City of Ashland
PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION
October 17, 2016
Present: Commissioners Gardiner, Landt, Lewis, Miller, Shaw; Superintendents Dickens and Dials; Executive Assistant Dyssegard; Assistant Manuel
Absent: Director Black; 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
John Maurer of 1085 Elkader St. Ashland was called forward.
Maurer commented that he had lived in the City of Ashland for forty years. His children were raised in Ashland and he often shuttled his granddaughter to the YMCA for afterschool care. Maurer expressed a concern about the safety of children participating in YMCA programs – specifically when the children were at play in the YMCA Park. He stated that there were a large number of children in the park who were vulnerable to adverse interactions with packs of dogs running unattended in the area. In addition, there were “travelers with means” who seemed to be camping in the parking lot adjacent to the property.
Maurer said concerns included confrontations with campers culminating in a recent incident between a YMCA staff member and a camper threatening harm with a knife. Other examples included verbal abuse toward campers and staff. Ashland police citations had not proven effective toward preventing unwelcome behavior. Maurer acknowledged that the problem was not confined to the YMCA Park and efforts to find solutions citywide were underway. As a YMCA Board member, he focused his attention on the YMCA parking lot because of the large number of children and YMCA staff at risk.
Maurer said the parking lot was owned by APRC and he previously spoke with Director Black about ways to maintain control of the area. He noted Black’s suggestion for the YMCA to possibly lease the parking lot from APRC, a suggestion supported by Maurer. He stated that a lease would allow the Y to control the parking lot as private property, thereby restricting illicit parking by towing vehicles in violation of the no camping ordinance.
Maurer asked the Commissioners to consider a lease option with the YMCA sooner rather than later. He explained that the coming winter might not deter people from camping. He thanked the Commissioners for their time.
SUBCOMMITTEE CREATION DISCUSSION: Senior Center and Lithia Park Master Plan
Chair Gardiner relayed a plan to create two new APRC Subcommittees as follows:
A query by Gardiner, answered by Dials, indicated that a draft Request for Proposal (RFP) was in process. Members of the Subcommittee would act as advisors in choosing a consultant to guide the Master Plan process.
Gardiner stated that he would appoint Commissioners Landt and Miller to act as representatives for the Subcommittee. The appointments would expedite the process so the project could move forward. In deference to the Commissioners, he called for comment and/or a roll call vote to confirm the appointments. It was decided by consensus that the appointments would stand without further action.
- Senior Center Advisory Subcommittee
Gardiner referred to APRC goals, noting biennium objectives to review all APRC programs and activities beginning with the APRC Senior Center. He stated that there was no formal process to conduct a review and per Performance Audit recommendations, a Senior Center Advisory Subcommittee would be established to perform that function. The outcome would be to determine best practices and ensure that resources were utilized efficiently. Public outreach to identify all seniors who could benefit from the services offered by the Senior Center was one desirable outcome. The data would assist APRC in creating goals and objectives to implement the findings.
Gardiner proposed that he and Commissioner Lewis be appointed to serve as members of the Senior Center Advisory Subcommittee. Both subcommittee appointments would be announced at the Regular Meeting on October 24, 2016.
ICE RINK CONCESSIONS DISCUSSION
Dials reported that the Recreation Division had advertised for a concessionaire to offer food and beverages at the ice rink. The RFP generated interest but no proposals prior to closure of the posting on October 13, 2016. Dials stated that a conditional use permit (CUP) was needed should APRC employ a commercial concessionaire. She noted that APRC intended to apply for the permit so it would be in place if a future need arose. In the meantime, staff would continue providing coffee, hot cocoa and snacks for purchase at the rink.
Lewis suggested that the permit include food and beverage vendors who rented space in the Ashland Community Center and Pioneer Hall.
Landt questioned the timing for a CUP, noting that it would typically be in place prior to advertising a request for proposal. Dials agreed, stating that a CUP should have been completed when the ice rink opened to the public in 1996. She stated that beverages and snacks for purchase had been provided by staff since its inception without a permit in place. Lewis commented that when APRC owned the building adjacent to the ice rink, the space was properly permitted for food and beverages.
Landt asked whether there was room on site to offer beverages without encroaching onto the parking lot. Dials assured the Commissioners that there was sufficient space on site.
In response to a question by Shaw, Dials noted that the rink would open November 16, 2016, with the grand opening “First Frost” celebration held on Saturday, November 19.
BEE CITY USE REQUEST
Dials welcome Kristina Lefever, Chair of the Bee City USA Subcommittee, and stated that the Commissioners had received copies of a letter from the Subcommittee. Lefever was present to provide additional background regarding the request contained in the letter. Dials explained that the Subcommittee was asking for a document from APRC that would detail APRC good pollinator practices.
Lefever complimented APRC for their pesticide and herbicide management. She stated that the purpose for the request was to disseminate APRC’s best practices to the general public. The Subcommittee’s goal was to help others understand and emulate APRC’s pesticide and herbicide management program. Lefever also advised a review of the principles contained in the letter to ensure that APRC has done everything possible to protect pollinators.
Dickens replied that APRC’s first response confirmed that the Integrated Pest Management policy (IPM) adopted by APRC was comprehensive and inclusive. He asked for clarification about guidelines provided in the letter and whether they were a factor in achieving a Bee City USA designation. He referred to guidelines provided to Cities for qualification as a Tree City USA participant. Lefever replied that the letter was a compilation of ideas and best practices gathered from Subcommittee members. She stated that in her opinion, other cities might differ in their practices.
Dickens highlighted mandates for weed abatement, fire restriction and other constraints in designated wilderness areas that directed policy and APRC pesticide and herbicide practices. He affirmed that APRC met the overarching mandate stated in the letter to “consider the impact of all pesticide use and follow practices to mitigate the impact on pollinators, choosing the least toxic methods and practices available.”*
After review of some of the tenets contained in the letter, Dickens noted that there were few if any updates needed to update APRC’s IPM.
Shaw advocated for a discussion between the Bee City USA Subcommittee and staff to determine whether any changes to the IPM were needed. He stated that the Commissioners would review any proposed changes once they were identified and vetted. Landt agreed, adding that scientific documentation by respected studies would assist APRC in making decisions to update the IPM. He stated that the APRC’s goal was to manage Parks properties in a way that supports pollinators by reducing herbicide use and other harmful elements that impact the natural environment. Landt highlighted the proactive stance taken by APRC as stewards of Ashland’s Parks and wilderness. For example, a strict protocol for preserving the night sky has been in place for eighteen years.
There followed a brief discussion about the documentation that would be needed to assess potential changes to the IPM. Lewis indicated that as with all things, a balance in the application of environmental practices was important. He noted, for example, that not all pollinator plants were appropriate for every type of landscaping.
Gardiner stated that his intention was to inform the Commissioners about the provisions in the letter. He stated that the larger discussion would be how to best inform the public about these practices. Lewis suggested additional outreach and educational opportunities sponsored by the Subcommittee. He recommended reaching out to the Grange, local nurseries, schools and other entities. Shaw suggested involving the Garden Club.
Lefever stated that the Subcommittee would welcome a chance to talk with staff. She agreed to provide documentation for the practices outlined in the Subcommittee’s letter.
Dials noted that Parks Division staff would attend the next regularly scheduled Bee City USA meeting.
- Tennis Court Repair Options
Dickens reported on research that detailed various types of repairs or refurbishments for tennis courts. Cost estimates would be gathered for treatments ranging from plugging existing cracks in court surfaces to complete overhauls from the ground up. He talked about the levels of repair and the length of times that correspond with each level. Dickens explained that the options were numerous from quick fixes such as filling cracks, to different types of overlays, to the most permanent method known called a post-tension concrete surface. While this was the most expensive option (at roughly $80,000 per court), the anticipated life of a court built with the post-tension surface ranged from 50 to 80 years.
Discussion among Commissioners
Lewis suggested a graph that would take into account short-term to long-term fixes as well as the life span of each fix and costs involved.
Shaw noted that such a graph would help APRC determine whether two interim fixes would be more cost effective than one post-tension concrete fix. Dickens noted a difference in quality standards between the fixes. He explained that post-tension concrete was used to build bridges and parking structures – attesting to its strength and versatility. A multi-use court completed with that technique could withstand strains that come with more intensive games such as bike polo.
Gardiner stated that he was taken aback by the condition of the courts at Hunter Park. He stated that intensive repairs were completed ten to twelve years ago and yet the surfaces had not remained in good condition.
Shaw stated that filling the cracks was helpful as a stop-gap measure. Dickens agreed, noting that keeping water from damaging the slab underneath was a priority. He explained that a multiuse court could be utilized creatively.
Landt advocated maximizing the number of functions from each element for increased infrastructure efficiency as well as versatility.
Bear Creek Festival
Dials reported that the annual Bear Creek Festival was attended by approximately 500 people on Saturday, October 1. The popular event was successful because of the efforts of Nature Center staff members Linda Chesney, Libby VanWyhe, Brigitte Cooke and their many volunteers.
As an aside, Dials announced that Linda Chesney would retire at the end of the year.
Dyssegard announced that the Enders book depicting the history of Lithia Park was in the final stages of preparation and the book would be sent to the printer soon. In response to a question by Landt, Dyssegard noted that each Commissioner would receive a copy.
Dials announced that the Calle Guanajuato Marketplace was set to close for the season on November 13, 2016.
Shaw reported that he often used restroom facilities at Ashland Creek Park in the early morning and it seemed that one of the two was often closed. He questioned whether it was in use by campers in the area.
There followed a discussion about ways to solve the dilemma associated illicit camping in APRC Parks. It was determined that Ashland police would be contacted for advice as to the most effective way to address the issue.
The Regular Meeting will be held on October 24, 2016, beginning at 6:30 p.m. for an Executive Session.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 8:00 p.m.
Betsy Manuel, Assistant
* Copies of the Bee City USA letter are available at the Parks office
These Minutes are not a verbatim record. The narrative has been summarized to reflect the discussions made. Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission Study Sessions, Special Meetings and Regular Meetings are digitally recorded and available upon request.