ASHLAND CONSERVATION COMMISSION
September 27, 2000
CALL TO ORDER– The meeting was called to order by Chairperson Carole Wheeldon at 7:03 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. Members present were Bruce Moats, Kari Tuck, Karen Amarotico, Russ Otte, Carole Wheeldon, Russ Chapman and Paige Prewett. Staff present was Sonja Akerman. Dan Murphy represented Ashland Sanitary & Recycling. Members Howard Braham and Mort Smith were unable to attend the meeting.
Wheeldon stated she wanted to take time to acknowledge September 26 was the second anniversary of Ken Hagen's death and took a moment to talk about his passion for conservation. She stated Hagen is the reason the City has a Conservation Commission. Also, it is very fitting the first Green Businesses will be recognized tonight because this was the sort of thing he envisioned - that this type of work would become mainstream. She then noted Hagen designed the logo for the Conservation Commission, and it has also been incorporated into the Green Business logo.
INTRODUCTION OF NEW MEMBER – Wheeldon introduced Paige Prewett, who informed the Commission she works with Tuck for the Ashland Parks Department in the Environmental Stewardship Program. Prior to moving to Ashland, she was the Environmental Program Specialist in Norfolk, Virginia, which is a community with around 240,000 people. She has an environmental studies degree and is in the process of getting a masters degree at SOU in environmental science. Tuck added Prewett is also the resident expert in vermiculture.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES – Chapman moved and Tuck seconded to approve the minutes of the July 26, 2000 meeting as submitted. The motion was unanimously passed.
SPECIAL PRESENTATION OF GREEN BUSINESS AWARDS – Ross Finney officially welcomed Bob Evoniuk (Brother's Restaurant), Valri Williams (Ashland Greenhouses), and Karen Amarotico (Standing Stone Brewery) into the Green Business Program and presented membership certificates to each. Annie Hoy (Ashland Community Foodstore) was unable to attend. Finney said Evoniuk has been very progressive in upgrading an historic building to make it as efficient as possible. Ashland Greenhouses practices a very efficient philosophical approach to integrated pest management, it uses shade retention curtains and high efficiency heaters. Also, Williams is investigating water reclamation and recirculation. Standing Stone was remodeled and renovated in 1979, using the most efficient energy technologies. Since then, dimmable compact fluorescent lightbulbs have also been installed. Energy Analyst Cathy Cartmill (who will be taking over the Green Business Program for the City) has estimated this will save approximately $600 annually. It costs more to purchase the bulbs, however, they last longer and are more efficient. Finney also noted the Amaroticos are researching growing shitaki mushrooms with the spent grains. These businesses also received window decals with the Green Business logo and a computer disk with the logo for their own use.
Wheeldon thanked the businesses for being pilots in this program. When asked if Evoniuk owned the building he replied he leases it, so the improvements he has made have been on the interior; however the owner split the cost of a high efficiency heat pump and air conditioner with him. He said the money that was invested has paid for itself already. Wheeldon then asked Williams about water reclamation and she responded they are still researching the different systems, as they are extremely expensive. She feels, however, that this is not a long way off. All improvements done to the greenhouses now are being done keeping this in mind. Wheeldon then asked Amarotico about the lighting at Standing Stone. Amarotico answered the fixtures were already installed for dimmable lights, but now the incandescent bulbs are being replaced with compact fluorescent when they burn out.
Prewett asked if these businesses will be recognized in the media. Finney stated there was an article in the Tidings the night before. Also, articles have appeared in the City Source and the Tribune. Finney added they will continue to develop ways to recognize the businesses. Wheeldon reminded the recipients to use the Green Business logo when advertising. Otte suggested advertising all four Green Businesses together in next year's Shakespeare Playbill. Finney said he would call OSF to find out the particulars.
Finney then updated the Commission on the next phase. The second pilot group will consist of the Stratford Inn, Parkside Lodging, and Architectural Design Works. They are all well on their way to completing the paperwork for the summaries. Parkside Lodging has recently upgraded the roof to be able to accommodate solar panels (primarily for water), and Stratford Inn has already been doing some very progressive energy things. Although Architectural Design Works is a small office with few employees, the architects will be encouraging energy efficient designs, using such things as recycled building materials, certified wood, etc. Finney said he will be distributing the summary sheets for these businesses prior to the October meeting so he can do his presentation to the Council in November. Finney also related he would be applying for a grant from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) through the Solid Waste Division. The person he has been in touch with there has expressed an interest in helping to fund an expansion of the program into Jackson County, which consists of the municipalities using the Dry Creek Landfill. The application deadline for this is November 30. Finney informed the Commission he will also be giving a presentation to the Solid Waste Partnership in October. The partnership will then submit the grant application to DEQ. Wheeldon commended Finney for the work he has done on this program, and thanked Cartmill for her expertise.
PUBLIC FORUM – There was no one present who wished to speak.
APPOINTMENT OF CONSERVATION COMMISSION MEMBER TO DEMOLITION BOARD – Building Official Mike Broomfield related a Conservation Commission member needs to be appointed to the Demolition Review Committee as established by City Council when the Demolition Ordinance was adopted. The reasoning behind this ordinance was that there is decreasing space in the landfill. The Demolition Committee has been designed to review the process of conservation of materials. He admitted there have been difficulties in dealing with conservation measures in demolitions because often they are in direct conflict with the building codes. To find a way to reasonably reuse the material frequently means leaving wood on the site for people to pick up and utilize as firewood. Reduction of materials slated for the landfill regarding metals means a trip to one of the metal reclamation areas, etc. The Committee needs to look at reasonable ways for people to dispose of materials while keeping with the stated goals of the ordinance and comply with state and federal regulations. Broomfield briefly discussed some of the criteria and exemptions in the ordinance. He then informed the Commission the committee will not meet often, but when a meeting is scheduled, it will be for good reason. Wheeldon then gave some background information on the ordinance, stating it was originally intended to protect older homes and at first the goal was solid waste reduction. Thus, it was thought a Conservation Commission member should be on the committee because this person should be able to shed some light on solid waste; however this goal was very burdensome, and as the ordinance was refined, it was taken out. Broomfield said there is an opportunity here for someone who is willing to invest some time and research, to further the conservation goals the Commission has and come up with creative ways to accomplish this. He encouraged the Commission to be a part of this process. Broomfield related the Building Department is obligated to do what is adopted by the local codes. Wheeldon said the Commission might want to take this on as a project (sponsor, lobby the Council, etc.) to have a building materials recycling center where people can come to buy certain used material. Amarotico related there are similar places in Eugene and Portland. She also mentioned realtors do not point out that this ordinance exists to their clients. After further discussion, it was decided this will be continued in order to give everyone the chance to read the ordinance. It will be discussed again on October 25.
ASHLAND SANITARY & RECYCLING UPDATE – Dan Murphy reported: 1) the fall events schedule has been advertised in the local papers and is posted at the depot and transfer station. 2) The high school essay contest will take place again this year. He would like to get two City Councilors to judge the essays, which need to be turned in by October 27. The contest will be open to high school seniors at Ashland and Phoenix High Schools. First place is $500, second place is $200 and third place is $100. Murphy said he had talked with the school counselors of both schools and was advised this would be the best time for the contest. 3) Chipper day will be on October 14 at the transfer station and on-route chipper week will be from October 16-20. 4) Word has been received from Rogue Material Recovery that the types of plastics accepted for recycling has to be narrowed down. Plastic bottles are the only truly recyclable plastics in today's market; however, plastic bottle recycling will be expanded to include #1-7 plastics. They can't get rid of anything else. Murphy said the opening on the bottle has to be smaller than the body. #1 cups, #1 clamshells, etc. can no longer be recycled. He explained bottles are made with a different process than the other shapes, which causes the chemical composition to change and makes them incompatible. Murphy also stated Ashland Sanitary will be taking colored HDPE bottles (such as laundry detergent and orange juice bottles). Coloring in plastics is very detrimental to the recycling process. It was noted this will also affect businesses trying to become sustainable and the Green Business Program.
Murphy stated he will modify his Jefferson Monthly article to reflect the new information on the plastic recycling markets.
Education Subcommittee – Amarotico said she is suppose to receive questions from members regarding recycling. Tuck stated the questions would be coming from the Jefferson Monthly articles on recycling; the question and answer format will be printed in the Tidings. Chapman said he would find out if information in the Association of Oregon Recyclers (AOR) newsletter can be reprinted also. The newsletter has very interesting and informative updates on the recycling markets every month or two. Hopefully, this can be incorporated into the articles. Wheeldon suggested the questions be divided into categories and commented this should be an interesting format. Members on this subcommittee include Amarotico, Braham, Tuck, Otte and Smith. Tuck will talk to Tidings editor John Enders about running these articles in November and find out if he would agree to run two or three in the series. She will also find out dates. Amarotico will scope out information at the depot to find out what is going on there as far as what is being taken and where the material goes. She will also make sure the articles will be clear on the new policies of plastic recycling.
TID Subcommittee – Wheeldon reported this committee is at a standstill. Chapman added everyone is waiting for results of the questionnaire that was mailed out regarding backflow devices. Wheeldon explained the committee has been working with Mike Morrison and Keith Marshall from the Water Department in making sure all properties connected with TID water have had approved backflow devices installed. The City only has around 150 customers, while the balance of TID customers in Ashland is around 1000. The City of Ashland Water Department is liable for all these accounts, even though not all customers are Ashland TID users. Morrison and Marshall are thankful to the Conservation Commission for the support they are getting.
Jefferson Monthly Articles – The Commission discussed the memo received from Eric Alan in his pursuit to assess the columns in the Jefferson Monthly. He had asked for comments from the members on how they feel about the Living Lightly column they have been writing for the last several years. Amarotico said she would like to get feed back from Alan on the articles they have written. Chapman said he is not tired of trying to get information, but he is a little bored with the format. He is more enthused with the "since you asked" type format that is being proposed for the Tidings series. Otte said he feels a little hamstrung on the Jefferson Monthly in trying to do something that needs to be in a regional format rather than a local formal because it is so easy to get into gray areas where you can't really talk about anything. He suggested taking a year off. He said he would be happy to be reinvited a year from now to try a different focus. Chapman said perhaps Alan could contact other communities (for example Roseburg, Weed or Klamath Falls) to find out what environmental things they are doing. Otte agreed and said this would be an opportunity to keep Living Lightly going, but having a different group of people writing and commenting on environmental issues. Wheeldon added other communities are doing things and they should be given the opportunity to share this with the readers. Wheeldon offered to call Alan. Otte said he wouldn't mind writing articles on a regional rotational basis.
Compost Class Update – Wheeldon noted on August 12th there were 17 attendees and on September 9th, there were 15. Prewett related 15 people had attended the worm composting class in August. The next worm composting class is Monday, October 23rd at Pioneer Hall at 6:00 p.m. She also noted the next composting class at the recycling depot is October 14th.
Update on Soil Food Webs – Wheeldon read a memo from Robbin Pearce, which stated she is still gathering information on the soil food webs. She will have more information for the November meeting.
Update on Car Free Day – Wheeldon said there was a big turn out for Car Free Day and it was a lot of fun. In talking with storeowners who provided food, drinks and information, most have said more people than in previous years stopped. The addition of the afternoon event was good, but it should be shortened next year. Many people have asked if something like this could happen every week or every month. The Bike & Pedestrian Commission is talking about requesting a budget so it can get signs made that would state, for example, Car Free Day 4th Friday of Every Month or Car Free Day Today, or something similar. Otte stated he would like the Bike Commission to explore ways to get parents of middle school students to not drive their children to school. Ashland Middle School is the worst school in the City for traffic jams, etc. and the busses are not even half full, though the majority of kids being dropped off are eligible to ride the bus. He stated dropping off kids at school is not conservation oriented. Wheeldon said she has asked to have questions about transportation included in the citizens' survey this year. Tuck suggested having something for kids that walk or ride bikes on Car Free Days. She also mentioned it is a shame kids don't have a safe way to use skate boards, scooters, bikes, etc., especially on Siskiyou Boulevard. Wheeldon said the Siskiyou Boulevard Committee has met twice and there will be more meetings. They are all public so she invited the Commission members to attend. Wheeldon added there is now a concrete plan for expanding and developing sidewalks within a quarter mile radius of schools. It was noted Ashland Middle School is one of the better areas with sidewalk connections. Tuck asked when sidewalks would be installed so people can get to North Mountain Park, as there are no sidewalks on Hersey Street and none that go up Mountain Avenue to the high school. Wheeldon said they are coming; the Public Works Department is working with the Council on this. Wheeldon also related the Bike & Ped Commission was very energized by the response received this year on Car Free Day and it is ready to build on this.
Field Trip Update – Chapman and Otte reported the field trip was very informative. Chapman said they were just developing a new cell at the Dry Creek Landfill and the group was able to walk down into it. Otte said he doubts that 99% of the people realize the vast technology that is required to meet all the concerns in the construction of landfill cells. Otte also noted that while at BioMass, it was learned that there are now enough computers that have been sold in the United States, if they were all turned on at one time, the entire electrical system would be blown out. We are on the verge of a national brown-out. He also mentioned it would take six or seven years just to get permits to build any kind of electric generating facility and this isn't even taking into account the ability to produce the electricity. This, he said, is why we have electric energy conservation. Wheeldon asked if Dry Creek produces any methane, and Chapman replied that as long as the tax credits get re-upped, there will be a methane system out there. The Ashland Transfer Station does not because it is not an active landfill that can provide freshening mix to the system. Wheeldon noted wind power is the most prolific alternative form of green power. Chapman will schedule another date when members get back to him with time periods.
Set November/December Meeting Date – The Commission decided to meet on November 29 in lieu of the November 22 and December 27 meeting.
Budget – Wheeldon would like to discuss the budget breakdown next month in order to have a better idea of what the Commission plans to spend money on during this fiscal year.
COMMISSION ITEMS – 1) Otte noted that the Ashland Public School District has a new facilities manager, Mark McManus, who is also a computer specialist. The first complete energy audit of the schools in six years will take place in the near future, as the technology has changed enough that it warrants reexamining some of the premises on which decisions were made during the last round of upgrades. Otte said McManus has very positive ideas and he is excited to begin working with him on resource conservation matters. Wheeldon stated the Conservation Commission might be able to help out with launching some energy conservation programs. Otte stressed that somehow we have to help people understand, especially when spending public dollars, that the concept of lowest bid on a structure can also hook you in to a lifetime of financial disaster. Oftentimes, you would be money ahead to spend twice the amount of money in order to get something done right. It is imperative to not only look at the "lowest", but also the "best" bid. 2) Tuck asked if the Commission would be open to helping pay a small cost in developing a compost bin for demonstration and educational purposes at North Mountain Park. It will probably be made with pallets. The area would acknowledge the Commission on educational signs. Wheeldon asked if there would be an area similar to the Depot with three bins. Tuck said there would be three bins, but not different types. Tuck will bring in costs for the October 25 meeting. 3) Prewett and Tuck related there will be a celebration and fund raising at North Mountain Park on October 7, with a barbecue, raffle, tours and birds of prey on display from Wildlife Images.
AJOURNMENT – The meeting adjourned at 9:04 p.m.