MINUTES FOR THE STUDY SESSION
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
March 19, 2012
Pioneer Hall, 73 Winburn Way
Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 5:29 p.m. in Pioneer Hall.
Councilor Silbiger, Slattery, Lemhouse, Morris, and Voisin were present. Councilor Chapman was absent.
1. Look Ahead Review
City Administrator Dave Kanner reviewed items on the Look Ahead. Council and staff discussed the first year of the Ad hoc Homelessness Steering Committee (HSC) expiring and possibly assigning some responsibility of the HSC to the Housing Commission. Council moved the discussion on the Wildlife Feeding Ordinance from a Study Session to a regular Council meeting and expressed concern the ordinance stemmed from a minority of Council not the majority.
2. Will Council provide staff direction on policy issues related to community suggestions associated with safety issues on the bike path?
Police Chief Terry Holderness explained there were 10 recommendations that came from the community, seven were in process or completed with one that required Council action. Staff did not recommend implementing the remaining three for the following reasons:
Lighting the Bike Path
It would cost $385,000.
The Lighting would create a false sense of security with secluded dark areas where attacks could occur.
The David Grubbs homicide was the only reported incident of violent crime on the bike path in Ashland.
There were other areas in the city with lighting issues that had similar or more violent crimes committed than the bike path.
Residential complaints regarding bike path lighting affecting their property.
Chief Holderness noted the other areas of violent crime were in the Railroad District and Will Dodge Way. The City installed additional lighting on Will Dodge Way with an alternative solution for the Railroad District. He went on to confirm the bike path was City property maintained by the Public Works Department and not part of the Parks and Recreation Department.
Council expressed the need for a communication plan to ensure the public understood the reasons for not lighting the bike path. City Administrator Dave Kanner ensured staff would be proactive with a communication strategy. Council supported the staff recommendation not to light the bike path. Councilor Silbiger disclosed he owned property by the railroad tracks and the bike path.
Have a Security Evaluation of the Bike Path done by City Police
There were not enough incidents of crime or disorder on the bike path to warrant analysis.
Ashland Police Department lacked staff experience in Crime Prevention through Environmental Design evaluations.
The area the Grubbs homicide occurred in was one of the safer areas of the bike path.
Chief Holderness explained the Police Department conducted Neighborhood Crime Watch meetings when asked. The Police Department increased volunteer police presence on the bike path but volunteers did not work after dark.
Change Scope of Transportation Commission to include Community Safety
Public safety issues were substantially outside the purview of the Transportation Commission.
The David Grubbs memorial bench will go on Parks and Recreation property near the incident.
3. Update on current status of AFN?
Interim Assistant City Administrator/Financial Director Lee Tuneberg noted the eight steps AFN was doing or would do to stave customer loss that totaled 154 since November 2011:
Do not raise the prices for the internet line up at this time.
Increase internet speeds to the maximum extent practical.
Market the upgrade and price freeze to our direct customers.
Get the ISP and cable contracts in place, including the modification to the cable television contract.
Take the steps necessary to reduce expenditures internally in order to maintain the AFN technology debt payment.
Add the ISPs to our web site as an alternative to direct service.
Continue to monitor customer migration to see if these actions stem the loss.
Assure the ISPs that we will revisit their promotional pricing idea this summer.
Currently, there were three Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Councilor Silbiger added Council had directed AFN to increase their direct customer counts and were now at 287 with each paying AFN $10 a month that would normally have gone to an ISP.
City Administrator Dave Kanner addressed number 8. Assure the ISPs that we will revisit their promotional pricing idea this summer. He explained the immediate concern was AFN was losing customers at an alarming rate and rather than do something that would cost additional revenue, it was wiser to take the other interim steps that included not raising prices and increasing internet speed to see if that staunched the bleeding.
Mr. Tuneberg explained the City had never covered costs on cable TV and any adjustments to the contract with AFN required the City to trim their costs to maintain the contribution to the debt service.
Mr. Kanner explained why he wanted to combine the Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Electric Utilities Director positions into one position. The position would require marketing skills to help AFN’s marketing issues. The candidate would have management generalist and marketing skills and be technically well informed.
Councilor Silbiger observed that as long as AFN stayed competitive the internet side of the business would grow. The cable TV side would make itself obsolete and that would work to AFN’s advantage. Network Administrator Chad Sobotka explained the system currently had the maximum capacity of 1,000 megabit per second. The next jump was 1,500 megabit per second. It would require a slight modification of the cable infrastructure and cost under $40,000.
Mr. Kanner gave a brief update on the fire that was set in the stairwell at 27 ½ Main. The damage was limited to the stairwell, an office, and part of the adjacent empty retail space.
Meeting adjourned at 6:41 p.m.
Assistant to the City Recorder