May 22, 2015
With Ashland having taken the step of becoming a Bee City USA last year, you might be interested in this White House news release on a presidential initiative to promote pollinator health. In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Interior have issued a set of Pollinator-Friendly Management Practices for Federal Lands that you can read by clicking here.
Even as the Budget Committee was deliberating and voting on the Fire Department’s add package request for new defibrillators last night, the Federal Emergency Management Administration was e-mailing us with some wonderful news: Our grant application for new defibrillators has been approved! The grant will provide for only six of the required nine defibrillators, so the City will still have to purchase three more. In addition, the grant will pay for the new hydraulic extraction equipment (two sets: one for each engine) that was one of the add packages not funded in the new budget. The grant requires a 10% match, but the match and the purchase of three defibrillators will be substantially less than the appropriation approved by the Budget Committee. A modification to the Fire Department budget to reflect this grant will be presented to the Council when the budget is brought forward for approval.
Community Development Department
The Normal Neighborhood working group concluded its review of the draft neighborhood plan and ordinance, and made its final recommendations on Thursday. Over the course of twelve meetings the group refined the plan to address future land uses and housing densities, provision of open space, transportation connectivity, and the financing of public infrastructure.
Among its dozen or so recommendations for the final plan are zoning designations to be more consistent with the zoning of adjacent land within the city limits, multiple connections with East Main Street, alignment of internal local streets in a more standardized grid pattern, including clear east-west connections and a list of development elements, related to Council-approved goals, to address family friendly development, water conservation, energy conservation, and micro agriculture. We hope to schedule a study session with the Council in the very near future to review all of the group’s recommendations.
With the working group's review now completed, the recommendations will be incorporated into a revised plan and ordinance that will be presented to the Planning Commission at a formal public hearing to be scheduled (expected late July). The City Council is expected to hold a public hearing on the plan and First Reading of the Normal Neighborhood District ordinance in August or September.
Public Works Department
Earlier this week crews from the Waste Water Division completed a project to improve the function of the storm drain system on Tamarack Place. Larger storms were causing enough runoff to exceed the capacity of the existing system. In the worst events, water was flowing toward houses, creating a risk of property damage. To eliminate this problem, two additional inlets were created on the north side of the road to pick up storm water and carry it across the street to the existing storm drain.
Work on this project started on Monday morning. Crews worked quickly, and the majority of the work was completed by Tuesday afternoon. Some remaining concrete work still needs to be completed and will be finished when weather conditions are appropriate.
Maintenance and construction of the storm drain system is a shared responsibility between the Waste Water and Street Divisions. Each division has differing equipment and expertise, both of which are beneficial to the care and maintenance of the storm drain system. The Waste Water Division has equipment used to clean and maintain in-ground pipe systems and also has a closed circuit television system with a remote controlled camera capable of inspecting the inside of the pipes. The Street Division maintains the surface portions of the storm drains, including the 11 miles of open ditch. The Street Division is also responsible for operation of our street sweepers. Last year the sweepers removed over 3,200 cubic yards of material off our streets, all material that could have entered the storm drain system and eventually made its way to the creeks in town if it were not removed by the sweepers.
Ashland’s storm drain system consists of more than 90 miles of underground pipe, 11 miles of open ditch, over 4,100 catch basins, 5,500 manholes, and 73 storm water treatment facilities. The treatment facilities include bio-swales, detention basins and wetlands facilities. These facilities are continually monitored and maintained to ensure their proper operation.
You may recall that in February of 2014, the Astro gas station was robbed. The APD initially made a good faith arrest on a man who turned out to have not been involved. Later forensic evidence was discovered indicating the actual culprit is a man named Jose Ramirez. Ramirez was recently apprehended in California and extradited. He was arraigned yesterday in Circuit Court.
Police Chief O’Meara this week got a call from a detective in Wisconsin, who had praise for Officer Ashley Fite. From APD’s Guardian Tracking system:
"I just got a message from a detective in Wisconsin that wanted to thank Officer Fite for her assistance. The detective stated that Officer Fite was professional, nice, courteous, receptive, and did a great job. The detective was very appreciative of Officer Fite for her help. This kind of inter-agency assist makes us look great. Great job Officer Fite."
Lastly, the Park Patrol program started with training this week and should be up and running soon.
Board and Commission Updates
On Wednesday, May 20th, the Historic Commission held the annual Historic Preservation Awards Ceremony.
Mayor Stromberg was on hand to present “Distinguished Architectural Preservation Awards” to recognize the commitment of local citizens, architects, designers, and contractors in furthering historic preservation and protecting our cultural resources. Here is a list of recipients of 2015 Historic Preservation awards:
14 Calle Guanajuato – New Commercial Building
66 Water Street - New Commercial Building
175 Lithia Way - New Commercial Building
56 Church Street - New Addition
315 High - New Residential Construction
522 Rock Street - New Multi-Family Construction
528 Rock Street - New Multi-Family, units 1, 2 & 3
Lea Richards, City of Ashland - Map of Lithia Park
Jeffrey LaLande - Individual Award
Dorinda Cottle, City Of Ashland – Civic Award - Map of Lithia Park
In addition, Ashland is a member of the Certified Local Government Program (CLG), a federal program administered through the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office. As a CLG, the Community Development Department is a recipient of a biennial grant award that is used to further and promote best practices in historic preservation. Wednesday’s award ceremony was used as an opportunity to inform the Historic Commission and the general public about the latest upcoming project, presented by historic preservation consultant Matthew Davis:
In 2008, the City of Ashland adopted a Historic Preservation Plan for the period of 2008-2018 to provide a strategic roadmap for implementing preservation related projects in Ashland. Included within that plan is an identification and prioritization of upcoming projects. One of the first priority projects identified is the establishment of more detailed rehabilitation and remodel standards for historic contributing residential projects within Ashland’s historic districts. These include additional guidance and review for exterior modifications which do not trigger a building permit or structural review but can have grave consequences for historic compatibility. The Historic Preservation Plan found that the lack of review of alterations to structures which contribute to the historic districts have caused some loss of integrity within these districts, particularly in the case of siding, window, door, trim and roofing material replacement.