Agendas and Minutes

Parks & Recreation Commission (View All)

Parks Commission Regular Meeting Minutes

Minutes
Monday, February 28, 2011

City of Ashland

PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION

REGULAR MEETING

 

MINUTES

February 28, 2011

ATTENDANCE

Present:     Commissioners Eggers, Landt, Lewis, Rosenthal, Seffinger; Director Robertson; Superintendents Dials and Gies

Absent:      City Council Liaison Slattery

CALL TO ORDER

Eggers called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. at Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

Special Meeting – January 11, 2011

MOTION Rosenthal moved to approve the minutes as presented. Lewis seconded the motion.

The vote was: All yes (Seffinger abstained)

Study Session – January 24, 2011

MOTION Lewis moved to approve the minutes as presented. Landt seconded the motion.

The vote was: All yes

Regular Meeting – January 31, 2011

MOTION Lewis moved to approve the minutes as presented. Rosenthal seconded the motion.

The vote was: All yes

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION

OPEN FORUM

David Tourzan, 395 Granite Street, asked the commission to act both logically and from the heart in reconsidering the Ashland Creek anti-wading enforcements within Lithia Park. He said they informally began enforcing, in 2009, their 1916 anti-wading ordinance after 30 years of non-enforcement, and he asked them to informally reverse that practice. Based on the Ashland Creek Water Study of 2010, he said the TID inflow into Ashland Creek was a major source of pollution, not humans wading in the creek.

Allen Baker, 1042 Oak Knoll Drive, asked the commission to install updated tennis lights at the Hunter Park tennis courts. He said hot summer weather prevented most players from using the courts during the day and updated lights could provide for safer, longer play time in the evenings and would last for years. He said the existing lights were outdated, inadequate, inefficient, and required a great deal of maintenance. He asked the commission to stop throwing good money after bad.

Gail Patton, 822 Michelle Street, a tennis pro who taught adult tennis lessons in the summer and fall, said September classes were taught in the semi-dark with players barely able to see their balls, which posed a safety concern. She said the Hunter Park tennis courts were a great resource but minimally usable during the day in the summer due to heat. She suggested installing metered lights that could be activated by patrons’ quarters.

ADDITIONS OR DELETIONS TO THE AGENDA

None

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

COMMUNITY GARDENS AT GARDEN WAY PARK

Gies said the commission discussed, at the January 31 regular meeting, possibly adding a community garden at Garden Way Park but had some questions for staff. He said staff contacted neighbors adjacent to the proposed garden and all were in favor of the gardens and staff also received two favorable emails and two telephone complaints. He said he altered the garden design after the January 31 meeting by moving it to the east by 29 feet but the number of plots remained at ten and the estimated cost was still $4,000.

MOTION: Landt moved to authorize the installation of community gardens at Garden Way Park as outlined on the staff drawing and as discussed by the commission and staff. Rosenthal seconded the motion.

The vote was: All yes

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

FY 2011-2012 GOAL SETTING DISCUSSION

Robertson asked for direction from the commission in establishing FY 2011-2012 goals. Landt requested pushing back the completion date for the lower Clay Street properties by one year (from fall 2011 to fall 2012). Commissioners spoke favorably about including a goal of reviewing and establishing Parks standards for design, development / redevelopment, and maintenance. Seffinger asked if there would be any consideration about artificial turf in the lower Clay Street Park area and asked about adult fitness equipment for seniors at the Senior Center that would aid seniors with coordination and balance. Robertson said staff would research the equipment and report back to the commission. When asked how goals were addressed throughout the year, Robertson said the commission used them as study session topics and assigned each goal a completion date and staff coordinator. Rosenthal and Seffinger requested resolution to the issues addressed during the dog forum and at subsequent commission meetings at which dogs were discussed. Landt agreed about the need to add “dogs” to an agenda in the near future and Eggers asked for some direction or guidelines about enforcement. Seffinger and Landt asked staff to integrate objectives and timelines into the goals and other commissioners agreed. Landt spoke of the importance of resurfacing the Calle Guanajuato as the well-used walkway was in poor condition and posed safety concerns.

The revised draft FY 2011-2012 Parks Commission goals list included:

·         Financial and Business Plan—completed spring 2013

·         Lower Clay Street properties—completed fall 2012 (extended by one year)

·         Oak Knoll Golf Course—completed summer 2011

·         Preliminary steps toward the creation of a Lithia Park master plan—completed spring 2011

·         Review and update Parks, Trails, and Open Space Plan—completed winter 2012

·         Explore bonding as it relates to the Capital Improvement Plan—completed winter 2012

·         Resurface Calle Guanajuato—completed fall 2011

·         Review and establish Parks design, development or redevelopment, and maintenance standards—completed fall 2011

Topics transferred from the goals list to a policy / practices list included:

·         Nature Center

·         Community Communication – write up as a policy, then become standard department practice

·         Environmental evaluations and audits

Robertson said staff would refine the wording of each goal and bring the list back for further review.

NEW BUSINESS

ANNUAL INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT POLICY REVIEW / VOLUNTEER PROGRAM

Eggers said in May 2010 the commission approved a Parks integrated pest management policy and agreed to review it annually, with staff recommending any changes. Gies said the IPM policy review would be presented by staff horticulturist Anne Thayer, a licensed pesticide applicator, and he invited her to speak to the commission.

Thayer said the use of pesticide products by Parks staff in 2010 was almost half the amount used in 2009. She said citizen Julie Norman assisted staff with creating improved documentation sheets for pesticide applications, to accurately record details about pesticide use, and then transferred the data onto spreadsheets. She said staff now posted warning notices about pesticide use 48 hours in advance and 50-foot buffers were required within riparian zones, around playgrounds, and at community gardens. Gies said lawns were not sprayed but instead were overseeded to crowd out weeds. Thayer displayed a map showing eight pesticide-free parks within Ashland: Clay Street, Garden Way, Garfield, Glenwood, Railroad, Scenic, Sherwood, and inside the fence at the Dog Park. She said the golf course was in transition and the new golf course superintendent was working on obtaining her pesticide applicator’s license. Requested exemptions to the IPM policy included contracted maintenance at Ashland Community Hospital and the Ashland Airport, in controlling poison oak on 22 miles of Ashland trails during the leaf out period (between Memorial Day and Labor Day), on North Mountain Park granite pathways, for spot treatment of invasives within riparian zones, and for use of non-synthetic products within riparian zones during the non-spray season (from Memorial Day through Labor Day). Thayer displayed photos of three non-synthetic products—Safer, WorryFree, and Burnout—and said they were citrus-based or vinegar-based products. She said bleacher pads and fence line strips (concrete poured under areas to reduce handweeding and weedeating) and mulching saved hours of staff time. She said 2010 IPM costs included funds for mulch ($5,650) and herbicides ($417) and community service workers provided 960 hours of labor. Her IPM reduction plan for 2011 included use of organic / non-synthetics only, completion of the Hunter Park fence mow strip in field 1, mow strips and concrete pours in areas of Garfield Park, mow strips at Railroad Park, bench and table pads at Sherwood Park, and golf maintenance shop landscaping. She said the total cost for glyphosate in 2010 was $307.12 while the proposed cost of an organic alternative in 2011 was $9,975.

Discussion Among Commissioners

Landt asked why contracted maintenance areas were included within the Parks IPM policy and Robertson said all Parks-managed lands were included. Landt clarified that it would cost nearly $10,000 for organic products in 2011 (compared to $307.12 for synthetic products in 2010) and Robertson agreed and said the City of Arcata, CA found WorryFree to be an effective organic product. Seffinger asked staff if they had looked at radiant heaters as a method for controlling weeds and said they were mostly used in Europe and Australia. Landt suggested using steam devices for top kill and Robertson said he tested the steam method in the Gresham parks system and found it to be labor-intensive and relatively ineffective.

Volunteer Coordinator Lori Ainsworth presented a report on her volunteer program, called “Volunteer in Parks” (VIP), and said she had been implementing it over the past four months and found that citizens of Ashland loved their parks and trails and wanted them to be weed free without chemicals. She said work parties were underway, with the first event held at Scenic Park. She said Scenic Park now had a park coordinator and work parties were ongoing. She said a Clay Street Park work party utilized students from the Siskiyou School and a Calle Guanajuato work party was scheduled for the upcoming weekend. She said citizens were being asked to adopt their parks and a trail host program was also under development. She reported working with volunteers through the Job Council and the local middle school, high school, and university.

Public Input

Bonnie Nedrow, 730 Walnut Street, thanked the commission for their efforts and implored them to do more and go pesticide-free within Ashland City parks. She spoke with concern about the exemptions outlined in the IPM presentation and said the health of children and others was important. She asked the commission to choose other alternatives besides pesticides.

Dakota Otto, 1012 Bellview Avenue, said he was impressed by the recommendations outlined in the presentations and he asked the commission to accept the recommendations and remove all synthetic pesticides from Ashland parks within the next two years. He requested more signage and publicity about pesticide-free parks as it would help educate the public about efforts toward reducing or eliminating pesticides in Ashland.

Devon Evans speaking on behalf of Catherine Razi, principal of the Siskiyou School, 631 Clay Street, said the added exposure to pesticides was unnecessary given the available alternatives. Speaking on her own behalf, Evans asked the commission to post a sign at Clay Street Park indicating that the park was pesticide-free. She said the community gardens at Clay Street Park were no longer used by Siskiyou School classes because the school had the impression the gardens were sprayed with pesticides.

Gies said the park had not been sprayed since late September or early October and the community gardens were never sprayed.

Ken Friedman, 772 Jacquelyn Street, a third grade teacher at the Siskiyou School, said the children in his classroom got sick from eating food at the Clay Street Park community garden even though Parks staff said the gardens were not sprayed. He said the children appreciated playing in the park and wrote letters to the commission. He asked the commission to eliminate chemicals in Ashland parks.

Angie Thusius, 897 Beach Street, speaking on behalf of Grandmothers and Friends in Green, said she appreciated the progress made toward eliminating pesticides from parks. She said the EPA continued to find that some pesticides deemed safe in earlier years were not safe. She said even organic products were chemicals and had high percentages of inert ingredients. She asked the commission to write into their IPM policy a goal of eliminating all pesticides and to work with NCAP and citizen groups toward that end.

Gilda Montenegro-Fix, 364 Clay Street #101, thanked the commission for listening to citizen concerns and said she attended the meeting because of her love of nature, children, the planet, and the sacredness of life. She said the commission gave of their time to preserve natural spaces and she was delighted to hear of the work completed so far. She thanked the commission for the policy that would help eliminate pesticides in City parks.

Cate Hartzell, 892 Garden Way, referring to the spot treatments of non-native or invasive plants in riparian zones, said the riparian zones needed to be held as sacrosanct. In terms of the poison oak throughout 22 miles of trails in the Ashland parks system, she said the trails would never be free of poison oak. She asked that North Mountain Park be used as a model for alternative solutions to pesticides. She asked the commission to be pioneers in caring for parks without the use of chemicals, to establish a forward-thinking procedure for use of chemicals at the golf course, and to adopt a plan toward the elimination of pesticides. She said they were on the right path but needed to listen to the community and do more.

Daniel Gregg, 195 Mobile Drive, said he was encouraged by the presentations and asked the commission to use volunteers, to let weeds grow, and to reduce the need for organic pesticides that would incur extra costs. He suggested creating landscaping plans that required less maintenance and asked the commission to not use synthetic pesticides and to check out the inert ingredients in organics.

Tom Dimitre, 901 Beach Street, representing the Rogue Group Sierra Club, provided a statement (read by Robertson) indicating that the commission was at an important moment in history and had the opportunity to protect the health of the community, especially children, infants, and pets using Ashland parks while promoting them as pesticide-free havens. He asked the commission to ensure that the parks would be safe for all users by implementing a pesticide-free park policy, to be phased in over two years.

Bach-Thor, P.O. Box 3587, applauded the commission on the elimination of glyphosate in Ashland parks and said he hoped the transition to organic pesticides could be implemented wisely and given a fair trial. He voiced support for the use of infrared shades, a tool he promoted to the commission in spring 2010, and said it was worth looking at as it would reduce the need for herbicides.

Discussion Among Commissioners

Landt suggested allowing organic pesticide products in all places at all times as long as pesticide applicators followed packaging guidelines. He further suggested transitioning half of the Ashland park acreage to herbicide free, with an evaluation in one year, and if costs didn’t exceed $10,000, transitioning the remaining park acreage to herbicide free the following year. Landt said the public was asking for pesticide-free parks within two years and his system would allow for one year of applications as proposed followed by a review. He said the slower approach might prevent unanticipated consequences. Seffinger said Arcata used lemon oil and clove oil. She said she heard from many local people who were concerned about this issue and she reported that when she lived in Watsonville, CA, she worked with children with physical and mental problems caused by excessive exposure to chemicals. Rosenthal said organics also contained inert ingredients and that if the commission decided to use organics, he would want them to do so within the guidelines of the IPM policy. He recommended educating the public about the eight pesticide-free parks within Ashland. Lewis said many references were made to Arcata’s “pesticide-free parks system,” but Arcata used organic pesticides and therefore were not pesticide-free. He said there weren’t any pesticide-free parks on the west coast. Seffinger said the commission needed to talk about designing a park without a great deal of grass or the need for much maintenance. In answer to Eggers’s question about how staff reached the $100,000 estimation for becoming pesticide free, Robertson said staff proposed hiring additional part-time staff and also looked at Portland’s model in which they found a 10-to-1 ratio in price difference (from using chemicals to only using organic products). He said Portland was now backing off from some of its pesticide reduction efforts. Lewis said he was excited to hear Ainsworth’s presentation and to see volunteers coming out. He said he hoped many volunteers could be trained to work in parks, with good press generated, to help the commission move closer to their goal. He said citizens used pesticides at their homes and he asked citizens to speak to fellow community members about reducing their use of chemicals. He thanked all the speakers for attending the meeting. Eggers said she wanted the commission to consider using organic pesticides year-round but very conservatively within the riparian zones, with all 50-foot buffers retained. Landt said the organics under consideration were sprayed on food.

Commissioners agreed about the need for more volunteers in maintaining parks, more publicity about the eight pesticide-free parks in Ashland, and the creation of a community education component.

MOTION: Landt moved to permit the use of certified organic pesticides in all locations throughout the parks system at all times as long as the applications were consistent with label guidelines. Eggers seconded the motion.

                                         The vote was:   Eggers, Landt – yes

                                                                 Lewis, Rosenthal, Seffinger – no

MOTION: Rosenthal moved to authorize staff to replace synthetic pesticides in all Ashland parks with organic products, using the application standards outlined in the existing Integrated Pest Management Policy, with the exceptions of Oak Knoll Golf Course and poison oak in summer months. Seffinger seconded the motion.

Discussion of Motion

Landt said his goal was to move toward this conclusion but he had some reservations because it would be difficult to move backward if the commission found this plan to be too costly. He said his campaign promise was for synthetic herbicide-free parks but not with huge budget impacts. He said he would vote yes on this motion as he felt it was the right thing to do at this time.

                                            The vote was:   Landt, Lewis, Seffinger, Rosenthal – yes

                                                                 Eggers – no

Staff was directed to post the pesticide-free parks map online.

MOTION: Landt moved to extend the meeting to 10:30 p.m. Lewis seconded the motion. By consensus, the meeting was extended to 10:30.

CALLE GUANAJUATO SPACE CONTRACTS

Dials said six restaurants requested outdoor seating on the Calle Guanajuato in the 2011 season: Munchies, Greenleaf, Louie’s Bar and Grill, Grilla Bites, Sesame, and Hana Sushi. She asked the commission to determine the “season of operation” for the artisans and restaurateurs and said the 2010 season ran from April 1-November 15. She asked the commission to approve the 2011 Calle restaurant seating contracts and agreements and to allow staff to determine the square footage allotments. She asked for direction relative to the space behind Sesame Restaurant and Websters and said staff recommended allowing at least one artisan booth in that area.

Dona Zimmerman, 1690 Butler Creek Road, speaking as the owner of Websters, said she asked the commission two years earlier not to place artisan booths or restaurant seats in front of her back business entrance at 10 Guanajuato Way. She said incoming and outgoing goods for her establishment went through that door and it was a viable business entrance. She again requested an eight-foot clearance around her back doorway and said she was opposed to including additional artisan booths in that area.

Lisa Beam, 400 Liberty Street, speaking as the owner of Sesame Restaurant, said there were many weekends in which Sesame Restaurant could not set up outdoor seating on the Calle because of bad weather so they paid for space they didn’t use. She said Sesame worked successfully with the artisans in 2010 to make the best use of the space provided.

Jim Young, 1102 Holton Road in Talent, speaking as the representative for Lithia Artisans Market, said the artisans and restaurateurs worked well together in providing Calle patrons with food, a cultural experience, and something to take home that reflected the area. He said all elements on the Calle were better when the other elements were present. He said the extended season in past years wasn’t usable at certain times due to rain. In terms of the space behind Websters, he said the artisans would not continue to request use of that area if Websters opposed it.  With regard to the artisans’ earlier request for an expanded marketplace on the front lawn of Lithia Park, he said the artisans knew it would take additional time.

MOTION: Landt moved to authorize operating the Calle season from April 1 through October 31. Seffinger seconded the motion.

Discussion of Motion

Rosenthal said a shorter season would decrease earning potential for the artisans and restaurateurs.

                                         The vote was:   Eggers, Landt – yes

                                                                 Lewis, Rosenthal, Seffinger – no

MOTION: Rosenthal moved to authorize operating the Calle season from April 1 through November 15. Lewis seconded the motion.

                                         The vote was:   Lewis, Rosenthal, Seffinger – yes

                                                                 Eggers, Landt – no

Rosenthal said he would ask, the following year, for the commission to consider revisiting the $4-per-square-foot fee on the Calle and would suggest they connect it to an objective measure like the consumer price index.

The commission discussed the second item, which was a request for approval of the restaurant seating agreements; specifically, the areas behind Hana Sushi and Websters.

MOTION: Lewis moved to authorize retaining the same restaurant seating agreements in 2011 as in 2010.

The vote was: All yes

SUB-COMMITTEE and STAFF REPORTS

None

ITEMS FROM COMMISSIONERS

Rosenthal suggested that each commission have his or her own City of Ashland email account and / or his or her own City-issued computer. Robertson said he would check with the City about how they handled similar requests and report back to the commission.

Eggers asked whether any commissioner was interested in serving on the Forest Lands Commission. No commissioners volunteered to serve.

UPCOMING MEETING DATES

  • Study session set for March 21 at 7:00 p.m., Parks office, 340 S. Pioneer Street.
  • Regular meeting set for March 28 at 7:00 p.m., Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street.

ADJOURNMENT– By consensus, with no further business, Eggers adjourned the meeting at 10:23 p.m.

Respectfully submitted, Susan Dyssegard, Ashland Parks and Recreation

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