City of Ashland
PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION
August 18, 2014
Present: Commissioners Gardiner, Landt, Lewis, Seffinger, Shaw; Interim Director Robertson; Superintendents Dials and Dickens
Absent: Council Liaison: Mayor John Stromberg
CALL TO ORDER
Seffinger called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m. in the Parks office, 340 S Pioneer Street.
APPOINTMENT OF PARKS DIRECTOR
Seffinger introduced Michael Black, director-elect of Ashland Parks and Recreation. Previously from Utah and Grants Pass, Black was reported to hold an MS and BS in Urban Planning from the University of Utah. The commission welcomed Black.
MOTION Shaw moved to appoint Michael Black as Director of Ashland Parks and Recreation on behalf of the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission as outlined in the formal offer of employment dated August 12, 2014. Landt seconded the motion.
The vote was: All yes
Black voiced appreciation for the opportunity to work for Ashland Parks and Recreation. He said his employment would begin on August 20 and he would attend an NRPA director’s development conference the following week in Wheeling, West Virginia. The conference would be in two parts: one week in 2014 and the second in 2015. Black introduced his wife, Natasha Black.
CITY / PARKS MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING DISCUSSION AND APPROVAL
Seffinger said council and the commission had worked for over a year on developing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to identify all the rights and responsibilities of the two elected bodies. The two entities’ individual and collective duties were also outlined at the staff level. Seffinger said she and Robertson met with City Administrator Kanner and Mayor Stromberg to develop wording that would allow for an effective, collaborative relationship between the City and Parks.
Robertson pointed out Section 4: Directing, letter i, in which it was stated that the department would, “to the greatest extent practical, adhere to the provisions of the City of Ashland Employee Communication Guide until the Department, in cooperation with the City, prepares its own Employee Communication Guide.”
Robertson said he’d recommended developing a Parks style guide some ten years earlier and still felt it was necessary. A style guide would address some of the “overlap” issues when preparing for joint meetings between council and the commission, in writing joint public service announcements or while undergoing audits. Robertson recommended approval of the MOU as presented.
Discussion Among Commissioners
Landt said Robertson’s points were directed to the first two sentences (of three within section i) and made sense; however, Robertson didn’t really address the third sentence, which would be “one off and done.” He said such language wasn’t applicable to this MOU. Landt voiced support for approving the document with the exception of that sentence.
Lewis clarified that Landt was asking for the exclusion of that sentence from the paragraph. He felt the sentence was “legal-ese” and Parks would be well-served by the creation of its own communication guide. Lewis said the final sentence gave Parks that discretion.
Shaw recommended approval of the MOU as presented.
In an effort toward magnanimity, Seffinger also recommended approval of the document as presented.
MOTION Shaw moved to approve the City / Parks MOU as presented. Landt seconded the motion.
The vote was: All yes
STAFF AND COMMISSIONER COMMENTS
Seffinger said the City conducted a survey every two years and another one was currently under development through the National League of Cities. Robertson said the survey included questions about all areas of service within the City. He said the commission was asked if they wanted to include a “wild card” question relative to parks. Seffinger recommended a question about whether adequate recreational opportunities were provided within the City. Robertson said the two previous surveys were favorable to Parks. Landt suggested the following question: “What parks and recreation opportunities would you like to see more of?” Robertson said this would be a telephone survey, with the results compared with every other parks and recreation agency throughout the country (of like size and makeup).
Ashland Creek Park
Shaw expressed appreciation for the current construction at Ashland Creek Park.
Shaw said Mt. Ashland had a new executive director. He asked Black to meet with that person and explore the integration of their activities with activities provided by Ashland Parks and Recreation, with joint activities beginning as early as the winter season.
Dials said the winter guide would be scheduled out in October. Recreation Coordinator Lonny Flora would be working on a potential partnership with the Mt. Ashland after-school ski program. Future joints offerings with Mt. Ashland would be discussed at a later time.
Employee Communication Guide
Shaw said the development of a new Employee Communication Guide would be an opportunity for the new Parks Director. He recommended exploring other agencies’ guides rather than reinventing all of it.
Following approval of the MOU by Council, commissioners asked staff to include “Employee Communication Guide” on a Parks Commission meeting agenda.
Watershed Art Walk
Seffinger asked for an exception to a Parks Commission policy.
Background: In her role as a voting member of the Forest Lands Commission, Seffinger had been assisting with the development of an art walk in the watershed toward stewardship promotion. A grant was requested and received and a trail was being identified. T-shirts were silkscreened depicting a Pacific fisher. At the Bear Creek Salmon Festival, the group hoped to assist children in creating similar T-shirts of the fisher. She asked for the allowance of a donation box at the festival to defray costs of Pacific fisher T-shirts created at the festival.
Landt said the request should be handled in the same manner as any other request for an exception to a Parks policy. He suggested having another member of the Forest Lands Commission make the request. Gardiner said if the commission allowed for one exception, many other exception requests would be forthcoming.
Landt suggested reviewing the related policy as a whole rather than making an individual exception. Dials expressed concern about the timing of the request in terms of placing the item on the August regular meeting agenda.
Robertson suggested placing the policy review on a future agenda.
Seffinger said she understood the commission’s points and would notify the Forest Lands Commission about the Parks Commission’s decision not to make the policy exception for the 2014 Bear Creek Salmon Festival.
Green Page in Recreation Guide
Landt thanked staff for allowing him to write a short piece about water conservation for the fall 2014 recreation guide.
ADJOURNMENT– By consensus, with no further business, Seffinger adjourned the meeting at 7:46 p.m.
Ashland Parks and Recreation