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Parks & Recreation Commission (View All)

Parks Commission Regular Meeting Minutes

Minutes
Monday, May 20, 2013

City of Ashland
PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION

REGULAR MEETING
MINUTES
May 20, 2013

 
ATTENDANCE
Present:  Commissioners Gardiner, Landt, Lewis, Seffinger, Shaw; City Council Liaison Voisin; Director Robertson; Superintendents Dials and Dickens
Absent:    None

CALL TO ORDER
Seffinger called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. at Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Study Session – April 15, 2013
MOTION Landt moved to approve the minutes as presented. Lewis seconded the motion.
The vote was: All yes

Study Session – April 22, 2013
MOTION Landt moved to approve the minutes as presented. Lewis seconded the motion.
The vote was: All yes

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
Rueben Davis, 47 Union Street, representing the Ashland skating community, said he was a local business owner who had served on boards and committees and taught environmental education classes. He reported on his 1994 research and fundraising efforts toward building the Ashland Skate Park and noted his displeasure with the park’s current state of disrepair since its glory days of 14 years earlier. He said bathrooms were often closed, trash cans vandalized or removed, benches removed, and the drinking fountain out of order or removed. He reported speaking with Dickens about high levels of park vandalism. Davis suggested addressing park problems in a proactive way and said locals were not vandalizing the park.

Jamison Peil, 335 Garfield Street, said he moved around as a child and got into trouble. While living in St. Louis, MO, he became a skateboarder at a local park and turned a corner. He suggested not banning skaters from the park, since many were amazing athletes with nowhere else to go. He noted that if people were treated like criminals, they behaved like criminals. He invited the commission to visit the park and watch the skaters.

Courtlandt Jennings, 1169 Hillview Drive, owner of the Pickled Planet on Water Street (across from the Skate Park), said he had a unique perspective on the Skate Park due to his close proximity. He expressed that the park and restroom were located in a transient corridor and used by many different groups including recycling center / free box patrons adjacent to the park. He said most of the vandalism was not done by skateboarders. He noted the park’s degradation over the years, including removals of native Oregon grape and a tree, and said the park lacked care. He questioned why some newly poured cement was watched by a Parks staff member for an entire work day – a waste of public funds – and said park users maintained the park rather than Parks staff and it was an “us against them” situation.

Robertson said staff had suggested the possibility of closing the park but the commission chose to keep it open despite ongoing vandalism. Most park patrons used the park appropriately but the park required regular repairs due to excessive vandalism, some of the worst ever seen by staff, and it was the commission’s intention to operate the facility as safely as possible.

ADDITIONS OR DELETIONS TO THE AGENDA
None

UNFINISHED BUSINESS
None

 
NEW BUSINESS
SENIOR CENTER PRESENTATION
Postponed until the June regular meeting.

SPECIAL EVENTS / SELLING IN THE PARK POLICY ANNUAL REVIEW
Dials said the May 13 study session included a one-year review of the Parks Commission Special Events / Selling in the Park policy. Staff reported on the success of the 2012 policy and recommended not increasing the number of booths permitted per event (ten). Dials said selling in the park was permitted in conjunction with one-day special events, when organizers had 501(c)(3) status and showed proof at time of application submittal, when event organizers adhered to all Parks Commission rules and policies, when the maximum number of selling events per month (three) was not exceeded, and when the event was approved on a one-time-only basis.

Dials read a request submitted by Southern Oregon Pride for twenty booths at their 2013 event. She said staff had established a balance between accommodating selling in the park in booths at special events and allowing park access to other patrons. She said the Fire Department recommended a maximum of ten booths per event.

Commissioners spoke favorably about the updated policy and about retaining the ten booth maximum per event.

MOTION Landt moved to approve the updated Special Events / Selling in the Park policy as presented by staff. Shaw seconded the motion.

The vote was: All yes

DISCUSSION AND PROPOSAL ON RECOMMENDATIONS FROM PARKS COMMISSION TO BUDGET COMMITTEE RELATED TO PARKS FUNDING AND THE WORK OF THE AD HOC COMMITTEE
Seffinger said the Budget Committee heard a report from Councilor Rosenthal at the May 8 Budget Committee meeting about the work of the Ad Hoc Committee. Rosenthal reported that the Ad Hoc Committee approved, at their April 30 meeting, a recommendation to propose to the Budget Committee the creation of a $750,000 Parks Reserve Fund in FY 13-15, with the funds used for repairs, restorations, and improvements to Lithia Park.

Landt said he and Seffinger served on the Ad Hoc Committee and their work would not be completed by the end of the FY 13-15 budget planning period. There had been a lack of consistency between what the Ashland City Charter outlined for Parks funding and subsequent state laws. Given more time, the matter could be resolved. Parks Commissioners expressed support for the Ad Hoc Committee’s work on finding a comprehensive, permanent solution rather than a short-term fix for Parks funding. Staff said Councilor Slattery suggested, at the May 13 study session, that the commission could request an “up-or-down” vote on restoring the Parks budget back to its former model ($2.09 per thousand in property tax receipts), otherwise known as the “Gentleman’s Agreement,” while the Ad Hoc Committee finished its deliberations and prepared recommendations.

Additional commissioner comments and concerns included:

  • Having an Ashland City Charter that was not consistent with state law;

  • Support for the Ad Hoc Committee and concern about inadequate time for its development of an alternative strategy for ensuring proper funding for Ashland Parks and and Recreation;

  • Lack of clarity about future plans for maintaining adequate funding for Parks operations;

  • Inconsistency of proposed budget with the council-adopted Ending Fund Balance (EFB) policy;

  • Lack of public discussion about the changes before preparing a proposed budget;

  • Concern over protecting and authorizing the reserve account for Parks without its becoming budgetary backfill;

  • Comprehension about the Parks budget being 5% of the City budget (equivalent to the City’s contingency fund);

  • Further support for an “up-or-down” vote by council regarding reinstating the Parks $2.09.

Public Input
Bryan Holley, 324 Liberty Street, said he attended earlier Ashland City Charter review committee meetings at which the charter was reviewed paragraph by paragraph, resulting in the fixing of typos and the updating of anachronisms, but nothing substantial occurred. He suggested that “sacrosanct charter followers” attend the May 22 Budget Committee meeting and speak out in the charter’s defense. He asked why the City was proposing a bloated budget and grabbing Parks money, then “spin doctoring” their actions. He said he would ask the City Administrator, during the May 22 meeting, what was being done to his town. He asked the commission to stand strong and let the City Administrator and Mayor explain why it was acceptable to turn one hundred years of history upside down.

Seffinger referenced a prepared message for the May 22 Budget Committee meeting. Highlights included the history of Parks funding, a question about whether the City policy makers’ decision to overturn Parks funding was a good one, and a point about inadequate public input opportunities during the process. The request for an “up or down” vote on Parks funding was reiterated along with a request for time and space to allow the Ad Hoc Committee to complete its work before any removal of Parks funding.

MOTION: A motion was made by Landt and seconded by Lewis, then withdrawn, regarding postponing a vote on accepting the Ad Hoc Committee recommendation until the Ad Hoc Committee had the opportunity to develop a comprehensive funding solution for Parks.

MOTION: Landt moved to recommend having the Budget Committee restore the $2.09 tax rate to Ashland Parks and Recreation and to continue maintaining the Parks EFB at 25% per City Council policy, and to retain the City / Parks “Gentleman’s Agreement,” through the 2013-2015 biennium, thereby allowing the Ad Hoc Committee sufficient time to complete its work in finding a permanent funding mechanism for Parks and Recreation before the commencement of the 2015-2017 budget process. He further moved to postpone voting on whether to accept the Ad Hoc Committee recommendation until the Ad Hoc Committee had the opportunity to develop a comprehensive funding solution for Parks. Shaw seconded the motion.

Discussion of Motion
Gardiner said the commission could be seen as vacillating but they were trying to make the right decision. Voisin said it might be preferable for the commission to ask the Budget Committee for the restoration of their $2.09 millage rather than referring to an “up or down” vote.

The vote was: All yes

REPEAL OF THE PARKS COMMISSION ENDING FUND BALANCE POLICY
Robertson said the commission approved an EFB Policy in 2011 that was designed to guide Parks and Recreation staff in preparing annual budgets. The policy identified amounts of funding to be held in EFB for use as beginning fund balances (30% of revenues) and defined how to use the funds in excess of projected balances, including sharing resources with the City’s General Fund Reserve Fund. Per an adopted City policy, council later specified that all City ending fund balances should be 25%; however, the proposed FY 13-15 biennial budget identified an EFB of 12.5% of revenues for Parks. The Ad Hoc Committee was studying funding methods for Parks and recommended a zero EFB. Given all the recent changes in budget process, Robertson said staff recommended suspending or eliminating the commission’s current EFB Policy.

MOTION: Landt moved to eliminate the Parks EFB Policy. Shaw seconded the motion.

The vote was: All yes

 
REQUEST TO REVISE DOGS IN PARKS POLICY: ALLOWING THEM GREATER ACCESS WITHIN EXISTING DOG-FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD PARKS
Robertson said the commission formed an Ad Hoc Committee on Dogs at their January 28 regular meeting. The committee, comprised of Seffinger and Shaw, met and developed several recommendations that were presented at the May 13 Parks Commission study session. They proposed allowing full accessibility for dogs on leash and their owners at current dog friendly parks, with exceptions made for ball fields and children’s playgrounds. Current dog friendly parks included Clay Street, Garden Way, Garfield, Hunter, Railroad, Scenic, Sherwood, and Triangle.

Public Input
Vicki Bamman, 311 Glenn Street, said she and Colleen Shanahan started “Ashland Loves Dogs” and initiated a program for rewarding responsible dog owners in picking up after their pets. The intention was to shine a light on Ashland’s responsible dog owners and bring incentive to other dog owners. Bamman said past Internet postings targeted Ashland as one of the least dog friendly cities on the west coast. The postings remained; however, recent consideration had been given to removing some of the postings if further progress could be made in providing additional dog access in Ashland parks. She thanked the commission for opening eight parks to dogs on leash along walkways or within six feet of walkways and asked for their allowance in grassy areas.

MOTION: Shaw moved to approve allowing dogs and their owners in all areas of the eight neighborhood parks where dogs were allowed—Clay Street, Garden Way, Garfield, Hunter, Railroad, Scenic, Sherwood, and Triangle—with the exception of children’s playground areas and ball fields in those parks. Seffinger seconded the motion.


Discussion of Motion
Gardiner said dog comments had changed considerably over the past 8-10 years. Lewis said the current policy was already a compromise and he couldn’t support the committee’s first recommendations but could support purchasing a second, southern dog park property and possibly opening Glenwood Park’s periphery to dogs on leash. Seffinger said the dog policy was confusing and few cities had such a restrictive policy. Landt said he did not see a groundswell of support for the policy changes. Seffinger said over 100 people had contacted her about the dog issue. Shaw said the October 2012 dog policy was a step in the right direction and many dog owners considered their dogs to be members of their families. Landt suggested having more than one additional dog park and said new parks should include off-leash areas for dogs.

The vote was:
Gardiner, Seffinger Shaw – yes
Lewis, Landt – no

2013-2014 RVTV CONTRACT REVIEW AND APPROVAL
Robertson said the commission reviewed its Rogue Valley TV contract every two years for the broadcasting of commission meetings at Council Chambers. The proposed contract for the two years spanning July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2015 was $5,150, the same price as the two previous contracts. Payments of $2,575 were required in July 2013 and July 2014. In addition to the taping of regular commission meetings at Council Chambers, the contract also allowed for the use of RVTV’s “Video on Demand” service at the rate of $55 per program for Internet playback, not to exceed $770; and special tapings at the Parks Department office at the rate of $500 for the first two hours, with each additional hour costing $45. Landt suggested approving the contract in perpetuity for as long as the prices were maintained.

MOTION: Landt moved to approve the RVTV contract for the period spanning July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2015, with the contract approved for future two-year periods if prices remained the same. Shaw seconded the motion.

The vote was: All yes
 
SUBCOMMITTEE and STAFF REPORTS
Robertson said the monkey puzzle tree in Lithia Park had completed its lifespan, despite staff efforts to preserve it, and would be removed in the near future.

Dials said summer was coming and registrations were well underway. The first Daniel Meyer Pool lap swim was scheduled for June 13 and the official pool opening was June 14, with opening day activities including swim demonstrations, pickleball, and water aerobics.

Dickens reported that new shades at the pool were nearly completed.

Seffinger reported on the work of the Forest Lands Commission and the Forest Resiliency Plan update process. She requested input about the public’s response to controlled burns and said the Forest Lands Commission was concerned about the financing of its Forest Resiliency Plan.

ITEMS FROM COMMISSIONERS
Gardiner reported on grant distributions from the Ashland Parks Foundation for community sports groups and Parks and Recreation programs and services. He read through a recently issued public service announcement and said the foundation also had an interest in fundraising for Butler-Perozzi Fountain repairs in Lithia Park.

Gardiner asked for the Skate Park to be added to a future agenda in terms of discussion, repairs and upgrades.

Seffinger said she was willing to volunteer to educate community members about where dogs were allowed in the City. She recommended inviting other volunteers to participate in the effort.

UPCOMING MEETING DATES

  • Study session set for June 17 at 7:00 p.m., Parks office, 340 S. Pioneer Street.

  • Regular meeting set for June 24 at 7:00 p.m., Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street.

ADJOURNMENT
By consensus, with no further business, Seffinger adjourned the meeting at 9:08 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Susan Dyssegard
Ashland Parks and Recreation

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