Downtown Beautification Improvement ad hoc Committee
April, 17 2014
Gresham Room, Ashland Public Library 7:30 a.m.
Attendance: Dawkins, Hammond, Jensen, Friend, Seffinger, Thompson, Beam, Kencairn, David, Lemhouse, (Council liaison), Seltzer, Kanner (staff liaisons) Robertson (park liaison)
Call to Order
Chair Kencairn called the meeting to order at 7:35 am.
Approval of Minutes
Motion by Friend to approve the April 3 minutes; seconded by Dawkins. All approved.
David Sherr expressed concern that at the last meeting the committee didn’t actually vote on leaving the Plaza in its current form. He read an email from the Mayor and is concerned the committee is biased and asked the committee to have a discussion about the Plaza form. He feels the committee should wait to hear all public input before making a decision.
Katherine Thalden is a former landscape architect and described a process she used for a project in Kansas City. She distributed guidelines for a community process. She feels the Plaza is our “Times Square”. It is very important and deserves our time and attention. She suggests looking at the Plaza design again using the process she describes. The process allows every person to give input and participate in a method to organize the project. People want to be heard and acknowledged.
Kencairn explained there was a public process. She asked is any of the audience had participated in the process (none had) and stated that she herself hadn’t participated in the process. She invited Dawkins to explain the process.
Dawkins first commented that the Plaza is not historic and has never been historic in his 64 years living in Ashland. The Plaza has changed in shape, size and purpose numerous times during the history of Ashland.
Dawkins explained that he attended and participated in all 13 public meetings except the meeting with the Public Art Commission. He said lots of people participated and offered lots of different ideas. He explained that he really wanted tables and chairs and in the end that idea wasn’t incorporated. Many ideas were incorporated, many were not: but all the ideas were heard and acknowledged. The Plaza we see today reflects public input and the design approved by the City Council.
Plaza Use and Intent
Hammond commented that the Plaza is being used for the purpose intended but she doesn’t like the color of the Plaza. She feels it is cold and dark and doesn’t look like the picture. She thinks it needs more seating and more softness through landscaping. She felt it was hurtful that the committee was accused of being biased when committee members had not yet expressed their personal sentiments about the Plaza.
Thompson believes there are a few locations where free standing planters could be located on the Plaza. And he likes the idea of curved seating around trees.
Seffinger suggested the committee visit the Calle to see the pavers being used for that project. She passed around the paver design and paver options. She suggests that maybe similar pavers could be incorporated randomly into the Plaza. She also spoke of the planters on the Calle and thinks they would be nice on the Plaza. She likes the idea of incorporating common elements (pavers, planters) throughout the downtown.
Dawkins reiterated that the City cannot use non-professional labor on capital projects.
Thompson motioned that the next meeting, April 24, begin on the Plaza at 7:30 to view the Calle and then return to the library by 8:00 for the rest of the meeting. Dawkins seconded. Friend amended the motion to allocate the entire time of the next meeting to walking around all areas of downtown with an eye to beautification projects. Amendment accepted and approved.
Jensen offered space at Louie’s if the committee wanted to conclude the meeting indoors after walking around. She stated the public is welcome to attend as well. Dawkins stressed that the public is also invited to join the walk around with the committee.
Kencairn motioned, second by Dawkins that the committee meet on April 24 (7:30 walking meeting) and on May 8 and May 22 7:30 am at the library. All approved.
Identify possible new projects
Kencairn suggests discussing projects already identified.
Seffinger suggests creating a hard copy form with criteria listed. The form could be used as homework for committee members to evaluate each project.
Lemhouse suggests adding “New Business” to the end of the meeting as a placeholder for committee members to add new projects
Dawkins feels the city parking lot on Lithia Way and Pioneer needs the most attention. He is concerned about the dead and dying plants, the park row and more. He feels it needs a complete redesign with new soil, irrigation and landscaping.
Seffinger suggests more hardscape rather than landscape and suggests using the Calle paver pattern.
Kencairn cautioned against overuse of design elements
Lemhouse stated that his idea about downtown merchants contributing to a fund should not be limited for sidewalk improvements but could be used for a variety of improvements such as awnings
Jensen expressed concern that asking merchants to contribute is a hardship. She commented that improvements to properties add to the value of the building which can result in increase rents for merchants.
Thompson asked how much money there is to work with at this point and through what date. Seltzer re-stated the costs of the “short term” projects approved by the committee at previous meetings leaving approximately $105,000 through June 2015.
It was suggested at the May 8 meeting the committee will refine the existing list.
Kanner was asked about the yellow curbs. He explained that over the years the curbs were painted with lead paint. They are now painted with water based paint and applied over the existing paint. At this time, for environmental reasons, communities are not permitted to remove the lead paint. There is some experimentation occurring on a process to safely remove the lead paint but at this point the only thing that can be done is to paint over the existing curbs.
Meeting adjourned at 9:00
Next meeting: Thursday April 24, 7:30 am meet on the Plaza.