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Parks Commission Study Session Minutes

Minutes
Monday, September 17, 2012

City of Ashland
PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION
 STUDY SESSION
MINUTES

September 17, 2012

ATTENDANCE
Present: Commissioners Eggers, Landt, Rosenthal, Seffinger; Director Robertson; Superintendents Dials and Dickens
Absent:  Commissioner Lewis; City Council Liaison Silbiger

CALL TO ORDER
Eggers called the study session to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Parks office, 340 S. Pioneer Street.

HUNTER PARK LIGHT POLE PRESENTATION
Robertson said staff received a request for a Hunter Park memorial for David Michael Grubbs, a young man slain on the Central Bike Path in November 2011. He said the requesting father, Michael Grubbs, was provided with a copy of the Parks policy on signs, plaques, and memorials. He said Grubbs requested a memorial bench at the edge of the bike path adjacent to Hunter Park along with a light pole. Robertson said an earlier community outcry called for the lighting of the entire Central Bike Path. He indicated that memorial benches were standard requests handled at the staff level but the light pole could not be approved by staff. He said Grubbs was invited to attend the meeting and present his request to the commission.


Robertson said Hunter Park lighting could be considered from three perspectives:
·   As part of a memorial—symbolic to family, friends, and community members;
·   As a security measure—keeping staff and community members safe;
·   As a service provided by Parks—allowing tennis players and park patrons to traverse in the dark.


Robertson said the light as a memorial would set a precedent beyond normal memorial guidelines, though other items non-bench had received plaques in the past, including bricks, benches, drinking fountains, and the ice rink. As a security measure, he said it would be straightforward. As a service for parking lot patrons, he said it would allow people to travel more easily in the dark. In terms of location, Robertson said the bench would be placed in the small section of grass / shrubs at the edge of the bike path, facing the path and Grizzly Peak.

Mike Grubbs distributed a packet that included his memorial proposal, spec sheets on the preferred bench and light, an aerial view of the site, and the insignia of his son’s favorite rock group, the Red Hot Chili Peppers (a red asterisk). He said he would coordinate the electrical permit and building inspections and the proposed project timeline would run October 15 through 27, with labor provided by Grubbs, Parks staff, City Electric staff, and a local electrical contractor. He said the concrete base for the bench would be square and preferably aggregate. He said the band’s insignia would be made of brass and set into the concrete bench pad.


Discussion Among Commissioners
Commissioners spoke favorably a memorial at the Hunter Park site and expressed support for the memorial bench. Some voiced concern about lighting the bike path, as the bike path was not within Parks’ jurisdiction and the City did not approve lighting the path when the request was presented to council. In terms of the emblem, some spoke in favor of honoring the request if it could be considered public art and met the commission’s policy guidelines. In terms of a light pole associated with the memorial, some felt it made more sense to light the upper Hunter parking lot adjacent to the pool and tennis courts rather than the lower lot.

Grubbs said the City would not incur any costs for the light if approved. He said the proposed light would feature 70-watt sodium yellow bulbs, a softer light that would shine from dual heads onto both the bike path (in memory of his son) and the bench.


Staff was directed to place the item on the October regular meeting agenda for further discussion and a vote. In the meantime, staff was asked to evaluate parking lots in parks to determine those that were dark and those with street lighting.
 
PARK PROJECT UPDATES
Resurfacing of Parking Lots at Garfield, Hunter, YMCA, and the Oak Knoll Golf Course
Dickens reported on parking lot resurfacing projects in the Parks system, stating that they included seal coating or crack sealing of surfaces followed by restriping. He said greens #7 and #8 at the golf course were undergoing reconstruction to address irrigation and drainage issues, with project completion estimated at 3-4 weeks.

Ice Rink Cover
Dials reported on a staff visit to the Running Y Ranch in Klamath Falls to view their permanent ice rink cover. Robertson said the Klamath rink was hockey sized (three times Ashland’s rink) and very tall, with beautiful woodworking. He estimated the cost of the Ashland permanent cover to be $550,000 for initial installation, with the cover lasting up to 20 years.


Landt asked about the cost of the canvas alone and staff said they would determine the figure and report back.
Dials reviewed prepared pros and cons for permanent and temporary ice rink covers. She said a cover would provide operational consistency for the rink and better customer service. Robertson said if the commission chose a permanent roof structure, council approval would be required which could lengthen the timeline for completion.

Commissioners considered a possible discussion of an ice rink cover during the budget season.

Japanese-Style Garden Projects
Dickens said a donor offered the department $15,000 for upgrades to the Japanese-style garden in Lithia Park, including a new teahouse, gate, plantings, and possible water course feature improvements. He reported meeting with a local expert in Japanese-style gardens who was a landscape architect and a former resident of Japan. He suggested tapping into his expertise for the project.


Commissioners spoke of the need to complete a Lithia Park master plan before making large improvements to sections of the park.

Staff clarified that only existing amenities would be improved or upgraded with the donated funds.

Lithia and Hunter Park Tennis Court Resurfacing
Dickens said the Lithia Park tennis courts would be resurfaced the following week, with pickleball lines drawn on one court, and the Hunter courts would be resurfaced after that. He said staff would make efforts to keep at least one court playable at each location during the project. Robertson said pickleball was a popular game with an enthusiastic following.


HOUSEKEEPING ITEMS
Ashland Community Hospital (ACH) Contract Termination
Robertson said ACH would terminate its contract with Parks and hire a private landscaping contractor starting in October 2012. He said the contract termination would free up 24 labor hours per week in the Parks Department.

Endurance Run Finish Line in Lithia Park
Robertson said a 100-mile endurance run ended in Lithia Park over the weekend, prompting some neighbors to call and complain of noise violations in the middle of the night. He said the finish line for the run would be moved out of the park in the future.


October Study Session Date Conflict
Robertson said the October 15 study session would conflict with the National Recreation and Parks Association annual conference in Anaheim, CA, which some staff and commissioners were attending. He asked if the commission wished to reschedule the meeting or cancel it. The commission chose to cancel the October study session.

Forest Lands Commission Update
Seffinger said the Forest Lands Commission was updating its 2009 forest master plan, a 90-page document. She said the results could impact the Parks Department in terms of trail management in Siskiyou Mountain Park and the Oredson-Todd Woods. She reported receiving calls from the public about recent tree removals by helicopter, trucks loaded with trees traveling down Granite Street, and spotted owls.

Meetings with Mayor Stromberg and Commissioners
Robertson said the Mayor and the City Administrator were interested in meeting with commissioners and Robertson—either in pairs or singly—to discuss the Parks budget before the commencement of the budget season and before the joint Parks Commission / City Council meeting. He said Eggers and Landt had already met with them. Eggers suggested having the three remaining commissioners meet with Robertson in advance to review the Parks budget. Robertson said the joint meeting with council and the commission would occur in the November timeframe.  

ORPA Handouts
Seffinger distributed handouts from the annual Oregon Recreation and Parks Association conference she attended the previous week. Handout topics included program trends for baby boomers and how to talk to the media.


Phone Calls from the Public
Seffinger reported receiving many recent phone calls from the public on different topics. She said a prime topic was the Kestrel property located near the Mountain Meadows subdivision. She said some members of the public felt it should be a neighborhood park with park amenities, including benches. Robertson said the parcel was one of three that was designated by the commission as a possible Bear Creek Greenway extension to North Mountain Park. He said the developer made some upgrades and then deeded the property to Parks. When development of the area began, he said the neighbors split into two camps: those wishing for it to remain private and those who wanted it to become a public park. Landt suggested posting City of Ashland signs at the property and including it in the annual Parks Commission review on dogs in parks to determine if it should be opened to dogs on leash.


Keith Baldwin Tree Removal Update / New Trees for Area
Landt reported speaking with Forestry and Trails Supervisor Jeffrey McFarland about the Parks-managed land adjacent to the Baldwin property. He said in light of an unauthorized tree removal and a tree topping, there was a need for reforestation efforts. He said he and McFarland talked about planting species that required little water and grew quickly.


ADJOURNMENT
By consensus, with no further business, Eggers adjourned the meeting at 8:13 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Susan Dyssegard, Ashland Parks and Recreation

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