Downtown Beautification Improvement ad hoc Committee
April, 3 2014
Gresham Room, Ashland Public Library 7:30 a.m.
Attendance: Dawkins, Hammond, Jensen, Friend, Seffinger, Thompson, Beam, Kencairn, David, Slattery, (Council liaison), Seltzer (staff liaison) Robertson (park liaison)
Guest Dave Kanner (City Administrator)
Call to Order
Chair Kencairn called the meeting to order at 7:35 am.
Approval of Minutes
Motion by Thompson to approve the March 27 minutes; seconded by Jensen. All approved.
Neil Stewart distributed a packet of photos of his vision for the Plaza including a fountain, a raised band shell, seat rings around trees, replace existing trees with London Plane sycamore, large movable planters, wider sidewalk along North Main.
David Sherr read statements from others who are opposed to the current Plaza design and he feels there are other improvements that could be accomplished in the short term.
Katherine Thalden feels the Plaza is a divisive issue that can be resolved by holding a community planning process to determine the future of the Plaza.
Pete Cislo provided sample colored pavers in the early Plaza process. He thinks the pavers could be replaced for under $50,000 and thinks it would be beneficial to involve high school students in the process.
One of the committee charges from the City Council is to develop criteria by which proposed improvements can be evaluated.
The committee expressed appreciation for Seffinger’s proposed criteria and offered slight modifications reflected in the motion.
Motion by Friend seconded by Seffinger: 1) Consider aesthetics of downtown to draw both citizens and tourists to increase commerce and enjoyment of downtown; 2) Consider safety of downtown; 3) Consider good access and pedestrian traffic flow; 4) Consider environmental sensitivity to changing climate and water use; 5) Consider maintenance costs are reasonable, both in the short term and long term; 6) Consider public support; 7) Consider how well the project fits with the masters plans for downtown. Approved.
Dawkins explained that during a Planning Commission retreat a few years ago, the commission framed the Plaza as a living room with space on the Plaza for a variety of activities. He commented that for many years the Plaza was a walkway people used to get from one side to the other not a space for people to gather. He referenced a video called Ashland 52. He further commented that soil compaction due to foot traffic was a concern and the commission supported the idea of hardscape for the Plaza over grass. He is not in favor of walls around planting areas but agrees the areas need to be more densely planted.
Thompson commented that most Plaza’s are cobblestone which are usually gray in color. He likes the idea of substantial free standing planters, seating around trees and walls or fencing around planting areas.
Friend commented that the proposed list is not a “done deal” and the committee is not obligated to implement the list nor is the committee constrained from identifying other projects. She would like to proceed with a plan of intent. Friend also commented that there was an extensive public process and the current Plaza reflects citizen input of people who participated in the process.
Beam commented she has seen a change in the use of the Plaza in a positive way. There are more people using the space that previously.
Both Jenson and David stated the Plaza is used much more today than it has in the years they have had businesses on the Plaza 12; years and 30 years respectively. Jensen also commented she was not in favor of replacing pavers given the positive use of the Plaza. It is doing what it needs to do. Leave the pavers alone and focus on enhancements to the current space.
Seffinger wants to talk about what the Plaza is used for. Seltzer was asked to provide the committee with the “project intent” from the RFP in 2012.
Kencairn asked the committee to clarify if it wants to enhance the current Plaza or redesign the current Plaza. The committee expressed their desire to enhance the space not to redesign the space. The committee agreed to devote 45 minutes of the next meeting to discussing Plaza use and then possible enhancements.
Kanner asked the group if it would be helpful to invite Greg Covey, landscape architect of the Plaza to speak to the group about the design and the process.
Meeting adjourned at 8:50.
Next meeting: Thursday, April 17 2014.