City of Ashland
PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION
December 23, 2013
Present: Commissioners Gardiner, Landt, Lewis, Seffinger, Shaw; Director Robertson; Superintendent Dickens
Absent: City Council Liaison Voisin; Superintendent Dials
CALL TO ORDER
Seffinger called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Study Session – November 18, 2013
MOTION Landt moved to approve the minutes as presented. Shaw seconded the motion.
The vote was: All yes
Regular Meeting – November 25, 2013
Under “Garfield Park RFP Motion Rescindment,” at the end of discussion and before the vote, Landt said there was a reference to Robertson stating that he “could contact local architectural firms.” Landt said a review of the discussion leading up to the vote would show the word “could” was actually “would.” He asked for that amendment to the minutes.
MOTION Landt moved to approve the minutes as amended. Shaw seconded the motion.
The vote was: All yes
ADDITIONS OR DELETIONS TO THE AGENDA
Landt asked for the removal of the item relating to “Signs, Plaques, and Memorials Subcommittee Recommendations.” After speaking to staff liaison Dickens earlier that evening, he realized certain details required further refinement before the topic could be discussed by the commission. Since there was no urgency, he asked for a delay until after the next subcommittee meeting.
VERDE VILLAGE AGREEMENT AMENDMENT REQUEST
At the December 16 study session, Robertson said Valri Williams, co-developer of Verde Village, outlined possible changes to the development agreement for the land located near the Ashland Dog Park. The property had been owned by the Williams family for over 100 years and in 2007 they entered into an agreement with the City of Ashland to develop it into high efficiency, energy-neutral homes. Some of the requirements proved onerous and the developers requested amendments that would allow the project to move forward. The commission asked them to attend the regular meeting so they could gather additional information. Robertson welcomed Valri and Greg Williams and invited them to speak to the commission.
Valri Williams, 744 Helman Street, said the development plan was established in 2007 but much had changed since then, including technology and the economy. The items under discussion related to Parks. She suggested a win-win outcome for Parks, the City, and the developers. Requested changes: 1) Create a two-phased project, with infrastructure phased, including the multi-use trail, which would be tied to the Phase II portion of the project; 2) Reduce the amount of vegetation planted in the riparian area and wetlands. Plant vegetation four feet on either side of the multi-use path and repair disturbed soil as needed. 3) Once planted vegetation was established, turn over the maintenance to Parks.
Williams said the developers were asking for the path to be tied to the development of lots on the southeast side for the sake of cost effectiveness. She also stated that one advantage of reduced plantings in the riparian area would be reduced maintenance, a cost savings.
Dickens said the maintenance estimate prepared for the packet memo was not accurate. Instead of $30,000, the three-acre maintenance project per six-month season would be $39,000, including irrigation staff time. Volunteer labor could help with hand weeding as pesticides would not be used. Shaw asked what labor would cost for four feet of plantings on each side of the pathway and Dickens said it might be one quarter of the $39,000 estimate. Dickens said the estimate of $1.50 per square foot for maintenance, as stated in the memo, would actually be more in the range of sixty cents per square foot.
Discussion Among Commissioners
Seffinger asked about the downside of leaving natural vegetation in place. She said blackberries helped birds in terms of nesting and also provided a food source and assisted with erosion control. Landt said it was not that simplistic. Restoring the area to a prehistoric environment would be much more useful and rich for wildlife. A pretty plan was in place but establishing it would not be without difficulty. Trees would be easy to plant in the riparian area but the shrub and herbaceous layers required by City ordinance posed challenges. Developers would plant and maintain the area for three years and then Parks would take over but the chance of a landscaping failure was high. On a larger scale, Lewis said the commission needed to look at Parks policies in terms of the properties they acquired over the years, including Riverwalk and the Nevada Street development along the creek. He suggested discussing how the commission could manage the many properties and acres in a uniform way. With regard to the four feet of vegetation along the pathway, Landt said the commission needed to consider whether they had the resources to do everything or if they wanted to handle more with a little less. He said sometimes work was implemented to a higher standard than was rational for Parks resources.
Kerry KenCairn, 147 Central Avenue, said the plan was a response to City of Ashland ordinance and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife requirements for restoration practices. She was not necessarily supportive of it, though some parts were worthwhile. Since completion of the plan, some changes occurred in the area. There was value in planting large trees into the blackberries and maintaining them in eight-foot diameter circles, allowing the trees to gain dominance over the blackberries. City of Ashland and ODF&W were trying to create habitat and shade for the creek. Blackberries provided habitat and some food sources. Maintaining four feet of pathway on either side of the path was somewhat disturbing and it would be better to provide a maintenance corridor on either side, anywhere from 20 feet to two feet, rather than a four-foot boundary.
Gardiner asked for clarification about the Williams’ request: they wanted the commission to make a recommendation to council? Robertson said the developers were looking for Parks’ opinion before the matter was taken to council. He said the parties that weighed in during the original process were allowed to weigh in again, but council had the final say. Landt said the water resources ordinance directed this matter and was cumbersome and challenging and held unrealistic expectations. He said he tried to modify it when it was in process. He expressed disappointment that it was the City’s riparian ordinance and said developers lived under it but it needed to be reviewed for modifications. KenCairn said it was even stronger and more restrictive now than when the Williams’ plan was drawn up. She said their plan was held to the standard of the future ordinance before it was even approved.
Greg Williams, 744 Helman Street, said the plan would not disturb much land, just the area where the path was located. The development agreement was created because developers anticipated the ordinance restrictions. They were looking for a recommendation from the commission to council to amend the ordinance. This development agreement was the first agreement in the City with such a high level of complexity.
Shaw suggested separate motions for each recommendation. Landt agreed and suggested leaving the three-year maintenance plan in place for the developers. He said Parks had an opportunity for win-wins on the other two items. Lewis said he hoped a motion would reflect reduced maintenance costs. Shaw expressed agreement with KenCairn’s suggestion to maintain the pathway out to its width rather than at a pre-determined four feet on either side.
Landt said the first request was simply for phasing the project: a rational notion. The second concerned reducing the vegetation and this could provide dramatic cost reductions for Ashland taxpayers. In terms of the phasing request, he said the first phase might not include the path and that could be problematic if there were a delay in building the path. Williams said the development agreement required the path be built within seven years. Landt suggested a certain time period for the creation of the path.
MOTION: Landt moved to recommend to council allowing the Verde Village developers to wait for the second phase of development to install the path if the first phase was not along the path; however, if the first phase was implemented and the developers did not put in the second phase along the pathway, after five years they would need to build the path. Shaw seconded the motion.
Vote: All yes
MOTION: Landt moved to recommended to council that the proposed vegetation in the development plan be reduced to an 18-foot-wide corridor along and including the bike path, including any affected or disturbed areas within that corridor which would be re-vegetated, as opposed to how the plan was shown. Lewis seconded the motion.
Vote: All yes
Landt said he would consider another motion relating to maintenance and the planting of trees but suggested basing it on a staff review. Robertson said he visited the area recently and observed other trees in the vicinity. On average there was fifty feet between the corridor and the creek. Carving out niches for the trees, as proposed by KenCairn, was a great opportunity and would maximize dollars. Robertson suggested delegating staff to work with the developer on the number of trees to plant.
MOTION: Landt moved to recommend to council allowing Parks’ professional staff the flexibility to work with the developer to identify any additional trees to plant outside / inside the identified corridor. Shaw seconded the motion.
Vote: All yes
Seffinger said trees along the creek served the purpose of lowering creek temperatures, which was important to wildlife. Robertson said it was difficult to keep up with blackberry growth along the Bear Creek Greenway but volunteers helped to manage it.
The commission agreed to not make a motion regarding maintenance in the area.
PRESENTATION OF COMPONENT UNIT FINANCIAL REPORT
Robertson provided an overview of the Parks CUFR and said the crux of the document appeared on page ix at the front of the book, a letter signed by all members of the Ashland Municipal Audit Committee. He said it was recommended that the commission accept the CUFR along with recommendations from the auditors. On page three, Robertson said a management discussion and analysis by the auditors referred to the auditors’ review of Parks Commission financials and their condition at the end of the year. It referred to their practices, which the auditors found in line with generally accepted accounting practices and principles. He said the net position of the commission – liabilities and assets – showed the commission’s funds appreciated by over $11M in the year and the commission did a good job of managing its finances. On the last two pages, under “2013 Auditors’ Comments and Disclosures,” Robertson reported speaking with the auditor about proposed improvement projects, with four out of 23 linked to the Parks budget. Auditors suggested a modified internal control structure to correct a “significant deficiency” identified in the audit concerning roles and responsibilities of the City and Parks staff. He said cash handling proved to be difficult when staffing levels were low. The City and Parks were working on a Memorandum of Understanding to address the identified deficiency along with a divination of duties. The MOU would be available for review and approval in March.
Landt questioned a point on page iii under “Relevant Financial Policies” that he felt was not accurate, as Parks vigorously opposed the transfer of ending fund balance monies to the City operations account. The commission was working hard to create a positive relationship between itself and council and the phrasing of that paragraph was misleading.
MOTION: Shaw moved to accept the CUFR of the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission as presented. Gardiner seconded the motion.
Vote: All yes
2014 MEETING SCHEDULE
Seffinger said the proposed 2014 meeting schedule was before the commission. Robertson said most commission meetings were tentatively scheduled for the third and fourth Mondays of each month, with the possible exceptions of January, February and May due to Monday holidays. He said the schedule could be changed following approval but advance notice helped staff organize their work plans.
The commission concurred with the proposed schedule with one exception: the February study session was switched to Wednesday, February 26, 2014.
SUBCOMMITTEE and STAFF REPORTS
ITEMS FROM COMMISSIONERS
UPCOMING MEETING DATES & PROPOSED AGENDA ITEMS
Study session on January 13 at 7:00 p.m., Parks office, 340 S. Pioneer Street
Little League signage exemption request
Regular meeting on January 27 at 7:00 p.m., Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street
ADJOURNMENT– By consensus, with no further business, Seffinger adjourned the meeting at 8:15 p.m.
Ashland Parks and Recreation