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Agendas and Minutes

Downtown Beautification Improvement ad hoc Committee (View All)

Downtown Beautification Improvement ad hoc Committee

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Downtown Beautification Improvement ad hoc Committee
July 17, 2014
Gresham Room, Ashland Public Library 7:30 a.m.
Attendance: Dawkins, Hammond, Jensen, Friend, Seffinger, David, Beam, City: Stromberg, Seltzer, Kanner, Robertson, Fleury
Absent: Thompson, Kencairn
Guest: Alan Pardee
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:35 am.
Approval of Minutes
Minutes of the May 8, 2014 meeting were approved.
Public Input
Presentation by Alan Pardee
The City has contracted with CoveyPardee Landscape Architects to provide concept designs and cost estimates for five of the projects identified by the committee.  Alan Pardee presented preliminary concepts for each.  Cost estimates for the projects will be presented at the next meeting.
1)Corner of Winburn Way and North Main: Pardee suggests removing the multi angled seat wall and replacing with a single straight seat wall.  This will create more space in the planter for plants.  He noted possible ADA issues and suggests changes to the corner and curb line which will also increase planter space.  While the large evergreen tree poses problems for plants at the base, he does feel that appropriate plants can be added that will flourish.
2)Wall of Earthly Goods: Pardee suggests incorporating vertical artistic elements to the outer edge of the half wall.  This will prevent the half wall from being used as a bench and create a vertical interest to the vacant wall.
3)Corner of Pioneer and Lithia Way: Pardee explained the current space has a number of issues including raised sidewalks due to tree roots, ADA access issues, irrigation challenges and awkward elevation changes.  He suggests a block retaining wall on the sidewalk edge of the space, possibly removing and replacing one tree, adding stone pavement to the area around the existing public art.  The actual size of the space that is City property is still being determined.  He anticipates this particular project as the most challenging and likely the most expensive.
4)Lithia Way Parking Lot: The Ash trees are reaching the end of their life span and are failing.  Many of the shrubs are overgrown and should be replaced.  The pedestrian patterns of people moving from their cars to the sidewalk have caused soil to become impacted and landscape damaged.  Pardee suggests new landscaping and clearly defined pedestrian paths from the parking lot to the sidewalks.  He also suggests low fencing, maybe 42 inches, be located at the edge of the planting adjacent to the curb to discourage people from cutting through the planted areas.
5)Plaza Projects: Pardee explained that the existing pavers act as a fabric.  Each one keeps the others in place.  Replacing random pavers will compromise the remaining pavers and he does not recommend this approach.  He explained it could be possible to replace a section, specifically the half circle as that area is between “joints” without compromising the “fabric” for the rest of the Plaza.  He suggests cool tone colored pavers rather than the warm tone pavers located in the Calle.  He can secure samples of colored pavers at a cost of $250 per paver.  He suggests adding additional plants to the existing planters and recommends a low fence, which could be temporary, to discourage people from walking through the planted areas.  He suggest three large free standing planters at the south end of the Plaza to act as a border of the edge of the Plaza and the street.
Mayor Stromberg commented on people who are opposed to any tree removal and wonders how they can be brought in early to the process.  Other commented that the message is not about removing trees but rather renewing the landscaping and planting for the future.  Trees and shrubs age and must eventually be replaced.
Seffinger asked if inert material could be incorporated into the planting schemes such as large boulders and rocks.  Pardee agrees that those elements can enhance planted areas.  Beam added that we should be conscious of planting drought tolerant plants.
Hammond is enthusiastic about the public art concept to the wall at Earthly Goods.  Others also voiced support for that project.
Reference was made to the letter from Brent Thompson suggesting more seating in the downtown.  Comments were made that Ashland sidewalks are too narrow to add seating.  Generally, the committee supports seating where space appropriate.
Kanner commented on the memo he sent about his meeting with the Ashland Lodging Association and their interest in more color on the Plaza before replacing pavers.  He also mentioned their objection to spending TOT money on moveable tables and chairs but felt the funds could be found for those items in other areas of the budget.
Jensen commented that adding moveable tables and chairs would add color to the Plaza.  This generated a lot of discussion.  Generally, the committee seems interested in the concept of the tables and chairs but asked about maintenance and security.  Kanner explained the challenge was setting out the tables and chair each morning and taking them in each night.  There is not staff available to do this work at night.  A restaurant on the Plaza was contacted a year ago asking if they would be willing to take on the task but the owner declined.  Seltzer commented that in most communities that have the moveable tables and chairs a downtown association of some type is responsible for the tables and chairs. 
Robertson suggested a seasonal part time employee could be hired and estimates the cost at approximately $20,000 for a nine month period.
Kanner suggested a one year experiment of leaving the tables and chairs on the Plaza unsecured.  Beam commented that the tables and chairs may become a source of pride and people wouldn’t take them for personal use.  Seffinger commented that the tables and chairs may be the element that brings color to the Plaza. 
At the next meeting, CoveyPardee will present schematic plans cost estimates for the projects.  The committee will prioritize the projects to be accomplished by June 2015 and the projects to be accomplished in 2016 and 2017.
Next meeting: Thursday, July 31, 2014 at 7:30 a.m. in the Gresham Room of the Ashland Public Library.
Meeting adjourned.

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