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Parks Commission Study Session Minutes

Minutes
Monday, May 17, 2010

City of Ashland

PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION

 

STUDY SESSION
MINUTES

May 17, 2010

ATTENDANCE

Present:         Commissioners Gardiner, Lewis, Noraas, Rosenthal; City Council Liaison Jackson; Director Robertson; Superintendents Dials and Gies

Absent:       Commissioner Eggers

CALL TO ORDER

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

CIP BONDING

Robertson said the commission previously discussed leveraging Food and Beverage Tax funds for capital improvement projects. He said Rosenthal asked if the commission ever voted on purchasing the 3.7 acres located on lower Clay and staff researched the matter and found that a vote never occurred. He asked the commission if they wished to proceed with the land purchase.

Administrative Services and Finance Director Lee Tuneberg said bond counsel could help the commission determine whether to bond or borrow for the lower Clay Street land and other projects. He advised hiring bond counsel and said it would cost the commission between $5-10,000. He said the entire parcel at lower Clay was purchased by the city and the city would serve as the guarantor if the commission chose to bond or borrow to purchase the land from the city for $1.3M.

Discussion Among Commissioners

Commissioners voiced comments and concerns about the lower Clay Street land: additional soccer fields were a high priority at one time but might not be at the present time; the land was included on commission goals lists for years; developing the land would make the YMCA Park more useful for citizens wishing to use the park who were not YMCA members; and the importance of providing park land in dense neighborhoods such as lower Clay.

Robertson said the YMCA Park soccer fields were not suitable for adult-sized soccer players and the commission had discussed improving one of the fields and shifting the park entrance to make it more welcoming for the community. He said the Food and Beverage Tax would provide Parks with $400-450,000 per year for twenty years and the lower Clay Street property price of $1.3M included principle, interest, and the financing of the acreage over 6-1/2 years. Tuneberg said if the commission chose not to purchase the land then the city would sell some of the lots to pay back the debt and recoup $1.3M. Robertson suggested several options: making improvements to the YMCA Park without acquiring the land; purchasing less land than the full 3.7 acres; or purchasing all 3.7 acres.

Tuneberg said the commission would need to write a memo outlining proposed projects along with estimated costs for staff to take to council. If bonding or borrowing were approved, he said all associated projects would need to be completed within 24 months. He said bond counsel preferred bigger projects rather than smaller projects or master plans. Robertson said bigger projects included the golf course irrigation system replacement, tennis court lighting improvements, restroom remodels using a smaller footprint, developing Ashland Creek Park, and resurfacing tennis courts and the Calle Guanajuato.

Robertson said he would compile a list of proposed projects and their estimated costs for the commission’s consideration, discuss leveraging options with Tuneberg, and talk to the City Administrator about possibly purchasing less than 3.7 acres of land at the lower Clay Street location.

UPPER CLAY STREET “CHITWOOD” PARK BIOSWALE DISCUSSION

Landscape Architect Kerry KenCairn referenced a letter she wrote to the commission along with two architectural drawings. She said 1) the city required treatment of the stormwater coming off the paved surfaces at the Chitwood site prior to its entrance into the existing piped system or the natural creek area, and 2) Chitwood Lane was uphill from this proposed project, on the downhill side of the Ashlander Apartments, and there were no existing utility easements through the Ashlander apartment complex. She said she needed to facilitate the removal and treatment of stormwater from the site prior to its entrance into either the existing city stormwater system or the existing creek channel. She said space was not available on the development site for such a treatment swale and the land that was available and viable belonged to Parks. She suggested crafting an agreement with the commission to facilitate the project in exchange for reciprocal services, cash, or development work.

Robertson said the commission previously agreed to sell a corner section of land to the developers and were now asked to relinquish another section for the housing project. He asked what KenCairn would charge for a park master plan of that size, including all the amenities selected by the commission. He questioned whether RVCDC would be willing to pay for her master planning services in exchange for project facilitation. He said the typical public process associated with master planning could proceed but in a shorter timeframe, with a preliminary drawing prepared and a public meeting scheduled for neighboring residents.

Discussion Among Commissioners

Commissioners spoke favorably about the concept of trading master planning services for project facilitation.

Robertson said he would speak with the City Attorney and Finance Director about the proposal.

NORTH MOUNTAIN PARK WALKING PATH / DOGS

Dials said Nature Center staff requested the discontinuation of “dog friendly” status for a short section of trail within N. Mountain Park. She said dogs were not allowed in the park except for a small section of trail that began on N. Mountain Avenue near the upper (southern) end of the park, ran east through the play area, then turned south to exit the park and connect with Village Square Drive. She said Nature Center staff frequently communicated with dog walkers near the Nature Center to ask them not to enter the park with their pets. She said not allowing dogs on any section of the park land would provide a more manageable regulation for park users, with confusion eliminated about what sections were or were not “dog friendly.” She said there were no doggie disposal stations at either end of the connecting trail. She said dog walkers would still have the option of traveling from N. Mountain Avenue to the Village Square subdivision via Village Green drive. If approved, she asked the commission to allow staff to post signs effective June 11, 2010.

Discussion Among Commissioners

Commissioners agreed that the existing park signage was confusing, with some signs indicating “No Dogs Allowed” and others directing park patrons to the “dog friendly” trail section via paw prints. Noraas suggested rethinking the “no dogs” policy in city parks, especially in cases such as Railroad Park, where the bike path ran parallel with the park and dogs were frequently seen. She said parks with wildlife habitats, such as N. Mountain and Lithia, were not appropriate for dogs.

Staff was directed to include the item on the May 24 regular meeting agenda.

ADJOURNMENT– By consensus, Gardiner adjourned the meeting at 8:45 p.m.

Respectfully submitted, Susan Dyssegard, Ashland Parks and Recreation

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