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Parks Commission Study Session Minutes

Minutes
Monday, September 14, 2009

City of Ashland

PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION

 

STUDY SESSION
MINUTES

September 14, 2009

 

ATTENDANCE

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

Absent:       City Council Liaison Silbiger

CALL TO ORDER

Gardiner called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. at the Lithia Park Japanese-style garden, 195 Winburn Way.

TOUR JAPANESE-STYLE GARDEN / CONSIDER PLACEMENT OF MEMORIAL ARTWORK

Robertson greeted Parks commissioners, Parks staff, and members of the Public Arts Commission. He presented a mockup of the sculpture “Gift,” created by Wataru Sugiyama and currently placed in the Calle Guanajuato Stairway sculpture garden. He said former city councilor Alice Hardesty offered to purchase the artwork and place it in the Lithia Park Japanese-style garden in memory of her late husband, Jack Hardesty.

Public Arts commissioners Dana Bussell and Melissa Markell said the artwork could be transferred to the garden site at the conclusion of its stairway placement period—spring 2011. They said the sculpture, minus its base, was 36 inches in height and a modest memorial plaque was proposed.

Parks Horticulturist Donn Todt presented an historical perspective of the garden, whose general configuration was included in John McLaren’s landscape design. He said two local brothers—members of the Selby family—offered to pay for one-half of the reconstruction of the garden in memory of a loved one but chose not to include a memorial plaque. He said the garden was designed to include elements of a tea garden, which sometimes contain stone lanterns, and other Japanese garden elements. He said sculptures in Lithia Park were regularly vandalized. He suggested two possible placement areas for the sculpture.

Discussion Among Commissioners

Commissioners discussed the request, with one stating that the Parks Commission’s policy on signs, plaques, and memorials did not include a reference to public art in parks. They questioned whether the commission wanted to consider itself a part of the city’s public art campaign. Commissioners agreed that the request—which was both a public art request and a memorial request—was a deviation from the signs and plaques policy. They considered discussing, as a commission, whether to revise the policy to include public art placements in parks. A commissioner said the sculpture did not fit the artistic style of that section of the park. Commissioners agreed that deviations from the current policy would set precedents and open the way for future similar requests. Commissioners discussed placing the item on the October regular meeting agenda for further discussion and a vote.

TOUR OF UPPER DUCK POND PUMP STATION TOUR

Gies reviewed features and operations of the new pump station adjacent to the duck pond. He said staff would begin testing the system on September 16 and the TID water would shut off on October 15.

At 7:00 p.m. the Parks Commission regrouped at the Parks office, 340 S. Pioneer Street.

CHITWOOD PROPERTY AFFORDABLE HOUSING INFORMATION

Robertson said the Chitwood property, located behind the Ashlander Apartments off Siskiyou Boulevard, was purchased by the commission with the intention of creating a small neighborhood park and the city later suggested including several workforce housing units. He said Kerry KenCairn, landscape architect, worked with RVCDC to evaluate design options and they suggested rotating the proposed development ninety degrees for an east-west orientation to better utilize solar applications. He said the proposed reorientation would minimally alter the square footage—from 14,000 to 15,000.

KenCairn said parking spaces would be provided in relation to the project, including a turnaround area for trucks. Commissioners said they did not want to compromise park land for housing or parking.

For the September 28 regular meeting, the commission asked KenCairn to prepare another version of the diagram, overlaying proposed changes on top of the original drawing.

FEES AND CHARGES PRESENTATION

Dials said the commission reviewed fees and charges each year in the fall timeframe.

FACILITIES

Dials reviewed revenues and expenditures for all facilities in FY 2008-2009. She said revenues generated from facility rentals, weddings, park site rentals, and ballfield / lighting rentals totaled $62,200. She said total expenditures for staffing costs, utilities, renovations and major repairs, lighting, and custodial time totaled $168,169, bringing the total subsidized to $105,969 and indicating a recovery rate of 37%. She said the commission approved increasing wedding and ballfield / lighting fees to 100% in February 2009 and increasing facility rentals to a 75% recovery but the outcome of those fee adjustments would not be known until mid-summer 2010. She said a vacant Facility Manager position was backfilled with a part-time temporary position in summer 2009 and the permanent position would remain unfilled until further direction from the commission during the 2010-2011 budget planning process.

Dials said the average hours of lighting usage for 2008-2009 were 165.5 hours, with 48% of costs recovered. She said the recovery rate was down due to reduced lighting usage and increased utility costs. She suggested three potential levels of increases for ballfield lights:

§         25% increase—$23.50 per hour

§         33% increase—$25 per hour

§         50% increase—$28 per hour

Dials said a 50% increase would bring the commission to a possible 82% recovery level for ballfield lighting. No other increases were recommended for this category.

ICE RINK

Dials said the ice rink season in 2009 was short in duration due to a reconstruction project. She said the rink would open this year on November 20 and run through the month of February. She said pods would be used in place of an ice rink trailer and portable toilets would again be rented. She said 2009 revenues totaled $5,000 and expenditures were $400, not including staff time. She said the commission approved fee adjustments in November 2008 as follows:

§         Youth Admission—$3.25

§         Adult Admission—$4

§         Hockey Admission—$5.50

§         Skate Rental—$2.50

No increases were recommended for this category.

ADULT RECREATION PROGRAMS

Dials said adult recreation classes were contracted on an individual basis, with instructors often receiving 70% of the revenues and Parks receiving 30%. She said staff worked to manage the gap between revenues and expenditures by slowly decreasing the percentage paid to contractors and increasing class fees accordingly. She said staff had not adequately managed or monitored the programs and “gap creep” ensued in which classes were conducted with too few students and the 70/30 split sometimes was not implemented. She said revenues in 2008-2009 totaled $106,971 and expenditures were $128,242, including instructor contracts, staff time, materials and supplies. She said the total subsidized was $21,271, bringing the recovery rate to 83%, a 9% decrease from the previous year.

No increases were recommended for this category.

CALLE GUANAJUATO

Dials said the commission approved increasing the Calle rate in February 2009 from $3.30 to $3.60 per square foot. She said 2008-2009 revenues from artisan market and restaurant seating agreements were $14,459 while expenditures were $10,692 and the Calle was a self-sustaining program. She said the commission expressed interest in using any additional revenues to make improvements to the Calle surface.

Dials recommended raising the rate from $3.60 to $4 per square foot.

Public Input

Lisa Beam, 400 Liberty Street, said her restaurant provided tax revenues and employment to the community. She said the artisans provided flair but did not contribute to the community in the same way as restaurants along the Calle. She asked the commission to use any additional revenues generated by fees for more lighting, trees, and the resurfacing of the Calle.

OAK KNOLL GOLF COURSE

Dials said 2008-2009 revenues at the golf course were $301,819.39 while expenditures were $361,824.55, with a subsidy of $60,005.16 and a recovery rate of 83%. She said the recovery was down 1% over the previous year of 2%. She said rounds of golf played were down in 2008-2009 but increased prices helped to bridge the gap between revenues and expenditures.

Dials said the commission approved increases in February 2008, including a 10% increase in annual pass fees, an increase of the daily fee rate to $16/$24, an increase in the senior age to 55, an increase in the summer senior fee to $14/$22, and an increase in the summer cart fee to $8/$13, with all fees adjusted on April 1, 2008.

Dials recommended increasing the wedding fee for the golf pro shop to the same level as wedding fees in Lithia Park, with the pro shop reservation fee remaining the same as that for the Ashland Community Center and Pioneer Hall but including an additional $20 per hour staffing fee.

Commissioners discussed possible alternative methods for generating interest in the golf course, including the installation of a disc golf course over the existing course and the creation of a walking / cart path around the course. Robertson said the 10-round punch card, promoted in the past year, was well received.

DANIEL MEYER POOL

Dials said 2008-2009 revenues at the pool were $46,215.25 while expenditures were $122,225, with a subsidy of $76,009.75 and a recovery rate of 38%. She said the commission approved rate increases in February 2009 and revenues increased by $6,700 with little increase in participation. She said the new swim lesson program had fewer participants in summer 2009 and the pool schedule received both positive and negative feedback. She said staff would adjust the summer 2010 schedule based on feedback received.

No increases were recommended for this category.

YOUTH RECREATION PROGRAMS

Dials said 2008-2009 revenues for youth recreation programs—including rafting day trips, youth tennis, and the All Comers track events—were $6,055 while expenditures were $10,850, indicating a subsidy of $4,795 and a recovery rate of 55%. She said youth programs continued to be scaled back due to decreasing enrollment levels. She said there were two All Comers track events in 2009 at which approximately 40 participants per event paid $1 each. She spoke of obtaining sponsorship in the coming year to offset costs.

No increases were recommended for this category.

SPECIAL EVENTS

Dials said 2008-2009 revenues for special events—including Movies in the Park, Bike Swap, 4th of July Run, and Mt. Ashland Hill Climb Run—were $36,130 while expenditures for staff assistance, helmets, bike safety classes, event supplies, payments to bike sellers and event coordinators, and contracted staff were $59,944.25, indicating a subsidy of $23,814.25 and a recovery rate of 60%. She said Earth Day and Salmon Festival were not included in this category because funding for those events was generated from local sponsorships and direct costs were paid out of the Ashland Parks Foundation.

Dials recommended no fee adjustments and said staff was considering phasing out of the Bike Swap in the coming years due to its intensive use of staff time with little financial reward. She said management of the Mt. Ashland run might be taken over by the Ashland Woodlands and Trails Association. She said the Movies in the Park sponsor, US Cellular, notified Parks that they were terminating sponsorship for next year, so Parks would partner with Medford Parks and Recreation and seek out alternative sponsorship in the future.

NORTH MOUNTAIN PARK NATURE CENTER

Dials said 2008-2009 revenues for the Nature Center—including community classes and events, school programs, donations, interpretations and exhibits, service learning, and volunteers—were $40,795 while expenditures for community classes, events, and community gardens, school programs, interpretations and exhibits, service learning, and volunteers were $310,795, indicating a subsidy of $270,000 and a recovery rate of 13%. She said the Ashland School District did not pay for school programs as part of their contract with Parks and, this year, each class was required to “pay as you go.” She said Nature Center recreation programs also used the 70/30 split (Parks / instructors) and most classes were offered just once.

In terms of community garden expenses, Stewardship Coordinator Linda Chesney said, in the coming year, gardeners would pay a $20 refundable deposit and then work / document four volunteer hours to receive their deposit refund. She said Parks Department community garden areas located at Ashland Creek Park and Scenic Park were full and had waiting lists.

Gies said twelve community garden plots would soon be installed at the Clay Street Park.

Dials recommended the following fee adjustments:

1.       Charge $5-10 more for plots with fence line bonus space (depending on plot size)

2.       Retain $20 deposit if volunteer hours not completed and documented

3.       Increase 20x20 plot fee from $50 to $65 for the sake of equity

Dials said the community garden currently recovered expenses at a rate of 95%.

ASHLAND SENIOR CENTER

Dials said 2008-2009 revenues for the Senior Center—including the RVCOG grant and other grants and donations—were $11,510 while expenditures for full- and part-time staff, materials and supplies, the Food and Friends Program, and utilities were $112,548, indicating a subsidy of $101,038 and a recovery rate of 10%, the same rate as the previous year. She said expenses increased from the previous year due to the rehiring of a position. She said staff hoped to install a “Donate Now” button on the Parks Web site to allow donors to contribute to the Senior Center electronically via the Ashland Parks Foundation.

Dials said additional costs for all Recreation Division programs and facilities included salaries of supporting Recreation Division staff members and the Parks Director. She said the additional costs were not factored into the calculations presented.

Dials agreed to prepare a complete list of fee recommendations for the September 28 regular meeting.

ADJOURNMENT– By consensus, Gardiner adjourned the meeting at 9:08 p.m.

Respectfully submitted, Susan Dyssegard, Ashland Parks and Recreation

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