City of Ashland
PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION
March 28, 2016
Present: Commissioners Gardiner, Landt, Lewis, Miller, Shaw; Director Black; Superintendent Dials; Administrative Supervisor Dyssegard and Assistant Manuel
Also Present: Volunteer Coordinator Lori Ainsworth; Administrative Assistant Betsy Harshman; Parks Project Manager Jason Minica; Nature Center Manger Libby VanWyhe
Absent: City Council Liaison Mayor Stromberg
CALL TO ORDER
Chair Gardiner called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. at Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Study Session – February 8, 2016
Gardiner noted a correction for Page 4 Paragraph 3 as follows:
“It was agreed that a matrix of the cost of services provided and the offsetting benefits from each organization would be made available at the next business meeting.”
Gardiner noted that the sentence should read, “It was agreed that a matrix of the cost of services provided and the offsetting benefits from each organization would be made available at the June business meeting.” Landt noted that the Minutes would stand because the matrix was originally set for the next business meeting.
Motion: Landt moved to approve the Minutes for February 8, 2016 as presented. Lewis seconded.
The vote was all yes
Regular Meeting - February 22, 2016
Motion: Shaw moved to approve the Minutes for February 22, 2016, as presented. The motion was pended for discussion.
Landt referred to Page 3 Under the heading of Bee City USA Sponsorship Paragraph 2: “Landt mentioned that the Bike Swap was scheduled for the same day, April 16, 2016. It was noted that scheduling conflicts commonly occurred.” Landt stated that he did not make the statement about scheduling conflicts and it was his belief that scheduling conflicts did not commonly occur. Shaw stated that he heard something similar at the meeting and he would take responsibility for the statement although he was unsure of the exact wording.
Motion: Shaw moved to approve the Minutes of February 22, 2016, with removal of the sentence beginning with “It was noted that scheduling conflicts commonly occur.” Miller seconded.
The vote was yes for Gardiner, Lewis, Miller, and Shaw; Landt no. The motion passed.
There was none.
ADDITIONS AND DELETIONS
Gardiner asked that the Agenda order be reversed with New Business placed before Unfinished Business. The Commission agreed by consensus to change the Agenda accordingly.
Dials noted that Kristina Lefever was present to ask the Commission for a sponsorship of the Conference in the amount of $500. She relayed that the Conference was an educational opportunity to review the impact of pesticides and learn about best practices as alternatives. The event would be held on April 16, 2016. Dials indicated that the staff report regarding sponsorship was for information only and did not constitute a recommendation by staff. She noted that the Bee City USA Subcommittee had voted to support the effort. If APRC were to approve the sponsorship request, staff would present funding options for discussion.
- Bee City USA Subcommittee Request for Sponsorship of “Pesticides, People, Pollinators, and the Planet” conference (Action)
Ms. Kristina Lefever of 2359 Blue Sky Lane, Ashland OR, was called forward.
Lefever highlighted the planned program and indicated that the Bee City USA Subcommittee was supportive of the request for a financial sponsorship. She introduced Cara Cruickshank of 1193 Ashland Mine Road, stating that Ms. Cruickshank was the Executive Director of Eco Solutions.
Cruickshank stated that interest in limiting pesticide use was growing and the Conference would be a comprehensive look at the myriad facets of pesticide use and the ramifications of use as well as appropriate alternatives.
In reply to a question by Black, Lefever assured the Commission that the event was no longer tentative and the program would be available shortly. Cruickshank noted that outreach indicated that orchardists and vintners alike were excited about attending the program.
Discussion among Commissioners
Landt commented that the Bee City USA Subcommittee had a budget granted by APRC. He inquired of staff whether the source of funding would come from that budget or from other APRC coffers. Black replied that it was his understanding that the Subcommittee could not autonomously sponsor an event and the Commission had to approve expenditures and / or designate use of the funds.
Gardiner highlighted his role as a member of the Bee City USA Subcommittee. He stated that it was important that APRC support APRC subcommittees in general, and support the Bee City USA Subcommittee request specifically. He voiced support for the Conference and its outreach in engaging the community and beyond. Gardiner stated that an APRC sponsorship was appropriate in that it indicated support for the types of pesticide policies espoused by the Bee City USA Subcommittee and endorsed by APRC.
Landt reiterated that overlapping events are not the norm, in this case sponsoring both the Bike Swap and the Bee City USA event on the same day presented a conflict for those wishing to attend both events. He added that his preference would be to fund a sponsorship with funds from the Bee City USA budget.
Lewis stated that the opportunity to sponsor this event dovetailed with APRC’s own purpose in contributing to a clean and healthy environment. Ashland was known as a Pedestrian City, a Tree City, a Bike City and a Bee City and sponsoring an event in keeping with the values embraced by APRC was appropriate. Lewis hoped that future scheduling might consider other concurrent events to better accommodate both events.
Shaw stated that funding from the Bee City USA budget would be an appropriate use of the money. He championed both events, agreeing with Commissioner Lewis that scheduling changes would be welcome to better accommodate the Bike Swap as well as the Conference.
Dials cautioned against creating or sponsoring additional events in the spring, noting that staffing was limited due to increased springtime activities. Gardiner noted that APRC was only one sponsor of several supporting the Bee City USA Conference. He stated that the organizers of the Bee City USA event were autonomous and the need for APRC staffing would be limited.
Gardiner relayed that the budget given to Bee City USA was the result of a request to actively support the projects that benefit APRC through the Bee City USA Subcommittee. He reported that the Subcommittee’s first year was unfunded and as a result there was no money for operations or educational outreach. Gardiner explained that the Conference was a unique regional effort separate from the Subcommittee’s operational needs.
Lewis stated that the matter should be discussed during budget negotiations. He contrasted the transportation budget, the tree city budget and other expenses sponsored by the City of Ashland, noting that $500 was negligible by comparison. He indicated a willingness to sponsor the Conference from the APRC’s operating funds.
Landt advocated for authorizing Bee City USA to draw on their Subcommittee budget for the Conference, leaving the larger issue of budgeting for sponsorships for discussion as a part of budget negotiations.
Motion: Shaw moved to sponsor the “Pesticides, People, Pollinators, and the Planet” Conference, by approving $500 for the project to be drawn from the Bee City USA Subcommittee’s budget. Lewis seconded.
Landt explained his rationale for his upcoming “no” vote, which was due to his belief that sponsorships should be determined during budget negotiations. He said he applauded the work of Bee City USA in their efforts to conduct the Conference.
Motion (repeated): Shaw moved to sponsor the “Pesticides, People, Pollinators, and the Planet” Conference, by approving $500 for the project to be drawn from the Bee City USA Subcommittee’s budget. Lewis seconded.
The vote was yes for Gardiner, Lewis, Miller, and Shaw; Landt voted no. The motion carried.
Dials thanked Nature Center Manager Libby Van Wyhe for acting as staff liaison for the Bee City USA.
CLAY STREET DOG PARK INFORMATION AND POSSIBLE ACTION
Black stated that the presentation today would be a response to a Commission request to proceed with arrangements for an Open House at the potential Clay Street dog park and to obtain information from stakeholders and user groups regarding possible uses for the property.
Black referred to the Commission’s goals, adopted in 2015 for the biennium, noting that capital projects were to be assessed for feasibility, relevancy, and implementation. The plan called for sidewalks along Winburn Way and a Dog Park designated for the Clay Street property.
In accordance with Commission directives, soccer groups were approached and asked whether they used the YMCA soccer fields and, if so, what their frequency of use was. If a particular soccer team did not use the YMCA fields, an explanation was requested. The survey also solicited information about field renovations completed by APRC for Ashland’s middle schools. Would teams prefer continued renovation of Ashland’s school fields? If more soccer fields were needed in Ashland, which locations were preferred? Black reported that very little comment was received and those who replied indicated that currently utilized fields were satisfactory. He commented that while it didn’t follow that expanding the soccer fields was undesirable, it was apparent that there were no unmet or pressing needs for soccer fields at this time.
Black highlighted comments from the YMCA as follows: “We are also a bit worried that the enlarged full size soccer field will give the impression of new soccer fields for the soccer community to use…but the YMCA uses those fields almost all of the time for our (own) planned soccer programs, flag football, sports camps, and camps. The YMCA programs benefit hundreds of kids each day. The soccer park was originally given to the City of Ashland from the YMCA with the promise of the YMCA would be granted use of the park for YMCA programs.”
Black stated that the deed validated this position. The agreement was that the YMCA would inform APRC of their schedule of programs and APRC would in turn allow public use of the fields during the times when the property was vacated by the YMCA. APRC owns the property and maintains the field but the YMCA is the primary user. Black reported that Lisa Molnar, Executive Director of the YMCA, presented a wish-list that included new restrooms closer to the proposed dog park as well as a new playground area in the location planned for the small dog park.
Black noted that proceeding with an open house, conducted as a charrette type process, could be misleading, given that APRC intended to build a dog park. He suggested that the public be invited to comment on the location of the various uses envisioned by the Commission.
Black indicated that an open house could be scheduled for the 3rd or 4th week of April. The event could be scheduled for a convenient time, with stakeholders encouraged to attend. Once enough public testimony was collected, the information would be synthesized and presented to the Commission at a meeting in May. Following this schedule, Commissioners could then decide on next steps and possibly approve a plan.
An alternative plan would be to publish an agreed-upon concept plan, while announcing electronically as well as with signage at the park that APRC was soliciting feedback. Once the data was compiled, an open house could be scheduled and additional testimony solicited at that time. This option could shorten the timeframes by holding only one open house on April 25, 2016, about a month earlier than the first option.
Black stated that either way, enough data could be captured to facilitate an informed decision. He explained that a structured approach (presenting a concept plan) might be more effective than simply presenting an outline of the property and asking the public how best to use the space.
Allison Mildman of 420 Clay St. Ashland was called forward.
Ms. Mildman stated that she owns a house on Clay Street, purchased approximately twelve years previously. At that time, the YMCA/APRC property was mostly vacant. Ms. Wildman noted that things had changed over the years, with the addition of multi-family housing nearby. She stated that a dog park might serve the needs of the City, but in her opinion it was not a good match for this particular neighborhood. Mildman expressed a concern that the area would become too congested with people coming from outside the neighborhood with their dogs. She questioned whether there would be adequate parking and suggested that more open space would be beneficial for the neighborhood given the close proximity of children playing there. Mildman advocated for a dog-friendly park or community gardens as a better fit.
Discussion among Commissioners
Landt noted that the Real Estate Subcommittee (comprised of himself and Commissioner Shaw) accompanied Director Black on a tour of the property. Discussion at that time focused on the options for soliciting public input, and it became apparent that a charrette might not be the most efficient way to proceed. Landt relayed that he was in agreement with Black that holding an open house would be preferable.
Shaw highlighted the need for a second dog park on the south side of town, stating that it had been an acknowledged priority for some time. When the property became available it was slated for development into a dog park. He reiterated that the original dog park had become a safety concern given the large number of dogs in the park at any given time. Shaw stated that the Clay Street property could serve a number of uses. He detailed a plan for a concept map that would showcase the existing uses, without the overlay of various options for the space. Shaw recommended an accompanying list of uses that could enhance the dog park – such as a water station, a shelter, parking spaces and more. He advocated for a dedicated dog park while soliciting ideas from the public as to the needs of the community and listening to public concerns such as those expressed at the meeting.
Gardiner expressed his disappointment with the comments from the YMCA, highlighting the request for another playground when there was an existing playground nearby. He stated that connectivity could be improved once the uses were determined.
Landt addressed connectivity from the dog park to the restrooms, noting that a better trail would be needed to provide easy access from the dog park to the restrooms in YMCA Park. He agreed that the concept should show the existing situation as a baseline. He proposed delineating proposed uses generally without being specifically mapped. Landt stated that in his opinion, the best option was not yet apparent and he was seeking additional information prior to making a decision. Once public input was quantified and reviewed and a clarified plan was determined, a final decision could be made.
Lewis concurred with the process as described in Plan B. He questioned the agreement with the YMCA, asking whether it was an agreement in perpetuity. He advocated proceeding as outlined and remaining as fluid and flexible as possible. Black stated that removing the lines would be helpful. He noted that it might be prudent to leave room for additional uses conveyed by the public.
Landt clarified for the public that the property area with the pink label would not be included in any plan because of its designation as a public right of way. He suggested graying the pink area so that it was removed from consideration.
Shaw reiterated the importance of dedicating part of that space for a dog park. He stated that the intent was to create a dedicated dog park – something that should remain absolute with or without public input. He suggested that a list of potential uses be included as a part of the concept plan. Landt further clarified that the concept plan should clearly illustrate the uses that were already there.
It was agreed that the general direction of uses identified by APRC would be sketched in rather than conceptualized with established boundaries. Lewis stated that presenting the concept in that way would set the stage by noting the dog park portion and by presenting a list of uses that the Commission was considering.
There followed a brief discussion regarding how best to portray areas rather than a planned concept. Black said the intent was to create a bubble type diagram that would describe the proposed uses without becoming a site plan.
Lewis moved to confirm the direction to staff provided by the discussion above, and move forward with Plan B to solicit feedback from the public. Landt seconded.
Landt confirmed that Plan B included a process for public input and timelines for moving forward.
Shaw restated the motion as direction to staff to overhaul the concept plan by removing boundaries and replacing with labels that convey the general direction for the uses outlined. The pink area would be removed from the plan as it is not a part of the property under consideration. He further asked about a public open house in April.
Black replied that there could be two public sessions in April: one work session that would include an open house soliciting comments on the Clay Street property, then continuing to allow public testimony the following week at the Regular Business meeting. When the comments were completed, a vote could be taken, confirming the end results and authorizing the process to move forward with a site plan. The May meeting would validate final approval of the site plan and an authorization to bid on the project.
In response to a question by Shaw, Black noted that condensing the process could be done by holding two public meetings in April. One pubic meeting was already scheduled for the 25th of April. The other could be scheduled during the work session of the week before. Staff would prepare a plan that the Commission could vote on at the second meeting. There would remain the need for confirmation of the site plan and authorization to proceed with the solicitation of project bids.
Landt stated that the way it was originally proposed as Option B made sense. Having a month to obtain public comment and incorporate the ideas into a plan seems like a more reasonable process. Black noted that there were many ways to speed up the process described as Option A.
Landt suggested that a vote be taken on the motion as proposed. Gardiner stated that it would be important to agree on the timelines.
Black reiterated that under Plan B, the agreed upon concept plan would be prepared based on the Commission’s comments of March 28th which would then be publically disseminated by the 11th of April so as to give two weeks’ notice. The APRC Business meeting of April 25th would become an open house where public testimony would be given. Moving forward from there would be at the Commission’s discretion. Black stated that the only caveat would be the difficulties inherent in collecting enough public comment from one meeting. Final approval would still be an agenda item in May. Lewis reviewed his proposal for a timeline, stating that the vote for the finalized plan could be held on April 25th.
Black explained that once a vote was made by the Commission to grant authority to develop a site plan, the process would move on through an additional public process through the auspices of the City of Ashland Planning Department. He detailed other steps, emphasizing that construction would not occur until sometime after the bidding process was completed. Lewis reiterated that the public comment phase would end on April 25. Shaw indicated that seeking public input at the work session on April 18 would allow the Commission a week to assimilate the comments.
Black reminded the Commission that a timeline had already been established but it could be amended to include a public forum during the Study Session on April 18, 2016. He stated that staff could make a good faith effort to meet the earlier timeline. If that were the case, then public notice must be disseminated by April 8, 2016.
There followed further debate regarding timelines. Gardiner summarized the motion as put forth by Lewis, whereby public comment would be finalized on April 25, 2016, and a vote would be taken to authorize the development of a site plan. Black stated that the proposed timeline was doable if there were no caveats. If the process became more complicated because of the public response, and there were additional steps to take, such as an analysis of costs for proposed changes to the plan, then finalizing a site plan could become more problematic.
Landt commented that although he seconded the motion, he misunderstood Option B as outlined and he did not believe that the concept plan could be adopted on the same day public testimony was taken. He suggested that public comment be taken at the Regular Meeting of April 25, then a special meeting called in May or on May 16, the scheduled Study Session date. Final review of the concept plan and a vote authorizing the project to move forward to the site plan stage could be taken at that time.
Black explained his rationale for two weeks’ notice stating that it would give the public sufficient time to assimilate the information and prepare for a meeting. He noted that there were no official noticing requirements for public comment; therefore, the timeline could be reduced to one week’s notice if it were the will of the Commission.
Lewis moved to confirm the direction to staff provided by the discussion above and move forward with Option B to solicit feedback from the public. Landt seconded.
Landt proposed a friendly amendment to the motion as follows: Public comment would be taken on the April 25 and a final decision made on May 23, the next regularly scheduled business meeting.
The roll call vote was all yes.
Black noted that options for restoring or repairing the Golf Course Clubhouse would be presented by Project Manager Minica. The Commission had previously voted on one of the two options but the estimates for repairs exceeded that agreed upon amount, resulting in a second look.
- Golf Course Improvements (Action)
Minica presented Option A in which the damaged beams would be removed and the remaining infrastructure supported by five pillars. As the least expensive option, it would cost approximately $60,000.
Option B would be a hybrid choice that would include roofing the replaced beams and the addition of skylights on the east side only. The cost would be $86,500 and any future expansion of the building would require changes to the roofline. Skylights would be placed over the patio and only two pillars would be needed for support. The west side would be left open.
Option C was a complete replacement of damaged beams with roofing and skylights over the patio side of the building. This was the most extensive renovation at $90,000. This option would result in engineering that would remain in place to facilitate any future expansion. Two support pillars would be needed as well.
Quotes for all three options included a 20% contingency fund.
Minica explained potential funding, taken from surplus funds that would not be needed for the cart path project. The cart path improvements were budgeted at $120,000 including a contingency. With 33% of the project completed at a cost of $10,000, the surplus after completion was projected as $90,000.
Discussion among Commissioners
Landt questioned plans for adequately watering the landscaping in place on the west side of the project. Minica replied that the irrigation folks would advise on whether to leave the current drip system in place or to replace the existing foliage and replace them with more drought-tolerant plantings.
Black indicated that as an alternative, the west side area could be better utilized as a hardscape, providing storage for event materials and buffets.
Gardiner said the Golf Subcommittee discussed mirroring the hardscape already in place where supplies were currently stored. In addition the Subcommittee preferred Option C because of the symmetrical aesthetics.
Landt noted that when Option B was previously approved, it was due to an assumption that it was most the cost effective option. Once presented with the actual quotes it became apparent that Option C was superior to Option B, with minimal financial impact.
Motion: Shaw moved to approve Option C as recommended by the Subcommittee at the cost of $90,000. Lewis seconded.
Lewis advised Minica to stay within the budget without using the contingency if possible.
Motion (repeated): Shaw moved to approve Option C as recommended by the Subcommittee at the cost of $90,000. Landt seconded.
The roll call vote was all yes
SUBCOMMITTEE AND STAFF REPORTS
Dials introduced Lori Ainsworth who was hired by APRC in November 2010. Dials reported that, at that time, the Commission goal was to reduce the use of pesticides in Ashland’s parks. Ainsworth’s position was created to better manage the volunteers who would be needed for beautification of the parks once dependent upon use of pesticides, which were no longer permitted. Ainsworth’s responsibilities included (but were not limited to) coordinating and scheduling APRC volunteers, community service workers, interns, and other community work groups throughout the City. Volunteers work in parks, on trails, and many other locations. Ainsworth recruits, organizes and recognizes APRC volunteers. She devised a tracking system to document the number of volunteer hours donated throughout the year. Ainsworth is a true advocate for volunteers and actively solicits support from local businesses.
- Volunteer Program Presentation (Information)
Ainsworth stated that the number of volunteer hours for 2015 were phenomenal, and the impact was substantial. Volunteers cover every division from the Nature Center, Senior Center, gardens, trails and parks, but also the Ice Rink (even the mascot is a volunteer), pool and special activities. They conduct educational workshops and classes as well. In 2015, 2,000 volunteers donated over 15,000 hours to APRC activities. This was a substantial increase over the prior year from 2014 for several reasons. One was the significant increase in work parties. There were more people out there weeding and eradicating invasive species than ever before. The North Mountain Nature Center is a popular assignment and in 2015 there were approximately 576 volunteers who worked over 3,600 hours. Part of this effort was an extra two weeks of activities and instruction offered by APRC. The number of Ashland schools assisting in grounds maintenance increased as well. The Nature Center has a diverse roster of activities: there is the Bear Creek Salmon Festival, birding, gardens, and other special events. They help with administration, research, and a preschool puppet center. Food program volunteers logged over 3,000 hours in 2015. Staff was more diligent in collecting data for educational programs at the Senior Center. Volunteers support the Bike Swap, adaptive classes, golf classes, skateboard classes and ice rink hosts. The single largest increase was recorded in the Parks and Trails division, due in large part to Tom Foster’s Lithia Park guided tours. Twenty volunteers acted as guides in Lithia Park, contributing 1,100 hours. Support for maintaining herbicide-free parks was very successful, with 50 work parties in 2015 compared to 39 the previous year. Many new groups helped with weeding, removal of invasive species and trail maintenance, resulting in approximately 1,200 volunteers who donated over 5,800 hours. The “adopt-a- park” program was well supported by local businesses and service groups, with Rogue Federal Credit Union signing on as the newest contributor. The Ashland Parks Youth Conservation Corps was entering its fifth year of seasonal work parties. In addition to donating many work house, the students also learn about invasive species and environmental restoration and grounds maintenance. Ainsworth concluded that APRC volunteers are invaluable and their commitment very much appreciated.
Shaw offered kudos to a job well done, noting the increasing participation that could not happen without a coordinated effort.
Gardiner asked about any anticipated new programs. Ainsworth replied that volunteer appreciation activities would be given increased attention to keep the momentum going. She stated that under consideration was an ice cream social and other types of recognition events throughout the seasons.
Dials noted that a training week for volunteers was set for next week at the Nature Center and the number of people participating had increased exponentially.
Black commented that a 2015 Commission goal was to rebrand Ashland Parks and Recreation to Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission. He stated that the original intent was to distinguish APRC as an entity in its own right, not just as a subsidiary of the City of Ashland. As a somewhat autonomous entity with a separate administration, APRC was a body of elected officials whose mandate was to promote goals related to Ashland parks and recreational programs. APRC employees were therefore the administrative arm of APRC. Finally, Black stated that he intended to fulfill the Commission goal of developing a “style guide” for APRC.
- Use of APRC in Official Communication
Discussion among Commissioners
Shaw noted that the change seemed to be working well. He stated that the public was not well versed in the significance of the changes, but that with time, familiarity with APRC and its meaning would grow.
Landt expressed appreciation for the memo from Director Black explaining the rationale for the change to Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission or APRC. It was important for the reasons described in the memo because it differentiated between the elected body known as APRC versus another Department of the City, which APRC was not.
Dickens stated that reaction to the change had been generally positive and continued branding would be of value. Lewis noted that consistent use of the terms would result in ever-increasing acceptance of the change and its significance.
Black relayed that in his experience, there had been no adverse reactions to the change.
Gardiner stated that the acronym APRC seemed to be working out well.
ITEMS FROM COMMISSIONERS
There were none.
UPCOMING MEETING DATES
- Joint Meeting with Council, March 29, 2016, Council Chambers 1175 E. Main Street—5:30 p.m.
- Study Session, April 18, 2016, The Grove 1195 E. Main Street—7:00 p.m. (later changed to 5:30 p.m.)
- Regular Meeting, April 25, 2016, Council Chambers 1175 E. Main Street—7:00 p.m.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 9:10 p.m.
Betsy Manuel, Assistant
The Minutes are not a verbatim record. The narrative has been condensed and paraphrased at times to reflect the discussions and decisions made. Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission Study Sessions and Regular meetings are digitally recorded and available online.