City of Ashland
PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION
December 17, 2001
Present: Commissioners Eggers, Jones, Landt, Lewis; Councilor Don Laws; Director Ken Mickelsen
Absent: Commissioner MacGraw
CALL TO ORDER
Chair Landt called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. at the Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Regular Meeting – November 26, 2001
The vote was: 4 yes – 0 no
Presentation on Water Quality Options for the Upper Duck Pond
Chair Landt moved this item to "Unfinished Business."
Dennis Mead-Shikaly (811 Iowa Street) was present to speak regarding smoking regulations at the Skateboard Park. Mr. Mead-Shikaly, together with his young sons, is a frequent visitor to the Skateboard Park. Concerned about his sons' well-being, he asked for clarification on whether 'No Smoking' signage will be posted and on how the regulation will be enforced. He noted that smoking violations seem to be most prevalent between 3 and 5 p.m. (after school) and suggested that an officer could periodically swing by the Skateboard Park during that time period. Mr. Mead-Shikaly also inquired about the possibility of a citizens committee of concerned parents that could function during the wintertime in the absence police officers.
Director Mickelsen confirmed that 'No Smoking' signage is being created and will be posted very shortly. He went on to explain that a Park Patrol person is assigned to the Skateboard Park in the summer to enforce all rules and regulations. During the winter, enforcement is dependent up on police officers driving by the Skateboard Park. Director Mickelsen indicated that he would relay Mr. Mead-Shikaly's concerns and '3-5 p.m.' suggestion to the Community Service Police Officer.
Councilor Laws suggested Mr. Mead-Shikaly contact the police chief to see what his suggestions were for citizens interested in helping in the absence of police officers.
ADDITIONS OR DELETIONS TO THE AGENDA
As noted above, "Presentation on Water Quality Options for the Upper Duck Pond" was moved from Public Participation to Unfinished Business.
Presentation on Water Quality Options for the Upper Duck Pond
Introducing the topic, Director Mickelsen said that the Commission has been working to provide higher water quality in both the Upper and Lower Duck Ponds. With water quality improvement in the lower duck pond well on its way, the focus has shifted to the Upper Duck Pond. He noted that volunteer Paul Kay has been working with the Department to investigate alternatives. Of the five alternatives, Mr. Kay's preference is the "Lake Restorer" option. Director Mickelsen noted that the Department's engineering consulting firm, URS, had looked into the pros and cons of the "Lake Restorer" option and had prepared a report, copies of which had been furnished to Commissioners. Director Mickelsen also reported that the company that makes the "Lake Restorer" had offered to provide a preliminary design specific to the Upper Duck Pond for $5000.
Paul Kay began his presentation by quoting Councilor Laws on a previous topic: "...we'd like to be on the cutting edge, but we've never tried to be on the bleeding edge. I don't think we want to spend a lot of money on it until we see the possibilities." Mr. Kay explained that although he did have a favored approach (the Lake Restorer), he didn't feel there was currently agreement and confidence about a treatment method. Therefore, he did not feel that a treatment method should be selected at this time. He noted that it takes some time to build confidence with cutting edge techniques. He reviewed some concepts of a complex ecology and expressed his support for demonstrating these kinds of principles "in a public park in a beautiful way." He recommended spending more time investigating options, stating "I know we can save money and feel much more confident about where we're going."
Commissioner Eggers noted her "strong preference to do this with as natural a system as possible on site." She would like to authorize the $5000 to "go the next step for the further study." She also suggested an incremental approach to the URS suggestions - perhaps starting with aerating the water and seeing what happens, and so on. She would like to see scenarios with costs attached in order to be able to compare those costs to the costs of a natural system such as the Lake Restorer.
Commissioner Jones inquired about the 'Aquacube' option. Mr. Kay outlined some of the specifics of the Aquacube and explained that successful use would likely require prior draining and dredging of the pond.
Director Mickelsen expressed Staff reservations about the Lake Restorer method. One area of concern is the dramatic range expressed in the price estimate: $50,000 - $150,000.
Another area of concern is removing the solids (duck waste) from the pond. Although opinions differ as to whether solids removal would be necessary for the various options, Staff had obtained a preliminary cost estimate of $12,000-$13,000 for draining and dredging the Upper Duck Pond. This estimate includes having the solids pumped out, disposal of the solids at a septic-tank facility in Grants Pass, and disposal of the pond water to the sewage treatment plant. Identifying other, more local alternatives for disposal of the solids could dramatically reduce the cost. In relation to the daphnia problem, the DEQ had suggested that sending the pond water through a sand filter should rectify the problem. Director Mickelsen explained that if the Commission did want to drain and dredge, it made sense to do this during the winter so that the pond could be refilled using water from the winter flow of Ashland Creek. Staff also recommends aeration for the Upper Duck Pond. Director Mickelsen pointed out that budget constraints for some of the more expensive options could take more than one budget year to fund. A more timely alternative might be to spend approximately $25,000 to both (1) drain and dredge the Upper Duck Pond and (2) install or re-create an aeration feature, such as the old waterfall. Director Mickelsen concluded by stating that Staff would like to make two improvements to the pond, regardless of which "water quality" option the Commission ultimately chooses. The improvements are recreating the old waterfall and changing the island to a wetland. It is anticipated that both improvements could be done entirely in-house. If the Commission agrees, the wetland plan should be implemented in conjunction with draining the pond.
Commissioner Landt expressed his interest in systems that mimic nature as closely as possible. He "is hoping that the solution we come up with will look at unintended consequences." He felt that spending the $5,000 to get a preliminary draft plan on the Lake Restorer would be premature and questioned whether the Commission was "ready for any solution at this time." He wants both to "make sure we're moving in the right direction" and to "do this in a timeframe that allows us to have some sort of at least temporary resolution by summertime."
Commissioner Lewis suggested looking more closely at the Lake Restorer and at the Aquacube in the next month, trying especially to get a handle on costs--without getting the $5000 preliminary design from the company that makes the "Lake Restorer." Commissioner Lewis advocates narrowing down the options and looking at them closer. Total costs should be looked at, in his view, as well as benefits. He would prefer a natural system if at all possible but cost is a significant factor to him.
Commissioner Jones explained that she really likes the Lake Restorer concept, but has strong reservations about spending so much money for such a small pond when there are other possibilities. She is interested in additional information on the more cost-effective Aquacube. Commissioner Jones also advocated taking some steps now, adding that summer will soon be here. She suggested restoring the cascade already in place at the Upper Duck Pond. Within the next two months, she also would like to see some design ideas for changing the island. She suggested the Commission might also try the Aquacube for a few months in the Lower Pond to see how it works as far as water quality. She expressed her strong desire to take some action on this long-standing problem.
Commissioner Eggers would also like to perhaps try the Aquacube in lower duck pond and hopefully learn enough to extrapolate the results to the Upper Duck Pond. She agreed with Commissioner Jones in that she "would like to see this happen as soon as possible," but feels an important qualification is "as soon as possible, given that we're thinking long-term."
After more discussion, two subcommittees were formed.
The first, a subcommittee consisting of Commissioners Lewis and Eggers will work (1) to find out what can be done by summer--either 'stop-gap' or long-term solutions, and (2) to bring back more information on fewer options, namely the Lake Restorer, the Aquacube, and 'drain & dredge,' as well as "any other option that comes up that is consistent with the ones that we are looking at." In addition, this subcommittee will investigate three 'components:' constructed wetlands, cascade (for aeration), and 'drain & dredge.'
The second subcommittee will have Commissioner Jones working with Paul Kay on grant-writing for the Upper Duck Pond.
After some discussion, it was generally agreed that the Commission likely had all the information it could get on the Lake Restorer without moving to the $5000 preliminary design step. With that in mind, the subcommittee would focus on getting more information on the remaining options and 'components.'
NEW BUSINESS - None
SUB-COMMITTEE and STAFF REPORTS
UPDATE ON 2001 COMMISSION GOALS
Director Mickelsen briefly discussed the two major goals the Commission had set for 2001: Improved water quality in both the Upper and Lower Duck Ponds, and the update of the Open Space Plan.
Water quality in the lower pond is much improved, and as discussed tonight, the Commission is working toward a solution for the Upper Duck Pond.
The Commission goal for the Open Space Plan was to have the Plan updated by June 2002. Two Open Space Plan Community Meetings have been held and the Commission appears to be on track for the update.
LAND PARTITION ON CLINE/BRYANT PROPERTY
Director Mickelsen reported that the City had drawn up a land partition dividing the Cline/Bryant property in order for the City to move forward with selling the second house. Director Mickelsen explained that either the City or the Park could maintain the pedestrian/vehicular access easement. If the Park chose to be the body granting (and maintaining) the easement, the Park would gain an additional three feet for parkland.
Commissioner Landt proposed "that we do a conceptual design for the entryway to our park from North Main and the rest of the park with the focus being on the entryway and transportation and flow on the entire park site." He would like to see it done "right away."
LAND PARTITION ON CLINE/BRYANT PROPERTY, CONT.
Commissioner Landt also detailed a list of things he thought should be done to prepare the property for sale. Those preparations are not under Park jurisdiction but rather would be done at the discretion of the City since the property has not yet been dedicated as park land.
Commissioner Jones stated her strong objection to delaying this project further.
MOTION Referencing the preliminary survey for the land partition on the Cline/Bryant Property, Commissioner Landt proposed hiring a landscape architect to "look at the vehicular/pedestrian access within this triangular area that we've been discussing and how it would connect to the rest of the park and that we hire someone who is able to come back at our February meeting with a proposal in order that a new survey be done in order that we can be on the market with this in March or April." Commissioner Eggers seconded.
Commissioner Jones reiterated her objection to delaying this project further. She stated her belief that this proposal was an unnecessary step before releasing the parcel to go on the market. She went on to state her confidence in what Staff had done with other park entryways.
The vote was: 3 yes - 1 no (Jones)
A subcommittee of Commissioners Lewis & Landt was established to "work on this with Staff."
MOTION Commissioner Landt proposed that Staff write the following resolution to the City Administrator: "For the property that we are planning to sell from our North Main/Scenic property, that the demolition of the house on North Main, the cleanup around the buildings, the removal of the doug fir tree, be accomplished in such a time that it's ready for sale by March of the year 2002 and that the City consider some sort of protection measures for the existing Bay Laurel tree on the site." Commissioner Lewis seconded.
The vote was: 4 yes - 0 no
ITEMS FROM COMMISSIONERS - None
UPCOMING MEETING DATE(S) and PROPOSED AGENDA ITEMS
Upcoming Meeting Dates
Agenda Items for January
ADJOURNMENT – By consensus, with no further business, Chair Landt adjourned the meeting.
Respectfully submitted, Robyn Hafner, Department Secretary, Ashland Parks and Recreation Department