Downtown Beautification Improvement ad hoc Committee
August 28, 2014
Gresham Room, Ashland Public Library 7:30 a.m.
Attendance: Hammond, Jensen, Friend, Seffinger, Beam, Thompson, Dawkins, Seltzer, Kanner, Lemhouse
Absent: Kencairn, David
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:35 am. Vice-chair Thompson called the meeting to order at 7:35.
John Wieczorek asks the committee to consider adding a public restroom to the downtown area. He offered a photo of a restroom solution used in Portland. The cost is approximately $90,000. He noted that the blue port- potty on the Calle is not attractive but that it is available after hours when the public restrooms on the Calle are locked. He encourages the committee to evaluate adding restrooms to the downtown core.
Bryan Holly stated he doesn’t like having to limit his comments to three minutes. He noted a discussion about trees that was listed on the agenda for August 21 did not occur. He wants to see the RFP that was used to hire CoveyPardee to continue their work. He noted that the posting on Open City Hall about the work of the Beatification committee does not show the prioritization of projects or the minutes of the meetings. He wonders why anyone would try to limit pedestrian access to the Plaza.
Isabeau Volhardt is concerned about the Plaza and public health primarily because of the heat on the Plaza. The gray pavers cause heat to increase and also cause problems for older people at dusk who have a hard time distinguishing where the Plaza ends and the street begins. The old growth trees should not have been cut down; doing so reduced the natural cooling effect that trees contribute. She is concerned that movable tables and chairs are a hazard for people who are visually impaired.
Approval of Minutes
Minutes of the August 21, 2014 meeting were approved with corrections.
Add additional agenda items
Thompson added restrooms to the agenda and Seltzer noted that the committee also wanted to talk about recycling downtown and introduced city staff Adam Hanks.
Hanks explained that a variety of recycling efforts have been tried in the downtown. He noted the images provided by Dave Kanner of the inside of recycle bins are accurate: people either make the effort to recycle but dispose of materials that are food contaminated, and therefore not recyclable, or people simply add recycled items to trash bins and trash items to recycle bins.
He noted the clear recyclable bin in front of Standing Stone. The bin is clear so people can see that the materials inside are recyclables not trash. A similar bin was placed on the Plaza. Neither was successful: both bins collected both trash and recyclables. The Plaza bin was removed. The bin in front of Standing Stone is now hand sorted by an employee of the restaurant to separate trash from recyclable materials.
Hanks noted that recycling in public areas is a problem statewide and nationally. Thompson suggested that someone could go through the trash cans and sort the trash from the recyclables. Hanks noted that the recycle baskets attached to park trash cans and the trash cans are sorted and collected by park staff. Trash collection from downtown trash cans is done by Recology.
Hanks noted that the city is evaluating alternative designs for the existing trash lids. He also noted that there are plans to install cigarette disposal receptacles on light posts in the downtown area.
The committee noted that recycling is not part of their purview but did encourage the City to find solutions.
The committee continued their discussion on the list of projects for the next biennium.
It was noted that the committee has allocated $11,000 towards historical markers, $11,000 towards sidewalk repair and $24,000 towards “artistic welcome to Ashland” signs. This left $84,000 to be allocated to other projects including treatment to tree wells to reduce tripping hazards, replacement of pedestrian lights to accommodate hanging baskets and a small reserve fund for future beautification projects that have not yet been identified.
The committee briefly discussed shade options for the Plaza including sail cloth and arbors with vines. Seffinger commented that vines can help reduce heat and clean the air. Comments were made that a reserve fund should not be just for future Plaza improvements but for future downtown improvements.
Motion: I move to allocate $10,000 for tree well treatment, $49,000 towards replacing pedestrian lights downtown to accommodate hanging baskets and $25,000 towards a reserve fund for as yet unidentified downtown improvements and Council can decide how to use those reserve funds. Motion by Dawkins seconded by Seffinger
Discussion: the committee recognizes that there will likely be downtown beautification projects that will need attention over the next few years and that it is important to have a reserve fund for the unexpected. It was also noted that $10,000 should be enough to treat about 25 tree wells that pose the greatest safety risk. Replacing the current light poles with new Sternberg poles will cost about $3,000 per light plus the cost of hanging baskets and irrigation. It was noted that a number of communities hire a water truck to hand water each baskets. Replacement of all the pedestrian lights downtown will require an allocation of TOT funds for several budget cycles, but that eventually all the lights will be replaced.
The committee had a brief discussion about public restrooms and agreed while not in the committee purview it is something the Council needs to address.
Seltzer will develop the recommendation for the Council that reflects the decisions made today. The draft recommendation and draft minutes will be sent to each committee member for input and corrections.
Committee members thanked one another and noted that this was their last meeting and commented that they were pleased with their work.
Meeting adjourned at 9:00 a.m.