Present: Commissioners Eggers, Landt, Lewis, Rosenthal, Seffinger; City Council Liaison Silbiger; Director Robertson; Superintendents Dials and Dickens
CALL TO ORDER
Eggers called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. at Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Study Session – September 17, 2012
Under “Housekeeping Items: Forest Lands Commission Update,” Seffinger asked for the record to accurately reflect that: “The Forest Lands Commission is updating the Ashland Forest Management Plan. Siskiyou Mountain Park was included in this master plan. It is recommended by the Forest Lands Commission and the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy that Oredson-Todd Woods be included in this update of the Ashland Forest Management Plan. Frank Betlejewski will be conducting (at no cost) a preliminary walk-through inventory of the property to assist with the initial step of gathering data on this area. There may also be a need for more detailed plot analysis to assist with forest management concerns including forest health, the need for fuels reduction related to fire prevention, and tree restoration. A helicopter will be used in the Watershed Resiliency Project beginning around October 22. The area around the helicopter landing site will be closed during the time the helicopter is used for public safety. Trucks will be hauling out the logs down Granite Street during this project.”
MOTION Landt moved to approve the minutes as amended. Rosenthal seconded the motion.
The vote was: All yes [Lewis abstained]
Regular Meeting – September 24, 2012
MOTION Landt moved to approve the minutes as presented. Lewis seconded the motion.
The vote was: All yes [Rosenthal abstained]
ADDITIONS OR DELETIONS TO THE AGENDA
ANNUAL REVIEW OF DOGS IN PARKS
Robertson said the commission approved a new dog policy in August 2011 for a one-year trial period. The policy allowed dogs on leash in eight neighborhood parks: Clay Street, Garden Way, Garfield, Hunter, Railroad, Scenic, Sherwood, and Triangle. Bluebird Park was initially included but was later excluded due to its proximity to Ashland Creek. The new rule allowed dogs on or within six feet of sidewalks and paved paths within those parks. It required people to carry a means for picking up dog waste and disposing of it properly. Robertson said the current Dog Park was maintained throughout the year and staff did not see a decrease or increase in its use. Throughout the year, staff collected comments from citizens remarking on the dog policy and comments were evenly split between favorable and unfavorable views about the trial policy.
Philip Lang, 758 B Street, said Ashland had a previous reputation for being the most dog unfriendly city on the west coast. He reported walking his dogs in Ashland for 27 years. He said communitarian values were in decline both locally and nationally and he expressed hope that dogs would be allowed in parks, with people responsibly controlling and picking up after them. He thanked the commission for their efforts to deal with dogs in parks.
Dakota Otto, 1012 Bellview, said he worked as a Park Patrol officer in summer 2012 for Lithia and other parks and he issued many citations for dog violations. He said most dog owners were responsible for their pets but those who were not cost the City in terms of maintenance and enforcement. He said the purpose of City of Ashland dog-related municipal code ordinances was to solicit respect of place, respect for others, and to do no harm. He asked that Lithia Park be maintained as a non-dog park, as he considered it a botanical garden in which dogs were not appropriate.
Jim Freeberg 823 Blackberry Lane, reported witnessing an increased disregard for dog laws over a 20-year period and said there was a lack of leash law enforcement. He said many dogs were seen on 20-foot leashes (rather than six-foot leashes) and every public green area and the bike path were used as dog parks. He talked about a lack of respect for rules, with dogs running off leash and people not picking up after them. He said dogs had bitten him four times in the past and dogs were both a nuisance and a danger. He said dogs should not be mixed with parks in which people were trying to have quiet space. He asked for more parks for people rather than parks opened to dogs.
ML Moore, 419 Liberty Street, expressed appreciation for the commission’s decision to open eight parks to dogs on leash and said it was working out well. She asked for another trial year for dogs in parks, with dogs not restricted to sidewalks or six feet adjacent to sidewalks.
Colleen Shanahan, 300 N. Main, said she was a local dog trainer who often spoke with clients and students about the dog in parks trial, for which most people expressed support. She said the installation of mutt mitt stations made a significant difference in the cleanliness of parks, with people picking up at after their dogs.
Marsha Broeckl, 1287 Orchid Street, thanked Parks for installing mutt mitt stations and allowing dogs in parks. She asked them to keep up the good work.
Vanston Shaw, 180 Lithia Way #208, said he was running for an Ashland Parks Commission seat and attended the July 2012 commission meeting to present a letter commending them for their one-year trial of dogs on leash and the installation of mutt mitt stations. He said the stations were working out well, with the area around Lithia much cleaner due to mutt mitts and trash cans. He asked the commission to extend the arrangement permanently and allow people with leashed dogs to walk across parks. He agreed with Lang about the issue of communitarian values and the need for compliance with dog rules. He suggested requiring a visible display of doggie bags when walking dogs on leash.
Vicki Bamman, 311 Glenn Street, a homeowner and small business owner who took care of theater-goers’ dogs, said her clients were enthusiastic about visiting Ashland but felt badly about the lack of amenities for their pets. She said it was important to transform the misperception that Ashland was not friendly to dogs, which she called an economic issue. She said “Ashland Loves Dogs” had their own Facebook page and she invited the commission to visit it. She thanked them for their pilot project and the waste stations and expressed hope for a permanent arrangement. She said she would ask, in the future, for the opening of Lithia Park to dogs.
Faye Weisler, 2305-C Ashland Street, said she appreciated the mutt mitts but that keeping dogs on six-foot leashes was not much of a change. She said dogs brought joy to the City and she reported seeing more dog feces on private lawns than in parks. She reported witnessing no problems with dogs and asked for more freedom for dogs in parks.
Discussion Among Commissioners
Commissioner comments included:
· Review of the one-year dog trial due, with commissioners deciding whether to continue it or drop it.
· Seffinger: Great improvement during the year, with less dog feces in parks. Request for access to park restrooms with dogs on leash and more places to picnic with dogs than just the Dog Park. Request for Lithia and North Mountain Park to remain unavailable to dogs for the sake of nature lovers. Comment about Glenwood Park having many dogs [despite exclusion from dog-friendly list because of lack of sidewalks] and a request for opening Glenwood and the Kestrel Property to dogs on leash. Offer to park host at Glenwood. Statement about compliance coming from positive reinforcement for good behavior.
· Rosenthal: The trial was a success for the majority of Ashland residents and the commission did the right thing by opening eight parks to dogs on leash. The policy was limiting; recommendation for fewer restrictions for dogs on leashes in parks. Request to improve on the dog policy already in place; make enforcement easier; not ignore responsible dog owners; instigate a park dog host program; install even more mutt mitt dispensers, more strategically located; go forward from here rather than backward.
· Lewis: Attended dog discussion meetings, read public comments on dogs, and listened to the public. Voted in favor last year of the dog trial with the hope of increasing accessibility for dogs, educating citizens, and working on enforcement by citing non-compliers. Now seeing dogs off leash in town, dogs not being cleaned up after, and a lack of public consensus with the more liberal dog rules. Joggers and walkers on trails troubled by dogs off leash and the dog feces on walkways or paths, preventing one hiker from continuing to use the Ashland trails system. Would approve a vote for a continuation of the dog trial for one more year with the hope of working through conflicts between dogs and people.
· Eggers: Walks through Lithia Park at least once each day and seeing at least 30 dogs per month, about half off-leash. Most non-compliers not ticketed for being where they were not supposed to be. Clay Street Park filthy with dog feces. Frustrated that the trial policy didn’t work better. Need for quiet space and relaxation in parks, with dogs potentially preventing that. Not sure whether to continue the dog trial; possible other solutions such as an additional dog park or fenced-off areas in some existing parks.
· Landt: Easier to enforce a policy that is already in place and permanent rather than a trial. There will always be scofflaws and non-compliers. Some citizens happy with the dog trial and others unhappy.
Robertson said all dog-friendly parks had bathroom accessibility near pathways. When asked about making the Kestrel property a dog-friendly park, Robertson said connecting it to a street would require approximately 100 feet of sidewalk and also require walking with dogs across grass. Robertson said he spoke with CAP Officer John Perrone who indicated that more than 30 citations were issued during the year for dog violations, mostly in Lithia Park, with additional citations issued at Hunter, Garfield, and North Mountain Park.
MOTION: Landt moved to approve permanently allowing dogs on six-foot leashes on paved surfaces or six feet immediately adjacent to paved surfaces in eight neighborhood parks: Clay Street, Garden Way, Garfield, Hunter, Railroad, Scenic, Sherwood, and Triangle. Seffinger seconded the motion.
Discussion of Motion
· Lewis: Requested one more trial year before making policy permanent.
· Seffinger: Requested that Kestrel Property and Glenwood Park be opened to dogs on leash.
The commission agreed to talk about opening Kestrel and Glenwood at a future meeting and have additional discussion about the park host program and enforcement issues.
The vote was:
Landt, Rosenthal, Seffinger – yes
Eggers, Lewis – no
REQUEST FOR MEMORIAL LIGHT POLE AT HUNTER PARK
Robertson said the commission heard a request at the September 17 study session for a David Michael Grubbs memorial at the edge of Hunter Park. The memorial proposal included a bench with memorial plaque mounted into a concrete bench pad, the installation of an emblem of the Red Hot Chili Peppers band into the concrete pad, and a two-headed light pole adjacent to the bench. He said commissioners expressed concern at that time about the light pole and asked staff to determine what parks in Ashland included parking lot lights. He said that upon review, staff found the majority of neighborhood park parking lots to be dark, with the exception of lots adjacent to streets with street lights. Also of concern to the commission was the precedent-setting nature of the request, as the commission had not allowed lights to be included with any previous memorials.
Rachell Grubbs, sister of David Michael Grubbs, asked for commission approval of the memorial request as presented. She said the light pole was not for utilitarian purposes and everyone in the community had been touched by the tragedy of her brother’s murder. She said Ashland was a lovely place and the murder on a public path did not change that. She said her family submitted a rendering of the proposed memorial and handled all preparatory work and it would be an honor to put beauty in the place of such darkness. She said it would help to heal the wound.
Michael Grubbs, father of David Michael Grubbs, said David was raised in Ashland. He thanked the commission for considering the memorial request for his son. He said the light pole proposal could be reduced from two light fixtures to one and the memorial was meant to shine light on a very bad spot. He asked for the commission’s approval of the memorial and said he was looking forward to its installation.
Commissioners spoke about the memorial details and agreed on approving a memorial at the site. They said the bench proposal fit with their policy but the emblem and light pole were out of the norm. They agreed to separately address the emblem and the light pole.
MOTION: Landt moved to approve including the emblem of the Red Hot Chili Peppers band into the concrete memorial bench pad. Rosenthal seconded the motion.
The vote was: All yes
MOTION: Rosenthal moved to approve a single-headed light fixture adjacent to the memorial bench, with the memorial rendering modified by Grubbs. Seffinger seconded the motion.
Discussion of Motion
Seffinger stated that the symbolic light fixture would help the community heal.
The vote was:
Lewis, Rosenthal, Seffinger – yes
Eggers, Landt – no
REQUEST FOR FILMING IN ASHLAND PARKS
Robertson said staff received a request for movie filming in an Ashland park area—the Winburn Way ice rink parking lot—on November 6. He said staff also received a request to allow pop-up canopies for the film crew in Railroad Park while filming in another section of the neighborhood. He said staff recommended moving the ice rink parking lot film shoot to an earlier date to accommodate ice rink preparations. He said staff anticipated little conflict with the use of Railroad Park.
Discussion Among Commissioners
· Request to move the film shoot to another location.
· Request to keep people off lawns.
· Statement about pop-up tents negatively impacting park land, especially during the rainy season. Suggestion to place the tent on a sidewalk, playground, or basketball court instead of a lawn area.
· The commission not averse to filming on park land but trying to prevent conflicts with existing projects.
MOTION: Lewis moved to approve the filming request and give staff the flexibility to modify details as necessary. Seffinger seconded the motion.
The vote was: All yes
REQUEST FOR PITCHING FACILITY AT NORTH MOUNTAIN PARK
Robertson said staff received a request from the baseball community to allow a pitching facility to be built at North Mountain Park, sited next to the batting cages and serving Little League through post-high school teams, and also used as a “fieldhouse” for training during off-season or inclement weather. He said the year-round building would serve all levels of baseball and also accommodate softball. He said maintenance items used on
REQUEST FOR PITCHING FACILITY AT NORTH MOUNTAIN PARK, cont’d.
behalf of the baseball fields would be stored in the same facility and the baseball community pledged to raise all funds necessary for the project..
Genna Southworth, Mary Hodgins, and Ken Buccino, members of the Ashland baseball community, said the proposed facility would provide a dedicated space for pitching. They said the building would be 40 feet by 90 feet, with a 25x25 section designated for storage. The cost of the project was estimated at $125,000.
The commission clarified the location of the proposed pitching facility in relation to the existing batting cage. Instead of being on the north side, as indicated in the packet materials, it was determined that the building was proposed for the south side, adjacent to the soccer fields. Landt said the tournament soccer community used that area for warm-ups and he could not support that location for a pitching facility.
Commissioners directed staff to meet with baseball community members to gain clarity on the project, then report back to the commission with further details.
SUBCOMMITTEE and STAFF REPORTS
ITEMS FROM COMMISSIONERS
UPCOMING MEETING DATES
Study session set for November 19 at 7:00 p.m., Parks office, 340 S. Pioneer Street.
Regular meeting set for November 26 at 7:00 p.m., Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street.
By consensus, with no further business, Eggers adjourned the meeting at 9:08 p.m.
Susan Dyssegard, Ashland Parks and Recreation