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Parks Commission Study Session Minutes

Minutes
Monday, August 16, 2010

City of Ashland

PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION

 

STUDY SESSION
MINUTES

August 16, 2010

ATTENDANCE

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

Absent:       City Council Liaison Jackson; Director Robertson

CALL TO ORDER

Gardiner called the meeting to order at 7:03 p.m. at the Parks office, 340 S. Pioneer.

PUBLIC INPUT

Lesley Adams, 268 N. Second Street, speaking on behalf of Rogue Riverkeepers and herself, said she moved to Ashland in 1998 and spent a great deal of time in Ashland Creek within Lithia Park. She said she was surprised to hear that David Tourzan received a fine for wading in the creek. She said she respected the commission’s need to protect the creek and riparian areas but felt the creek at the center of the park was important for citizens to experience. She asked if the commission planned to discuss designated creek entrance points at a future meeting and hear public input. She said the 1916 ordinance designating only two entrance points into the creek needed to be reviewed.

George Sexton, 268 N. Second Street, said he had lived in Ashland for ten years and worked on forest health and riparian issues. He reported visiting Ashland Creek on a weekly basis and putting his feet into the water and said he was not a criminal. He volunteered to assist with the storm drain markings project. He said he cared deeply about the health of the creek and felt it was wrong to prohibit access to the creek.

David Tourzan, 395 Granite Street, said he asked business owners and others in the downtown area to sign a petition about revising Municipal Code 10.28.160 and allowing increased recreational enjoyment of Ashland Creek while preserving the creek and stream banks. He displayed to the commission three pages of signatures from residents of Ashland, Talent, Medford, Central Point, and Eugene and said 90% of the people with whom he spoke felt access to the creek should be allowed. He said he received a citation from a park patrol officer when he purposely engaged in civil disobedience by refusing to remove himself from an area in the creek that was not designated for wading or swimming.

Lorie Anderson, 245 Fifth Street, wrote a letter to the commission in which she asked for the decriminalization of Lithia Park’s creek. She said she and her husband, 35-year residents of Ashland, owned a home within walking distance of the park and spent many enjoyable hours swimming, rock hopping, and exploring the creek and park with their children, friends, fellow residents, and visitors. She wrote of being appalled about a resident’s $369 fine for doing what many others had done: wading in the creek with a child. She requested an immediate halt to all police action against waders in the creek until the 1916 ordinance could be studied, discussed, resolved, and made fair. She asked for signage to make park patrons aware of the creek areas designated as accessible.

LITHIA PARK MASTER PLAN

Gies distributed a list of starting points for the Lithia Park master plan discussion. Categories included “What Is It,” “Outcomes,” and “Other Thoughts.” He referenced a 30-year-old drawing depicting a phased restoration of Lithia Park. He requested feedback and direction from the commission.

Commissioners suggested various names for the proposed project, including management plan, sustainability plan, and stewardship plan. They talked about not spending a great deal of money on a master plan and discussed developing a conceptual plan and a timeline for the project.

Noraas said she taught summer science in past years and took children on stream walks in Ashland Creek. She suggested including within the plan a review of creek entrance points. Lewis emphasized the importance of the park’s history and said it was important to include in the planning process. Commissioners discussed forming a stewardship plan subcommittee and Eggers and Rosenthal volunteered to serve on the subcommittee.

Dials said staff was conducting an inventory in the Parks system of signs and interpretive materials to determine what signage was available to park patrons and identify gaps in signage. She said surveys were underway in the community and online and results would be communicated to the commission. Eggers asked that results be reviewed with the subcommittee before staff took any further action with signage.

Lesley Adams talked about the work of the Ashland Creek water quality subcommittee, a community-wide effort that included members of the public and environmental experts. She said water was tested at seven points along the creek on a weekly basis for the purpose of determining the cause of contamination. She said the group was in their third month of data collection and they planned to publish a report by the end of the year and possibly continue with the project the following year.

NON-NATIVE VEGETATION CONTROL

Gies distributed a Problematic / Invasive Plants Management Plan that included problematic plants, prescriptions, and maps showing populations at each site. He thanked Parks staff for their efforts in creating the booklet. He said the introduction provided an overview of the project and the work would never be completed as the project was ongoing. He said page eight showed prescriptions that remained for completion and suggested transferring the funding for non-native species control to the Forestry Division.

Forestry and Trails Supervisor Jeff McFarland said the cover photo of the document showed a staff member standing beside a tall blackberry growth at Clay Street Park. He said the blackberries, a fire hazard as well as a privacy barrier for the residents of a neighboring apartment complex, were removed the year before and some of the neighbors were unhappy about the loss of privacy and berries while the apartment’s managers expressed gratitude for the removals. He said areas throughout the Parks system were treated and then retreated.

McFarland said current grant projects included: 1) a grant through the OR Department of Forestry to treat areas in Siskiyou Mountain Park and Lithia Park (located within 400 feet of private properties) and bring them into level 1 fuels compliance, including removals of ground fuels and lightening of ladder fuels. He said the free grant provided treatments worth approximately $15-20,000; 2) a $40,000 grant to treat 47 acres for fuels reduction, retreatment of part of the fuel break, and lightening and thinning in the Siskiyou Mountain Park; and 3) a $42,659 grant from the OR Water Enhancement Board for the Ashland Creek Ponds and Riparian Project.

McFarland said areas were inspected by state foresters upon completion and he worked closely with the fire department to discuss their requirements from a fuels management perspective. He said the Forestry Division treated light fuels and flash fuels to create fuel breaks. In answer to Eggers’ question about what remained for the health of the ecology, McFarland said the trees were felled perpendicular to the slope for erosion control and bowls were retained. He said geologists seldom questioned the Forestry Division’s fuels management practices. In response to Rosenthal’s question about how the new integrated pest management policy impacted prescriptions, Gies said the prescriptions showed areas that were treated with pesticides and the new volunteer coordinator would organize groups of volunteers for manual removals of such things as non-native species growing within fifty feet of creeks. He said staff would complete the final prescriptions and include them in the current management plan.

Commissioners thanked staff for their presentation and agreed to adopt the Problematic / Invasive Plants Management Plan during the budget / goals season.

ITEMS FROM COMMISSIONERS AND STAFF

Gies said staff researched Mardi Mastain’s request of July 26 to purchase a section of land adjacent to her home at the corner of Nutley and Granite streets that was included within Lithia Park acreage. He said staff learned it was not possible for her to purchase or lease the land but they could work with her on improving the landscaping at that location.

Gies said the September 27 regular meeting date conflicted with the 2010 ORPA conference. The commission said they would discuss the possibility of rescheduling the meeting at their August 23 meeting.

Noraas asked McFarland to share his knowledge about pirate trails in the watershed and McFarland said downhill mountain bike traffic had increased in the recent past, with Ashland trails used for mountain biking events and featured in Outside Magazine. He said the trails were taking a beating and the Ashland Woodlands and Trails Association offered to head up a coalition that would include representatives of all trail user groups, with a goal toward reassessing and remapping trails. He said mountain bikers had built extreme features in forest lands without permission, with one group using an excavator to construct jumps. He said the Forest Service had gathered evidence but did not have enough information to prosecute. McFarland said cyclists were being instructed to use only legitimate trails and reputable bicycle touring companies for mountain biking excursions.

ADJOURNMENT – By consensus, Gardiner adjourned the meeting at 8:52 p.m.

Respectfully submitted, Susan Dyssegard, Ashland Parks and Recreation

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