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Parks Commission Study Session Minutes

Minutes
Monday, July 16, 2007

City of Ashland

PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION

 

STUDY SESSION
MINUTES

 

July 16, 2007

 

ATTENDANCE

Present:        Commissioners Eggers, Gardiner, Lewis, Noraas, Rosenthal; Director Robertson; Superintendents Gies and Teige

Absent:       City Council Liaison Navickas

Guest:        Jim McGinnis

CALL TO ORDER

Eggers called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. at the Parks office, 340 S. Pioneer.

CLIMATE CHANGE PRESENTATION

Eggers reminded the commission of their FY 07-08 goal to review the Parks Department’s energy usage. She introduced Jim McGinnis and invited him to speak to the commission about greenhouse gas emissions and related topics.

McGinnis reported that he was trained to present on climate change after seeing Al Gore’s movie, “An Inconvenient Truth.” McGinnis outlined facts and statistics that highlighted environmental effects caused by rising temperatures. Factors impacted by climate change included food, water, ecosystems, weather, and plant and animal life. Several effects were identified as increased global desertification, reduced soil moisture, increased wildfires, and disappearing mountain glaciers.

McGinnis identified solutions that involved taking personal action, adopting conservation measures, choosing sustainable investments, and employing renewable energy sources. Potential changes in Parks Department practices included implementing xeriscape landscaping efforts and increasing water conservation methods, which might impact lawn watering policies, drip irrigation policies, tree planting policies, and the use of both recycled sewage water and gray water. In terms of vegetation, the planting of additional fruit and nut trees was recommended. A suggested energy conservation method involved low energy lighting.

McGinnis stated that the Ashland Parks Department, Ashland School District, and Ashland Family YMCA—three heavily utilized agencies in the city—could be instrumental in educating the public about climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. He asked the commission to consider:

§         Recommending to City Council an energy usage evaluation for all lands within Ashland Parks Department’s jurisdiction (by March 2008);

§         Using the results of the audit to develop an energy / sustainability strategy (by July 2008);

§         Developing specific recommendations for implementing the strategy, along with performance goals and budget requirements (by October 2008).

Public Input

Susan Rust of Ashland stated that the Parks Department plays a leadership role in the city in terms of its environmental practices. She urged the commission to better educate the public about their environmental efforts, indicating that such education might positively impact the Budget Committee’s decisions about Parks allocations in the next budget season.

Discussion Among Commissioners

Commissioners voiced support and appreciation for the presentation and suggestions, with Eggers expressing a sense of responsibility for taking action and Noraas stating that Parks does a great job but could do even more, especially in terms of educating the public about its environmental efforts. Lewis proposed evaluating the department’s energy usage so the commission could move toward implementing more energy saving practices. Robertson said that some efficiencies were already in place and the department served as a “standard bearer” for the state. Gies indicated that the department’s vehicle practices were environmentally sound but could bear further review and consideration. Rosenthal suggested scheduling another study session in the future, allowing the commission and staff to evaluate the information and determine next steps.

Robertson agreed to talk to Dick Wanderscheid, Electric Utilities Director, about the city’s energy conservation program, and with other city departments. Commissioners offered to provide Robertson with their thoughts and suggestions about proposed conservation measures.

UPPER DUCK POND DISCUSSION

Eggers discussed the recent press about the poor condition of the upper duck pond in Lithia Park and questioned whether to issue a public communication about the pond’s history and current status. Commissioners discussed the need to first define the problem and devise a plan for the pond before issuing a public statement. Robertson suggested educating the public about the efforts made over the past six years with both of the ponds and said it was important to emphasize the commission’s continuing concerns about the poor condition of the upper pond, for which they had not yet found an answer. He reported that he and Gies recently met with SOU students and their professor about a class project that would define the problems associated with the upper duck pond and identify potential solutions. He said the students were preparing to present their findings to the commission in September and report back with suggestions in December.

Commissioners agreed to gather more facts and develop a tentative plan before issuing a public statement.

ITEMS FROM COMMISSIONERS

Noraas reported speaking with the Southern Oregon Skywatchers organization and Bob Haney, golf pro, about possibly conducting community skywatch events in the winter and/or spring at the golf course in conjunction with North Mountain Park and local schools.

Eggers requested feedback on the meeting and commissioners provided their input.

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

Respectfully submitted, Susan Dyssegard, Ashland Parks and Recreation

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