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Parks Commission Study Session Minutes

Minutes
Monday, September 15, 2008

City of Ashland

PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION

 

STUDY SESSION
MINUTES

 

September 15, 2008

 

ATTENDANCE

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

Absent:       City Council Liaison Navickas

CALL TO ORDER

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

WESTWOOD PROPERTY / CLAY STREET PROPERTY

Robertson distributed a list of Ashland park properties, including acreages and amenities, along with a list of criteria for land acquisition approved in 1989 and revised in 1994 during the Open Space Plan process. He displayed a schematic showing the Westwood and lower Clay Street neighborhoods. He said the Clay Street developer was only interested in selling the entire ten-acre parcel and the city might wish to purchase the land for affordable housing, with Parks purchasing back up to five acres for park elements. He said the city would be interested in splitting the wetlands portion with Parks.

Robertson talked about the October 30 joint study session between Parks and City Council and said the discussion would address budgets and the impending 2010 conclusion of the food and beverage tax. He said Parks used its portion of the funds to purchase park and open space property.

Robertson reviewed a number of funding sources, including general property taxes, general obligation bonds, revenue bonds, grants, local option levies, transient occupancy taxes, and the food and beverage tax, and spoke of their uses and restrictions. He said they were often utilized for operations of parks and recreation departments, acquisition of property, and development of park and recreation facilities throughout the city and state. For the October 30 study session, Robertson suggested advocating that future meals tax revenues be available for both land acquisition and development.

If the Westwood property was subdivided and two acres sold, Robertson suggested possibly preserving the additional eight acres through the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy. He said the Westwood / Strawberry-Hald region was identified, during the Trail Master Plan process, as a possible trailhead area containing open space, trails, and pedestrian access easements. If the land were to become a neighborhood park, he indicated that parking spaces, restrooms and a map of the area could be considered for inclusion, along with other amenities such as tennis and basketball courts.

Discussion Among Commissioners

Eggers said she didn’t view Westwood as a community park, since it was generally too steep for most people to reach by foot or bicycle and it wouldn’t be feasible to include many parking spaces at that location.

Lewis said the commission probably could achieve its goal of providing open space, trails, and other park features at the Westwood location, even with the potential removal of two acres.

Rosenthal stressed the importance of a meals tax extension and suggested discontinuing discussions about the Westwood property partition and sale, as they might seem adversarial to community members and could hinder an extension of the tax.

Noraas said community members expressed interest in forming a subcommittee to identify alternative funding sources but that continued consideration of the Westwood property as a funding source for the Clay Street acquisition might jeopardize those efforts.

Eggers suggested advocating that Parks receive a portion of the hotel / motel tax, as Lithia Park receives heavy usage by tourists and visitors to Ashland.

Public Input

Keith Baldwin, 1176 Beswick Way, talked about parking at the Clay Street location. He said costs associated with creating and maintaining ballfields might pose funding challenges. He spoke in favor of extending the meals tax for the purpose of acquiring and developing parks and said the subdivision and sale of the Westwood land would not solve the Clay Street land acquisition dilemma.

Darren Borgias 503 Strawberry Lane, spoke about potential renewal of the meals tax in terms of including within the fundraising a minimum of 5% additional revenue for an endowment to pay for ongoing management of park lands in perpetuity.

Next Steps

In preparation for the joint study session with council, staff was directed to prepare a list of potential funding sources for parkland acquisition and development for review at the September 29 regular meeting. Staff was further directed to prepare a memo to council conveying continued interest in the Clay Street property.

RECREATION MASTER PLAN

Teige outlined four types of typical parks and recreation master plans:

§         Standard recreation master plan – created by staff

§         Recreation and facilities master plan – created by staff with assistance from outside consultant

§         Parks and recreation master plan – created by outside consultant

§         Parks master plan – created by staff with assistance from outside consultant

Robertson talked about the advantages of creating master plans and said they could cost as much as $100,000. He said well-crafted documents were useful in:

§         Seeking grant funding

§         Setting goals and planning budgets

§         Setting work plans and milestones

§         Identifying long-term priorities and matching priorities with goals outlined within master plan

§         Understanding the future of facilities within system

§         Increasing efficiency, time, and energy

§         Serving as a map for the future

§         Justifying requests for SDCs

Teige said staff could request grant funding for up to 50% of the cost of a master plan. She discussed master plans created for cities around the country and offered to invite a consultant to speak to the commission about master planning, which would be free of charge. Robertson said staff could prepare an RFP to solicit bids for a master plan if the commission chose to move forward with the process.

Next Steps

Staff was directed to talk to consultants at the upcoming Oregon Recreation and Parks Association conference and request a study session presentation within the next three months.

OTHER COMMISSION BUSINESS

Gardiner reported meeting with Robertson and a former Olympic skater / new Ashland resident who expressed interest in assisting with ice rink fundraising efforts to ensure its future success.

Eggers asked about a Green Business update and Robertson said a walkthrough of the Parks office and shop was scheduled for Thursday, September 18.

ADJOURNMENT – By consensus, Gardiner adjourned the meeting at 8:55 p.m.

Respectfully submitted, Susan Dyssegard, Ashland Parks and Recreation

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