ASHLAND CONSERVATION COMMISSION
October 24, 2001
CALL TO ORDER- Chairperson Susan Reid called the meeting to order at 7:03 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. Members present were Susan Reid, Bruce Moats, Russ Chapman, Howard Braham (left at 8:00), Mort Smith, Joanne Krippaehne, Jim Hartman and Paige Prewett. Staff present was Sonja Akerman. Member Charles Bennett was unable to attend the meeting.
INTRODUCTION OF NEW MEMBER - Reid introduced Jim Hartman, who was recently appointed by Ashland School District Superintendent Juli Di Chiro as the Ashland School District Representative.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES - The minutes from the September 26, 2001 meeting were approved as submitted.
PUBLIC FORUM - It was noted that Maddi, Kate and Jessica, representing America's youth, were in the audience. Also attending the meeting was Diane Amarotico. Maddi asked if the Conservation Commission had a budget to give scholarships on an individual level, as she would like to represent Ashland at a youth environmental conference in Brazil. Reid said that to her knowledge, the Conservation Commission had not given that type of scholarship in the past, but the Commission could be part of a support network. She advised Maddi to get information about the conference printed and distributed to the members so it could be an agenda item.
ASHLAND SANITARY & RECYCLING UPDATE - Chapman reported 1) There were 87 customers on computer day at the Transfer Station. 5,000 pounds of computer components were taken and approximately 25 monitors were given away. 2) The plaque for Julian Henry has been mounted at the Recycle Depot. 3) As a reminder about the pilot street sweeping program in the Railroad District, Chapman noted the signs have been placed in various locations on all the streets. November 13 will be the free leaf drop off day at the Recycle Depot from 9:00-5:00. 4) The essay information will go out to the schools this week. The topic will be "recycling" and essays will be due on November 29. Braham and Prewett volunteered to help judge the contest. 5) Hartman asked for clarification on the yard debris program and Chapman responded that pick up will begin in March for Ashland customers. The program in Talent has already begun. Chapman explained the debris is transported to the new compost facility at the Dry Creek Landfill. Hartman asked if there has been any odor problems and Chapman replied there has been none. No food scraps are accepted; it is strictly a yard waste program. He also noted that Don Cordell, from Rogue Disposal and Recycling, has offered to lead tours at the Table Rock Transfer Station and Dry Creek Landfill for new members. Prewett asked about composting black walnuts, since the tannins are so toxic to other plants in the area. Smith stated that he had recently researched this and found out that once they are composted, they are no longer poisonous. Hartman asked what percentage Ashland Sanitary is hoping to recover with the yard debris program. Chapman said he will be able to give figures at the next meeting for the Talent program, which began on October 1.
Marketing - Krippaehne stated there are currently no major programs to market right now, but the committee is looking forward to upcoming programs. She volunteered to assist the Conservation Department with special needs relating to marketing.
Street Sweeping/Leaf Collection - Chapman reported the program is currently in progress. Smith said the street sweeper was on his street this past Monday. A major problem was that there was no convenient place to park. Therefore, many cars remained on the street. He suggested one side be swept one day and the opposite side be swept the following day. One difficulty is that many residents are gone the full day and can't come back to move their cars. The second problem was that not everyone was able to see the signs so Smith proposed more be posted. He would like to see this program work. Chapman said that since this is a pilot program, Smith should voice his concerns to Public Works. Reid also asked that a copy of the minutes be sent to Public Works. Prewett stated that in Norfolk, Virginia there is a similar street sweeping program in place. Permanent signs are posted stating there will be no parking this side of street on a certain day of the month and on the opposite side of the street, the same signs with a different day are posted.
Sustainable Housing Brainstorm Session - Krippaehne recommended a separate work session. She would like to start with the list of ideas she had submitted several months ago, then have all members add anything else they can think of. Then, with everything on the table, the members can debate the options and decide which items belong and which don't. Reid said she would be happy to meet early on the date of the next meeting, have pizza and start working on this before the regular meeting begins. Since other business can usually be covered in 45 minutes to an hour, this would give two hours for brainstorming. Krippaehne said if each member does pre-work, the session should breeze through. Staff will make sure all the members get an outline of where the Commission is on this goal.
(Braham suggested rearranging the agenda in order to decide on the date for the November/December meeting at this time. The Commission agreed.)
Set Date for November/December Meeting - The Commission agreed to meet on December 12 at 6:00 in order to brainstorm prior to the regular meeting. The regular meeting will begin at 8:00.
MORE OLD BUSINESS:
Sustainable Housing - For the benefit of Hartman and those in the audience, Reid briefly explained the concept of sustainable housing and said the charge of the City Council is to replace some of the City's existing ordinances in order to give incentives to people to build in a sustainable way. To craft something that can be put in to ordinance form and be useable will take some time to accomplish. Kate, from the audience, stated she had just started learning about sustainable living in class and would like more information about sustainable housing. Reid responded the City would like to enact an ordinance that would drive the practice of building new homes, or retrofitting or remodeling older homes, to include sustainable practices that would make the home itself more energy efficient and ensure the products that are used be healthy (or "green"). The City realizes homes will be here for many years and it cares about how they are built, both for the people that live there and for the community at large. For example, the community benefits if not a lot of energy is used to keep the house running. Kate asked if solar power and building straw bale homes would be examples and Reid responded that they would. When asked by Reid, Amarotico stated she is very interested in sustainable housing and noted she has solar heated hot water and solar power. She also has catch basins to use water runoff from her roof. Braham asked if anyone has done a literature search on sustainable housing. Krippaehne said she has done quite a bit of research and although it was not exhaustive, she put her list together by using mainstream programs that are being used to evaluate sustainable construction.
Discussion of Membership - The members took this time to introduce themselves to Hartman, giving some background information on why they are members on the Conservation Commission. Hartman said he teaches environmental science at the high school. He stated that when Russ Otte was the Resource Conservation Manager for the school district, it was just himself. With Destination Conservation, teachers and one entire classroom at each school are getting involved. Hartman explained the program had its origin in Canada and is now expanding to the United States. Basically, information is entered onto a beautiful poster with baseline numbers of conservation measures that were done last year. Then it is necessary to think about what needs to be done this year. The students conduct lifestyle campaigns. A technical assessment checklist of 150 questions is used for every school in the district to give the school a rating on how they use resources.
Reid noted that Braham has indicated his desire to move on to other issues not involving the Conservation Commission, so his seat will be available in the not too distant future. He has already spent a considerable amount of time on the Commission and now has some scheduling conflicts. Maddi asked if it was necessary to be at least 18 years old to be on the Commission. Reid said it might work to have a student liaison on the Commission; it would be worth discussing. She explained the mayor appoints citizens to the commissions for certain periods of time and students are usually on their way to somewhere else, for example, college. Mayor DeBoer, however, would like to involve more students so Reid suggested Maddi submit her name in writing and perhaps a seat could be developed as a youth or high school liaison in addition to the nine members.
NEW BUSINESS (continued):
Budget - The current balance is $3,775. Krippaehne announced she had a budget request. A Southern Oregon University business research practicum class has a team that has decided to take on the construction waste project. She would like authorization to spend up to $200 for the printing and mailing of a survey, which would include return postage for surveys mailed back to the students. The students would like to get a 10% return. The team will do the research and bring back recommendations. Krippaehne said she proposed the team look at construction waste and develop a baseline of how much contractors know about recycling. The survey will be mailed to general contractors in Jackson County. Smith said he would like to see the survey prior to committing the money. Krippaehne stated that because of time constraints, it would not be feasible since the next meeting will be in mid-December and the quarter will be over shortly thereafter. Reid declared that by now, the Commission has talked about this extensively. Krippaehne said she has already agreed to look at the survey before it is mailed out. In addition, the professor is working closely with the students and will have to okay the survey also. Smith agreed it was reasonable to have Krippaehne represent the Commission on this. Chapman moved to approve up to $200 for this project. Smith amended the motion to include based on Krippaehne's acceptance of the survey prior to mailing. Prewett seconded the motion as amended and it was unanimously passed.
Prewett related the Nature Center is moving forward in developing interpretive displays. There will be various exhibits in the main room, and explanatory signs will be placed throughout the building wherever sustainable building can be demonstrated and in the display areas outside (i.e. worm composting area, trex decking on the porch of the house, etc.). The signs will be placed in various rooms of the building, for example, in the bathroom reminding people to turn off the lights and why, turn off the water and why, etc. A recent SOU graduate has been hired to guide them in this project and to research cost and labor that will be involved. Prewett said she wanted to keep the Commission informed on this project because she may need to come back and ask for help in paying for some of the signs regarding sustainable building and living. They are hoping to have some of the numbers by January.
Composting/Worm Composting Brochure - Prewett reported she will be working with master composter Claudia Law in putting together a brochure on composting which will make a compact overview of regular composting and worm composting. Since the people that attend the composting classes (both kinds) are from all over the valley, they will come up with something not specific to Ashland. Reid stated she is glad people are coming from all over the valley. Prewett noted 12 people attended her worm composting class on October 21. She will keep the members informed.
Conservation Related Program in Honor of Ken Hagen - Reid stated that this idea was voiced last month by Brent Thompson. Chapman related he is not the least bit adverse to something like this, but the Recycle Depot was Ken's inspiration; it is always evolving and there is already a plaque honoring Hagen. Reid agreed and noted that the area was called the Ken Hagen Recycling Center from the beginning. Hartman commented that Hagen went on after the depot was constructed for another ten years volunteering his time and energy for additional conservation work. Reid said she loves the idea of combining the legacy of Hagen and education, and suggested a scholarship in his name, perhaps in concert with one or two other organizations. Hartman said another way to do it would be to come up with a grant to where the money would go to some conservation project. In discussing this, Chapman said he thinks that because Hagen was such a humble man, he is certain he would prefer to take a back seat to worthy projects if any publicity is involved. Krippaehne pointed out that money does not need to be involved. Hartman said it could just be a plaque awarded annually. Reid reminded the members that Brent Thompson, who was a friend and colleague of Hagen's, brought this up at the last meeting. She is all for honoring Hagen because very few people give as much time and energy to the community as he did. Since most of the next meeting will be taken up with sustainable housing discussions, Reid suggested putting this back on the agenda in January.
COMMISSION ITEMS NOT ON AGENDA:
Because Russ Otte had a 1/6 position as Resource Conservation Manager, Chapman asked Hartman who appointed him and what his charge would be for the school district. Hartman replied that he was the one who got the district involved with the Destination Conservation Program. He had also asked to get the 1/6 position and the district just decided last week to give it to him. He said there is enough money in the budget to fund the program this year and that now there are many new challenges for him. Reid stated that initially the position for Otte was funded through BPA resources, as there would be a payback for BPA in the energy conserved. Now there is a hope that Otte's work will not be lost. Hartman agreed and said that is a big issue. He will get all the information from Otte and incorporate what he can into the new program. Hartman noted all teachers have different lessons based on their knowledge and experience. He said the school district is looking for money for retrofits and lighting projects, so he wants to find out about available opportunities and then take advantage of them.
Hartman proclaimed that since street sweepers are big ugly vehicles, people probably don't understand how much they benefit fish. He thought it would be a good idea to have a nice mural on them that illustrates, for example, the sediment going to the streams is being reduced and this all helps the salmon go back up Bear Creek. The Commission felt this would be a great idea if approved by Public Works. Krippaehne suggested that perhaps students could design the mural. Smith agreed the average person most likely does not have a concept of the logical value of why the streets need to be cleaned and thought that perhaps someone from the Commission could write a newspaper article in conjunction with one of the reporters. Reid recommended contacting both newspapers. Prewett reminded the members that more information about the storm drain-stenciling program can be obtained from the Nature Center. Many people have no idea that what goes in the storm drain ends up in Bear Creek. Chapman related that designs can now be computer generated and essentially turned in to decals that can be attached to the sweepers. Prewett also volunteered to talk to Rogue Valley Transportation District to find out the process that was used to paint its busses. She said this would be a great educational process to involve kids, possibly with an art contest. Reid reminded the members that permission needs to be granted by Public Works Director Paula Brown before they get too involved. This idea of having murals painted on the street sweepers will be discussed again at the next meeting.
Reid and Prewett discussed the City's recent policy to implement bioswales where feasible. Bioswales take water off the street, clean the water naturally, and then put it in the creeks. Prewett said there is a good example of this at the Railroad Park on "A" Street with an interpretive sign and diagram. Maddi informed the Commission she had recently attended a conference in San Francisco on environmental matters. One of the speakers had written a book about nature's way of cleaning up. Krippaehne commented that would be a great resource for sustainable building.
Smith stated he had served on the Sustainable Ashland 2020 committee a few years ago. At that time, the committee put together a survey with the help of students. Questions included such areas of focus as What do you like about Ashland? and What concerns do you have about the future? The survey was never actually implemented. Smith has a lot of this information and is willing to give it to give it all to someone who can use it.
Prewett asked that the next agenda include the possibility of a mural design on the street sweepers and the addition of a youth liaison on the Conservation Commission, with a term to be set as the academic year.
Reid reminded Maddi that in order to get on the next agenda, she will need to turn in information on the conference she would like to attend and the reasons why she would like to attend that particular one.
ADJOURNMENT: The meeting adjourned at 9:05 p.m.