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Parks Commission Study Session Minutes

Minutes
Monday, August 19, 2013

City of Ashland
PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION
STUDY SESSION MINUTES
August 19, 2013

ATTENDANCE
Present:  Commissioners Gardiner, Landt, Lewis, Seffinger, Shaw; Director Robertson; Superintendents Dials and Dickens
Absent:    City Council Liaison Voisin

CALL TO ORDER
Seffinger called the study session to order at 7:04 p.m. in the Parks office, 340 S. Pioneer Street.

JAPANESE GARDEN UPDATE
Robertson reviewed materials for construction of a proposed gateway in the Japanese-style garden in Lithia Park. At previous meetings, he said the commission discussed using steel versus wood for the structure or a combination of both steel and wood. Donor Ann Auble earlier suggested looking into reinforced concrete and landscape architect Ian Wessler thought it could work because of different finishes available. Dickens distributed a concrete sample and said the finishes had different textures and were quite nice. He reported requesting a site plan view from Wessler. He said a concrete gateway would change the original dimensions and associated project costs and any alterations would be completed and priced by the architect if the commission approved the use of concrete.

Discussion Among Commissioners
Landt: The first step was to ensure that price estimates for concrete were comparable to previous estimates for steel; expressed appreciation for the sustainability factor, as concrete requires less maintenance.

Seffinger: While traveling in Japan, observed similar concrete structures. Said a concrete gateway would fit with other Lithia Park amenities (Atkinson Bridge, Butler-Perozzi Fountain) as long as the gray color matched existing park structures.

Lewis: Suggested coating the concrete with a sealer for durability.

Landt: Asked staff to gather information about concrete designs and prices and then report back to the commission.
 
Robertson agreed to research prices and designs for a potential concrete gateway.

CALLE RESURFACING REPORT
Dials distributed a photograph of the Calle, circa spring/summer 1964, and explained its historical use as an alleyway until its purchase by the City in the late 1980s. She introduced the OBEC employees contracted to oversee the project: Jeff Bernardo, Project Manager; and Jamie Jordan, Design Engineer.

Dials provided a list of goals and rationales for the Calle resurfacing project. In present day, she said the Calle served many additional functions than in 1964: restaurants for seating; Lithia Artisan Market vendors for vending their wares; and members of the public to admire Ashland Creek.

Goals for the Calle resurfacing were outlined as follows:
  • Safety: Improve the Calle surface by installing pavers, making it level and safe for all users.
  • Aesthetics: Coordinate the design to complement existing aesthetics in the downtown area.
  • Curved Pathway: Maintain an 8-foot curved walkway using colored pavers to aid with pedestrian traffic flow and delineate where Lithia Artisan Market vendors set up tables.
  • Utility Corridor: Update utility work in the Calle corridor via coordinated efforts with the City of Ashland Water Department, Ashland Fiber Network (AFN), and Avista.

In terms of finances, Dials said Ashland Parks and Recreation allocated $300,000 in the CIP from Food and Beverage Tax receipts, with an extra $50,000 contributed by neighboring restaurants and the Lithia Artisans Market. For their utility work on the Calle, the City of Ashland Electric Department budgeted $100,000 toward the project, the Water Department budgeted $200,000, and AFN budgeted $30,000.
                                                                                                                                             
In addition to funding the project, Dials said an archeological survey was required by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) prior to the start of construction. Jeff Lalande, local archeologist, was contracted to obtain SHPO permits and lead the survey. He led a similar survey for the recent Ashland Plaza renovation. The Calle survey would consist of minor excavations on small pieces of land, called “test pits,” to determine if significant archeological discoveries were located beneath the Calle surface. Test pits would be conducted in the four-foot trenches dug for a utility corridor. SHPO required excavating an additional six inches below the trench.

In terms of construction and timeline, Bernardo explained that as part of the construction, the three- to four-foot utility trenches would go up to each of the buildings (for water and electrical) and would laterally connect to the utility corridor so if a business in the future wished to install fire suppression, for example, they would have access to a water lateral at the back of their building. Jordan remarked on the cooperation of all of the utility departments to complete the project within the proposed Parks timeline.

Lewis asked how the preferred surface material would meet the physical and environmental constraints and/or ordinances pertaining to floodway. Robertson said minimal surface decisions were needed, as the eight-foot curved walkway down the center would be made from removable pavers (for easy access) and held in place by concrete, the color of which would be a pre-determined “San Diego Buff” rather than gray.

Dials said she met with Calle property owners twice and another meeting would be scheduled in the future to inform the owners about the final project timeline. She said the boundary survey was completed in May of 2013 and Parks was working with the City Legal Department to obtain written permission from each property owner for the required work on their land.

Bernardo outlined the project timeline and said it would go out to bid on September 24, with construction beginning at the end of October. This would allow Lalande adequate time to complete his archeological survey. Lalande was said to be in the process of obtaining a SHPO permit for the archeological survey, with test pits beginning on approximately October 1. The proposed timeline for closing the Calle was late October, with an estimated project completion set for mid-March. Lewis asked how this would affect the restaurants, whose contract dates were scheduled to end on November 15. Dials said property owners were aware that the Calle would be closed early and construction could delay the usual opening date of April 1 for restaurants and market vendors. Bernardo said delays could also be caused by weather issues, especially rain, which could impede concrete work. Landt asked if the Calle could be covered to keep rain off. Bernardo said while not impossible, covering it would require headroom to accommodate equipment and that would add to project costs. Seffinger wondered if Internet service would be part of the construction plan, as wireless was added during the downtown Plaza reconstruction. Robertson said staff would ask AFN about that possible additional service.

Dials said she, Bernardo, and Jordan would present the Calle resurfacing design plans to the Historic Commission on September 4, 2013.

Bernardo shared an illustrated bird’s-eye view of the design, distributing photos by “Leave Your Mark” to demonstrate the pavers chosen by staff. He said choices were limited because pavers had to be 3-1/8 inches thick to withstand heavy truck traffic of delivery vehicles on the Calle. By comparison, pavers used on the Plaza were only 2.5 inches thick. He said further strengthening of Calle surface materials would come from a cement-treated base and the use of a herringbone pattern. The design would consist of a charcoal “soldier” design border and a herringbone pattern in a color named “James Town Blend” (buff with lighter and darker shades of gray) over the eight-foot curved pathway.
 
Discussion
Landt: The Calle is located in a visible part of the downtown; not excited about using two very different and clashing elements of color and pattern; questioned the design because a landscape architect was not involved in the process and guidance from a professional was needed; asked if buff pavers could be changed to gray so pavers matched.

Robertson: From a design perspective, the curved walkway speaks to the flowing of the creek and the colors are complementary rather than clashing.

Jordan: Previously worked on projects with landscape architects using similar colors to the ones proposed by Parks.

Seffinger: Proposed pink tones blend well with bricks in the buildings and gray tones blend with the Plaza; liked the idea of the pathway; found the pattern and colors attractive. 

Lewis: Wanted to avoid the problem on the Plaza; namely, a monotone and sterile effect. The pathway with the herringbone pattern and different colors would prevent the Calle from being monotone; concerned that the herringbone was not exact and would require many cuts.

Shaw: Noted that a certain percentage of the community would not like the design regardless of what was chosen.

Gardiner: Expressed appreciation for the design; said he wanted to see a blow-up of the actual colors to ensure colors blended well with the buff concrete; saw advantages to making a pathway that stood out.

Seffinger asked if there was anything the commission wanted to see before staff moved forward with the project. Gardiner reiterated a desire to see a mock-up of the colors side by side as first requested by Landt. Jordan said Leave Your Mark could set up the pavers on the Calle adjacent to the San Diego buff as a demonstration of the design. In addition, they could generate a mock-up of the proposed layout, keeping in mind that a computer cannot generate exact color replications. The commission expressed interest in seeing the actual pavers laid out as well as the additional computer mock-up before making a decision. Landt said a landscape architect should still provide input on the project. Robertson said they could invite an architect to weigh in on the Calle samples. Lewis suggested also inviting the Historic Commission to view the materials in advance. Seffinger gave staff credit for a job well done and Shaw concurred. Seffinger suggested placing a sign at the Calle so the public could provide opinions during the design demonstration; Landt agreed.

In closing, Bernardo said the buff was a very dark, rich brown color, so seeing the pavers next to the existing buff concrete of the Calle, which had aged and lightened considerably, would provide the commission with a more accurate representation of the final result. He added that in terms of Landt’s desire to make the pavers “match,” a concern would be in matching it closely now and, in the future, having the concrete lighten due to the elements, resulting in a slightly off match that could look like a design error. Bernardo believed that incorporating some contrast in the pavers from the beginning might provide a better result over time.

Commissioners thanked Bernardo, Jordan and staff for their work.

Dials said she would set up a demonstration meeting on the Calle with Leave Your Mark and notify the commission about the date and time.

ICE RINK COVER DISCUSSION
Dials said staff had been working on finding a temporary ice rink cover and the bid process would close / bids opened on Thursday, August 29, at 3:00 p.m. in the Parks office. She said staff expected bids to come in higher than anticipated ($122,000 budgeted in the Parks CIP for FY 14). She asked the commission to set parameters that would allow staff to move forward with the project if bids exceeded the budgeted amount. She suggested a possible special meeting on or around August 29, 2013, to provide an opportunity for the commission to review bids and discuss moving forward with the project at a possible higher-than-anticipated cost.
 
Robertson said the $122,000 budget was an estimate presented by staff 18 months earlier. Without knowing bid amounts, he approximated the cover would cost $150,000. He added that the proposed cover would be an improvement upon an earlier cover because its span would include the spectator section and it would be higher, providing plenty of headroom for skaters and spectators.

The commission discussed what would constitute an unacceptable price, what other projects in Parks might be impacted by extra costs for a cover, and the community’s need for the amenity. They decided, as Robertson suggested, that if bids exceeded $122,000, they would hold a special meeting to discuss the costs. The meeting, contingent on bids exceeding $122,000, would be held on Friday, August 30, 2013, at 8:00 a.m. in the Parks Office. Shaw and Dials said they would be absent. Staff said they would publicly “notice” the meeting.

ADJOURNMENT
By consensus, Seffinger adjourned the study session at 8:11 p.m.

ADJOURNMENT INTO EXECUTIVE SESSION
By consensus, Seffinger adjourned into executive session at 8:11 p.m.
         EXECUTIVE SESSION: Real Property Acquisition: ORS 192.660 (2)(e)

ADJOURNMENT OUT OF EXECUTIVE SESSION
By consensus, Seffinger adjourned out of executive session at 8:27 p.m.

ADJOURNMENT INTO STUDY SESSION
By consensus, Seffinger adjourned into study session at 8:27 p.m.

Ashland Creek Park
Lewis asked for a timeline on the completion of Ashland Creek Park. Robertson said staff was waiting for the contract from the State of Oregon before moving forward and it could take several more weeks. He said they had two years to complete the park using grant funds received from the State of Oregon Parks Department.

Park Patrol
Shaw asked for an update on the effectiveness of Park Patrol this season. Dials said fewer complaints were received in the Parks office and Dickens heard from office staff that Park Patrol had been better this year than last. 

Skate Park
Seffinger asked staff to publicize the positive study session held on July 15 regarding Skate Park issues. She said staff could highlight how the public’s concerns were addressed that evening and beyond, with the installation of a bench and a drinking fountain. Robertson said staff would write and publish a public service announcement.

Rewarding Rovers
Shaw and Seffinger reported that the “Rewarding Rovers” campaign, in which responsible pet owners were rewarded with a $5 coupon toward an Ashland Parks and Recreation class, was progressing favorably and positive feedback had been heard from the public.

Ashland Senior Center
Seffinger said she wanted to consider changing the name of the Ashland Senior Center to Ashland “Sage” Center (implying wisdom). She said she believed the name change would encourage people who didn’t consider themselves as “seniors,” but were actually fifty-five and up, to feel comfortable making use of the center’s services.  She reported speaking with the Senior Center Manager about the name change.

Dog Friendly Parks Update
Shaw and Seffinger requested an addition to the August 26 regular meeting agenda: the inclusion of Kestrel, Glenwood, and Bluebird parks as dog-friendly parks or park areas. Hearing two commissioners requesting the addition, Robertson agreed to include the item on the upcoming regular meeting agenda.
                                                                                                                         
ADJOURNMENT
By consensus, Seffinger adjourned out of study session at 8:45 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                           
Amanda Glass                                                                 Susan Dyssegard
Ashland Parks and Recreation                                      Ashland Parks and Recreation
 

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