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Parks & Recreation Commission (View All)

Parks Commission Study Session

Minutes
Monday, June 16, 2014

City of Ashland
PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION
STUDY SESSION

MINUTES
June 16, 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 study session to order at 7:05 p.m. in the Parks office, 340 S. Pioneer Street.

Dogs at North mountain park discussion
Seffinger asked the commission if they wanted to include “Dogs at North Mountain Park” on the June 23 regular meeting agenda. Shaw said he hoped for a discussion about opening the upper tier to dogs on leash. Landt said he preferred discussing the topic at the annual dogs review.

Robertson provided background: since 2003, dogs at N. Mountain Park had resulted in confusion. Some park visitors treated the main walkway as an extension of the Bear Creek Greenway while others were opposed to dogs. Staff tried to educate people by painting paw prints on sidewalks for dog-accessible areas. They also spoke with park visitors about where dogs were permitted. For a time, park patrons were allowed to cut through the corner of an upper neighborhood with dogs on leash. Staff currently held that dogs were not allowed in any portion of North Mountain Park. A Woof Waste station was installed but then removed, as it sent confusing or mixed messages to park users. Some paw prints in sidewalks remained to the present day. Neighbors above the upper park were split on dogs: some supported them and others were opposed. To a certain degree, Parks was caught in a neighborhood concern. Robertson asked if the commission wanted to discuss dogs in upper N. Mountain Park at an upcoming meeting.

Discussion Among Commissioners

Lewis suggested replacing the Woof Waste station and a trash can in the upper area to allow responsible dog owners to pick up after their pets, with a full discussion held at the annual dogs review in the fall.

Shaw reported visiting the park and finding many used dog waste bags in the garbage can. A letter from neighbor Timothy Dolan outlined his concerns about the Woof Waste station removal. The upper tier was almost like a separate park from N. Mountain. Shaw expressed interest in continuing to restrict dogs from the lower sections.  

Landt voiced support for finding creative solutions at the staff level, including installing a Woof Waste station at street level rather than at the park entrance and asking staff to work with the homeowners’ association on other options; otherwise, a full discussion could occur at the annual dogs review.  

Gardiner said staff mistakenly installed a Woof Waste station in the upper section but removed it when neighbors complained. He agreed with Landt and Lewis about waiting until the annual review to discuss the topic in detail. In the meantime, staff could work with the homeowners’ association about where to install a waste bag station.

Seffinger said the topic would be discussed at the next Dogs Subcommittee meeting, with a recommendation forwarded to the full commission.

WASTEWATER OUTFALL RELOCATION PROJECT RESTART
Public Works Director Mike Faught said staff and consultants were returning to talk about the Wastewater Treatment Plant Effluent Outfall Relocation Project for the City of Ashland. He introduced consultants Jason Smesrud, Principal Technologist with CH@M Hill, and David Primozich, Director of Ecocystem Services for The Freshwater Trust, along with Helman Elementary School teacher Mia Driscoll and Rogue Valley Audobon Society representative Pepper Trail.

Primozich said he helped to kickstart the project by reaching out to stakeholders: Driscoll, Trail, ODF&W and Lomakatsi Restoration. He invited Smesrud to present his analysis and recommendations.

Smesrud provided background: The WWTP’s permit was up for renewal and DEQ planned to initiate the process as early as October 2014. By the end of September, the City needed to:

  • Determine the best approach for meeting thermal plume limitations for temperature using wetlands and outfall relocation;
  • Determine the location for the future WWTP outfall and complete a mixing zone study;
  • Identify the permits and agencies involved in the project; and
  • Evaluate costs and the implementation timeline required to construct the project.

Initial estimates showed that four to ten acres of wetlands (or an effluent chiller) would be needed to create the cooling required to meet the permit’s thermal plume limitations.

Smesrud said he’d worked with the City of Albany on their “Talking Water Gardens” which included a series of hydrological features within the 50-acre site. Fed by treated wastewater from the Albany-Millersburg Water Reclamation Facility, water was pumped to the Northern Influent Point, the highest point in the wetlands. Approximately 12 million gallons a day were gravity-fed through nine wetland cells in this natural treatment process.

Faught said he’d worked at the yard where the gardens were located. Previously a dump site, it was cleaned up and improved in terms of aesthetics while reducing outfall temperatures. This was similar to something the commission had discussed in the past.

Smesrud provided an overview of the phased feasibility project and a preview of early project findings, including routing effluent through Ashland Pond or routing effluent through four acres of constructed wetlands. He said three potential outfall locations were identified in the field and further analysis would be completed on these sites along with potential pipeline routing to each site. He talked about jurisdictional wetlands and floodplains and explained why they were relevant.

Public Works was beginning its preliminary analysis and the consultants hoped to come back with a fuller description of a variety of alternatives and seek commission input at the July 28 regular meeting.

Discussion Among Commissioners and Staff
When asked by a commissioner, Robertson said the land to the west of the WWTP was parkland, not City land. He said all the land around the plant was parkland, purchased by the county at the same time. Landt summarized that Public Works and the consultants were coming before the commission to present their work to date and outline what was to come. At the July regular meeting, he asked if alternatives would be presented. Robertson suggested having them talk to OR State Parks, as the lands were purchased using Federal dollars and a conversion or trade might be needed, possibly impacting project costs.

Commissioners suggested a site visit for the July 21 study session.

DROUGHT UPDATE
Robertson said the Rogue Valley was undergoing a drought and staff was working with Public Works and Irrigation Supervisor Bill Miller on managing water usage. Staff would continue monitoring and managing water, further reducing it as the summer progressed.

Robertson reviewed a staff memo prepared by Miller in which the Parks irrigation system was described. It consisted of 60 water meters designated “government irrigation” along with three pump systems connected to the Talent Irrigation District (TID) and one system supplied by a well. From those three TID pump systems, water was supplied to 70% of Lithia Park, 90% of North Mountain Park, and 100% of the Oak Knoll Golf Course. Over 80% of the irrigation was controlled by a central computer monitored daily by Parks staff, allowing for widespread adjustments to the percentage of water used. Additionally, the Parks Department received daily usage reports from the Water Treatment Plant showing the amount of flow into and out of the Reeder Reservoir.

Due to drought conditions, the City of Ashland Conservation Division required that water curtailment measures be designed to ensure a sustainable water supply through the summer. Specifically, Parks irrigation staff would adjust water usage determined by percentage of water used in an area, the number of days an area was watered and watering run times. Adjustments would be based on the Water Allocation Table found in Section 14.06.015 of the Ashland Municipal Code.

Parks would reduce water usage by percentages during each stage of curtailment. Stage 1 was a 20% reduction, stage 2 a 30% reduction, stage 3 a 40% reduction and stage 4 a 50% reduction in potable water usage.

Parks’ Irrigation Division had voluntarily started curtailing water use. One of the biggest financial landscape concerns was the Oak Knoll Golf Course. As part of the curtailment process, irrigation would be reduced on the fairways. Because the tees / greens would be expensive to re-sod, watering of those areas would continue as long as possible. If the water crisis worsened, tees and the oldest greens would be the first to see a water reduction.

Parks would continue monitoring water consumption on a daily basis during the drought. Adjustments would be made as needed while continuing to provide the public with the park experience they were accustomed to enjoying.

A color coded chart of park areas was implemented for water reductions:

·        Red – immediate reduction

·        Yellow – moderate reduction

·        Green – limited reduction

·        Blue – not applicable

Faught said the City only had control of TID water from Walker to Wimer streets and that water would be shut down on September 15. Robertson said he intended to call Vickie Aldous from the Ashland Daily Tidings to review irrigation control measures implemented by Parks. He said Parks also reduced evaporation at the pool each night by placing the cover over the pool water.

Landt asked for the consideration of water shut-downs in other areas of the system to preserve critical sections of Lithia Park. He said Lithia Park should be the last park to have water turned off.

Faught said, in terms of public messaging, that the City was doing a minimum of watering in order to save plants and keep vegetation healthy.

Robertson stressed that Parks made choices every day about how to use water wisely; soon they would begin making those decisions hourly. Citizens should know that Parks used community water wisely and carefully.

ice rink cover update
Robertson said Planning Director Bill Molnar issued a memo to Parks in which he stated, after consulting with the City of Ashland Attorney, that a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) should have been required before the installation of the ice rink cover beginning in 1999. Before installing a cover for the fall-winter 2014-2015 season, land use approval for a CUP would be required for a seasonal cover or site design review approval would be required for a year-round cover.

Robertson asked whether the commission wanted staff to apply for a seasonal cover or a year-round cover.

Commissioners asked staff to submit an application for a year-round permit in the very near future. They suggested hiring a land use planning consultant rather than relying on Parks staff.

The commission asked staff to “fast track” the process. Staff said they would begin working on the project immediately.

Signs, Plaques and memorials Subcommittee updates
Logo Discussion

Background: The Parks Commission began discussing changes to the Parks logo and removal of swans approximately nine years ago. Staff recently experimented with several new concepts. The Signs, Plaques and Memorials Subcommittee met on May 21 and reviewed a revised draft logo.

Dickens shared the draft Parks logo, displayed on a shirt and hat in colors of brown, tan and green. Additional background information was provided, including the removal of swans from the logo approximately three years prior. A golf course logo with an oak leaf and acorn, developed with assistance from Promotions Coordinator Doinda Cottle, was displayed. Staff reported trying it out at the golf course and hearing positive feedback. Based on that logo, Cottle developed a logo for Parks that included a fir tree branch and a pinecone. The draft Parks logo was presented to the Signs and Plaques Subcommittee and they asked staff to take it to the full commission. An embroidery company mounted the draft logo onto a shirt and hat for the evening’s discussion. Staff felt the logo was timeless rather than trendy and fit Ashland. Staff requested feedback from the commission on the draft Parks logo.

Discussion Among Commissioners
Commissioners provided generally positive feedback. Landt said staff was moving in a good direction but he wasn’t sure they were finished yet. Lewis said ten years earlier, the commission said the same thing. They felt that a logo competition might be a good idea or the hiring of a graphic artist; however, they were concerned about a possibly large cost so the process stalled. The current proposal had cost the commission nothing but staff time. Robertson said Cottle consulted with a graphic artist to make refinements to an earlier version. Staff felt this was a representative logo for the department. Shaw said he liked what staff had come up with and waiting to do a logo contest might not produce anything better than the current draft. Seffinger voiced strong support for the draft logo. Gardiner said he liked the draft but would need to give it more consideration. For the golf logo, he suggested finalizing it and placing it on shirts, hats, and balls for sale as well as golf carts. Commissioners suggested including “A Division of Ashland Parks and Recreation” on the Oak Knoll Golf Course logo. Dickens and Robertson suggested silk screening the logo and bringing it back to the commission for a final review at the July study session.

Calle Commemorative Plaque Proposal
Background: A commemorative plaque was proposed by Mayor Stromberg. The plaque would be mounted on or below the existing Calle Guanajuato street sign. Proposed wording was:

“Commemorating the Sister City Relationship
Between Ashland, Oregon, and Guanajuato, Mexico”

Costs could be divided between City Administration, the Amigos Club, and Parks. A local vendor was working on a quote for a brushed aluminum plaque, approximately 3x4 inches.

Robertson said a 3x4 plaque would not be viable and suggested 8-1/2 x 11 signs mounted below the existing street signs on either end of the Calle.

Discussion Among Commissioners
Lewis said this would not fall within the guidelines for the Signs, Plaques and Memorials policy because it was a commemorative plaque rather than a memorial plaque. Landt said a full sentence, as proposed, would not be as readable as a sign with fewer words. He suggested:

“Calle Guanajuato: Connecting Ashland to our Sister City”

 Commissioners agreed to notify the Mayor about the commission’s conceptual agreement about a plaque that would commemorate the unique relationship between Ashland and her sister city. Staff agreed to include the topic on a July meeting agenda to allow for further commission discussion.

STAFF AND COMMISSIONER COMMENTS

Calle Dedication Ceremony Update
Robertson said the Calle Dedication Ceremony honoring the recent resurfacing project held on Wednesday, June 11, was successful.

Ashland Creek Park Construction Bids / Barn Sale Update
Robertson said the low bid for the Ashland Creek Park Construction project was provided by Roxy Ann Rock in the amount of $514,000. Value engineering would bring the price down. As for the barn, no bids were received so the barn would be coming down.

Land Acquisition Subcommittee Report
Realtor Eric Poole was working on locating properties to purchase toward the completion of the City of Ashland / Parks Open Space Plan. Staff was currently working with City of Ashland GIS Division to get TID easement and other property maps.

Daniel Meyer Pool Seasonal Opening
Robertson said recent repairs at the pool and pool building were ongoing and both were looking beautiful inside and out. A new roof would be installed soon. Several complaints were heard about the recent decommissioning of the wading pool.

COMMISSIONER COMMENTS
Seffinger said Dials did a great job with the Calle celebration. She voiced appreciation for the Mayor’s statement about the importance of an elected Parks Commission (for the preservation of park areas, including the recently resurfaced Calle Guanajuato).

ADJOURNMENT
By consensus, with no further business, Seffinger adjourned the study session at 9:15 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Susan Dyssegard
​Ashland Parks and Recreation

 

 

 

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