2015Nov6

November 6, 2015

Public Works Department
A little over a year ago the weekly update included a write-up about the City’s new cemetery grave space locater app that was both developed and implemented by our highly skilled in-house Geographic Information Systems (GIS) division; a division of the Public Works Department. Over the last year, that app has been refined and updated and continues to be a great example of the quality of work of city staff. Until the implementation of this app, cemetery grave space information was unorganized and several sources had to be searched to find all the necessary data. With this app all these various sources of information, including some dating back well over 100 years, were combined into one database that can now easily be searched by a variety of criteria including the name of the deceased, the date of birth and the date of death. Even if the entire name is not known, searches of partial names can yield results. This has been an invaluable tool for those looking to find the location of a loved one’s grave, and those researching genealogy or local history.
 
The success of this app has not gone unnoticed outside the City of Ashland. Earlier this summer, our Cemetery Sexton, Jason Caro, was contacted by officials in Adams County, Pennsylvania, who were looking to implement a similar system. Adams County needed a way to organize its data, some of which dates back to before the Civil War. Jason connected the people from Adams County with Rickey Fite, our GIS Specialist, who had the primary role in the creation of this app.
 
The following is an excerpt from the original email received from Adams County:
We found the Ashland cemetery app on ESRI’s GeoNet site several months ago. We are attempting to plot, via GPS, all the veteran burial sites in Adams County. Briefly, this project came about through our county Veterans Affairs Department. According to PA state law under our County code, all veterans must be recognized from Memorial Day until July Fourth by the placement of an American flag at their tombstone. The VA office assumes responsibility for this mandate. They have no real maps of burial sites and rely on volunteers to correctly place the flags.
 
A cornerstone of our project was to not only help out the VA department, but also to present the data in an interactive website. The Ashland site is EXACTLY the type of site we were hoping to create. We were hoping to reach out to you, and the developer, to get some information about the site and learn more about it. Unfortunately, we do not have a programmer or developer in our county, so any input as to the feasibility of creating something like this would be greatly appreciated!
 
Luckily, Rickey was able to work with Adams County to get them started on a path to implement this app for their use. They had a goal of entering the necessary information and launching the app by Veterans Day. They recently informed City staff that their app is running, do they have met their Veterans Day goal. Many thanks for the hard work of Jason, Rickey and the GIS Division.
 
The Ashland Cemetery app can be reached at the following link: http://gis.ashland.or.us/cemetery/ The app contains information for all three cemeteries maintained by the City of Ashland including Mountain View Cemetery (across from Fire Station 2), Ashland Cemetery (at the corner of East Main and Morton St.) and Hargadine Cemetery (at the top of Sheridan St.). The app for Adams County can be reached at: http://gis.adamscounty.us/vet/VeteranCemeteryProject.html.


Fire Department
On Tuesday, at the request of residents along the street, staff from Ashland Fire & Rescue and the Engineering Division of the Public Works Department met on VanSant Street in the Billings Ranch subdivision to determine if some parking could be allowed on one side of the street without obstructing a fire engine turn-around. After Engineer David Roselip drove engine number 8801 through the maneuvers of a standard three-point turn, it was determined that a few parking spaces could be allowed along the curb, thus making the residents happier. It’s amazing how much space a fire engine needs to maneuver and turn-around!

 
Ashland CERT did a presentation for the Chitwood homeowners association this week. The HOA wanted to hear more about the various programs CERT offers, especially the Map Your Neighborhood (MYN) program. The presentation included discussions of MYN, CERT, Citizen Alert, and disaster planning basics. 


Police Department
Last Saturday was the quietest Halloween any APD officer can remember, with just a handful of arrests. The Plaza was never shut down, as it has been in the past. APD was assisted by the Medford Police, JCSO, Parole & Probation, Juvenile Services, OLCC and the Phoenix Police.
 
Yesterday, Chief O’Meara served as a guest lecturer at a Southern Oregon University criminal justice class. Chief O’Meara been a guest lecturer several times in the past, a role he always enjoys... Yesterday's lecture topic was pre-employment background investigations.
 
Brent Hegdahl, APD’s newest officer, was sworn in this week and will start the academy on Monday. The next new officer, Evan Westhelle-Grant, will start full-time next week. Evan will perform the duties of a community service officer until he starts the academy in January. Brent and Evan are other both locals, with family in Ashland, and they are both very excited to serve in their home town.


Community Development Department
Housing Program staff attended a training in Salem focused on cultural competency and creating inclusive communities, strengthening families through asset building and learning about new asset building tools and programs, as well as strategies to reverse gentrification and displacement and innovative new housing that are being tested in other communities and upcoming housing opportunities being explored by HUD and the State of Oregon.


Housing Program staff is working with representatives of RVCOG, ACCESS, Community Works, Housing Authority of Jackson County, Compass House and the Salvation Army to draft the collaborative application for the 2016 Continuum of Care (CoC) grant funds offered through the Department of Housing and Urban Development to serve homeless populations. Medford, Ashland and Jackson County together as a "continuum" receive a formula allocation totaling approximately $300,000 through the Continuum of Care grant program for which the entities submit a joint application to fund activities that serve homeless and at-risk populations. This year the CoC grant program is offering $50,000 in bonus funding. Compass House will apply for the bonus funding to provide rental assistance to homeless populations experiencing mental illness.    
 
Ashland Building Official Jeremy Payne, has been appointed as chairman of the State of Oregon Building Codes Division’s (BCD) Alternate Review Committee. The BCD is currently reviewing an engineered wood product commonly known as cross laminated timber (CLT) as an alternative building material for mid- to high-rise building construction. CLT technology has been utilized in other countries and is making an official debut in the State of Oregon with a proposed 12-story mixed-use building in Portland. Much of the material is expected to be comprised of lumber produced within the State of Oregon.
 
Recent Building Division activities include:

  • The Ashland Growler Restaurant remodel at 345 Lithia Way received final building inspection approval on 10/12/15 and has since opened its doors for business.
  • SOU’s Science Building remodel is currently 95% complete and has received a partial building final inspection allowing regularly scheduled classroom sessions to commence within the building.
  • The Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s rehearsal center remodel at 30 S. First St. is also approaching finalization and has received a partial building final inspection approval.
  • SOU’s McNeal Pavilion and Recreation Center project has received an initial demolition permit with new construction expected to begin within the next few months.
  • A new tenant improvement permit has been issued for a restaurant project at 1729 Siskiyou Blvd., adjacent to Siskiyou Cyclery, with construction anticipated to begin within the next few weeks.
  • The Building Division has also received plan submittals for the Winchester Inn remodel and addition as well as for an Einstein’s Bagels tenant improvement which will be located in SOU’s Stevenson Union.

 
Revised standards for wildfire hazard lands have been drafted and are scheduled to be presented to the Wildfire Mitigation Commission on November 18th, the Tree Commission on December 3rd, the Planning Commission in December at a study session, followed by public hearings before the Planning Commission and City Council after the new year. The draft standards expand the wildfire overlay zone to encompass the entire City, and propose enhanced fuel breaks and specific limitations of highly flammable plants to mitigate the risk of the spread of wildfire.


Planning staff is continuing its work with Fregonese and Associates to refine an Ashland-specific return on investment model to analyze various development scenarios envisioned for infill properties along Ashland Street. The model for each scenario factors in land cost, construction cost and return on investment achieved through rent and sale potential in order to determine the market viability of specific building types and site layouts. By the end of November, the ROI model spreadsheets will be completed, allowing the City to begin considering which development scenarios may be constrained by costs and regulatory standards, and to evaluate measures that counter these barriers in order to promote infill along transit lines consistent with community standards for livability.
 
Senior Planner Brandon Goldman attended the American Planning Association conference in Portland this week to participate in a panel discussion and present Ashland’s approach to affordable housing. The City of Ashland is recognized for its innovation in the area of affordable housing as well as implementing many of the best practices in using land use to promote affordable housing.


Board, Commission and Committee Updates
ad hoc Climate and Energy Action Plan (CAEP) Committee 
The committee has now met four times and has addressed two of the most pressing items on the project timeline. The first is coordination with the Climate Action Challenge and Kick-off event. This is a City grant-funded collaboration with the GEOS Institute (which is also working with Rogue Climate to make the events happen). The calendar of events for what has expanded to be “Climate Week” is available at http://www.ashlandclimatechallenge.org/. The events culminate in the Ashland Climate Challenge Kickoff on Sunday, November 15, 2015, from noon to 4:00 p.m. at the Historic Ashland Armory.  
 
The second major task of the CAEP committee was the review and recommendation of the Request for Proposals (RFP) for the plan development and public engagement consultant who will work with the committee and City staff to collect public input across all stages of the plan and develop working drafts of the plan as it goes from outline to finished product for Council review in a little more than a year from now. The RFP was completed and posted on the City website this week and submittals will be due December 15th. The submitted proposals will be scored and recommended by an evaluation committee comprised of City staff and a sub-set of the CAEP committee members. It is anticipated that a recommendation of intent to award the bid will be on a Council agenda in early to mid-January.




Previous Updates:


October 30, 2016

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