City of Ashland
PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION
June 24, 2002
Present: Commissioners Eggers, Jones, Landt, Lewis, MacGraw; Councilor Don Laws; Director Ken Mickelsen
CALL TO ORDER
Chair Landt called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. at Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Regular Meeting – May 20, 2002 In the "Subcommittee and Staff Reports" item Maintenance of School Grounds, Commissioner Eggers asked to add the word "City" before the words "Budget Committee" to the sentence beginning "Director Mickelsen reported that the Budget Committee had added $205,000 to the budget…". Commissioner Eggers moved to approve the minutes as amended. Commissioner Jones seconded.
The vote was: 4 yes – 1 abstain (Lewis)
Special Meeting – June 5, 2002 In the first paragraph of the "Discussion among Commissioners" section of the Water Quality at Lower Duck Pond item, Commissioner Eggers asked to add "and the modified lake restorer took into account a greater complexity of water quality issues" to the end of the first sentence. Commissioner Landt moved to approve the minutes as amended. Commissioner Eggers seconded.
The vote was: 5 yes – 0 no
Open Forum - none
ADDITIONS OR DELETIONS TO THE AGENDA - None
APPROVAL OF ASHLAND SCHOOL DISTRICT MAINTENANCE AGREEMENT
Director Mickelsen indicated that Parks and the Ashland School District have been working to formalize the maintenance agreement. The preliminary draft had been presented previously to both the Commission and the School Board. The draft had been reviewed and minor changes were made by each body. Director Mickelsen briefly summarized the changes and explained that Staff was looking to the Commission for a motion authorizing the Department to enter into the agreement.
Verland Beard (8007 Dead Indian Memorial Road) expressed his objection to the Parks Department’s one year maintenance of school grounds for $205,000 when the School District has been spending only $115,000 per year. Citing the $90,000 difference, Mr. Beard said, "I think a little bit of your priority should go to the taxpayers." He suggested that the School District put the maintenance out for bid, saying "I’m sure there’s lots of general contractors out there with a lawnmower that could take care of the swings and the playground equipment and still mow the lawns for a lot less than $205,000--and probably less than $115,000." Alternatively, he suggested that the School District consider partnering with youth or college organizations such as the Future Business Leaders, who might be willing to take on the maintenance for a much lower rate—say $50,000--in lieu of some of their more traditional fundraisers like car washes.
Councilor Laws explained that the decision to take on this work was made not by the Parks Commission, but rather by the citizen’s Budget Committee. To clarify, Councilor Laws also explained that the $115,000/yr outlay by the School District reflected the fact that for some time, due to financial constraints, the District has been letting some of its areas gradually deteriorate. Consequently, those areas are no longer useable. Having the Parks Department take over the maintenance and allocating the $205,000 to maintain the facilities as they should be maintained, he said, "was an effort on the part of the Budget Committee and the Council to make these areas available for useful use by the general public as well as by the schools." Councilor Laws concluded by noting that complaints about the agreement should be addressed to the City Council, and not to the Parks Commission.
Commissioner Landt added that the cost to properly maintain these public lands so that they can continue to be used is far less expensive than buying, developing, and maintaining more property for another ballfield elsewhere. He said, "I support it as good use of our taxpayers’ money."
Commissioner Eggers pointed out that this is a contract for one year only and if this arrangement is to be continued past one year, "that will take a whole reconsideration."
Discussion among Commissioners
Commissioner Landt cited two concerns he had about the agreement. His stated his first concern as inclusion of "landscape only" areas (1.8 Central Administration Office, 1.9 Willow Wind Community Learning Center) saying, "it really doesn’t fit with our overall agreement which is to provide more useful recreation areas for citizens." His second concern had to do with the scheduling of school grounds for community use. He said, "I would prefer to see the Parks and Recreation Department do the scheduling for non-school events," (rather than the School District, as is the current practice and as the agreement is currently structured).
Speaking to the Agreement’s inclusion of the two "landscape only" areas, Councilor Laws said, "the idea is to protect the recreational areas and the open space for the whole community." These two areas, he felt, fall under open space. Councilor Laws also pointed out the impracticalities of dividing the maintenance functions on an area basis between Parks and the School District at this point.
Commissioner MacGraw said that, as the Commission discussed at its June 5 Special Meeting on this topic, the intent of the agreement is not exclusive to recreational opportunities--it is both to ‘help the school district’ by protecting the landscaping investment and to ‘provide more recreational opportunities for the community.’
Commissioner Landt agreed to drop his proposal to delete or change the section including "landscape only" areas.
Speaking to which agency would be best suited to schedule the facilities, Director Mickelsen said that either way could work. He noted that "it has been working very well the way it is now structured" and suggested that if the Commission felt strongly that Parks do the scheduling, that more time be spent talking with the School District about the impact of such a change. He also noted that, for scheduling purposes, the District is more familiar with District facilities than is Park Staff.
Suggesting that such a change would "bring up more problems than would be necessary," Commissioner MacGraw expressed her support for the District continuing to maintain scheduling.
Commissioner Eggers said, "I’m happy to see this decision made at the Staff level."
Pursuant to "expanding use by the community to the maximum amount feasible," Commissioner Lewis inquired as to what benefit Commissioner Landt expected from his proposed change.
In reply, Commissioner Landt said, "There’s actually a couple of things. The other piece that I had that I haven’t brought up yet is I see a difference between the High School/Middle School on the one hand where there are many extracurricular, evening events and the grade schools." He went on to suggest having the District maintain scheduling for the Middle School and High School but having Parks maintain the scheduling for the five grade schools, but only for the outdoor areas and only after a certain point each afternoon and on weekends. He said, "that would be my proposal for an amendment on the scheduling."
Commissioner Jones disagreed with the proposal, saying, "If it’s working now, and it has been efficient, then why not leave it exactly the way it is, especially when this is a one-year, trial basis?"
MOTION Commissioner Landt moved to approve the Agreement with the amendment that the "outdoor athletic fields of the five grade schools be scheduled by the Parks Department and that the exact time would be worked out between the staff."
(There was no second, and the motion was later withdrawn)
Commissioner Jones objected, saying that she would want more input from the schools before considering such an amendment. She said, " I don’t feel like we can make that kind of a decision to put that scheduling on the schools…that’s not just impacting our staff but it’s impacting another staff that we haven’t heard from."
Director Mickelsen echoed Commissioner Jones’ concern about the staffing impact and suggested that the decision be left up to Department and District staff to work out to the best mutual benefit.
Commissioner Landt agreed to withdraw his motion but went on to say "I’m going to make a motion for this one amendment and if there’s agreement to do that then the direction to Staff is to work with the school district to attempt to obtain this language in our agreement."
Commissioner MacGraw stated that there is already excellent communication between the District and Parks, which together have been coordinating field use for several years with the idea of providing more recreational opportunities if possible. She said, "I really like it the way it is. I don’t think it really needs an amendment."
Councilor Laws pointed out that, as an intergovernmental agreement, any changes made to the Agreement would need to be approved by both the Commission and the School Board. If Commissioner Landt wanted to pursue this issue, he suggested that to allow this item to move ahead, "it might be that you would want to approve this version with the understanding that there will be further negotiations on the scheduling." He noted that doing so would not obligate the School Board, but said, "It may be that if the school refuses to do it, you don’t want to push them that hard anyway."
Commissioner Eggers asked Commissioner Landt "How do you imagine that the community would have greater use of the fields if Parks was scheduling those elementary school fields?"
Commissioner Landt replied, "Maybe it has to do with accessibility of the different entities and I also have gotten community input that they sometimes have difficulty with scheduling and so here’s an opportunity to try a different approach."
MOTION Commissioner MacGraw moved to approve the Intergovernmental Agreement between the City of Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission and Ashland School District No. 5 as presented. Commissioner Jones seconded.
The vote was: 5 yes – 0 no
Commissioner Landt requested that Staff find out the School District’s view of his proposed scheduling change and report back to Commissioner Landt at the next meeting.
PROPERTY DONATION – BEAR CREEK FLOOD PLAIN
Director Mickelsen indicated that he and Commissioner Jones had met with the developer who is purchasing the property across from the North Mountain Park Nature Center. The developer is interested in donating the creek-side flood plain of this property to the City for park purposes. The Parks Department is very interested in procuring this piece, as it will help to make the trail connection between the end of the Greenway and North Mountain Park. He explained that the developer had provided a preliminary design giving an indication of potential trail access points into the flood plain from the proposed subdivision. This item appears on tonight’s agenda because the developer would like to ascertain that the potential access points are supported by the Commission prior to its presentation to the Planning Commission. Director Mickelsen noted that Parks Staff, Planning Staff and Commissioner Jones were all very supportive of the conceptualization of the three potential access points.
Public Comment - None
Discussion Among Commissioners
After some discussion, there was general Commission support for the conceptualization of the three relatively evenly spaced access points shown.
The Commission expressed its appreciation to the potential donor(s).
REQUEST TO COUNCIL TO FORM AN OPEN SPACE FUNDING COMMITTEE
Commissioner Landt offered some background information and stated the request as "to see a committee formed consisting of Parks and Recreation Commissioners and City Councilors with a mandate to come up with a recommendation for funding the Ten Year Plan for our Open Space update." He asked that the Commission approve the written request to be sent to Council and said he would then appoint the Committee.
Verland Beard (8007 Dead Indian Memorial Road) questioned trying to raise new funding, saying "I thought that’s what the Meal’s Tax was supposed to be for, and we’re still paying the Meal’s Tax."
Commissioner MacGraw explained that the Food and Beverage Tax ends in 2010. "We’re looking ahead. We need a new funding mechanism so we can continue to acquire open space."
Commissioner Landt noted that land prices since 1993 have increased much faster than expected and said "it’s because of that that our funding source was dried up and that was not something that could have been anticipated when it was created."
Discussion Among Commissioners
There was some discussion among Commissioners about the proposed timeline (three months) for fulfilling the mandate.
Commissioner Jones questioned the inclusion on the proposed committee of "at least two community members to be appointed at a later date" as shown on Commissioner Landt’s letter of request. She pointed out the likely difficulty in selecting the two community members and noted that even with a committee consisting only of Councilors and Commissioners, community members would have ample opportunity for public input. She finished by saying, "Putting in that clause, I think it would be very difficult to narrow it down to two community members and keep your timeline at the same time."
Commissioner Landt thanked Commissioner Jones for her input but said, "I believe that that is possible." He went on to say that he was specifically interested in including someone from the Chamber of Commerce because of their connections with the business community.
Commissioner Lewis moved to send the request to Council as written. Commissioner MacGraw seconded.
The vote was: 5 yes – 0 no
REQUEST PERTAINING TO AMENDING/DELETING ‘DRUMMING RULE’
Director Mickelsen indicated that a citizen had approached the City Council to request reconsideration of the drumming rule originally passed by the Parks Commission in 1994. At its June 18th meeting, the City Council denied the request and upheld the Commission’s current rule on drumming. It was suggested that the citizen approach the Parks Commission to request reconsideration of the rule.
Director Mickelsen gave a brief history pertaining to the origins of the rule, explaining that the Commission at that time spent countless hours over five months, held many special committee meetings, and made several attempts to draft a workable rule before arriving at the rule currently in effect. As the Police Chief testified at the City Council meeting, there have been very few problems during the eight years that the rule has been in effect.
Michael Johnson (305 Garfield Street), a musician and composer, was present to ask for reconsideration of the rule. He spoke about the fabric of the art community and about the value of music played (in compliance with the noise ordinances) in public spaces. Saying that probably "the homeless kids were on the street for a while, that was the cause of the enactment," he questioned whether the conditions that prompted the rule still existed. Mr. Johnson said he would like to have the rule deleted, saying, "I would like not to discriminate against the drums as opposed to any other instrument."
Discussion Among Commissioners
Commissioner MacGraw, the only current Commissioner member serving in 1994, spoke about the time and effort put forth by the Commission in an attempt to come up with a workable compromise. She noted that the rule seems to still be working well and that she continues to support it. As to whether the conditions that prompted the rule still exist, Commissioner MacGraw said, "I don’t think the conditions exist that make it a nuisance because we have guidelines and limitations…that prevent the conditions from presenting themselves."
Commissioner Eggers stated that she had attended the meetings in 1994 as a Granite Street neighbor concerned about excessive noise in the park. She said "And though I still love my friends who drum, I was very pleased that the limits were set because sometimes the drumming was just too loud and too long." She went on to say, "I would support not loosening up the rule."
Commissioner Jones said that she also was living in Ashland during the debate and she felt that the Commission’s rule was a good compromise. Noting that this was the first time someone had come forward with a complaint, she said, "I enjoy drumming too, but this seems to have worked."
Commissioner Landt agreed, saying "I’m not inclined to make a change at this point."
Chair Landt told Mr. Johnson that the Commission appreciated his perspective, but that there was no Commissioner willing to make a motion to change the rule at this time.
SUB-COMMITTEE and STAFF REPORTS
Director Mickelsen was pleased to report that the Oregon Shakespeare Festival had donated $10,000 to the Ashland Parks Foundation. Both the Department and the Commission expressed their appreciation for this generous contribution.
REVIEW OF NEIGHBORHOOD PARK SITE PLAN FOR NORTH MOUNTAIN PARK
Director Mickelsen explained that, as the Commission had discussed on several occasions, the Ashland Parks Foundation has allocated $17,000 to the Parks and Recreation Department for the development of a park site on top of the knoll at North Mountain Park. Director Mickelsen and Superintendent Gies had met with neighbors of the park site to discuss the development design concept for the park. The Commission had also asked to see the plan, copies of which were included in Commissioner’s packets. As noted in the June 18th memo on this topic, the neighbors had three recommendations, all of which can be easily incorporated into the plan. Staff anticipates that the ‘initial phase funding’ provided by the Ashland Parks Foundation will cover the cost of grading, landscaping, irrigation, and sidewalk work. The proposed playground, restroom, and bridge connection across the ravine will require additional funding at a later date. The initial work is slated to begin this autumn.
Superintendent Gies answers Commissioners’ questions about the plan, and there was some discussion about the amount and size of trees to be installed at the site. Noting that there needs to be a balance between having sufficient trees and being sensitive to the neighbors’ concerns, Director Mickelsen said, "there may not be as many trees as some people would like to see, and maybe more trees than other people would like to have, but I think it’s important, if the Commission wants to work with that neighborhood, to keep that in mind."
Commissioners Eggers, Landt and Lewis each said that they would like to review a plan for trees. Commissioner Landt said, "I’d like to see the tree locations and the tree species and I’d like to see more trees than what is shown here."
Noting that the original donors had specified the use of the $17,000 and have asked when it will be utilized, Commissioner MacGraw, on behalf of the Ashland Parks Foundation, thanked the Staff for moving forward with this project.
--Commissioner MacGraw was absent from this point forward--
STATUS REPORT ON LITHIA PARK PONDS
Director Mickelsen reported that the Lake Restorer is currently in place in the upper pond, and work continues on the air circulation before the Restorer will be fully functional. Work has been concentrated on the upper pond, but is expected to begin in the lower pond very shortly. The goal for the lower pond is still to have good, clear water by September 21.
Commissioner Eggers noted that people were using the interpretive signage about the Lake Restorer posted by volunteer water quality consultant Paul Kay.
Commissioner Jones asked that permanent signage about not feeding bread to the ducks be posted at the upper pond.
STATUS REPORT ON CALLE GUANAJUATO WEST SIDE IMPROVEMENTS
Director Mickelsen reported that a landscape architect has been hired for this project and said hopefully, depending on the final cost of improving Lithia ponds’ water quality, there will be money available to make those improvements during the next fiscal year.
REPORT ON DEPARTMENTAL ELECTRICAL SAVINGS
Director Mickelsen complimented Parks Staff on outstanding efforts toward electrical conservation. The Commission had set a 15% reduction goal; the Parks Department was able to achieve a 30% reduction over the previous years.
Superintendent Gies gave some details on the savings. He recognized that factors such as temperature and other environmental factors will continue to affect usage and noted that the reduction in restroom electrical usage was particularly dramatic.
As noted in the June 18th memo on this topic, Staff intends to keep in place the operational changes that helped to achieve this reduction, with two major exceptions: tennis court lights, and Darex Ice Rink season length.
Director Mickelsen reported that Staff would like to return the tennis court lights shut-off time to 11 p.m., noting that many citizens had requested the lights stay on past 9:30p.m. He also explained that the Commission would need to make a decision whether to continue with the shortened ice rink season.
Chair Landt expressed his pride in Staff for its outstanding effort toward energy conservation.
MOTION Commissioner Landt moved to return tennis court hours and skating rink hours to the pre-2001 hours. Commissioner Jones seconded.
Discussion of the Motion
Commissioner Eggers said that she would want to see the detailed information on the ice rink energy usage before she would agree to return to pre-2001 hours.
Director Mickelsen explained that it was not critical to make the ice rink decision yet, noting that Staff would like a chance to come back with a recommendation based upon attendance and cost of operation of the facility.
AMENDMENT Commissioners Landt and Jones accepted a friendly amendment deleting "and skating rink hours" from the motion.
The vote was: 4 yes – 0 no
ITEMS FROM COMMISSIONERS
Commissioner Jones asked about the placement of non-smoking signage at the playground and ballfields.
Superintendent Gies reported that signage had been installed shortly after the no-smoking rule had been enacted, and he would check to be sure the signage was still in place.
Commissioner Landt reported that he would not be able to attend July 22 Regular Meeting.
UPCOMING MEETING DATE(S) and PROPOSED AGENDA ITEMS
Upcoming Meeting Dates
ADJOURNMENT – By consensus, with no further business, Chair Landt adjourned the meeting.
Respectfully submitted, Robyn Hafner, Department Secretary
Ashland Parks and Recreation Department