Downtown Beautification Improvement ad hoc Committee
August 21, 2014
Gresham Room, Ashland Public Library 7:30 a.m.
Attendance: Hammond, Jensen, Friend, Seffinger, Beam, Kencairn, Thompson, Dawkins, David Seltzer, Kanner, Lemhouse
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:35 am. Chair Kencairn requested Vice-chair Thompson to chair the meeting.
Approval of Minutes
Minutes of the July 31, 2014 meeting were approved with corrections.
Nancy Nelson from the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom spoke about how dirty the Plaza was prior to a vigil hosted by her group on the Plaza last week. She stated that her group had to sweep the Plaza, pick up cigarette butts and broken glass and that many passersby also pitched in. She suggested the City purchase a power washer to clean the Plaza. She stated that beauty needs to become a higher priority in Ashland like it is in Pasadena. The hanging baskets should have been hung on the Plaza. She also commented that sidewalk and park rows in Ashland need to be maintained by the City as is the case in Pasadena and not by property owners.
Add additional agenda items
Thompson noted that at the previous meeting the committee did not have time to discuss trees as requested by Seffinger. He requested the committee add ‘trees’ to the agenda. He also asked that a discussion about Plaza cleanliness to be added and recycling in the downtown area. The committee agreed to add those three items at the end of the agenda.
Project Review for budget cycle July 2015 – July 2017
The committee started the discussion using the list of projects included in the packet.
1)Historical Markers: The Historic Commission has identified fifteen locations in the downtown and A Street area as historical locations. They want to place markers at each location. Kanner explained that the Historic Commission has applied for a grant for this project but the amount of possible funds would not be enough to fund all 15 proposed markers at a cost of $2,500 per plaque.
Motion: Move to allocate $11,000 for Historical Markers. Hammond/Dawkins
Amended Motion: Move to direct the Historic Commission to work with the Public Art Commission on the design and ‘look’ of the markers. Friend/Seffinger
Friend stated that in working on a design concept it is best to first look at the big picture for a design aesthetic before making a decision on a specific element. Seffinger noted that commission should talk to one another. It was noted that there might be a more artistic option than plaques and with the two commissions working together a more robust design might be found as markers for historical locations. It was suggested that the Historic Commission may have already selected plaques for a variety of reasons unknown to the committee and possibly the grant applications refers to plaques specifically.
Vote on amended motion: motion fails
Vote on original motion: motion passes
2)Tree Wells: Tree grates will no longer fit around the base of many of the downtown street trees. Many of the tree wells have become tripping hazards. The question was raised if in fact many of these tree wells are tripping hazards and therefore safety issues can other City funds be found and used to deal with this issue. Kanner said possibly funds can be found in the Street Department fund. Others stated that while this may be a safety issue, this was also an aesthetic/beautification issue and the use of TOT funds is appropriate.
Motion: Move to allocate $34,000 to apply epoxy treatment to those tree wells that pose safety issues. Dawkins/Friend
Discussion: Committee members wondered if it would look odd if some tree wells had the treatment and other didn’t.
Vote on motion: motion tied with one abstention.
Motion: move to table this project item until after all the projects have been discussed. Dawkins/Friend, Motion passes.
3)Tables and Chairs: General discussion on how the committee feels in general about moveable tables and chairs on the Plaza. David commented that the number of people on the Plaza is steadily increasing and a recent evening had a large number of people. She feels the tables and chairs would use Plaza space that is already being used by people. She in not in favor. Jensen stated if it were her personal budget she would do a test with possibly one table and four chairs but feels there should also be shade in the mix. Dawkins commented that moveable tables and chairs has been a part of every conversation at all the meetings he attended about Plaza improvement.
Motion: Remove the notion of tables and chairs from the list and do not include in the recommendation to council. David/Kencairn, Motion passes.
Seltzer requested the committee skip to the agenda item related to the draft recommendation for the Council as that item will be on the September 2 Council agenda and must be approved by the committee at this meeting and submitted for the council packet by Wednesday, August 27.
Review of draft recommendation
The committee requested that a statement be added about involving the Tree Commission in the selection of landscape materials.
Motion: Move to approve the recommendation as drafted with the inclusion of a statement involving the Tree Commission. Friend/Seffinger
Seltzer will add “The committee supports the involvement of the Tree Commission on decisions related to landscape plant material” to the draft recommendation.
Photo submitted by Lo Smucker
Seltzer explained that Lo Smucker submitted the photo as public input and that Smucker suggests a similar pole structure would be a nice addition on the Plaza.
Motion: Move to not move forward with the suggested pole structure on the Plaza. Kencairn/David:
Kencairn stated that while the design is charming in the context of a European village, it is not a “cultural” fit for Ashland. Others supported that viewpoint. Motion passes.
Added agenda items
1)Trees: Seffinger stated that she feel her concerns about trees has been addressed by requesting that the Tree Commission be consulted in selecting trees that would adapt best to hardscape environments, best improve air quality and be planted in a manner that would best support their health.
2)Plaza cleanliness, hanging baskets and sidewalk and park row maintenance:
Kanner explained that power washing cannot occur on the Plaza or any sidewalks as the practice is prohibited by DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) and explained that debris loosened by spraying flows into storm drains which flow directly to Oregon streams causing pollution and compromise fish habitat. Power washing can occur if barriers are placed around storm drains though heated water may not be used. He went on the explain that city crews hose down the Plaza every Monday morning using a garden hose and scrub the seat benches.
Due to drought condition, the City made the decision not to hang baskets of flowers on the Plaza. The issue is not just about the amount of water the flowers need but the water than flows out of the pots onto the Plaza. This could send the message to citizens and visitors that it is OK for the City to waste water during drought conditions even though the City is asking citizens and visitors to practice water conservation and to use water wisely.
The responsibility of property owners maintaining sidewalks and park rows is the practice in Oregon.
3)Recycling: this topic will be added to the next agenda.
The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, August 28, 2014
Meeting adjourned at 9:00 am