ad hoc City Hall Advisory Committee
May 24, 2017
Civic Center, East Main Street, 1:30 p.m.
Committee Members: Boldt, Dichiro, Finklea, Kenefick, Kramer, Miller, Nickels, Pearce, Shaw
Staff: Fleury, Kathol, Morrison, O’Meara, Seltzer
Absent: Richards, Thalden
WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS: Dichiro called the meeting to order.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Changes to the May 10 meeting Minutes included:
• Page 1 - Kramer asked that Morrison’s report that digitized materials are stored on a hard drive and needed to be retained and stored in a climate-controlled environment add that Morrison agreed on questioning whether the storage could be off-site.
• Page 2 – after input from Boldt and Kramer, changed to “…the parapet walls were recommended to be tied off.”
• Page 2 – “Quartz” building was changed to Court building.
• Page 2 - Kramer asked that Morrison’s statement be changed to read “Morrison said that if we are doing a seismic retrofit, we should concurrently address all of the other identified building issues. According to Morrison, it would be cheaper to tear down the current City Hall and rebuild than to retrofit the current building.”
• Page 3 – Kramer asked that his statement be changed to: “Kramer said the if the building was owned by private money, the only financially viable option would be to retain the exterior walls and redevelop and rebuild from the inside out, including seismic and all new systems, and that option needed to be fully vetted. Kramer said that about 20% of the existing footprint currently appeared to be wasted or was being used inefficiently. He added that if the goal is to add 8 employees and there is 20% wasted space in the current plan, his belief was that we could accommodate needed growth within the existing building footprint through improved design.”
• Page 3 – The committee agreed to cut the sentence “We also want a building that is survivable”.
• Page 4 – Kenefick asked that the Minutes be changed to reflect: “Shaw’s point that the distance between the library and City Hall is the same as the distance from one end of the Rogue Valley Mall
to the other. Shaw pointed out that people should be encouraged to walk from parking places to the City Hall as they do at the Mall. Kenefick suggested that the committee keep these points in mind…..”
• Page 4 – Kenefick asked that “…one million” be changed to read “…one million dollars.”
MOTION by Kenefick, second by Pearce to approve as revised the Minutes of the May 10, 2017 ad hoc City Hall Advisory Committee meeting. Carried unanimously.
STAFF PRESENTATION: Public Works Superintendent Mike Morrison presented a Power Point of the Overview of the Civic Center. Morrison’s overview included a slide showing the footprint of the Civic Center facilities. The Service Center included:
• Public Works Water
• Public Works Streets
• Public Works Fleet
• Public Works Facilities
• Ashland Fiber Network (AFN)
Morrison reported that new in the past twenty years included:
• The Grove
• Bike Path
• Relocated the Fuel Island
• Enclosed Covered Storage
• Police Station Expansion
Morrison displayed a slide showing the Grass Area which is approximately 100 feet X 92 feet and has 73 parking spots surrounding it, which he said could get full on court days.
Morrison reported that the Civic Center houses:
• Council Chambers
• Municipal Court
• EOC (Emergency Operations Center)
• Other Commission Meetings
Morrison said it was questionable whether the Civic Center (built in 1984) could survive an earthquake. He also said a larger area was needed to house the EOC. Kenefick asked if expansion of the Police Department includes the EOC, and Police Chief O’Meara said that it does. O’Meara said that the Phase Two initial proposal proposed less square footage, but expanding the EOC and lobby would be about 1600 square feet and O’Meara said it made sense to maximize the amount of space to 2400 square feet that would house a more modern and more functional EOC. He added that we need a seismically sound building and that the Police Department is lacking a training facility. O’Meara said that the EOC has not been used for an emergency for twenty years since the Flood of 1997, but we need to be able to use it on a very regular basis. O’Meara clarified that the recommendation is to expand the EOC that is attached to the Police Station. The EOC space would go on the shared City space list. Meeting space was cut from the Phase One project and is lacking. Kramer added that it is a shared facility and the rest of the City would use the space frequently and it could be convertible for EOC use and for storage regularly. O’Meara said we could maximize the space going from 1600 to 2400 square feet. Kenefick stated that it is not Phase 2 of the Police Station but it is now an expansion of the EOC that is attached to the Police Station and that a bond would have to explain that to the public. Shaw did not think that any single ballot could have two questions for consideration in it, unless it was a general issue. Shaw added that we have the downtown City Hall and expansion of the facilities to consider, no new staff for the police department and it is the committee charge to include one million dollars in the bond. Dichiro added that a bond cannot be used to add staff. Kramer said that for Fire Station No 2 we had one bond for facilities. Kenefick added that the committee could look at approval of a general election bond for a series of projects.
Seltzer added that the Police Station was considered a top priority and that the Grove had been explored as a possibility for expansion, but it was considered cost prohibitive. Shaw asked if the Grove was restricted in any way and Seltzer said yes, that the Grove had been given to the Parks Department. Shaw said the current EOC is a temporary situation and we need a large useable area, plus space for training, and asked if the Grove could be used. Morrison said the EOC space needs to be in a pre-planned space for EOC use and the Grove does not have backup power.
TOUR OF CIVIC CENTER: Committee members and staff then toured the Civic Center with Public Works Superintendent, Mike Morrison and the Police Station with Police Chief Tighe O’Meara. The Civic Center tour included the Grass Area, Council Chambers, Jury Room/Closed Council Meeting Room, Storage
area for EOC and FEMA materials, and the Council TV Technician Room. It was noted that the Grass area had a comparable footprint to the current City Hall and the Council Chambers were not sufficient for EOC needs, had bad acoustics, temperature control issues and seismic concerns
The Police Station tour included Interview Rooms, Conference Room, Offices, Locker Room, Evidence Processing Area, Kitchen area, Processing Room for intoxicated drivers, Sergeant’s area, Dispatch System, Storage, Armory Room and Briefing/Meeting Room.
O’Meara did a presentation showing potential expansions and architectural drawings for the current facilities. The proposed Phase Two extends the current wall. Extending the wall to about eight feet shy of the curb line would substantially increase the size of the current space. O’Meara said we could not afford to lose parking spaces so there were plans for accommodating parking. Kramer asked O’Meara if the one million dollars was for all proposed improvements and O’Meara said yes. O’Meara said conduits for data support would be put in strategically and the ports of entry would have top notch security. Kenefick asked about putting a second story on the building but O’Meara said that was not in the Plan. O’Meara said the estimate for the improvements was $850, 000 to $1,000,000. He added that if employees had to relocate from City Hall during a renovation, Phase Two could be an option for temporary housing.
REPORT ON CITY HALL DEED: Pearce worked with Kathol to look at the City Hall Deed language. Pearce noted that it was a very general discussion of a complicated area of law and of a transaction that took place 133 years ago and that no legal opinions or conclusions were intended. The committee asked Pearce to give his background. Pearce was a real estate litigations and transactional attorney before semi-retiring. He still practices law and is on the City Planning Commission.
The legal description in the 1884 Deed from Helman to the Town of Ashland reads: “(That land) known on the official maps of said Town as the Plaza and bounded by Blocks One, Two, Three and the Ashland Flouring Mill lot.” Pearce noted that it is unclear whether Main Street was intended to be included in that legal description.
Pearce displayed an 1888 City map, including City blocks One, Two. Three and Ashland Mill Property,
superimposed on that survey. He then displayed a modern City map including current tax lots and an overly of the original Helman donation, superimposed on a 2017 tax lot map. Pearce noted that the 1879 and 1867 surveys on the City website are practically identical to the 1867 survey.
Helman owned the Ashland flour mill and saw mill. Earlier surveys back to at least 1867 all show 60’ wide Stage Road – which became Main Street – and the Plaza area on them. Earlier surveys also show a “Plaza” contiguous with that roadway. So, this area was a publicly used area – probably since the 1850s.
Pearce said that because there is reverter language in the deed that probably means it is some type of a “defeasible” estate. There are many variations of defeasible estates in Oregon. The common element is that the estate being conveyed can possibly be cut short by the happening of a specified future event.
In the Helman Deed, the language states “….the said following described land be used by the said corporation of the Town of Ashland for the purposes aforesaid” i.e., “to be used in common by the people of said town as a public Square or Plaza and also for the erection of a Town Hall and Jail therein”….”in case of the perversion of the land herein described from the purposes aforesaid ….the land hereinafter described shall revert to and again become vested in (Grantors) as though these presents had never been made”…
“To have and to hold the said premises upon the conditions aforesaid ….forever”
Pearce said that it is not 100 percent clear what type of reversion was intended, so it is also unclear whether the reversionary interest could be conveyed and willed or whether it would only run to heirs (if there are any out there). Certain types of reversions even are destroyed under current Oregon law if the grantor attempts to convey them, so this is all pretty speculative until the Council reaches a decision. For some recommendations the committee might make, it possibly affects a larger piece of property than just the City Hall. Depending on the Council’s final decision, the City Attorney might want to prosecute a quiet title or other legal action, but Pearce did not feel it was the committee’s job to address those legal questions. Kramer wondered if not having an active jail in the City Hall building would have triggered non-compliance with the deed language. Pearce said that “Plaza” and “Town Hall” cover a wide range of meanings and the fact that a jail was allowed did not necessarily require it to be built. Kenefick asked is the Chamber of Commerce a use in common? Pearce did not know.
Dichiro asked if any of the deed goes into Lithia Park and Pearce said a very tiny piece. The maps showing the deed legals (with disclaimer that it is unclear whether Main Street was included) and deed itself are posted on the committee web link. Pearce said that while this deed language could create some uncertainty for some possible alternatives, it is just something the committee should be aware of and not something we
need to address – that is the City Attorney’s job. Dichiro asked if this would preclude the committee from going further and Pearce said no, that there are ways the issues could be addressed by the City Attorney – depending on what decision was ultimately made by the City Council. Kathol has hired ACP Investigation
Inc. to track and find heirs, but so far none have been found. Kathol will bring further info to the committee if she receives it. Pearce said whether it would be in the best interest for the City to initiate some legal proceedings is a question for the City Attorney.
Boldt said the committee could say that they discussed the deed but have no conclusions drawn – no legal opinions.
FUTURE MEETINGS: For the June 7 Meeting, the committee can discuss the Lithia Parking Lot and the Elks Parking Lot and committee members were encouraged to visit both sites on their own. Dichiro felt all sites should be visited before any criteria could be developed and considered. The June 7 meeting is an opportunity for the committee to identify any additional information it might need.
Boldt said we needed to consider how do we get the equipment downtown if we re-do the current City Hall – businesses will not be happy with the disruption. The front lawn of Lithia Park could be used as a staging area, but it would be very disruptive.
Dichiro wanted to keep the discussion more objective and apply criteria against all of the various options. Fleury said we could take criteria and agree on the weighting of the criteria and apply it to all of the sites. We build the criteria and apply it to each location, resulting in the decision process the committee established. Dichiro added that we have to have objective criteria when we go out to the public with our findings. Kramer said that we have to have public palatability.
For June 7, the committee will discuss the Lithia and the Elks parking lots, refer back to Kathols’ presentation from the April 24 meeting, and then have a discussion about the sites. There will be a discussion on what additional information the committee needs, and construction staging logistics as it
applies to the sites seen so far. The committee did not want to begin building a criteria list until July. Pearce will chair the July 21 meeting, which will include a tour of Briscoe School.
Nickels wanted to consider the site for future committee meetings. Kenefick said he would ask the Methodist Church if the committee could use their meeting room and he would advise Seltzer.
Dichiro adjourned the meeting.
Shelly D. Hensarling