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Parks & Recreation Commission (View All)

Parks Commission Study Session

Minutes
Monday, June 15, 2015

City of Ashland
PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION
STUDY SESSION
MINUTES
June 15, 2015

 
 ATTENDANCE
Present:    Commissioners Gardiner, Lewis, Miller, Shaw; Director Black; Superintendents Dials and Dickens; Administrative Supervisor Dyssegard; Assistant Manuel
Absent:     Commissioner Landt; City Council Liaison, Mayor Stromberg

CALL TO ORDER
Chair Gardiner called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. at The Grove, 1195 E. Main Street.
 
SPONSORSHIP POLICY REVIEW
Dials presented a draft advertising and sponsorship policy for the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission (APRC). If approved by the Commission, she said the policy would allow staff to process and approve advertising and sponsorship requests. It would also complement APRC’s existing Signs, Plaques and Memorials policy and provide a new method for staff to solicit revenue-generating advertisements and sponsorships.
 
Dials noted that the proposed policy had the potential to decrease the costs of programs and services offered while enhancing levels of service provided. Businesses and personal donors could then be recognized for contributing to valuable park programs, services, and facilities. Such acknowledgements would increase visibility for APRC programs. If approved, Dials suggested implementing the new policy before the 2015-16 winter season. 
 
Dials and Recreation Coordinator Lonny Flora shared ideas, reviewed examples, and highlighted activities that could be enhanced upon policy approval. Flora noted that partnerships between the APRC and businesses providing specific program-related equipment, such as Zeplinz Video Games and Skateboard and Dewclaw Archery Equipment, could be more formally recognized under the proposed policy.
 
In response to a question by Gardiner, Dials responded that the policy would stand alone and not serve as an addendum to the APRC Signs, Plaques, and Memorials policy.  
      
Discussion Among Commissioners
Gardiner voiced support for developing such revenue-generating opportunities. He reviewed former attempts to do so, including advertisements on Oak Knoll Golf Course tee boxes. Dials said advertising opportunities in APRC seasonal recreation guides and the display of advertising banners in appropriate places, such as the pool or ice rink, could also increase revenues while reducing program expenses.
 
Lewis stated that the proposed policy could help disseminate information about APRC’s recreational programs while facilitating potentially lower costs and enhanced recreational programs. He asked about eligibility standards, noting that additional details would be helpful. He emphasized the importance of recouping installation and maintenance costs for banners and signs that promoted business interests.    
 
Shaw asked about restrictions on businesses distributing alcohol. Would distributors be allowed to advertise? Would APRC consider sponsoring events that involved alcohol? Lewis related a past request by Standing Stone Brewery to hold a charitable event in Lithia Park that included alcohol. The request was denied by the APRC because there was no established protocol for approving alcohol in parks. Black recommended further discussion about the topics. It was agreed that the draft was an excellent start toward developing a comprehensive policy. Dials said she would present a final draft for APRC review later in the summer.           
 
BUTLER-PEROZZI FOUNTAIN UPDATE
Black spoke about the importance of continued mindfulness regarding the Butler-Perozzi Fountain and its ongoing need for repairs. He reported receiving public comments about the fountain and suggested developing a strategic plan to keep the project moving forward and “on the radar.”
 
Dickens reviewed a portion of the fountain’s history, noting that in the 1980’s the overgrown shrubbery surrounding the fountain was removed, which revealed the extent of the fountain’s structural damage. Efforts were made to improve the appearance of the fountain and its surrounds, including coating the structure with a light stucco material. No structural improvements were made at that time. In the 1990’s, the fountain was partially repaired, with the central water pipe replaced and a new pump system installed. The partial fixes did not address damaged tubes that shot water into the fountain, as it was determined the tubes were beyond repair. Also during the 1990’s and early 2000’s, the structure was repeatedly vandalized, resulting in the eventual removal of the damaged top piece and its replacement with a bronze statue. Security cameras and extra patrols were also added at that time. Dickens noted other attempted fixes, such as a failed effort to repair the stairs and a faulty repair of pool tiles. He stated that the marble construction was not suitable for the fountain’s outdoor placement and continual contraction and expansion had caused the marble to crack.
 
In 2012, Dickens contacted the State Historic Preservation Program for Oregon to find out how to proceed with repairs while protecting the historical integrity of the structure. He submitted findings and learned that no penalties would be imposed if the structure required repairs. In 2013, Dickens applied for a $20,000 Oregon Parks and Recreation grant for the fountain but the grant request was denied. 
 
Dickens then solicited estimates for a complete restoration of the structure. Submitted estimates included $447,000 from Simpson and Associates, $474,000 from Oleson Concrete Construction, and $506,000 from Roxy Ann Rock. In an effort to decrease costs, the structure was X-rayed to locate breaks in the plumbing and to quantify other structural damages.
 
Lewis noted that efforts to restore the fountain began as early as 1988 but no structural repairs were handled then; however, because marble was available, a second pool was added then. Repairs were cosmetic only and designed to improve the fountain’s physical appearance. Because no infrastructure repairs were implemented, restoration needs grew in magnitude and the stairs leading to the fountain fell into disrepair.   
 
Lewis explained three options or levels for historic repairs, beginning with the most historically accurate designation of restoration. A second was renovation, a process that bolstered the historic structure with new materials where needed.  For those historic structures beyond repair, there was replication, or the building of a new structure that resembled the original.   
 
Dickens said replication might be the most realistic solution for the Butler-Perozzi Fountain because of its advanced deterioration and high cost of restoration. He displayed blueprint drawings by KenCairn Landscape Architects that detailed the structure to scale in present terms. He noted that a 2014 rough estimate for rebuilding the fountain was obtained from Vitus Construction. The cost of replication was approximately $150,000. Black noted that the estimate was for a structural rebuild only and did not include an estimate for marble. 
 
It was noted that the replication process would be similar to that of the Atkinson Bridge repairs completed in 2014.  Dickens said the bridge work was completed by Jim Oleson, a specialist in historic repairs.
Dickens stated that the KenCairn plans could not be utilized until a source of funding was identified. Dickens highlighted a plan for re-planting the shrubbery surrounding the fountain and replacing inappropriate vegetation with low-growing plants that would not overwhelm the structure. He stated that the landscape plan featured lavender and other floral plantings. He referred to it as a “gentle landscape.” 
 
Discussion Among Commissioners
Further discussion focused on obtaining more detailed bids for replication and the identification of next steps. Lewis recommended a review of the options and feedback from the Historic Commission. He stated that in a conversation with Historic Commission Chair Terry Skibby, he had emphasized the challenges of repairing the structure. A follow-up presentation to the Historic Commission might be apropos. 
    
Black noted that approximately $70,000 would be available from Food and Beverage (F & B) tax in the FY 15-17 biennium. The focus would need to include further research and direction about the stairs behind the fountain. He commented that although the stairs were underutilized, they provided access to Lithia Park from Granite Street and the Historic Commission might question the current status and inquire about future plans for renovation there as well.   
 
Black detailed funding possibilities—particularly with respect to seeking donations as well as grants. He reported exploring potential interests with the Rotary Club and another potential donor. The Rotarians were interested in a smaller project such as Butler Bandshell improvements. Black noted Rotarian Barbara Patridge’s suggestion about an event such as “Lithia Park Day,” designed to celebrate park donors and donations and as a platform to raise awareness about needed park projects, including fountain repairs. Black advocated for continued outreach, beginning with a Lithia Park Day, along with a fundraising campaign. He emphasized continued brainstorming with a goal toward finding solutions for generating public interest in Butler-Perozzi Fountain repairs.                    
 
Shaw inquired about responses to letters from citizens concerned about the fountain. He noted that one such letter alleged that the fountain was not working. Dickens said the fountain had consistently worked except in winter months, when it was taken out of service because of the vulnerability of the marble and other infrastructure concerns.     
 
Gardiner offered an optimistic view about potential fountain funding, stating that $70,000 from the F & B tax—combined with a donation of approximately $25,000 from Rotary and grant funding of approximately $20,000—could jumpstart repairs.  
 
Black agreed that the Historic Commission should be consulted about the Butler-Perozzi Fountain. He suggested going out to bid for an up-to-date cost analysis for replicating the structure. He recommended continued exploration of all three options (restoration, renovation, replication). He noted that the F & B tax money on hand could be used to prepare a “shovel ready” master plan.                       
 
DISCUSS PARAMETERS FOR PERFORMANCE AUDIT AND ADVISORY COMMITTEE
Black noted that $52,000 had been budgeted for a Performance Audit in the 15-17 biennium and efforts were underway to solicit auditors. Bids would be solicited via a request for proposal or RFP. He referred to past experience with such audit processes, explaining that “blue-book standards” would be applied to each audited area. Once the project range or scope was determined, the standards would provide criteria for evaluation. The final outcome would be an assessment of the effectiveness of Ashland Parks and Recreation as an organization. The assessment would provide a series of benchmarks based on best practices. It would also generate a to-do list via a Gant chart, with timelines assigned and action items categorized in order of importance. Each action item would be assigned to one of three designations: critical, necessary or desirable.
 
Black invited feedback regarding the scope of the examination, noting that the audit would focus on the areas within APRC that were determined to be of interest. He stated that the auditors would spend three or four days gathering information from staff and others associated with the organization. Research and data preparation would take approximately three to four months, resulting in a written report and supplemented with a Gant chart for easy assimilation of the information.
 
Black proposed posting the RFP by August 1, 2015, with a deadline of August 31, 2015.  He stated that the proposed timeline could result in a final report by the end of the year. Shaw noted that the timing would allow approximately 17 months for implementation prior to the next biennium.                        
 
Black reviewed a rough draft defining the scope of the audit, stating that feedback from the Commission would be helpful in identifying and prioritizing areas for examination. The draft outlined general categories as follows:  
  • Review of all Program Expenditures
  • Staffing and Management
  • Return on Investment
  • Effectiveness of Programs
  • Industry Benchmarking
  • Revenue Benchmarking
  • Retention and Expansion
  • Partnership Contracts and Service Review
  • Outsourcing
  • Use of Internet and Social Media
 
Black provided commentary on each category and suggested that the Commission email him with any further categories or refinements.    
 
Black recommended the formation of an APRC Performance Audit Advisory Committee. He said the Commission would ultimately be responsible for all decisions related to the Performance Audit but the Advisory Committee would provide oversight and guidance related to the process. Black envisioned a small group of volunteers that would include APRC Chair Mike Gardiner and one other Commissioner, one City Councilor, one citizen volunteer, three staff managers, Black himself as an advisor and City Administrator Kanner as a reviewer. Managerial input would be provided by Recreation Superintendent Dials, Parks Superintendent Dickens, and Administrative Supervisor Dyssegard. He also proposed Mary Cody as the citizen volunteer.
 
Gardiner said Mayor Stromberg suggested recruiting the Councilor via a memo of request to the Ashland City Council. Commissioner Rick Landt volunteered to fill the second Commission position. 
 
Further discussion centered upon additional areas for examination, the selection of bluebook standards, preferred areas of expertise for the auditors, and the nuts and bolts of assembling an Advisory Committee. It was agreed that the matter would come before the Commission for a vote at their next regular meeting on June 22, 2015. 
 
THE GROVE REMODEL
Black reviewed recent progress on The Grove renovations. The architect selected, ORW Architecture, was the original architect for the building. Renovations were budgeted and approved for FY 16 and Superintendent Dickens has been working with the architect on a plan based upon the needs of staff. 
 
Black noted that the architect was tasked with designing two enclosed spaces for supervisors and managers, an open work space and lobby area for staff, a vestibule and a greeting area. Changes to the hallway would be designed to counteract the constricted feeling because of the narrowness of the passageway. On the wish list was a possible conference room in the same space as the current kitchen area, with the balance of space remaining as it was currently configured. Black voiced his intention to design workable space to accommodate staffing needs while keeping structural building changes to a minimum. 

Discussion Among Commissioners
There followed discussion about a conference room, storage space and plans for the current headquarters. In response to a question by Lewis, Dials said approximately ten Recreation Division staff members would relocate to the Grove. Also in response to a question by Lewis, Black responded that the former Parks headquarters in Lithia Park would remain open, staffed by a part-time (.80 FTE) employee. Former offices would be reconfigured and become a reception area. Black anticipated that changes to both buildings—The Grove and the historic headquarters Annex—would increase efficiencies for all Parks and Recreation services. He noted that the historic Parks and Recreation building might eventually become a revenue-generating space.
 
JAPANESE GARDEN GATEWAY PROJECT UPDATE
Dickens provided an update on the progress of the Japanese Garden Torii Gateway project. The project was directly awarded to William Olsen of William Olsen Designs. Olsen was tasked with constructing a gateway structure to provide a visible entryway into the Japanese Garden in Lithia Park. The traditional Japanese structure would be crafted of wood taken from a Monkey Puzzle tree formerly located in Lithia Park. Olsen was described as an expert in Japanese woodworking, with a solid understanding of intricate Japanese joinery. Funding for the project was donated by local citizen Ann Auble.
                          
Dickens reported on the curing of the Monkey Puzzle wood, noting that it was nearly concluded. He said the steel columns and footings design were finished. The structure would be powder-coated and copper caps would be placed over the top-most wooden cross beams. Dickens described renovations of the associated teahouse, stating that the anticipated completion date for the project was the end of July. Staff had discussed holding an opening celebration to commemorate the project.
 
STAFF AND COMMISSIONER COMMENTS
  • Imperatrice Property
Black reported on the ongoing discussions with the City of Ashland regarding the Imperatrice Property – an 800-acre parcel owned by the City. He said that approximately 265 acres were designated for possible use and the City had approached the APRC with an invitation to consider the property for potential recreational use. 
 
Black indicated that the property could provide hiking trails, a mountain bike skills area, a trailhead parking lot and other potential uses. The property was currently being used to filter effluent, but in his opinion, this would not pose a problem as the filtration process took place underground. He discussed the pros and cons of the property, noting the need for easements across private land to complete a system of trails and the lack of forested area that would have required more intensive management. Finally, Black noted that there would be approximately 18 months before a decision was needed.
 
Lewis recommended consideration of a trail leading to Grizzly Peak, an iconic outcropping that provided stunning views of the valley at the summit. Lewis also suggested development of 60 acres currently being utilized by the Ashland Gun Club.
  • Removal of Oak Tree in Lithia Park
Shaw asked about responses to letters of concern about the recent removal of an old oak tree in Lithia Park. Dickens replied that the tree was thought to be badly diseased, which caused concerns about public safety. He stressed that APRC had obtained the advice of arborists prior to making the decision for removal. Once the tree was felled, it became apparent that disease had ravaged the tree. He noted that similar large trees were being monitored for potential damage—with particular attention paid to those close to public gathering areas. Dickens said the APRC would mill as much of the wood as could be salvaged. He highlighted plans to make use of the wood in a myriad of ways.
  • Ashland Creek Park
Gardiner noted the recent opening of Ashland Creek Park, stating his appreciation for the park and its neighborhood character. He highlighted the innovative play area while commenting on the lack of a swing set. Gardiner voiced support for the addition of a swing set.
 
Shaw expressed concern about a lack of creek access at Ashland Creek Park. He noted that direct creek access would prevent damage to the riparian area. He said a proactive stance could prevent excessive damage caused by uncontrolled access. It was agreed that further discussion would be scheduled at the next month’s study session. 
  • 4th of July Parade
Dials reported that APRC would be participating in Ashland’s 4th of July parade. She explained the health-related theme of the 2015 event and said staff planned to highlight APRC’s role in the community as their “prescription for health.” Volunteers would be dressed in costumes promoting the theme. Signage depicting various facets of APRC services would provide extra focus. Dials invited Commissioners to join with APRC staff in walking in the parade float, either in costume or wearing their “Commissioner” shirts. She encouraged interested persons to contact her about their participation.
 
ADJOURNMENT         
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 9:15 p.m.
 
Respectfully submitted,

Betsy Manuel, Assistant            

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