported that the State of Oregon requires all jurisdictions to conduct periodic updates of their comprehensive plans but that Ashland’s has been delayed. He reported that it is a function of the Planning Department and the Planning Commission to perform such reviews, which are done by section, and Robertson expressed uncertainty about when the Parks Department’s section was scheduled for review. Gardiner explained to Petrone the process by which the commission purchases land for open space use, including finding willing land owners who offer their property at a price the Parks Commission can afford.

SUBCOMMITTEE and STAFF REPORTS

QUARTERLY RECREATION REPORT

Robertson reported that the Recreation Division experienced a very successful summer season and he directed Teige to present her quarterly recreation report to the commission. Teige summarized the report, offering highlights and new features of the programs provided to the community.

Robertson reported that he and Gies met with the Fred A. Tayler Trust Foundation regarding funding for development of new projects within Lithia Park, stating that one of the projects currently funded by the trust is the non-native species eradication in Lithia Park. At the recent meeting, he indicated that they expressed interest in funding the installation of a sidewalk from the upper Winburn Way parking lot to the lower side of the maintenance area up to Pioneer Street, which would include moving the fence in and placing a walkway in that section, allowing pedestrians the option of moving off the busy street onto the sidewalk.

Eggers stated that the lower maintenance area is not an attractive feature of Lithia Park and asked staff and the commission to consider turning it into usable park land.

Teige reported that the Third Annual Salmon Festival was scheduled for Saturday, October 7, at North Mountain Park.

Robertson reported that Teige would be the recipient of a Young Professionals Award at the National Recreation and Parks Association convention in Seattle, WA, during the week of October 9, 2006.

ITEMS FROM COMMISSIONERS

D. Amarotico asked about the status of the Vogel and Scenic park sites and Robertson reported that staff needed to contract with an architect to develop the final plans, stating that he had talked to the Purchasing Department about taking the lead in moving the process forward. In terms of the Vogel property, he reported that David Lewis, Landscape Architect, had completed the written portion and was finalizing the master plan drawings and determining when he would be available to present them to the commission.

D. Amarotico mentioned reading an article in the current Parks and Recreation Magazine regarding a Eugene-area parks department that was launching a plan to implement pesticide-free parks. Robertson acknowledged reading an article in the same issue regarding smoke-free parks, and he suggested that the commission conduct a study session to discuss both topics in the near future.

Eggers talked about the commission’s need to name the Vogel and Scenic park sites soon.

Robertson reported receiving preliminary readings from recent Ashland Creek water quality testing by the Public Works Department and offered to send the results to the commission for their review.

UPCOMING MEETING DATES and PROPOSED AGENDA ITEMS

§            Joint study session set for Thursday, October 12, at 7:00 PM—Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main. Topic to include:

§            Eugene YAL and its impact on Ashland’s YAL

§            Study session set for Monday, October 16, at 7:00 PM—Parks office, 340 S. Pioneer. Topic to include:

§            Continuation of discussion regarding facility costs and rentals for facilities and park spaces

§            Regular meeting set for Monday, October 23, at 7:00 PM—Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main.

ADJOURNMENT

By consensus, with no further business, Rosenthal adjourned the meeting at 9:06 PM.

Respectfully submitted, Susan Dyssegard, Ashland Parks & Recreation Department

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