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Parks & Recreation Commission (View All)

Parks Commission Regular Meeting Minutes

Minutes
Monday, April 28, 2008

City of Ashland

PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION

 

REGULAR MEETING

MINUTES

 

April 28, 2008

ATTENDANCE

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

Absent:     Commissioners Noraas and Rosenthal; City Council Liaison Navickas

CALL TO ORDER         

Gardiner called the regular meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. at the Ashland Community Center, 59 Winburn Way.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

Budget Session – March 3, 2008

MOTION Eggers moved to approve the minutes as written. Lewis seconded the motion.

The vote was: 3 yes – 0 no

Study Session – March 17, 2008

MOTION Eggers moved to approve the minutes as written. Lewis seconded the motion.

The vote was: 3 yes – 0 no

Regular Meeting – March 24, 2008

MOTION Eggers moved to approve the minutes as written. Lewis seconded the motion.

The vote was: 3 yes – 0 no

Special Meeting – March 26, 2008

MOTION Eggers moved to approve the minutes as written. Lewis seconded the motion.

The vote was: 3 yes – 0 no

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION

Open Forum

None

ADDITIONS OR DELETIONS TO THE AGENDA

None

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

NORTH MOUNTAIN PARK RUN REQUEST

Teige reminded the commission that JJ Moses attended a previous study session and requested permission to conduct a cross-country run at North Mountain Park on Saturday, September 13. She said race details were included in commission packets and Moses was on hand to answer their questions.

JJ Moses reviewed race details and talked about issues relating to numbers of runners, parking, amplification needs, and field turf protection.

Discussion Among Commissioners

Commissioners provided feedback agreeing that, if granted, amplification would be limited to the Parks standard of 1.5 hours and could not exceed 75 decibels. Some commissioners expressed a preference for allowing amplification only through a bullhorn to limit disturbances to neighbors, while another commissioner said amplification at the beginning of the event would be acceptable as proposed.

MOTION Eggers moved to approve the run as planned, with the exception of amplification, which would be conducted through a bullhorn for announcing the start of the race, runners, and winners. Lewis seconded the motion.

                                         The vote was:   Eggers, Lewis –  yes

                                                                 Gardiner – no

NEW BUSINESS

PUBLIC HEARING FOR PROPOSED CLAY STREET / WESTWOOD LAND EXCHANGE

Robertson outlined the proposal, which called for a possible exchange of two acres of property on Westwood Street along with cash for five acres of property located on Clay Street, to be used for affordable housing and park land. He said the value of the property located on Westwood was based on four developable half-acre lots, and an independent appraiser had valued each of the lots at $415,000, for a total of $1,660,000. He indicated that the value of the Clay Street property, as identified by the developer’s appraiser, was $3.9 million, and Ashland Parks and Recreation would be responsible for an added cash infusion of $310,000 in addition to the property. He asked the commission to recommend to council that additional appraisals be conducted, per recommendation of the City Attorney, and to support a continuance of the process until June 23 to allow for a full evaluation by the Parks Commission, Housing Commission, City Council, and the public.

Public Input

Jean Crawford, 923 Harmony Lane, asked for the preservation of the land on Westwood for passive recreation and said she was not comfortable disposing of public land to acquire other public land.

Scott Dixon, 838 Blackberry Lane, said Westwood Park is beautiful, with a stream and other nice features, and asked that the city not break the faith of the people by buying parks and then selling them.

Helga Motley, 231 Gresham Street, said it was problematic to leverage affordable housing as a tool to get other goals accomplished.

Paul Hwoschinsky, 443 Strawberry Lane, said the Parks Commission served as guardians of park land and, as a taxpayer, he helped pay for open space under the assumption that the land would be protected. He expressed support for affordable housing but not the commingling of the two issues. He said parks are important to the citizens of Ashland and many people held strong opinions about the proposal.

Gaia Layser, 503 Strawberry Lane, talked about the many users of open space in the Westwood area, including hikers connecting to the various trails. She said over 200 people signed the Friends of Westwood Park petition in the last few weeks and she asked the commission not to trade beautiful park land to a developer.

Ken Barnes, 523 Strawberry Lane, expressed support for affordable housing but not the pairing of the two pieces of land in the proposed land swap. He said the behind-closed-doors meetings leading to the present meeting served to pit neighborhood against neighborhood at a time when people needed to work together. He asked the Parks Commission to protect the parks first and foremost and expressed his commitment to making people aware that Westwood Park was a city asset for the public.

Steven Daneman, 250 Sunnyview, said he purchased land across from the open space parcel on Westwood, which he believed to be dedicated park land. He suggested turning the land into a demonstration park or a “no spray” park and asked for its permanent preservation.

Keith Baldwin, 1176 Beswick Way, said he purchased land in the Strawberry-Hald area and was assured by city officials that a park would remain a park forever. He said Westwood Park possessed unique qualities that couldn’t be replaced and asked the city to refrain from using park land as an investment account, as that would break the trust of taxpayers.

Eric Dukes, 520 Placer Run, said he lives in the wildlife corridor of the Westwood area and the proposed development would largely impact the ecosystem.

Darren Borgias, 503 Strawberry, speaking on behalf of “Friends of Westwood Park,” formed several weeks prior, said the organization’s 250 members were advocates for parks. He said important elements of Westwood Park included open space, city park qualities, trail system connections, trail head, natural and riparian areas, rare plants, special birds and other wildlife, and spaces for quiet contemplation. He said the park needed a conservation plan, an open space assessment, and a master plan, and he indicated that the land was a wonderful asset for the city and needed to be preserved.

Pepper Trail, 2011 Crestview Drive, said the Parks Commission had a long history of service to Ashland and he asked them to be fierce advocates for the park. He said the land was a wild place with birds and other unique and pristine qualities that deserved fervent protection.

Stephen Gagne, 155 Westwood Street, said the entire area was formerly open space but had become more developed and he asked for the protection of Westwood Park.

Elizabeth Aitken, 561 Rock Street, asked for the disentangling of low-cost housing with the development proposal and urged the commission to protect the land because, once lost, it could not be reclaimed.

Suzanne Frey, 1042 Oak Knoll Drive, asked for the preservation of open space land and said Ashland was a small community with friendly people who valued parks. She spoke in favor of affordable housing but said the city’s affordable housing plan was ill-defined and ineffective.

Ron Roth, 6950 Old Hwy 99 South, spoke in favor of the proposed land swap, pointing out that the city had two major parks and many neighborhood parks and the Westwood area included Strawberry-Hald Park. He said the addition of park land at the Clay Street location would be greatly utilized by the many residents in that area and he urged the commission to determine the best solution for the good of the entire community.

Catherine Dimino, 423 Strawberry Lane, agreed with the speakers favoring the preservation of Westwood Park and asked the commission to stop the process from moving forward.

Betty Jane Hulse, 863 Wrights Creek Drive, said she moved to the neighborhood 32 years ago and was informed by the city that park space would be protected despite development. She spoke about the bluebirds and said they had been in the neighborhood for years.

Discussion Among Commissioners

Gardiner thanked the speakers for sharing their thoughts. Robertson clarified that two acres of park land on Westwood would be traded to acquire five acres of park land on Clay Street, so the proposal would not include the swapping of park space for affordable housing space. Lewis clarified the track record of the Parks Commission in swapping and selling land, stating that the North Main/Scenic land was swapped with land on Nevada Street near the Ashland Greenhouses, indicating that a history existed of Parks exchanging lands. Gardiner said there would be other opportunities for the public to speak to the issues.

MOTION: Lewis moved to approve the continuation of the discussion on June 23. Eggers seconded the motion.

The vote was: 3 yes – 0 no

GARFIELD PARK SUMMER MOVIES AMPLIFICATION REQUEST

Teige asked the commission to consider approving a change in venue for the summer movies – from the golf course driving range to Garfield Park – to draw from a younger crowd. She reported that four movies would be shown in the summer of 2008, with all costs covered by the corporate sponsor, US Cellular.

Discussion Among Commissioners

Commissioners asked questions about the proposed change of venue and about amplification for the movies.

MOTION Lewis moved to recommend approval to relocate movies from the golf course driving range to Garfield Park and to authorize their amplification. Eggers seconded the motion.

The vote was: 3 yes – 0 no

EARLY RETIREMENT PROGRAM

Robertson outlined the proposal to make a one-time offer of early retirement to employees aged 55 or older and to require their declaration of interest by June 15, 2008, at 5:00 PM. He said the program would reduce costs associated with the Parks labor force, provide enhancement opportunities for employees, and provide transition for reorganization. He reported that the benefit to employees would be paid insurance through the same insurance plan as regular Parks employees for twelve consecutive months at a rate of one employee plus one dependent. He said the proposal had been reviewed by the city’s attorney, personnel director, and auditor, with the auditor conveying that the health insurance would be a taxable benefit. Robertson indicated that employees choosing the option would not be eligible for re-hire by Parks while receiving the health benefits.

MOTION Eggers moved to approve the early retirement program on a one-time basis. Lewis seconded the motion.

The vote was: 3 yes – 0 no

SUBCOMMITTEE and STAFF REPORTS

Robertson and Gies reported on the upper duck pond cleanup project.

Gies reported that the Scenic Park construction project would begin in one week.

Teige said Earth Day 2008 drew approximately 2,000 people and was successful. She reported that the annual Bike Swap would occur on May 10, 2008, from 12-4:00 p.m. at The Grove.

ITEMS FROM COMMISSIONERS

Eggers reported on the work of the Centennial Subcommittee, stating that a Parks Commission float would be entered into the 4th of July parade featuring the theme: “Remembering the Past, Celebrating the Present, Envisioning the Future.”

Gardiner urged commissioners to limit or refrain from conducting discussions about the proposed land swap with the public and others, to prevent misinterpretations.

UPCOMING MEETING DATE(S) and PROPOSED AGENDA ITEMS

§         Regular meeting set for May 19 at 7:00 PM, Parks Office, 340 S. Pioneer Street.

§         Study session set for May 21 at 7:00 PM, Parks Office, 340 S. Pioneer Street. Topic to include:

§         Energy audit and greenhouse gas emissions

ADJOURNMENT– By consensus, with no further business, Gardiner adjourned the meeting at 9:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted, Susan Dyssegard, Ashland Parks and Recreation Department

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