Agendas and Minutes

Parks & Recreation Commission (View All)

Parks Commission Regular Meeting

Minutes
Monday, December 19, 2016

City of Ashland
PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION
Regular Meeting 
Minutes 
December 19, 2016
 
 
Present:   Commissioners Gardiner, Landt, Lewis, Miller, Shaw; Director Black; Superintendent Dials; Interim Superintendent McFarland; Executive Assistant Dyssegard; Assistant Manuel
 
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—November 21, 2016
Motion: Shaw moved to approve the Study Session Minutes for November 21 as presented. Miller seconded.
The vote was all yes.
 
Regular Session—November 28, 2016
Motion: Landt moved to approve the Regular Meeting Minutes for November 28 as presented. Lewis seconded.
The vote was all yes.
 
PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
  • Open Forum
There was none.
 
ADDITIONS AND DELETIONS
Agenda Item SUBCOMMITTEE AND STAFF REPORTS was moved before UNFINISHED BUSINESS. 
 
SUBCOMMITTEE AND STAFF REPORTS
Ms. Kristina Lefever of 2359 Blue Sky Lane in Ashland was called forward.
 
Lefever presented prepared remarks highlighting her role as the current Chair of the Bee City USA Subcommittee. She thanked APRC for their support of the Bee City USA affiliation.  
 
Lefever noted that the program began in 2012 in North Carolina. Currently there were 36 Bee City USA affiliates across the country, including four in the Rogue Valley. She relayed that the Ashland Bee City USA Subcommittee had four members from the community as well as Parks Commissioner Mike Gardiner and Nature Center Manager Libby Van Wyhe, staff liaison. The open public meetings were held quarterly at North Mountain Park.
 
Activities and Accomplishments for 2016:
•  Bee City USA publications included several articles about honey bee swarms and pollinator gardens; preparations for a brochure were currently underway.
•  Presentations included topics such as Growing Pollinator Gardens and educational classes outlining pollinator-friendly landscaping practices and best practices.
•  An Ashland Approved Pollinator Garden program had been established within the City of Ashland, with 22 gardens receiving certification. Those qualifying received a decal to display, highlighting their achievement.
• The Bee City USA Subcommittee collaborated with APRC on a pollinator-friendly landscape design and plantings for the Rocky Top renovation adjacent to North Mountain Park.  
 
Goals for 2017
Goals for the Subcommittee included continued focus on creating pollinator-friendly landscapes and education regarding pollinators and their conservation. In addition, planned activities such as a tour of pollinator-friendly gardens and the development of a brochure would serve to support the goal for increased public awareness.      
 
Lefever thanked APRC for their ongoing support, stating that the Subcommittee looked forward to continued collaboration. As a sponsoring organization, APRC would receive an annual report detailing BCU accomplishments in 2016 along with budget information.   
 
Gardiner stated that a pollinator garden would be installed in planters in front of The Grove.
 
UNFINISHED BUSINESS 
There was none.
 
NEW BUSINESS
            a. Calle Guanajuato Amended Policy Approval (Action)
Dials reviewed the background that determined the need for policy amendments for leased space on the Calle Guanajuato. She recapped work completed to date toward this goal.
 
Dials noted that the Calle Guanajuato was considered an extension of Lithia Park. Rentable spaces were located along Ashland Creek, behind the buildings lining Ashland’s Plaza. The Calle season generally spanned mid-March through mid-November and the spaces were leased by restaurateurs for use as seasonal outdoor seating seven days a week and by the Lithia Artisans Market displaying and selling products on weekends.
 
Current fees were $7 per square foot for restaurants and $5 per square foot for artisans. Fees were based on direct costs related to the Calle Guanajuato. Periodic reviews had been conducted by APRC to ensure that fees to restaurants and artisans covered APRC costs associated with maintenance and administration. In the past, staff time and a limited number of other indirect costs were also included in the calculation while capital improvements to the space were not included in fees charged.
 
In 2015 staff was directed by the Commissioners to form a Subcommittee to review and make recommendations for needed amendments to the policy. This directive was in response to public commentary and concerns. The Subcommittee consisted of one restaurant owner with leased space on the Calle Guanajuato, one restaurant owner without space on the Calle and a representative from the Lithia Artisans Market. APRC was represented by Superintendent Dials, Director Black and Commissioners Mike Gardiner and Matt Miller.  
 
Controversial provisions in the policy included the location of each restaurant in relation to concession space, the seniority of location and the transferability of the space. The Subcommittee was unable to reach a consensus regarding those areas of controversy, but some clarifying language was recommended. Agreement was also reached regarding sharing space with one another and allowing artisans to remain in the Calle. The Subcommittee recommended that APRC consider an extension of the Market into the front lawn strip in Lithia Park.   
 
The amended policy was reviewed and discussed by the Commissioners at their November 21, 2016, Study Session. Staff was directed to include a number of changes to the policy as follows:
  1. Change the language regarding references to the Commission, or Commissioners within the policy
  2. Take out specific references to the $7/$5 charges per square foot
  3. Define the use of the word “alcove” as referenced within the policy
  4. Further define the priority criteria to include the Lithia Artisans Market
  5. Edit the document for clarity
The draft policy presented to the Commissioners for final review and adoption expanded definitions, added a requirement asking applicants to submit a simple site plan along with the request for space allocation, and changed the policy title to “Calle Guanajuato Commercial Use Policy.” A new section was recommended called “Accessory Regulations” for rules governing access to the Calle Guanajuato, defining ingress and egress for the space. The word “alcove” was replaced by the descriptive phrase “site location” and language defining criteria for setting the square footage fees was added. 
 
APRC disclosed commentary and input from the public related to changes in the fee schedule and criteria for setting the square footage fees. An email commentary from Lloyd Haines about the fee schedule was divulged. A letter and email was also noted from property owner Allan Sandler in which he outlined concerns about the policy in general. It was stated that Sandler requested his documents’ insertion into the public record.
 
Discussion among Commissioners
Gardiner summarized prior commentary from the Commissioners that had been detailed in the Study Session. He stated that due to continued controversy, formal adoption of the amended policy might be postponed. He suggested instead a tentative approval with final approval slated for January 2017. Landt agreed with the new timeline, commenting that there were a number of loose ends remaining. 
 
Lewis called for further discussion regarding the areas of controversy where a consensus was not reached such as the difference between sharing the space and the concept of transferability.  
 
Dials noted that sharing space happened when a restaurant allowed another restaurant to use their space for a period of time. For example, restaurants that were open during the morning hours might wish to share space with restaurants opening for lunch or dinner. Transferability, on the other hand, was similar to the sale of a commodity in that the vested interest or right to use the space changed hands. Miller explained that one of the issues caused by transferability was a forfeit of seniority. Sharing the space allowed use of the space without a loss of seniority rights. 
 
PUBLIC INPUT   
Allan Sandler of 750 A Street in Ashland was called forward.  
 
Sandler noted that he was the managing owner of the “Old Masonic” building and the newly constructed building between the Webster’s building and the Old Masonic building. The new building faced the Calle and did not have a presence on the Plaza. He stated that he had a number of concerns regarding the space available on the Calle Guanajuato.
 
Sandler indicated that in his opinion the property owner should have the first right to use space bordering the property line of the owner’s building. He specified that the space should be used exclusively by the property owner or his tenant. He talked about a buffer of 36” to 42” between the buildings and the pedestrian walkway along the Calle Guanajuato. Sandler proposed a zone of 36” to 42” between the buildings and the Calle Guanajuato property line, noting that the zone could provide a buffer and act as a pedestrian walkway. He stated that restaurant equipment or business accoutrements should not obstruct the buffer zone or the public walkways and open space.
 
Sandler also talked about seniority rights and priority consideration, highlighting the need for clarity and suggesting that the property owner rather than APRC determine the outcome. He described a detailed rationale for arriving at a market value per square foot, contrasting the differences in cost per square foot between the first and second floors and those buildings that faced the Plaza versus those buildings that faced the Calle Guanajuato and the differing costs for maintenance.    
 
Tom Dubois of 690 Mountain Avenue in Ashland was called forward. 
 
Dubois noted that he was a manager for Louie’s Restaurant. He stated that in his opinion market rates should not    be considered as criteria for lease rates for outdoor space along the Calle. He highlighted the APRC mission of cost recovery as a means of recovering expenses for operating activities where fees were collected.  Dubois suggested that a more appropriate comparison would be the City of Ashland’s charges for sidewalk dining. He stated that the rate was approximately 38 cents per square foot.
 
Dubois illustrated the narrow margins experienced by restaurateurs, noting that they were typically 5 cents on the dollar. He detailed challenges such as mandatory sick pay, minimum wage increases and other changes that further eroded restaurant profits.    
 
Thomas Beam of 21 Winburn Way in Ashland was called forward.   
 
Beam spoke in favor of expanding the space for artisans, stating that doing so could result in increased revenues and better use of space. He said it would also assist the police tasked with monitoring the entrance to the Park. He commented on the difficulties of determining market-based fees for space leased on the Calle Guanajuato. Beam raised questions about triggering an economic domino effect if the rents became too high. He suggested CPI-blended increases with a cap to better manage skyrocketing fees. He further recommended an independent appraisal to establish the initial market rate.     
 
Beam’s final recommendation was for the person or entity holding the leased space contract with APRC to become the party responsible for the fees. If the property owner wished to retain the rights to Calle space then a separate agreement with the lessee could assign responsibility.       
 
Marcus Scott of 1205 S. Talent Avenue in Talent was called forward.   
 
As manager of the Lithia Artisans Market, Scott represented approximately 92 micro-industries, artists and artisan-run businesses. He described the Lithia Artisans Market as sustainable economics, or grass roots capitalism. The Market facilitated the creation of family wage occupational opportunities for the artists and their families.
 
Scott stated that 40 to 50 artists typically displayed their wares seasonally on the Calle Guanajuato. He noted that at times, historically, the Market used up to 90% of the space on the Calle compared to its last current usage of 56%. Restaurants occupied the remaining space. Scott expressed empathy for restaurants without the ability to obtain space on the Calle Guanajuato but said the Artisans Market had to maintain its current space percentages. He introduced the concept of flex-space whereby restaurants could use space allotted to artisans Monday through Friday and artisans could use the same space on Saturdays and Sundays. This would allow for the sharing of underutilized or unutilized artisan space. 
 
Scott advocated for the expansion of rental spaces in front of Lithia Park. He noted that the artisans could create an attractive venue that would add value for all businesses along the Calle Guanajuato.            
 
Katrina Meister of 108 N First Street in Talent was called forward.
 
Meister, a fifth generation Oregonian and artist, talked about her successful business and the value of displaying her wares on the Calle Guanajuato. She described intangibles such as the colors and beauties of the displays and detailed the connectivity with local residents and visitors.  
 
Discussion among Commissioners
Shaw expressed concerns about commercial activity in Lithia Park. He stated that in his opinion, providing space at the entrance to the Park to artisans was a misuse of parkland. He suggested instead using creekside space parallel to the Calle Guanajuato. Dials replied that approximately two spaces could be accommodated in that area.       
 
Landt asked whether the front entrance grass and sidewalk was considered Lithia Park property. Black addressed the issue, stating that a uniform park strip on the street side of the sidewalk was usually considered part of the street right-of-way. He noted that the park strip for Lithia Park was not typical of that norm. He indicated that at times the street was considered part of the right-of-way and at times it was not.   
 
Landt referred to Parks policy that prohibited commercial activity in the Park, highlighting that permitting artisans to display and sell their wares in that area would be contrary to the policy.
 
Gardiner stated that the intent of a potential expansion into part of Lithia Park was to provide a solution to the lack of space for restaurants along the Calle Guanajuato. He noted that there were existing exceptions to the policy, and therefore the option to expand in that area should not be ruled out for consideration. Black commented that the policy could be amended if deemed necessary.  
 
Lewis noted other exceptions and suggested a focus on how best to expand use of the Calle. He advocated for the inclusion of the proposed front entrance area in any future discussions about expansion. 
 
Landt indicated that permitting artisans into the Park would be a radical change. He expressed an interest in feedback from Ashland residents regarding such a use of Lithia Park. Shaw stated that in his opinion, the public would most likely object to commercial use in that area.    
 
Lewis called for the identification of issues that would prevent approval of the draft policy. He noted that discussion about market value and cost recovery, changes to the fee structure and whether or not additional space should be developed for the Lithia Artisans Market could continue to be pursued at a later date while the Commissioners moved forward with an approval or tentative approval of the draft under consideration. He stated that in his opinion, changes to the fee schedule should become part of the annual discussion about fees and charges.   
 
Landt noted that ideas presented during public input and concepts identified by staff indicated that there were better ways to determine the fee structure. He stated that ideas expressed by property owner Lloyd Haines had merit. Landt suggested that rather than establishing market rates and increases based upon the Consumer Price Index, using an aggregate of local restaurant revenue data might reflect actual economic impacts on the ground. Once established, fees could be adjusted annually based on that assessment.     
 
Lewis advocated for a flexible fee schedule rather than incorporating a rate and fee structure into the Calle Guanajuato Commercial Use Policy. He questioned whether the establishment of an appropriate model and the corresponding fees should be included in the document or whether the language contained in the policy reading “shall review and adjust” was sufficient.     
 
There followed a brief discussion between Landt and Lewis regarding the uniqueness of an APRC fee structure that was 100% commercial. Cost recovery was also discussed in the context of the value of outdoor seating on the Calle Guanajuato. Lewis maintained that using a cost recovery model that did not include capital improvements was realistic and attainable. Landt cautioned against undervaluing the value of Calle Guanajuato space and the high cost of capital improvements.     
 
Dials noted in response to a question by Shaw that the Commissioners had set a goal of 100% cost recovery. She stated that a cursory review of the recovery of costs for the Calle Guanajuato was completed two years prior and came in at 115% of the cost of maintenance. With renewed scrutiny and a more comprehensive analysis, that figure would no longer be accurate.
 
Landt supported a specific mechanism for the establishment of fees, stating that a predictable standard would limit the impact for businesses on the Calle.   
 
Black recommended that the policy language be amended to state “The Commissioners shall review and may adjust the seasonal square foot rental rate on the Calle prior to February 28th each year.” He stated that doing so would allow the Commissioners to determine the criteria for a fee schedule or not on an annual basis.  Black emphasized that there were a number of ways to determine a fee schedule while allowing the amended draft to stand.        
 
Landt suggested continued research that would include a market-rate appraisal. He agreed that the amended policy could be approved. He proposed that the amended draft include the edits proposed by himself with the exception of references to APR Commissioners and a change to the Restaurant and Concession Fee Schedule that states the Commissioners “may adjust the seasonal square foot rental rate on the Calle prior to February 28th each year.”  All other language related to criteria for a fee schedule could be deleted.             
 
Motion: Landt moved to approve the draft with changes submitted by Commissioner Landt under the heading Restaurant and Concession Fee Schedule as edited. Miller seconded the motion.
 
Discussion
Landt asked whether the reference in the Fee Schedule describing the “standard season” as Memorial Day to Labor Day be deleted as well.  
 
There followed further discussion regarding dates that would define the season when the Calle Guanajuato was used as outdoor space. Black proposed language indicating that if no season was set by APRC, the standard season would revert to Memorial Day through Labor Day.
 
In response to a question by Shaw, Dials reported that property owner Allan Sandler had requested a three-foot buffer directly in front of his building. He also requested the right to decide the use for the property directly in front of the new business in that location. Dials noted that the policy had not yet been amended in response.      
 
Motion: Landt moved to approve the policy draft with changes previously submitted. The Restaurant and Concession Fee Schedule was further edited as discussed. Language was amended to note that if the Commissioners did not specify a period of operation, the Calle Guanajuato season would span Memorial Day through Labor Day. Miller seconded the motion.
The vote was all yes.

Black reviewed the substantive changes as follows:
 
General Provisions
“An application shall be filed with APRC by the restaurants who wish for a restaurant permit on the Calle.” The change was that it was a non-refundable application, although no application fee had been set.
 
 Restaurant and Concession Fee Schedule
“Commissioners shall review and may adjust the seasonal square footage rental rate prior to February 28th each year and in so doing will take the following criteria into account” was changed to “Commissioners shall review and may adjust the seasonal square footage rental rate prior to February 28th each year”. The criteria were deleted.
 
Operating Season
Language was added that stated that lacking a decision by the Commissioners to define the dates of the Calle season, the default would become from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
 
Gardiner called for direction regarding the option for extending the Calle Guanajuato to include the area in front of the entrance to Lithia Park. Landt stated that he would be open to exploring the option. Miller expressed hope that a way to expand the Calle Guanajuato could be found and said the front entrance option was worth exploring. Lewis stated that while he was not an advocate for expansion, he wanted to be a part of the discussion.      
 
Regarding the determination of market value or utilization of a cost recovery model, the consensus was that obtaining an appraisal could be postponed until staff could present more comprehensive cost recovery figures. 
 
  • 2017 Meeting Calendar  (Action)
Dyssegard introduced the meeting calendar, noting that each December the Commissioners reviewed their annual meeting dates for the upcoming year. She reviewed the proposed calendar stating that Study Sessions were normally scheduled on the third Monday of each month, with the fourth Monday reserved for Regular Business Meetings.  In January and February of 2017, Study Sessions were proposed for one week earlier to accommodate City-recognized national holidays on third Mondays.
 
Dyssegard highlighted the previous choice of the Commissioners to hold one meeting in December rather than two to accommodate busy holiday schedules. She suggested a similar schedule for 2017.

Motion: Landt moved to approve the 2017 meeting schedule as presented. Miller seconded.
The vote was all yes.
  • CUFR Review and Approval (Action)
Black noted that APRC was audited annually to ensure financial performance that supported APRC guidelines and goals. He stated that there were no outstanding issues or recommendations for any changes for the 2016 audit report.
 
Black highlighted corrections and changes caused by legislative changes. He stated that the net position between fiscal year 2015 and 2016 was substantially different due to direction from the State of Oregon to report net pensions as liabilities. Black explained that a decision by the Oregon Supreme Court mandated disclosure of the projected long-term contribution effort for pension liabilities.  
 
Black also explained a recording error in the number of FTEs budgeted for 2016. He noted that a temporary employee line item was inadvertently combined, resulting in a total FTE count of 48 employees. The 2016 budget approved 44.8 employees. APRC had not exceeded the authorized 44.8 FTE threshold.     
 
A letter of position would be clarified to accurately reflect duties that were reported as an organizational responsibility when it was actually the responsibility of the Commissioners only.
 
Landt requested clarification of the differences between beginning fund balances and the fund distributions.
Black noted that he would ask Ashland’s Finance Director to respond.   
 
Motion: Landt moved to approve the CUFR document with the changes listed. Shaw seconded.
The vote was all yes.
 
ITEMS FROM COMMISSIONERS
  • Shaw Term Expiration
Shaw stated that he enjoyed his four years as a member of the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission. He voiced his appreciation for the work completed by the Commissioners and staff and the work still underway, stating that it was an indicator of a successful organization. Shaw relayed that he was proud to have been part of the accomplishments that contributed to the quality of life in Ashland. 
 
Gardiner noted that Shaw was primarily responsible for a change in Parks policy regarding dogs in Ashland’s parks. Leashed dogs were now permitted in all but two of the parks and within all trail areas managed by APRC. 
 
Lewis and Landt were appreciative of the perspective brought by Shaw, a perspective that provided food for thought. Miller highlighted the straightforward comments and clear responses Shaw had provided that assisted the Commissioners in their decision-making. 
  • Editorial Contributions
Gardiner relayed that he had contacted the Ashland Daily Tidings newspaper to see if they would be interested in a monthly article presented by the Commissioners. He stated that he envisioned articles similar to those submitted by Ashland City Council in a monthly column called “Council Corner.” He stated that the Tidings welcomed his idea. 
 
Gardiner explained that if the Commissioners were interested, each Commissioner would be required to write two articles per year. Topics would revolve around APRC and could be informational or political, depending upon the individual Commissioner.   
 
Gardiner spoke about the opportunity to further communicate with Ashland citizens, noting the importance of doing so. Miller agreed and stated that the column would increase awareness of APRC and its elected Commissioners. 
 
Landt called for further details – such as the length of the articles and number of words required. He asked whether the articles would reflect the opinions of individual Commissioners or APRC positions. Gardiner replied that further discussion was warranted to decide the process. 
 
Shaw suggested that APRC staff could assist the Commissioners with editing and perspective if appropriate. He stated that the Ashland City Council wrote from the standpoint of the individual Councilor. As an elected official, the citizens of Ashland had a vested interest in each individual Commissioners’ viewpoint.             
 
Gardiner stated that he would contact the Tidings with the commitment, find out about expectations regarding length and other deadlines. He related that he would like to begin the process in January 2017.    
  • Outstanding Financial Reporting Award
Black announced that APRC had received its 27th consecutive award for Excellence in Financial Reporting. 
  • Staff Retirement
Dials reported that Linda Chesney, coordinator for the North Mountain Park Nature Center, would retire at year’s end. A drop-in retirement party was planned at the Nature Center for Wednesday, December 28, 2016, from 12:00-3:00 p.m. She invited those present to attend.
  
UPCOMING MEETING DATES                                               
Study Session—January 9, 2017 @ The Grove 1195 E. Main Street—5:30 p.m. [later cancelled]

Regular Meeting—January 23, 2017 @ Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street—7:00 p.m.

ADJOURNMENT 
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 9:15 p.m. 
    
Respectfully submitted,
 
 
Betsy Manuel, Assistant

 
The Minutes are not a verbatim record.  The narrative has been condensed and paraphrased to reflect the discussions and decisions made. Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission Study Sessions and Regular meetings are being digitally recorded and are available upon request. 

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