City of Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission
REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
June 25, 2001
Present -- JoAnne Eggers, Sally Jones, Rick Landt, Jim Lewis, Councilor Don Laws, Director Ken Mickelsen.
Absent -- Laurie MacGraw
CALL TO ORDER
Chair Landt called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. at the Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Regular Meeting – May 21, 2001 Commissioner Jones made a motion to approve the minutes of the May 21, 2001 Regular Meeting as written. Commissioner Eggers seconded. The vote was: 4 yes – 0 no
Special Meeting – May 30, 2001 Commissioner Eggers made a motion to approve the minutes of the May 30, 2001 Special Meeting as written. Commissioner Jones seconded. The vote was: 4 yes – 0 no
PUBLIC PARTICIPATION – Open Forum None.
ADDITIONS or DELETIONS to the Agenda None.
Request to establish a committee related to "Art in the Parks"
Director Mickelsen reported that several months ago the Commission had indicated that at some future date it would address establishing a policy related to "Art in the Parks". In a letter dated June 28, 2001, Richard Benson (351 Morton Street) stated that Commissioners that at that time they expressed interest in developing a committee to look into this matter, and, requested that the Commission appoint a committee consisting of interested members of the community that would "draft proposals and undertake the background study necessary" that would enable the Commission to formulate a policy.
Commissioner Eggers suggested that the item be postponed until the interested people bring the Commission their proposal. Commissioner Lewis concurred.
Commissioner Landt commented that his concern was that the Commission’s primary goal for this year was to update the Open Space \ Park Land Acquisition Plan. He said that, although this topic was a valuable topic to be looking at, he would prefer to postpone addressing it until a later date because it could potentially be very time consuming. He was not ready to let that compete with the time that will need to be spent on the goal related to the Open Space plan.
With a majority of Commissioners choosing not to address the topic at this time, Chair Landt asked that the Director contact Mr. Benson to explain the Commission’s reasons for not taking action on his request to establish a committee related to "Art in the Parks" at this time.
Discussion on improving water quality in Lithia Park ponds
Having reviewed and discussed information developed by Paul Kay, a volunteer water quality specialist, related to improving water quality in the Lithia Park ponds, Commissioners briefly discussed the next step in the project. Staff was directed to provide URS, an engineering firm specializing in wastewater and
wetland treatments, the information developed by Mr. Kay on options the Commission was considering for the lower pond. By working with staff and Mr. Kay, the firm would be asked to briefly comment on the options and their viability in resolving the water quality problems at the lower pond and to offer alternative options if they felt that something else would be more viable. It was anticipated that the comments from URS would be available for discussion at the Commission's July Regular Meeting.
Prior to the Commission being able to choose an overall plan for improving water quality, Commissioner Jones commented that she would like to see some temporary measures used to help the problem related to the over abundance of food that the public feeds the ducks, particularly the large quantities of bread. Other Commissioners supported the idea. Staff was asked to place some temporary signs at the lower pond so that people would start becoming aware of the problem of excess feeding, particularly bread. Staff was also asked to send a notice to downtown restaurants asking that they no longer provide "stale bread" to people to use as "duck food." For the July meeting, staff would provide the Commission with some management options for the Commission to consider related to "feeding".
Related to the upper pond, staff was asked to look for consultants that would have some expertise in evaluating the kinds of systems that Mr. Kay has investigated and described as possible options. At the August meeting, staff was to provide the Commission with information related to what consultants might be appropriate to use and what the cost would be.
Discussion of use of Vogel property
Director Mickelsen said that the City Council had approved the purchase of the Vogel property at the corner of Oak and Hersey for park purposes and that the purchase was now in progress. Because the property would soon be under the Commission's jurisdiction, there were several management practices that the Commission needs to address. He said that for many years the Vogels have boarded horses on the property. The horses owners are very interested in knowing whether or not the Commission will continue with that practice. He said that a staff memorandum dated June 19, 2001 outlines other issues the Commission may want to address such as public access and irrigation. The overall question is how the Commission chooses to manage the property until such a time that it is developed into a neighborhood park.
Gail Thorpe(15 B. Street) said that she was one of the individuals who boarded her horse at the Vogel property. She said that she and the other horse owners have boarded with the Vogels for a number of years; that they work well together and have taken good care of the property. She said that at least for the short term she and the other owners would very much like for the situation to remain the same. However, if the Commission believes it is necessary to stop boarding horses, she and the other owners would appreciate a reasonable lead time to re-locate their horses.
Ellie Read (398 N. Laurel) said that she didn't have much to add to what Ms. Thorpe said and that the issues she would like to have the Commission consider were covered in her letter to the Department dated June 13, 2001. She said that the boarders would like to continue to use the property for as long as possible, and, hopefully that could be until the City has some plan for developing it into a neighborhood park.
DISCUSSION AMONG COMMISSIONERS
Commissioner Jones said that of the options outlined by staff in the memorandum, she would prefer Option #3 which essentially said that the property would be used similarly to how it was being used now. She said she would be in favor of leaving it as it is until such a time that the Commission has plans for development.
Commissioner Eggers said that she would like to honor the horse owners' request for a minimum three month advance notice when it becomes necessary for them to vacate the property, whether that is in the near future or a couple of years down the road. She said that she was also interested in the public having access to public land to the degree that "it makes sense."
Related to the practice of haying, she asked staff whether or not that would be something staff could reasonably undertake. Director Mickelsen said that staff would most likely contract the work out, as the Vogels do. Staff does not have the equipment necessary to do the work in house.
Commissioner Eggers said that she also had an interest in making improvements to the riparian area in the near future. She mentioned that she had heard of some grant moneys that could be available for riparian plantings and, even before the Commission begins to design the neighborhood park, would like to have the riparian area enhanced. She said she had no particular attachment to any of the options outlined by staff in the memorandum.
Commissioner Lewis said that he was also supportive of Option #3 for the short term, until an overall plan for the park was developed. He said that he would support allowing the existing horses to remain on the property for the short term with the understanding that eventually boarding would be phased out and that no new horses would be permitted. He said he also had a question related to how close the barn and corral complex was to the creek and its impact on the creek. He said staff had already answered his question related to how haying would be managed if it were continued. As to public access, perhaps a trail could be created along the creek side of the property.
Commissioner Landt said that he would be supportive of allowing horses to remain on the property for the short term, for a specified number of months with the Commission reviewing the item three month's from the deadline to give the horse owners the opportunity to find another location if necessary. He also said, now that the property was going to be a park, that he believed it would be appropriate to take some action that would improve the riparian area. Of particular concern, was the proximity of the corral to the creek. He suggested the concept of moving the corral to the opposite side of the barn. He said he also supported Commissioner Eggers' idea of beginning to re-establish the riparian area suggesting that the fence along the creek side of the property be moved to provide as much set-back as possible separating the horse activity from the riparian area. Perhaps then a trail could be established for public access along the creek. He said that if it looks like the property wouldn't be developed into a neighborhood park for several years, then, if this configuration works, horses could remain on the property for some time while the riparian area has the opportunity to re-establish itself.
MOTION -After further brief discussion, Commissioner Landt made a motion to manage the Vogel property according the Option #3 as outlined in the memorandum dated June 19, 2001 until the Commission's April 2002 Regular Meeting and to re-evaluate the topic at its January 2002 Regular Meeting so that if its anticipated that changes will be made, the horse owners will have a minimum of three months notice to relocate their horses. Commissioner Jones seconded. The vote was: 4 yes - 0 no
In further discussion related to possibly moving the corral, Commissioner Landt said that he would like to see as close to a 100 foot setback from the creek as we can get all along the property. The goal would be to allow the riparian area to re-establish itself as much as possible.
MOTION -In a secondary motion, Commissioner Eggers directed staff to evaluate the possibility of relocating the corral and to report its finding to the Commission at the July Regular Meeting, and, to relocate the creek- side fence as far back from the creek as is feasible in order to provide up to a 100-feet for a riparian area. Commissioner Lewis seconded. The vote was: 4 yes - 0 no
Discussion on hours of usage for tennis court lights
Commissioner Jones said that she had asked for the item to be placed on the agenda because, after last month's meeting when the Commission had approved shutting off the tennis court lights at 9:30 p.m. rather than 11:00 p.m. as a means of reducing electrical energy consumption, she had received several requests to modify the time to 10:00 p.m. She said that the reason was that as the summer heats up, people like to play after dark when it is cooler.
Mary Gardiner(349 Orange Street) said she was present to speak on behalf of the board of S.T.A.Y. (Supporters of Tennis for Ashland's Youth). She said there were a lot of people in the community who use the courts and that the decision was made without public input. The lights are only activated when people are on the courts, therefore, she felt that the extension of an extra half hour would be appropriate. People would be less likely to activate the lights at the earlier time when it was hotter but would appreciate that extra half hour.
Commissioner Landt inquired as to the wattage used when the lights were turned on, and, were they all turned on at the same time. Director Mickelsen said that there were lights at Lithia Park and at Hunter Park. That the lights at Hunter Park turned on "a bank at a time", that is, four fixtures for every two courts. Each bank utilized approximately 12,000 watts per hour. When they were activated they would stay on for twenty minutes at a time and then needed to be re-activated.
Commissioner Eggers said that even though its her preference to give the public the opportunity to speak prior to making a policy decision and would have preferred to do so on this item, she also believed that for energy conservation purposes that the shut-off time should remain 9:30 p.m. Commissioner Lewis said that he too would like to keep the hours the same at this time in part because he would like to see how it fits into the overall evaluation staff is preparing related to reducing usage throughout the system.
MOTION -Commissioner Jones said that she felt that cutting back the hours of usage by one hour was sufficient and made a motion to approve re-setting the tennis court lights at Lithia Park so that they could be used until 10:00 p.m. during the summer The motion died for lack of a second.
Presentation concerning bikes at Skate Park
Director Mickelsen said that the Department had been approached by Andrian Bender, a young man who uses the Skate Park, who expressed concern about the damage that bicycles are doing to the facility. The essential problem is that the hub pegs are chipping and gouging the edges of the bowl. Skateboarders indicate that this creates a somewhat dangerous surface and detracts from the functionality of the bowl for skateboarding.
Director Mickelsen said that when the Commission was setting policy related to use of the facility, it was decided that bicycles would be permitted but that "skateboarding" would take priority over "bicycle" use. He said users of the facility have informal understandings as to how to make that rule work, but, as the facility becomes more and more heavily used, conflicts do arise. He said that Mr. Bender was present to address the Commission on the topic.
Adrian Bender(523 Drager Street) said that when cyclists use the bowl for stunts they use the pegs on the wheel hubs to assist the stunts by jamming the pegs into the coping, the edge of the bowl. So the edge of the bowl is becoming quite nicked. He said that when a skateboarder catches one of these nicks with his board it has the effect of "stopping" him abruptly which can be very hazardous. He said that an alternative to banning bikes from the facility would be to ban "pegs" or to require that the pegs be covered. He said that this would not totally stop the damage but would probably decrease it.
On a separate topic, he said that it's also more hazardous when skateboarders and bikers use the facility at the same time. He said he believed it was much more dangerous when a skateboarder and bicycle collided and collisions happen all the time. He said that the facility wasn't designed for bicycle use. It had been designed by skateboarders for skateboarders, and, in his opinion, cyclists don't seem to care that damage is done to the facility.
Commissioner Eggers said that her strong preference was to keep public facilities open to use by as many people who could enjoy it as possible. Therefore, she was very reticent to ban bicycles from the facility. She encouraged the skateboarders and cyclists to work together to find a common ground on which the they could share the facility.
Commissioner Jones inquired about the BMX park and whether or not that facility would be appropriate for the bikers that are using the Skate Park. Director Mickelsen responded that the temporary BMX track is functioning and, once work on the sewer treatment plant is completed, it will be relocated to it's permanent location. Mr. Bender said that the bikes used at the Skate Park are "BMX" bikes. It's just that the bikers prefer to use the Skate Park.
Commissioner Lewis commented that he was concerned about the damage that was taking place which staff has indicated will cause increased maintenance. And, he was concerned about the collisions mentioned by Mr. Bender in that in his opinion the hit taken due to the added weight of the bicycle would be greater than simply colliding with another skateboarder.
Commissioner Landt said that he agreed with Commissioner Eggers in that he would like to come up with a way that both groups could continue to use the facility. If requiring the use of peg protectors would help to alleviate some of the damage, he assumed that the $2,000 - $3,000 staff estimated it would cost to repair the damage would be reduced. He said that in his opinion some added maintenance cost that would allow more people to enjoy the facility would be reasonable. There may be some other management issues that would need to be addressed such as setting different times aside for "skateboarding only" or "bicycles only" but that could be addressed as a separate issue.
MOTION -After further brief discussion, Commissioner Jones made a motion to require "no pegs" or "peg covers" be used on bicycles that are used at the Skate Park. Commissioner Eggers seconded. The vote was: 4 yes - 0 no
Commissioner Jones commented that she would like to see representatives from the skateboarding community and bicycling community get together to talk about ways in which they could share the facility harmoniously. She suggested that the Commission would be willing to address suggestions that would come out of such discussions. When asked, Mr. Bender said that because of the antagonism that has built up over the past couple of years that he didn't hold much hope that the two groups would be able to sit down to discuss their differences.
Commissioner Eggers said that she would encourage the skateboarders and the bikers to do whatever is necessary to make the facility workable for both groups. If they need help to do that, they should seek out the help. Commissioners Lewis and Jones indicated that they would like to find a way to assist the groups in finding a way to sit down to discuss their differences. Director Mickelsen said that he could ask whether or not CAP Officer Teri DeSilva or Jan Janssen, Youth Diversion Officer, would be willing to assist in that effort. No Commissioner opposed the suggestion.
Chair Landt thanked Mr. Bender for his input.
Policy and monitoring of athletic field lights @ North Mountain Park
Director Mickelsen reported that, as directed by the Commission, staff had met with representatives of the sports groups and N. Mountain Park neighbors to discuss the current lighting policy related to N. Mountain Park and to gain input related to how the activity could be monitored once use of the lights for the soccer field begins.
In a memorandum dated June 19, 2001, staff reported the outcome of that meeting. Two recommendations were brought forth by the neighbors and sports group representatives: 1) that a restriction on the use of PA systems at N. Mountain Park be implemented, and, 2) that a committee
comprised of sports group representatives and neighbors be established to review the use of lights once they have been implemented.
Related to using PA systems at the park, Director Mickelsen said that during the public involvement process related to whether or not athletic field lighting would be installed at N. Mountain Park, Commissioners and staff stated that there was no intention of installing a PA system to go along with the lights. Neighbors at the meeting asked that a restriction of using portable PA systems be made a part of the policy also.
Related to establishing a committee to monitor the usage, both groups felt that if problems should arise that the best way to handle them would be to have a mechanism that would keep communications open so that the problems could be addressed while they were small, before they became issues. From those present at the meeting, both sports group representatives and neighbors volunteered to serve on the committee.
Bill Walker(1169 Village Square Drive) said that Director Mickelsen covered the discussion that occurred in the meeting very well. He said that on one instance so far a portable PA system was used at the park and that was why the neighbors felt that it needed to be part of the adopted policy.
MOTION -Commissioner Eggers made a motion to prohibit the use of PA systems at N. Mountain Park and to notify those groups arranging to use the fields of the policy. Commissioner Lewis seconded.
Commissioner Landt inquired whether or not PA systems were used at other parks. Director Mickelsen said that Little League uses a PA system occasionally at Hunter Park during tournaments to announce teams and players. He said that Little League would not be using N. Mountain Park but ASA Softball would be. ASA Softball would probably use old fashioned "bull horns" for tournaments to announce players and games.
Commissioner Landt asked Commissioner Eggers to clarify her motion. She said that the motion would include "any kind of amplified sound" and that would include a bull horn. Commissioner Jones said that it is very important for some kind of events, such as large runs, to be able to use bull horns to help with organizing the activity. Commissioner Eggers said that, as with any policy, exceptions could be made on a one-time basis.
Commissioner Landt commented that he found it somewhat disconcerting that N. Mountain Park was to be the "premier" sports park and that what was permitted at Hunter Park would likely not be permitted at N. Mountain Park. However, because it was mentioned during the public input process, he felt that in good faith PA systems should be prohibited at N. Mountain Park.
Commissioner Jones said that she was reticent to support the motion because of it blankets all kinds of amplified sound, not just PA systems but bull horns. She said that some events such as All Star tournaments need a minimum of amplification to announce the teams and players. She felt that this kind of minimal use should not be prohibited. She said that that kind of amplification might even be necessary for Nature Center activities to help call people together.
Commissioner Eggers called for the question. Chair Landt clarified that the intent of the motion was to permit "no amplification at North Mountain Park." The vote was: 3 yes - 1 no (Jones)
Director Mickelsen said that, on behalf of the Babe Ruth organization, he would like to make a request that the use of a bull horn be permitted at its upcoming state tournament.
MOTION -Commissioner Jones said that she felt that would be appropriate and moved to permit the use of a bull horn to announce teams and players. Commissioner Landt seconded. The vote was: 2 yes - 2 no (Eggers, Lewis) The motion failed for lack of a majority.
Recommendation to prohibit swimming at the Lithia Park reservoir this summer
Making reference to the memorandum dated June 21, 2001, Director Mickelsen reviewed a recommendation from staff to not open the Lithia Park reservoir for swimming this summer. Essentially, because of the low water year, very little fresh water would be flowing into the reservoir. If water flowed into the reservoir, it would primarily be T.I.D. water which has a much higher bacteria count than fresh water. Under these circumstances, staff believes that the bacteria level at the reservoir will quickly become unsuitable for swimming.
MOTION -Following some general discussion, Commissioner Eggers made a motion not to open the Lithia Park reservoir to swimming this summer. Commissioner Jones seconded. The vote was: 4 yes - 0 no
In discussion of Ashland Creek, staff indicated that the creek water was tested on a regular basis and the results were submitted to the county Health Department. If it became necessary to keep people out of the creek, the Health Department would notify Department staff and the creek would be posted.
SUB-COMMITTEE and STAFF REPORTS
Report related to electrical energy conservation
Director Mickelsen said that staff has been working with the Conservation Department related to the kinds of things that could be done to reduce energy consumption throughout the parks and recreation system by 12% as mandated by the Commission. The simple things that can be done immediately such as adjusting thermostats in buildings has been done. Staff is still studying the ways in which the 12% goal can be met and will bring a plan and recommendations to the Commission at its July Regular Meeting.
Report on process to update Open Space / Park land Acquisition Program
Commissioner Landt reported that the committee consisting of Commissioner Eggers, Director Mickelsen, and himself had met with Kari Greene to review the draft of the process. He made available to Commissioners an e-mail from Ms. Greene that illustrated some minor modifications to the process as previously presented to Commissioners. Commissioner Eggers made some recommendations for small modifications, and, without objection from other Commissioners, was asked to relay those changes to Ms. Greene.
ITEMS FROM COMMISSIONERS None.
UPCOMING MEETING DATE(S) and PROPOSED AGENDA ITEMS
No interim meetings were planned prior to the July Regular Meeting. Among the agenda items for the July meeting are: A staff report on recommendations related to reducing electrical energy consumption, a report from the consultants on options related to improving water quality at the lower pond, a report from staff outlining management options for feeding ducks, and, a report from staff related to moving the corral at the Vogel property.
ADJOURNMENT - With no further business, by consensus, Chair Landt adjourned the meeting.
Respectfully submitted, Ann Benedict, Business Manager, Ashland Parks and Recreation Department