City of Ashland
PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION
September 26, 2016
Absent: Superintendent Dickens; City Council Liaison Mayor Stromberg
Present: Commissioners Gardiner, Landt, Lewis, Miller, Shaw; Director Black; Superintendent Dials; Executive Assistant Dyssegard; Assistant Manuel
CALL TO ORDER
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Chair Gardiner called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. at Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street
Study Session – July 18, 2016
Motion: Shaw moved to approve the Minutes for July 18, 2016, as presented. Miller seconded.
The vote was all yes.
Regular Meeting – July 25, 2016
Motion: Shaw moved to approve the Minutes for July 25, 2016, as presented. Landt seconded.
The vote was all yes.
Study Session – August 15, 2016
Motion: Miller moved to approve the Minutes for August 15, 2016, as presented. Lewis seconded.
The vote was all yes, with Shaw abstaining as he was not present at the meeting.
Rogue Valley Bike Polo representatives Eric Michener and Daryl Witmore of 142 Willow, Ashland were called forward.
Michener thanked the Commissioners for allowing a bike polo tournament to be held at Hunter Park over Labor Day weekend. He reported that fourteen teams participated, coming from as far away as San Francisco, CA, and Seattle, WA. He stated that the Club was careful to meet the conditions for approval; quieting after 8:00 p.m. and shutting down the games at 10:00 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.
Michener noted that clean-up went well, generating positive public comments. He submitted an email with commentary about the care taken. An excerpt from the email is as follows: “…I watched with interest the Labor Day weekend bicycle polo competition at Hunter Park and the disciplined attention the hosts gave to returning the premises to its previous condition. These people showed that even aggressive, physically challenging athletes can demonstrate true civic responsibility…”
Finally Michener submitted a letter for the record, asking that the Commissioners consider construction of a multi-sport court that would accommodate the cyclists and other “non-net” sports.
Don Ferguson of 438 and 440 Helman St., Ashland was called forward.
Ferguson relayed that the Ferguson property extended across Ashland Creek on the south side of Ashland Creek Park, with both banks of the creek his responsibility. He said the adjacent property is owned by the City of Ashland and is currently unimproved, creating an inviting space for itinerant campers. Because there are no restroom or garbage facilities, the camping area is unsanitary and unsightly.
Ferguson said he filed complaints with the Ashland Police Department who visited the site during daytime hours when campers were not present. He stated that campers had challenged his contention that part of the land was private property and he asked that APRC assist him in finding a solution for the matter. He suggested a collaboration to clearly mark the boundaries between Ashland Creek Park land and the Ferguson property.
Landt confirmed that staff would assist Mr. Ferguson in his efforts to mitigate the situation.
ADDITIONS AND DELETIONS
Agenda items CIP Updates and Project Updates were combined under the heading NEW BUSINESS.
There was none.
Black reviewed Audit timelines and described the process that included stakeholder interviews, an intensive data gathering process and an evaluation process. Opportunities within APRC and best practices among peers were evaluated with the overarching goal of increased efficiencies and enhanced high levels of service. A draft version of the recommendations was prepared and went through several iterations, with the APRC Advisory Committee vetting the document in addition to the Commissioners. After review, the document was presented to the Commissioners for final approval after corrections. To maintain contextual consistency, the term APRC was used to denote the entire organization, while the term the Commissioners referred to the elected body. The term Commission refers to administrative actions taken by staff with oversight by the Commissioners.
- Performance Audit Approval (Action)
Black highlighted the high level of service that APRC currently provides, noting that the number of acres of land (over 800 acres) and the amount of open space, forestland, and developed parkland was extraordinary. Finding peer communities was a challenge for the auditors, who were unable to find peer communities in Oregon but found a number of similar communities outside the state. Benchmarks were extrapolated based upon best practices in organizational structure, governance and finance.
Black reported on suggested improvements for Administration. Changes to the Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) were recommended that would include line items for repair and replacement of existing equipment and structures. One best practice was to create a fund dedicated to keeping existing assets in top condition and/or using money set aside to replace them when appropriate.
Streamlining policies and procedures for each unit were considered apropos. Joint use agreements were recommended to allow for community collaborations when multiple agencies were needed to provide regional as well as local needs.
The study suggested the establishment of a brand for APRC. Black commented that the APRC brand was already established but extra exposure would be beneficial.
The Audit report detailed the creation of a Golf Operations Unit with a senior management position that would provide supervisory management for all aspects of the unit, including budgetary responsibilities, grounds maintenance and Clubhouse services.
Recommendations included instituting a comprehensive plan to identify community needs, streamline internal operations and provide for increased customer feedback. An evaluation of all recreational programs was advised to better understand the needs of the community. Forming an advisory group was also a best practice for increased focus on recreation-related issues. It was also suggested that cost recovery for programs offered could be improved. Additional programs could be developed to better address the needs of the underserved.
For Parks, a shift in emphasis was counseled, changing from a focus on acquisitions and new facilities to the development of a strong maintenance program. Maintenance standards could be formalized for greater consistency and building a detailed inventory of parks and open spaces would assist APRC to better track and manage APRC properties.
Audit recommendations included focusing on increased numbers of volunteers and the addition of seasonal staff for peak times. It was noted that the number of acres per employee was greater than the norm. Instead of hiring additional staff, it was recommended that the temporary budget be increased to accommodate extra seasonal workers.
Golf Operations Division:
Adding a senior management position and combining golf course maintenance with business activities such as running the Clubhouse and providing budgetary oversight were suggested as ways to develop better communication and increased efficiencies. Strategic planning would help to move the municipal golf course forward. Grounds upkeep was considered the key to success at the golf course.
Black highlighted APRC’s strengths as detailed by the auditors. APRC’s focus on goals would assist APRC to move the organization forward. The auditors praised the working relationship between the City of Ashland and APRC. They noted the expertise of APRC managers (stating that the infrastructure was in place to move the organization forward). The programs and services offered by APRC were judged to be very important to the community.
Black presented a table depicting the implementation process. Priorities were quantified and divided into categories entitled Critical, Necessary, and Desirable. He stated that some critical items were not listed as top priorities due to budgetary constraints or established priorities. Black introduced a tracking form that grouped like actions together – with 32 groups or project recommendations that needed to be developed. He differentiated between ongoing priorities and those that could be accomplished while conducting business as usual. Those items with fiscal impacts would most likely have to wait until the budget could be adjusted accordingly.
Motion: Landt moved to adopt the Performance Audit Report as presented and the prioritization recommended by staff and the Advisory Committee. Shaw seconded.
Discussion among Commissioners:
Lewis confirmed that the draft report would become final when adopted by the Commissioners.
Landt stated that the Commissioners had hoped that implementation of the Performance Audit recommendations would result in a cost savings for the organization. He noted that in his opinion, very little cost savings would be realized in the short term. He commented that there was a potential for savings in the long term because of streamlined operations and other efficiencies.
Shaw expressed appreciation for the work of the Advisory Committee. He anticipated additional goals based on the Audit report and stated that he was pleased with the ideas and best practices presented. Shaw noted that a deferred maintenance plan would be helpful as APRC set money aside to address the repair and replacement of assets.
Motion: Landt moved to adopt the Performance Audit Report as presented and the prioritization recommended by staff and Advisory Committee. Shaw seconded.
The vote was all yes
Project Manager Jason Minica presented the Master Plan and Site Plan for the Garfield Park improvements.
- Garfield Park Bids Review (Action)
He stated that the plans included a CSSB Shelter, a new Splash Pad structure, picnic shelters and improvements to the volleyball court and basketball court. He detailed the cost estimates, noting that the Splash Pad would cost an estimated $503,000, the basketball court approximately $54,100, the shelters $63,500, the bike shelter and miscellaneous improvements $106,000 and contingencies and mobilization fees $94,458 for a grand total of $821,058. Although several companies expressed interest, there was only one bid from Vitus Construction, who weighed in at $817,564.
Minica recommended approval of the bid from Vitus Construction.
Discussion among Commissioners
In response to a question by Gardiner, Black indicated that staff was comfortable working with Vitus and that staff had been pleased with their past work in the Ashland parks system.
Landt corrected the record, noting that the Garfield Park Master Plan had been approved in September of 2015.
He stated that he had voted against the plan at the time because of concerns that had since been ameliorated. He noted that the site plan had not been reviewed by the Commissioners, but that he (Landt) had since reviewed the site plan and had come to an agreement with staff about some minor changes. He advocated for the resulting site plan.
Motion: Landt moved to approve the bid from Vitus Construction for the Garfield Park improvements.
Gardiner asked about a timeframe for the project. Minica replied that Vitus had not yet committed to a start date, but the company would guarantee that the Garfield Park project would be completed by the end of April. Minica further stated that a timeline would be prepared once the start time has been agreed upon.
Black stated that the bid would be presented to the City Council due to the size of the procurement.
Motion: Landt recommended approval of the bid by Vitus Construction to the City Council. Lewis seconded.
Black observed that the Commissioners were not a recommending body – that the motion could be approved.
City Council would formalize the Commissioners’ approval.
Motion: Landt moved to approve the bid from Vitus Construction for the Garfield Park improvements. Lewis seconded
The vote was all yes
Shaw asked whether the bid included the park walkways. Minica explained that the walkways bordering the restrooms and those in the general area of construction would be improved. Those that were closer to North Main would be handled separately at another time.
Black detailed the CIP project list, emphasizing the priorities and status—what had been completed, what had been postponed and what had been canceled. He stated that the top four priorities were as follows:
Black indicated that the Trails Master Plan update project would be chaired by Jeff McFarland who would work with an Advisory Subcommittee. Recruitment for the Advisory Subcommittee would begin next month.
- The Garfield Water Play Replacement (in progress)
- The Second Dog Park Construction (in progress)
- The Lithia Park Master Plan (in progress)
- Trails and Open Space Comprehensive Plan Update (beginning stages)
Black stated that the next four items on the CIP project list could be prioritized in a different order at the will of the Commissioners. Project totals for all work including postponed and cancelled projects, as well as those to be completed in the current biennium, totaled $3,817,890. Black stated that although the numbers had been adjusted to include unforeseen repairs for the Beach Creek pedestrian bridge and Golf Course Clubhouse repairs, the bottom line remained at $3,817,890.
Landt suggested two motions to validate and confirm the money transfers (to pay for the emergency repairs listed above) and to approve the priorities as listed.
Motion: Landt moved to approve the transfer of funds between projects within the CIP. Shaw seconded.
The vote was all yes
Discussion among Commissioners:
Shaw was appreciative of the organized chart and the designations therein.
Gardiner stated that the established priorities had been evaluated by staff. He noted that those projects not included in the top eight priorities were clearly designated as either completed, postponed or cancelled.
Landt suggested that the Commissioners communicate to staff that the focus should be almost exclusively on the top four listed and that work on other projects could be undertaken only if it would not impede progress on the designated priorities.
Lewis differentiated between small projects and those requiring more time and resources, such as the Lithia Park Master Plan. He noted that Minica was involved with all of the projects requiring construction. He stated that even with a vote to direct staff to concentrate on the top four priorities, there remained enough flexibility to transfer attention to a lower priority if it did not mean time away from the top priorities. Minica agreed, stating that there were natural breaks in the pace of construction when next steps were delayed while waiting for information or materials. He stated that in times like those, prep work for lower priorities could keep the momentum going.
Shaw relayed that, in his opinion, no motion would be needed to approve priorities that were already identified by staff. He expressed confidence in Director Black’s leadership and in staff’s ability to concentrate on the priorities listed.
Landt stated that it would be supportive of staff to approve a motion that directed their focus to the top four projects. He commented that there were normally so many fires to work on day to day, that losing sight of the big picture would be understandable. Landt stressed the importance of completing or making good progress on the top priorities prior to the conclusion of the biennium. He reiterated his opinion that a clear directive in the form of a motion could be helpful to staff in their efforts to maintain focus on the priorities.
Black clarified that Minica’s priorities were the top two, the third priority was assigned to the Director and the fourth was assigned to the Trails and Open Space Manager, Jeffrey McFarland.
Motion: Landt moved that the CIP priorities be the first four projects listed. Additional projects (such as projects listed as numbers five through eight) could be worked on if they did not take usable time away from the first four priorities. Lewis seconded.
Gardiner indicted that he agreed with Shaw in that the motion was an abundance of caution. That said, he stated that he would vote for the motion because it confirmed the priorities as discussed. Miller agreed, stating that the priorities stood as listed.
Lewis summarized the discussion as “prioritization of the priority list.” He explained that the intent of the motion was to recommend a clear direction to staff.
Black stated that the priority list would be useful because it was so close to the end of the biennium. He explained that an approved vote would support staff by reducing the priorities to a more manageable list and affirming the direction staff was taking.
Shaw agreed with the priorities but reiterated his belief that the motion would be constraining. He stated a concern about second-guessing or micromanaging staff. He noted that he would support a motion that simply concurred with the priorities listed.
Motion: Landt moved that the CIP priorities be the first four listed on the priorities list and that items five through eight be worked on if they did not detract from top priority projects. Lewis seconded.
The vote was 4 yes, 1 no (Shaw)
The motion passed.
Black relayed that internal work plans were not normally decided in this way; however, because of the finite period of time remaining in the biennium, it would help ensure good progress or completion of planned APRC projects.
Minica reported on the status of the projects as follows:
Oak Knoll Clubhouse Project
Clubhouse repairs were projected to cost $90,000. The project would be completed slightly under budget with final costs coming in at $89,434. There were some unforeseen costs, including a fire sprinkler that was found to be leaking water (then repaired) and ceiling deck lighting (added).
Garfield Park Summary
The budget for this project was $850,000, which was approved and issued as a bond. Vitus Construction was the low bidder coming in at $815,756.46. The scope of work includes a full splash pad replacement, hardscape improvements such as picnic areas, full volleyball concrete enclosure, full basketball court replacement including posts and backboards, three new shade shelters, sidewalk extension for enhanced pedestrian circulation and various landscape enhancements including irrigation.
Hunter Park Summary
Minica referred to a completed neighborhood survey, noting that people had expressed a desire for a new toddler playground for young children ages one through five. When Hunter Park becomes a priority, details will be reviewed by the Commissioners.
Second Dog Park Summary
An engineering survey has been completed and the plan has been presented to the Ashland Planning Department for approval. Construction is slated for spring 2017.
Grove Pioneer Summary
This project has been completed, allowing APRC to move the main office to a more centrally located area that better serves Ashland citizens.
Pool House Renovation Summary
This project has also been completed and includes new paint inside and out, a new roof, new insulation and new boiler. These repairs and upgrades will facilitate use year around.
Oak Knoll Cart Path Summary
McFarland stated that the paths have been engineered and roughed in. The completed pathways are now level and ready for asphalt.
North Mountain Culvert Project Summary
McFarland noted that the North Mountain Park Culvert project was 90% completed. The trail was reopened on September 20 and the structural work was in place, including an overflow channel engineered to hold large amounts of storm water runoff. Irrigation work was underway in preparation for the plantings to control erosion.
McFarland stated that the Bee City USA Subcommittee was considering a project in the area that could result in additional plantings.
Shaw commented that he had received commentary about the impressive quality of the work. McFarland noted that the environmental impacts were especially sensitive and that he was pleased to present a letter of acceptance from the geotechnical firm that provided the engineering.
SUBCOMMITTEE AND STAFF REPORTS
Black introduced the financial report prepared by the City of Ashland’s Finance Director each quarter. He stated that APRC ended fiscal year 2015/2016 under budget by 1.7%. He stated that he was pleased with the results given the demands upon the APRC Budget.
- Financial Update Q4 (Information)
Black presented an update of APRC goals, stating that it represented the progress made to date on APRC’s Strategic Plan.
- Goals Update (Information)
ITEMS FROM COMMISSIONERS
Gardiner opened up discussion regarding a change in the regularly scheduled time for APRC Study Sessions. He suggested changing the starting time from 7:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., noting that APRC staff normally finished the work day at 5:00 p.m. and were required to stay onsite for after-hours study sessions.
Landt stated that he personally preferred the 7:00 p.m. meeting time but recognized that the time would be more supportive of staff. He surmised that the public impact would be minimal as most public commentary was disseminated at the APRC monthly business meeting.
Landt suggested implementing the change as of January 2017. He proposed a one-year trial period with a review when the trial expired. Miller stated that there was a precedent set as the City Council and other agencies, which also met at 5:30 p.m. Lewis indicated a willingness to try the new timeframe. Gardiner agreed to bring the matter back to a Business Meeting for adoption.
Black announced that Trails and Open Space Supervisor Jeffrey McFarland was the winner of this year’s Outstanding Asset Management Award through Oregon Recreation and Parks Association (ORPA). He recognized Susan Dyssegard for her efforts to secure the nomination and said McFarland would receive the award at the annual ORPA Conference in November. Black stated that he was appreciative of his staff and their good work.
Shaw reported that he saw there was a police presence at Ashland Creek Park that morning. He asked if the police were there in response to the illegal campers in the area.
Black replied that the Ashland City Council had directed more resources toward the issue. He stated that an additional officer had been assigned to increase patrols at the City’s parks and other problematic areas. He indicated that the patrol would update the Commissioners on a regular basis about their activities.
There followed a brief discussion about ways to mitigate the impact of illegal camping on adjacent properties.
UPCOMING MEETING DATES
Study Session, October 17, 2016 @ The Grove 1195 E. Main Street -- 7:00 p.m. Regular Meeting, October 24, 2016 @ Council Chambers 1175 E. Main Street -- 7:00 p.m.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 8:46 p.m.
Betsy Manuel, Assistant
These 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 are available upon online.