Agendas and Minutes

Parks & Recreation Commission (View All)

Parks Commission Regular Meeting

Minutes
Monday, April 28, 2014

City of Ashland
PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION
REGULAR MEETING
MINUTES
April 28, 2014

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

CALL TO ORDER
Seffinger called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Special Meeting – March 7, 2014
MOTION Landt moved to approve the minutes as presented. Shaw seconded the motion.
The vote was: All yes

Joint Meeting with Council – March 12, 2014
MOTION Landt moved to approve the minutes as presented. Lewis seconded the motion.
The vote was: All yes

Regular Meeting – March 24, 2014
MOTION Landt moved to approve the minutes as presented. Lewis seconded the motion.
The vote was: All yes

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
Jeannine Grizzard, 698 Roca Street, Artistic Director at Ashland Community Theatre, asked for Parks Commission consideration for ACT, a long-standing renter of the Ashland Community Center, to leave two 4x8 platforms and one 4x6 platform in the center during an upcoming ACT play spanning three weekends in June. Proposed platform storage areas included: against the wall under the windows of the secondary room behind the chair rack and / or under the eaves; behind the building; or in the storage closet to the left, facing the stage. In addition, Grizzard requested placing “lighting trees” in the room to the left of the stage, with a key entrusted to ACT organizers; otherwise, into the storage closet behind the kitchen. She said none of the proposals would obstruct any new or existing Community Center rentals. Their next play, scheduled for November, could generate similar requests. If so, ACT would provide requests in writing prior to the October 27 regular meeting. Grizzard said other community groups with special requests were accommodated due to their “grandfathered” status or longevity as renters.
The commission directed staff to work out the details with Grizzard.

ADDITIONS OR DELETIONS TO THE AGENDA
None

UNFINISHED BUSINESS
None

NEW BUSINESS
2014 CALLE GUANAJUATO SEATING CONTRACTS
Dials said six restaurants requested space on the Calle for the 2014 season: Sesame, Umi Sushi, Louie’s, Salame, Greenleaf and Mix Sweet Shop. The Parks Department managed both restaurant outdoor seating contracts and artisan contracts. Restaurants were charged $7 per square foot while artisans paid $5 per square foot during the Calle season as established by the commission. Staff worked out all issues of concern with artisans and restaurateurs before addressing the commission.
 
Dials asked the commission to:
  • Determine the “season of operation” for artisans and restaurants.
    • Normally April 1 through November 15, this year a delay would occur due to the Calle Guanajuato resurfacing project. One restaurant requested year-round seating: Louie’s.
  • Approve or deny the amendment for the artisans to utilize the Calle on the 4th of July when it did not fall on a weekend.
  • Approve or deny the request from the artisans to allow for market operations on First Fridays.
  • Approve or deny seating location requests for the six restaurants requesting outdoor seating.
Dials said the meeting packet included photographs of each restaurant space requested along with a map of the spaces as laid out across the Calle.

1) Determine the season of operation for artisans and restaurants

Discussion Among Commissioners
If the season ran year-round, Landt said the price charged would need to increase and restaurateurs might not wish to pay more. The current season was the best weather for outdoor dining and cold weather might create a need for outdoor heating and the use of BTUs, a global warming factor. Year-round dining on the Calle didn’t seem to make sense but pro-rating the fees to the restaurants would be a nice gesture. Shaw suggested approving the season through November 15 with the pro-ration, then taking a look at the rationales for year-round outdoor dining at a future meeting. If approved for year-round dining, he proposed a calendar year schedule (January through December). Gardiner suggested that instead of year-round, the timeframe could be expanded, on a one-year trial basis, to a bit earlier in the year to a little later in the year. Landt said there was an advantage to having a quiet period on the Calle for repair work; also, only one of six restaurants requested year-round dining.

Dials reported asking each restaurant owner about the year-round option and hearing mixed responses. She said a longer season could be a problem in terms of outdoor table storage on the newly resurfaced Calle, with restaurants not using their tables but stacking them alongside their restaurants.

Public Input
Melissa Jensen, 690 S. Mountain, owner of Louie’s Restaurant, thanked Parks staff for their fine job on the Calle resurfacing project. She asked for the option to seat her patrons on the Calle year-round. While the idea wasn’t well formed, she said this was her chance to plant a seed.

MOTION Landt moved to determine the season of operation on the Calle Guanajuato: from Saturday, May 3, through November 15, 2014, with the per-square-footage prorated for the shorter season. Shaw seconded the motion.
The vote was: All yes

2) Approve or deny the amendment for the artisans to utilize the Calle on the 4th of July when it did not fall on a weekend.

Robertson said this was the final year of the current five-year artisan’s market contract and next year the commission would review and approve a new five-year contract. Seffinger welcomed public input on the proposed one-year amendment to the market operations contract.

Public Input
Marcus Scott, Talent Avenue in Talent and Lithia Artisans Market Manager, said he had been a member since 1994 and Dials did an amazing job of alleviating rumors stemming from the late start of the 2014 market season. He could not remember a single 4th of July when the artisans did not operate on the Calle. The 4th usually saw fewer artisans on the Calle but the market added to a party ambience on the Plaza. He asked the commission to allow market operations on Friday, July 4, 2014.

MOTION: Shaw moved to approve allowing the artisans to use the Calle Guanajuato on Friday, July 4, 2014. Lewis seconded the motion.

Discussion of Motion
Gardiner asked if two contract amendments were under consideration and Dials said yes. If approved, she said both amendments would be added to the remaining year of the five-year contract.

The vote was: All yes

3) Approve or deny the request from the artisans to allow for market operations on First Fridays

Public Input
Marcus Scott said there were approximately five remaining Fridays in the 2014 season. Some artisans felt more inclined to sell products on Fridays rather than Sundays. His goal was to allow participating artisans to make a living selling their artwork and 70% of artisans did just that. Restaurants were out on the Calle more than artisans and there was a disparity in fairness. If the commission agreed to the request, he would not plan to move forward until restaurants were contacted and in agreement.

Discussion Among Commissioners
Commissioners said they heard Scott reporting that artisans were not ready for First Friday operations yet. June 2014 would be out of the question so they suggested July through the remainder of the Calle season, allowing time for a firm proposal and feedback between staff and restaurateurs. They suggested postponing the decision pending further information. Shaw asked Scott to work with staff before bringing the request back to the commission. Scott said there was a synergistic relationship between the artisans and restaurants: when one was busy, the other was also busy.
  1. Approve or deny seating location requests for the six restaurants requesting outdoor seating
Dials said Greenleaf Restaurant was losing over 100 square feet of space due to the eight-foot walkway. She said Oberon’s Taven relinquished their Calle space to Salame Restaurant after one month of operations in 2013.

MOTION: Landt moved to approve the six requests requesting outdoor seating on the Calle Guanajuato in 2014, with staff making the final determination of square footage for each: Sesame, Umi Sushi, Louie’s, Salame, Greenleaf and Mix Sweet Shop. Lewis seconded the motion.
The vote was: All yes

ALLOWANCE OF DOGS ON THE CALLE GUANJUATO DISCUSSION
Dials said staff received a request for dogs to accompany Calle restaurant patrons. In the past, dogs were prohibited for two reasons: the Calle is part of Lithia Park and dogs are not allowed within Lithia Park; and the Jackson County health code prohibited dogs in outdoor dining establishments until 2012. Dials checked with restaurant owners and received mixed reactions to the suggestion. She referenced the packet handout from the Oregon Health Authority outlining rules for pets in outdoor designated seating areas. Requestor Melissa Jensen was invited to speak to the commission.

Melissa Jensen said she wrote a letter to the commission requesting dogs on the Calle for her Louie’s patrons. She offered to answer any questions from the commission.

Discussion Among Commissioners
When asked by the commission about how dogs were handled in the past, Jensen said she turned potential customers with dogs away. When asked how she thought the change could affect her business she said it would probably increase her business. Jensen said it would be nice to give patrons a choice of bringing pets or not. When asked by Landt and Lewis about how staff would handle a restaurant allowing dogs that was situated next to a restaurant not allowing dogs, Robertson said a compromise could be worked out between the two adjacent restaurants with differing opinions on dogs. He said health code rules would take precedence if dogs were allowed to visit the Calle with their owners.

Landt suggested allowing a one-year trial for dogs on the Calle, with a commission review at the end of the 2014 season.

Gardiner requested more input from Calle restaurateurs before voting on the matter.

Shaw said most of the restaurants up and down Main Street allowed dogs on sidewalks. Restaurants would be able to handle dog situations and / or it would be considered a health code / Jackson County matter, not a concern for the Parks Department. He said the commission wanted to promote Ashland as a dog-friendly town and he could support a one-year trial as proposed by Landt, which he called a conservative approach.

MOTION: Landt moved to approve allowing dogs on the Calle Guanajuato on a one-year trial basis for the 2014 season. Shaw seconded the motion.

Discussion of Motion
Lewis said the flyer from OHA stated that possibly dangerous dogs would not be allowed but he asked how that would be supervised or managed. Dogs in close proximity sometimes fought which could ruin a diner’s experience. He asked how to handle the realities of dogs on the Calle. If approved, Gardiner asked how to make the change official and Robertson said staff would send a notice to restaurant owners and artisans notifying them of the one-year trial of dogs along the Calle.

The vote was:
Landt, Shaw Seffinger – yes
Lewis, Gardiner - no

DECOMMISSIONING OF DANIEL MEYER WADING POOL
Dials summarized a staff memo regarding the possible decommissioning of the wading pool at Daniel Meyer Pool. The pool posed increasing safety concerns and presented a number of challenges for pool managers. A major concern stemmed from the fact that the wading pool was tied to the main pool’s circulation system and sanitizing levels could not be maintained to an adequate level in the smaller pool even while levels remained adequate in the main pool. A 2013 visit by Jackson County health inspectors resulted in temporary closure of the wading pool for having low levels of sanitizer. Since most wading pool users were toddlers or small children without potty training, if an accident occurred, the entire pool facility risked closure due to contaminated water within the joint circulation system. After investigating various options, staff agreed that the most cost-effective solution would be to cap the plumbing system to the wading pool and fill in the pool, then covering it with poured concrete. The area could then be used for additional seating and create a space for reservations such as birthday parties. The approximate cost to complete the project was $3,000.

Discussion Among Commissioners
Commissioners voiced support for capping the wading pool. Seffinger suggested an upgraded splash pad at Garfield Park with an area for toddlers.

MOTION: Shaw moved to approve discontinuing the wading pool at Daniel Meyer Pool, with the area filled in per staff recommendations. Lewis seconded the motion.
The vote was: All yes

INITIAL PROCESS DISCUSSION ABOUT REQUESTED MODIFICATION TO PARKS IPM POLICY
Robertson said staff requested possible commission approval for the application of herbicides if requested by City of Ashland for contracted areas maintained by Parks. Staff also requested an exemption in applying herbicides on baseball and softball skinned areas, including bullpens and warning tracks. The other exemption request was for proper usage of herbicides for controlling Japanese knotweed and spurge within riparian areas.

Robertson said the Parks IPM policy called for an annual report to the commission for non-golf course properties. At the time of the policy’s development, an outcry was heard from the community about reducing or eliminating herbicides in places where children might play. After months of meetings and discussions, the commission chose to eliminate most non-organic herbicides. Staff reported difficulty in keeping up with weeds, especially in non-park areas such as median strips and open spaces within and outside parking lots. The commission asked for a figure on costs if the policy was not tightened up but staff was not yet prepared to present that information. Robertson welcomed Landscape Division Manager Anne Thayer and invited her to speak to the commission.

Anne Thayer showed photos of weeds in and along the Central Bike Path, City yard, The Grove, justice center, public parking lots, Ashland Library, downtown spaces, the Ashland Municipal Airport landing strip and bases of landing lights, the medians along Siskiyou Boulevard, and 136 tree wells. She said the greatest challenges came from contracted areas maintained by the downtown division, comprised of 2 FTEs. In terms of City yard fencelines and parking areas, weed eaters were sometimes prohibited. Safety was a concern, with workers hand weeding and weed-eating on median strips with traffic flowing in both directions.

Robertson said following the implementation of the Parks IPM policy, staff worked on retrofitting Parks facilities to reduce the amount of spray used. $10,000 of improvements were identified and concrete was poured under bleachers, areas that were once sprayed with herbicides. Groups of volunteers were enlisted to help pull weeds and organizations such as Wells Fargo Bank and Albertsons “adopted” parks and park areas, providing groups of dedicated volunteers. Juvenile justice or “con crews” also provided assistance for the medians at $400 per day per crew but those crews were hard to get. He said no decision was necessary that evening but he wanted the commission to begin considering the matter for the future.

Thayer referenced a letter from Jackson County in which an emerging public and ecological threat was reported in the form of noxious weeds that were not treatable with organic herbicides. If left uncontrolled, the weeds could spread and become very aggressive, even entering into riparian areas and restricting native riparian trees. Thayer said Japanese knotweed and spurge could repel other species and propagate, growing further and possibly proving toxic to cattle, thus preventing rangeland from being used for that crop.

Robertson said Parks was paid around $200,000 per year to maintain City areas. He proposed providing additional information to allow the commission to decide whether it made sense to use more herbicides or add to the labor force. He reported receiving a call from Ashland Community Hospital in the past and hearing that Parks’ services were no longer needed due to a reduction of quality caused by a lack of herbicides.

Discussion Among Commissioners
Shaw said he appreciated staff efforts to notify the commission about this matter. Lewis expressed concern about the overall infestation of noxious plants. Landt referenced his previous statements about design defects in the Parks system, stating that if best practices had been implemented over the years, maintenance and current problems would have been reduced. He said the short-term solution for City areas might be to apply some herbicides but the long-term answer was to fix the design problems. Seffinger asked how to obtain public input on the matter. Shaw said the public could send in their comments and / or attend commission meetings, with the next meetings scheduled for May 12 and 19. He said this was a good discussion for the community to engage in and there might be a balance to strike. He suggested having that public discussion and seeing where to go from there. Robertson said the public could use a tool called “Open City Hall” on the City website. It was suggested that another option would be to include this in the next biennial budget cycle, with the decision about using more herbicides or providing additional staffing levels left with the Citizens’ Budget Committee.

Robertson reported on three areas of concern: non-park areas managed by Parks; spraying of skinned areas in parks, including warning tracks and bullpens; and allowing staff to use herbicides to control Japanese knotweed and spurge in Parks-managed riparian areas.

Landt said the wording of the agenda indicated that this was the initial process discussion. In terms of community involvement, he said the public needed to be aware of any potential changes to the Parks IPM policy. Seffinger suggested listing out the three areas of concern with the agenda item title: 1) herbicide use on City lands maintained by Parks; 2) noxious weed control; and 3) use of herbicides in ballfield areas for safety purposes. Landt said the need for community involvement trumped his desire to make changes that evening. Parks could approve changes to the ballfields and noxious weeds at a later meeting but he suggested giving the matter of City lands over to City Council or the Budget Committee for funding approval or approval for the use of herbicides. Shaw said the request to use herbicides on the pitching field and warning tracks was not outside past
Parks practices. He suggested making a recommendation to give staff permission to spray those areas on a one-time basis now, with the matter folded into a fuller discussion at the May 19 regular meeting. He said it was a safety issue and in line with past practices.

MOTION: Shaw moved to approve, for the 2014 season only, allowing a Parks IPM policy exemption for staff to use non-organic herbicides in two requested areas: the pitching warm-up area and warning tracks at North Mountain Park. Lewis seconded the motion.

Discussion of Motion
Landt said he would vote no because public participation was critical to good governance and the topic wasn’t noticed in a way that indicated an IPM policy change. Seffinger agreed and said she preferred including the topic on the May 19 regular meeting agenda and outlining it specifically on the City of Ashland website.

The vote was:
Lewis, Shaw Gardiner – yes
Landt, Seffinger - no

Robertson said staff would bring numbers to the commission in May regarding costs associated with spraying versus non-spraying the additional areas. Staff would also speak with City staff about using Open City Hall for obtaining public input. Additionally, staff would create a separate agenda item on the May regular meeting agenda for handling Japanese knotweed and spurge. Seffinger requested the attendance of Jeffrey McFarland, Forestry and Trails Division Manager, at the May 12 study session to talk about these matters.

SUBCOMMITTEE and STAFF REPORTS
Annual Bike Swap
Robertson thanked Parks staff for spending their Saturdays at the April 26 Annual Bike Swap, a well-received community event.

Calle Guanajuato Live Broadcast
Robertson welcomed commissioners to join him the next day for a Channel 12 live broadcast at 5:00 a.m. along the Calle Guanajuato.

Road Closure
Dials said Winburn Way would be closed the next day for Calle construction. She described the route around the road closure.

Golf Course Subcommittee Report
Gardiner read through a short report on a recent Golf Course Subcommittee meeting. Proposed improvements included a continuous cart path around the course, possible playground area, 18-hole putting course, net repairs, and new entrance signage. He said there had been no recent rate increases. Golf carts were still fairly new so a proposal to switch from gas to electric wasn’t likely to happen soon. There had been no recent talk about disc golf but discussion occurred regarding watering the greens with TID water. Several upcoming special events were scheduled at the golf clubhouse.

Open Space Subcommittee Report
It was reported that subcommittee members Landt and Shaw would meet with Robertson on Wednesday, April 30, to discuss three realtor quotes for the purchasing of land toward land acquisition goals established via the Open Space Plan.

ITEMS FROM COMMISSIONERS
Seffinger reported hearing several recent positive comments about the Oak Knoll Golf Course.
 
UPCOMING MEETING DATES & PROPOSED AGENDA ITEMS
  • Study session set for May 12 at 7:00 p.m., Parks office, 340 S. Pioneer Street. Topic:
    • Parks IPM Policy Exemptions / Herbicide Discussion
  • Regular meeting set for May 19 at 7:00 p.m., Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street. Topics:
    • Southern Oregon Pride Event: Revised Booth Request
    • FY 14-17 Parks Employee COLA / Benefits
    • Interim Parks Director Contract Review and Approval
    • Parks IPM Policy Exemptions / Herbicide Discussion
ADJOURNMENT– By consensus, with no further business, Seffinger adjourned the meeting at 9:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Susan Dyssegard,
Ashland Parks and Recreation

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