City of Ashland
PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION
STUDY SESSION MINUTES
March 16, 2015
Present: Commissioners Gardiner, Landt, Lewis, Miller, Shaw; City Attorney Lohman; City Recorder Christiansen; Director Black; Superintendents Dials and Dickens; Golf Clubhouse Manager Cronin; Administrative Supervisor Dyssegard; Assistant Manuel
Absent: City Council Liaison, Mayor Stromberg
CALL TO ORDER
Gardiner called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Parks office, 340 S. Pioneer Street.
PUBLIC RECORDS REVIEW WITH CITY RECORDER
Christiansen provided a public records review that included the basics of public meeting laws. She noted the importance of the responsibilities of public officials, as keepers of public records and in response to potential liability. Christiansen reminded those present of their roles as elected representatives for the community, noting that “what you do is their business.” Public records include all materials used during public meetings, such as any personal notes taken while acting as a seated Commissioner. Christiansen stated that all notes were subject to a public records request, and must be retained for three years.
There followed a brief discussion about the extent of the recordkeeping and the manner of public records requests. Christiansen noted that records are typically requested right away, sometimes by specific request, sometimes as part of a broader inquiry.
Christiansen stated that emails were also subject to a public records request. She referenced email addresses provided by the City of Ashland, commenting that using those assigned emails would help to separate personal use from business use. Christiansen noted that the Council’s emails were automatically archived for easy access should there be a public records request.
Further discussion focused on the types of requests, and what constituted a meeting that would be open to a public records request. Christiansen highlighted the importance of conducting meetings with a quorum present: she reviewed exceptions such as special presentations where information is gathered but not discussed or deliberated. All meetings, including those of subcommittees, are considered to be open to the public: requiring 36 hours advance public notice. Meetings must be conducted within the City limits and have ADA access.
Christiansen reviewed State requirements for minutes, noting that minutes should reflect meeting logistics (where and when) along with topics to be discussed and the decisions made, with a general rationale for any actions taken.
ETHICS UPDATE WITH CITY ATTORNEY
City Attorney Lohman noted that the laws regarding public meetings were myriad and complex. He stated that a conservative approach would be presented as a way to sensitize participants and create top-of-mind awareness. He encouraged those present to call him directly with questions. Finally, Lohman requested additional time to present more detailed information at the next regularly scheduled study session.
DISCUSSION ITEM – Dogs at OKGG Discussion
Cronin noted the need for a cohesive policy regarding dogs at the Oak Knoll Golf Course. He stated that issues with dogs on the golf course were increasing.
Cronin, in conjunction with Golf Course Superintendent Harvey, presented a series of recommendations to better manage dogs on the golf course as follows:
Cronin stated that once the objectives were approved, clear and concise signage would be posted at all entry points throughout the course.
Discussion focused on creating positive signage, how best to accommodate dog walkers while eliminating damage to the greens.
Bret DeForest of 454 Briscoe Place in Ashland highlighted the number of access points to the course, calling for clarification of what would be permitted or prohibited at each point. It was agreed that signage reinforced by park staff would be the best option.
Further consideration was given to pet and pedestrian travel on the cart paths; to ensuring that doges were not on the course when people were golfing; whether areas considered “the rough” would provide sufficient space for dogs or whether it would be unsafe; and what the timeframes would be when dogs could or could not be on the course. It was noted that the course was in close proximity to a neighborhood that did not have a park within a quarter mile, creating incentive to develop an area that could function as a neighborhood park with access for pets.
Troy Brown of 345 Hemlock Lane in Ashland stated that he was not in favor of dogs at the golf course. He expressed a concern about dogs in the rough, stating that pet waste could impact golfers if not removed. He also noted a concern about children who are often present with their dogs. Brown commented that the golf course was an asset that should be protected for its primary use: golfing.
UPDATE ON BUDGET PROCESS
Director Black reported on the budget officer review of the budget approved by the Parks & Recreation Commission. He stated that future budgets would contain line items for vehicles, so vehicle expenses could be separated from capital expenditures, and sales of vehicles could be tracked as a funding mechanism for future vehicle purchases or repairs.
RECESS/CALL TO ORDER
Gardiner recessed the study session and called a special meeting to order at 8:00 p.m.in the Parks office, 340 S. Pioneer Street.
FOOTGOLF AT OAK KNOLL GOLF COURSE ACTION
Black noted that the golf course was City parkland with limited use for golfers. He indicated that Parks had an obligation to adhere to fiscally responsible services, increasing recovery rates where feasible. Black noted that golfers contributed through fees for use, but that there was a significant difference between revenues (approximately 600,000) and expenses (approximately $1.1 million).
Black introduced FootGolf as an innovative way to offer an additional recreational opportunity while increasing revenue for course operations.
Dials presented two months of comment cards and sign-in sheets from FootGolf trials held recently. She explained about the game, noting that the public introduction to the sport was well attended and comments were positive.
Dials also reviewed information from other courses in Oregon that implemented FootGolf. Dials noted a suggested fee structure, stating that the program would contribute revenue while enriching the recreational opportunities offered at the course. She commented that the sport would be set up away from the greens, to prevent damage to the course, and to minimize the impact for golfers. Dials recommended moving forward with nine holes at a charge of $5.00 for children and $10.00 for adults. The game would be offered twice weekly.
Black commented on the proposed limited schedule, noting that golfers would have an option to play golf when FootGolfers are not present. Cronin provided a testimonial for FootGolf, stating that he would be pleased to offer a cutting-edge family activity that would generate additional revenue without taking too much space from the golf course and with minimal disruption of traditional golf.
DISCUSSION AMONG COMMISSIONERS
After a brief question and answer period, the discussion centered on the limited schedule, the relatively high fee structure for nine holes of play, and the separation of activities between traditional golfers and FootGolfers. Commissioners focused on ways to further minimize disruption for golfers, while establishing parameters for a successful new program.
Black noted that the initial plan was to provide nine holes of FootGolf away from the greens. He stated that the game flows like golf and many other courses throughout the country integrate the game alongside golfers. Future expansion to 18 holes would be based on the balance between a successful program and traditional golf.
Bret DeForest of 454 Briscoe Place in Ashland, stated that he was a long-time resident of Ashland and was actively involved with the Oak Knoll Golf Course: currently serving as the Men’s Club President. He expressed concern about mixing the two sports on a golf course. He highlighted the potential to raise revenues by increasing golfing activities rather than introducing a new sport. He suggested that the golf course be open to paying golfers from dawn to dusk. He advocated for golf tournaments and other solutions to increase participation. He stated that there was a risk that FootGolf would alienate golfers.
Troy Brown of 345 Hemlock Lane in Ashland advocated for raising revenue through improvements to OKGC. He stated that increased maintenance and repair of the course would attract golfers outside the area, and offering discount days would increase attendance and add revenue. He gave an example of a discount day at Stewart Meadows, noting that there was so much business some players could not get in. He stated that the golf course was an asset with a potential to grow, and with proper maintenance and special events or discounts the revenue would follow.
Stuart Douglas of 854 Twin Pines Circle in Ashland expressed reservations about playing golf during times when people were on the course playing FootGolf. He highlighted the potential for injuries caused by errant balls. Douglas reiterated that the golf course could increase revenue by improving the quality of the course, offering special deals, and upgrading the food and beverages served.
Dials highlighted the new recreational opportunity, as an additional service to the community. She stated that OKGC was unique in the valley as it was a municipal course and therefore subject to limitations of budget and staffing. She recommended slow implementation of the new program, with periodic Commission review.
Black noted the dual role in providing public services for parks and recreational activities. He pointed out that the citizens were funding the programs offered, and revenues for the pool and ice rink were at about 30% of actual costs, while the golf course collected approximately 50% of the revenues needed. He stated that the public subsidizes the remainder, in addition to fees for use. He noted the challenges and opportunities of providing community services while maintaining prudent budgetary management.
There followed further discussion about the most appropriate way to utilize the golf course, and the various options reviewed by the Commission in the past. Lewis stated his willingness to give it a trial run with a review at a later date. Miller noted that FootGolf would provide recreation in a part of town that doesn’t have a community park. Shaw agreed with the limited schedule to minimize the impact for golfers. Landt was supportive of a trial but had concerns about failure because of schedule limitations. The cost to implement the proposed trial and a proportionate fee schedule was discussed. Wear and tear on the rough was considered as well as alternative locations.
MOTION: Landt moved that FootGolf be approved on a trial basis at the OKGC location, with rates set at $4.00 for children and $8.00 per adult. The motion was seconded by Miller.
Further Discussion: Lewis noted that he would not have defined the motion by time, or with fees, so that staff would have the flexibility to determine what would work best. Landt referred to the precedent set by the Commission to approve fee schedules. Black called for flexibility to determine best outcomes.
MOTION: Landt moved to amend the motion to give staff the ability to set lower rates for introductory purposes. The motion to amend was seconded by Miller. The motion carried with Gardiner voting against.
ADJOURNMENT/CALL TO ORDER
By consensus, with no further business, Gardiner adjourned the special meeting at 9:08 p.m. Gardiner reconvened the study session at 9:08 p.m.
PATHOSANS CLEANING TECHNOLOGY OVERVIEW
Dickens introduced PathoSans, stating that it was not a cleaning product; rather it was a cleaning technology. He noted that the technology uses water, purified salt, and electricity to make two products: a high PH cleaner and a low PH sanitizer. The technology was proven to be safe and sustainable, yet the products were strong enough to kill bacteria and viruses.
Implementing the new technology would replace the chemicals currently used to clean restrooms and other facilities. The products created do not foam, streak or produce allergens. Dickens stated that switching to the new system would result in a substantial cost savings, as well as contributing to a green environment.
There followed a discussion of the product properties, the cleaners that would be replaced, the safety of storage and use, and any potential issues that contracted workers might have when working with the products.
Dickens stated that the purchase price of the equipment was $13,000.
In response to a question by Gardiner, Black stated that Parks would be paying for the technology from operations funds, over a period of two years. The information was presented to the Commission to see if there were any overriding issues that would preclude moving forward. It was anticipated that the cost savings would offset the purchase price in approximately four years.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 9:40 p.m.
Betsy Manuel, Assistant