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Parks Commission Study Session Minutes

Minutes
Monday, July 19, 2010

City of Ashland

PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION

 

STUDY SESSION
MINUTES

July 19, 2010

ATTENDANCE

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

Absent:       Commissioners Gardiner and Rosenthal

CALL TO ORDER

Lewis called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. at North Mountain Park Nature Center, 620 N. Mountain.

NATURE CENTER PRESENTATION OF PROGRAMS AND SERVICES AND TOUR

Environmental Stewardship Coordinator Linda Chesney welcomed the commission and said it was a busy summer at the Nature Center that included coordinating community programs and volunteer efforts, planning for fall programs, and organizing the upcoming Bear Creek Festival. She said gardens at the Nature Center were growing well due to a wet spring and community gardeners and volunteers were increasing in number. She said the Nature Center applied for but did not receive an Americorps grant for the 2010-2011 year, a position that assisted with Service Learning coordination. Dials said the $12,500 allocated in the Nature Center budget for that contracted position would be utilized to provide backfill at the Nature Center. Chesney said Nature Center staff participated in a storm drain marking program mandated by the DEQ for all storm drains in the City and the Americorps person had coordinated the volunteers. She said coordination would be assumed by the CERT employee at Ashland Fire and Rescue.

Chesney said Nature Center goals were to increase efficiency by 1) maximizing the use of volunteers; 2) remodeling the Nature Center to increase and reorient office space; 3) enclosing the outdoor pavilion; 4) obtaining grant funding; 5) collaborating with other agencies on programs and services.

Chesney said the first tree climbing class held at the Nature Center over the weekend was a success.

Dials said Nature Center staff would no longer play a leading role or serve on the committee for the annual Earth Day event but would continue to have a table and provide sponsorship. 

Steve Gies said the new Volunteer Coordinator position would establish one set of guidelines for all volunteers in the Parks system, including Nature Center volunteers. Dials said the job description was nearly finished and the City’s Human Resources Department would post the position soon.

Education Coordinator Kari Gies said the Nature Center was finalizing interpretive projects that would be transitioned into maintenance mode. She said an exhibit and murals, currently under development, would become a permanent display in the main room for the benefit of parents, children, and school program participants. She said brochures and discovery kits were used by park visitors and school groups. She pointed out brochures, booklets, and interpretive materials placed around the room, created with the assistance of interpretive designer Karin Onkka, and said Onkka had an additional one-year contract with Parks and would focus on gathering information from surveys about signage and interpretation throughout the parks system.

Dials said Lithia Park office staff provided assistance to park visitors requesting information about park locations, plants, and animals but the hope was to offer materials that would allow for more self-guided discovery. Gies said Onkka had contracted hours that could be used for the Lithia Park interpretive project.

Gies said the recovery rate for school programs was around 50% (on direct costs). She talked about school programs for younger and older children, stating that nearly all of the programs had been developed and only one remained to be developed. She said she would need assistance with school programs, since the lack of an Americorps position left a gap. When asked where she got ideas for school programs and Nature Center projects she reported attending conferences, working with the Jefferson Nature Center and farm groups, doing exchanges with other camp programs, and networking.

Gies led a tour of the Nature Center building as well as outdoor features. She pointed out the water catchment barrels, the barn and corral, the compost area, and gardens. She said the barn was used as a storage area and both the barn and pavilion provided shelter for classes held in all types of weather. She said the corral structure was built of cut willows.

Commissioners thanked Nature Center staff for their presentation.

LOWER CLAY STREET PROPERTY

Robertson said the commission discussed the potential purchase of 3.75 acres of land on lower Clay Street, adjacent to the YMCA Park, at the June 28 regular meeting and the commission directed staff to research parking requirements and easement issues. He referenced a map of the area and said a 20-foot right-of-way would extend along the fence line and the commission would not be required to add parking spaces. He said staff encouraged community gardeners to choose garden locations within walking distance from their homes and the gardeners at lower Clay also would be encouraged to walk to their plots but might appreciate modest parking for off-loading gardening materials. He reported speaking with YMCA Executive Director Lisa Molnar about a master plan and other details relevant to the potential land acquisition and she agreed to the need for a master plan. He said he and Molnar spoke about the possibility of having YMCA staff assume maintenance of their park restrooms. He said staff would ask the commission for an up-or-down vote on the land acquisition at the regular meeting on Monday, July 26.

Robertson said Gardiner would present an information-only report to council the following evening on the commission’s integrated pest management policy and council members would be invited to participate in the six-month policy review. Jackson said some citizens had contacted council to request a complete ban on pesticides within City of Ashland park lands.

Jackson provided an update on the Ashland Gun Club in terms of their contract and soil issues. She said another council goal was to prioritize fines for various offenses occurring within the City.

ADJOURNMENT – By consensus, Lewis adjourned the meeting at 9:05 p.m.

Respectfully submitted, Susan Dyssegard, Ashland Parks and Recreation

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