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Parks Commission Study Session Minutes

Minutes
Monday, March 16, 2009

City of Ashland

PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION

 

STUDY SESSION
MINUTES

March 16, 2009

 

ATTENDANCE

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

Absent:       City Council Liaison Silbiger

CALL TO ORDER

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

OPEN FORUM

Tom Marr, 955 N. Mountain Avenue, asked the commission to serve as a role model for the community by initiating a process to eliminate pesticides in Ashland parks. He said 17 parks in the Pacific Northwest were free of pesticides. He said fish were adversely affected by pesticides and a decimation of the fish population was underway. He said it would benefit the community to hire employees to manually weed and maintain parks without the use of pesticides and volunteers could be organized to help with the labor. He suggested placing this on a ballot, as he believed citizens would overwhelmingly support such an initiative.

Julie Norman, 596 Helman, distributed an article from the Associated Press in which the City of Seattle was reported to have reduced pesticide usage in city parks.

Angie Thusius, 897 Beach, said she recently distributed information to over 100 locals about the potential transition away from chemicals in parks. She said many people expressed willingness to help the Parks Department with the physical labor needed to maintain parks without chemicals. She offered to conduct a workshop to educate people about strengthening their backs while working. She spoke favorably of the seed exchange program at the North Mountain Park Nature Center.

Bernard Hilldale, 1999 Eagle Mill Road, said an alternative to herbicidal removal of blackberries along stream banks involved the sterilization of soil. He offered to locate three steam boilers and build a prototype, or to assist as needed with the pesticide-free removal of blackberries.

Larry McCain, 1999 Eagle Mill Road, said he learned about organic farming methods in Texas and, years ago, the City of Austin instituted a policy of integrated pest management for schools and sports fields. He said chemicals affect the entire food chain and he spoke about implementing a chemical elimination program in Ashland. He offered to share his expertise in both permaculture and landscaping practices.

CALLE RESTAURANT APPLICATIONS AND CONTRACT

Robertson reviewed both the expiring restaurant contract and its updated draft version. He said the draft restaurant contract was similar to the draft artisans contract and he pointed out changes and upgrades from the prior version. He said restaurateurs would not be allowed to sublet spaces, per the commission’s request. Dials said restaurant payments were due by May 15, not March 15, and restaurant owners could work with staff to draw up a plan for paying before the end of the fiscal year.

Marcus Scott, P.O. Box 1351 in Talent, questioned several points contained within the contract including the disparities between the start date for restaurants (April 15) and artisans (May 1). He asked for both seasons to begin on April 15 to allow for parity between the two groups.

Dials reviewed the six restaurant seating applications received and marked their locations on the map. She said outdoor seating applications were not received from Alex’s Restaurant or the owner of the building from which the former Pilaf Restaurant operated. She said the Pilaf area could be designated as artisan space.

Staff was directed to include the topic on the March 23 regular meeting agenda. Robertson said the commission would be asked to approve or not approve the contract, and he asked for staff to be authorized to work out exact square footage with restaurant owners.

COMMISSION GOALS AND BUDGET DISCUSSION

Robertson reviewed the proposed budget schedule and apologized for the delay in starting the process. He distributed an evaluation table grouped by category (Nature Center, Parks, Senior Center, Pool/Ice Rink, Recreation Programs, and Facilities) as well as priority level (high, medium, low). He said Parks staff attempted to choose logical groupings for each category. Eggers suggested moving “Environmental Protection above Mandates” from medium to high, as she said climate change projections were extreme. Robertson suggested revisiting the template before Parks’ presentation to the Budget Committee in April.

Robertson said he met individually with commissioners and compiled their list of suggestions, which he distributed. He paraphrased the content of each discussion and asked commissioners to correct any misinterpretations. He handed out a draft list of proposed 2009-2010 goals that included the following:

§         Develop long-term financial and business plan to evaluate current funding sources and identify future funding sources.

§         Prepare a list of priorities for the expenditure of any new food and beverage funds.

§         Develop a prioritized plan for the removal and/or control of non-native vegetation. Estimated budget impact: $20,000.

§         Develop a report on the economic impacts of parks and recreation on the community of Ashland.

§         Develop programs to guide the development of master plans for the upper and lower Clay Street properties.

§         Identify and implement new programs and activities to increase the use of the Oak Knoll Golf Course by both golfers and non-golfers.

§         Evaluate the mission of the Nature Center using the advisory group and look at future roles and missions in light of the Ashland School District’s finances.

§         Seek new ways to communicate with community by conducting neighborhood meetings, facility meetings, and other methods of “direct conversation” to get a pulse of the individual neighborhoods and better understand values and needs.

§         Provide environmental evaluations and audits of all facilities and operations within the Parks and Recreation Department. Estimated budget impact: $20,000.

Robertson said he would refine the goals document in preparation for the Wednesday, March 18, Parks Commission budget session. He said budget figures would be discussed that evening and goals further refined. He said Parks’ presentation to the Budget Committee was scheduled for Thursday, April 23.

OTHER BUSINESS

Dials reported that the Rogue Ballet requested shifting their performance dates in July 2009 from Mondays to Sundays to save money. She said they were informed that, if approved, the performances would need to be concluded before the start of the outdoor Shakespeare performances (8:00 PM), and they agreed to conduct the ballets from 6-8:00 PM. Commissioners questioned whether this change would cause problems in terms of parking congestion and sound amplification issues with neighbors.

Robertson referenced a draft council communication outlining a proposed transferable development credit program to potentially take advantage of non-developable land, such as Lithia Park, by transferring its development rights for the benefit of developable land such as the lower Clay Street area. He said this proposal would allow certain neighborhoods to become denser without the need to expand the urban growth boundary. Once development rights were transferred, he said they could not be transferred again.

ADJOURNMENT – By consensus, Gardiner adjourned the meeting at 9:32 p.m.

Respectfully submitted, Susan Dyssegard, Ashland Parks and Recreation

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