2015Nov20

November 20, 2015

Administration
The Ashland Climate Challenge Kick-off event this past Sunday was a resounding success, with the  Daily Tidings reporting a total attendance of nearly 500 people. Mayor Stromberg provided a great initial message and call for ongoing participation on the issue as the City’s Climate and Energy Action ad-hoc committee gets into full gear to guide the development of a Climate and Energy Action Plan for the community over the next 12-14 months. Councilor Rich Rosenthal, chair of the committee, also spoke and reiterated his goal of broad community input and involvement as the committee moves forward. The event was conceived, organized and pulled off successfully by GEOS Institute and Rogue Climate with grant funding from the City of Ashland and sponsorship funding from many other local partners and businesses, including the Oregon Shakespeare Festival who also contributed excellent poetry and spoken word performances relating to the topic.

The City’s Energy Conservation staff were there and had a table of information (see photo at left) on energy efficiency and renewable energy programs and products. The City was also represented well in the roped off area of the parking lot with its display of both of the City’s plug-in electric vehicles that the Energy Conservation staff uses daily. 
 
A Greenhouse Gas Inventory is already in the works and should be complete by mid January, which will be used to provide a benchmark for existing carbon emissions enabling the Climate and Energy Action Plan committee and the community to determine appropriate targets to set for reductions in emissions over time. At roughly the same time, the committee will review submittals for consultant services with the task of crafting the plan and conducting the public input and engagement for the entire planning process. Much of the public input will be scheduled in the coming months and will happen throughout the summer and early fall with a final draft plan for the Council’s consideration targeted for January of 2016.
 
Pioneer Mike update: The mold created from the original in Storm Lakes, Iowa, has been completed and is now back in Oregon. The next step is having the artist work with the foundry to cast the new pieces. Each mold piece will be cast separately then welded together. In addition, Public Works staff will prepare the fountain base for the heavier weight of the new statue and figure out what to do with the old statue.  Unfortunately, the foundry is extremely busy at this point and it could be several months before they even start on our project. It looks like – best case scenario – we are still a few months from actually getting the statue completed.
 
We’re all on board (I think) with the need for traffic calming measures. Click here for an interesting article about the approach taken in Sebastopol, California.


Community Development
A member of the Planning staff attended a Maker Movement presentation hosted by the city of Talent with Ilana Preuss of Recast City. Ms. Preuss is a national speaker from Washington, D.C. who focuses on ways cities can encourage the local, small-scale manufacturing and specialty food sectors as a means to diversify local economies, strengthen the job market, and revitalize downtowns.  This event was brought to Southern Oregon using a Transportation Growth Management grant in cooperation with the Department of Land Conservation and Development and the cities of Grants Pass, Gold Hill, Talent and Phoenix, and Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development, Inc. (SOREDI).  There were three presentations around the region as well as a two-day training in Grants Pass, and these events were attended by state and local officials from around the region as well as a number of businesses (including Rogue Creamery, Rogue Cycles, Kiaskitchengp, SOREDI, Business Oregon, the Grants Pass & Josephine County Chambers of Commerce, THRIVE, The Glass Forge Gallery & Studio and Climate City Brewing Company) and members of the general public. 

Community Development staff recently attended a Livability Solutions forum in Medford put on by AARP to look at new models of thinking, collaboration between sectors, and new tools and practices for creating real community change. This forum included AARP, Rogue Valley Council of Governments, Jackson County, the Rogue Valley Transportation District, the Housing Authority of Jackson County, representatives of cities around the region, and local businesses for an engaging day of dialog about livable communities and the relationship between, "livability, the economy, housing and transportation in the Rogue Valley."


Police Department
Graveyard officers responded to a report of a suspicious person in the wee hours of the day. A thorough investigation by Officer Jason Billings and others led to the recovery of several pieces of stolen property. This case led officers and detectives to execute a search warrant on a local home that connects this suspect to several other theft cases. This is an ongoing investigation, and there will likely be more cases connected. 
 
This week Chief O’Meara received this note of thanks and praise from a citizen who witnessed an officer interacting with a senior member of the community:
 
Dear Chief O’Meara & Deputy Chief Hensman,
 
Because I believe we should recognize the positive as well as the negative, I think it’s important that I let you know that I had an encounter with one of your officers last week. I’m happy to tell you, he was kind, considerate and very respectful. Officer Damian Amarillas is a keeper!
 
We had an Ashland citizen (90+ years young) walk down to North Mountain Park on his very own to visit our lovely park.  He stopped in the Nature Center to chat.  About 20 minutes after he said goodbye he was back on our steps confused and worried because he could not find his way home. He did not have a phone number or an address, and he could not recall the name of his daughter’s employer. I called APD and within minutes Officer Damian arrived. From the moment he walked in the door his demeanor was of gentleness, positivity and kindness. The old man was so worried and scared, and I could tell Officer Damian sensed it as he engaged our lost guest with calm conversational questions and smiles.  He put the man at ease. At some point Officer Damian said that he knew the man from a previous encounter. He had helped the gentleman after he’d fallen a while ago. The look on our senior citizen was priceless. His eyes lit up as he asked “you know where I live?”  Officer Damian said, “I think so.” He then made a quick phone call, asked our guest if he recognized an address and off they went. Needless to say everyone was relieved.
 
It was such a sweet encounter. Officer Damian Amarillas has exactly the right attitude…  like he wants to help.
 
Thought you’d both like to know.


Public Works Department
Every year when the potential for winter weather begins the Street Division of the Public Works Department prepares for snow plowing and road sanding. Ashland has a little over 100 miles of roads that need to be plowed when it snows but priority is given to the busiest streets, routes to schools and the highest priority is given to keeping the roads open to the hospital. A link to the City’s plowing priority map can be seen by clicking here.
 
The Street Division just recently set up three trucks for plowing and they’ll be ready to go at any given time during the winter. A fourth truck can be quickly set up when necessary and if things are looking bad a sanding unit can be installed in a dump truck. Using the large dump trucks on hills in the snow and ice can be dangerous so the use of this piece of equipment is limited. The four trucks used for snow plowing are also the only trucks the Division has for day to day road maintenance and repairs, so leaving more than three trucks set up is not possible and even leaving the three trucks set up can cause delays in day to day operations. The City keeps its fleet size to only vehicles that are necessary, so it would not be beneficial to have additional trucks standing by only to be used for plowing.  
 
Street crews watch the weather forecasts through the winter and when there’s potential for snow, crews prepare for 24 hour a day operations. With a crew of only eight, operating potentially four trucks 24 hours a day for the length of a storm can be difficult.  In December of 2013 there was a particularly difficult and cold storm. City crews worked 24 hours a day for more than seven days. That storm had temperatures as cold as negative two degrees and the snow turned to ice almost as soon as it hit the ground. Ice is very difficult to remove without chemicals so crews plowed what they could and kept adding cinders (the small red rock spread by our sanding/plow trucks) to improve traction. The city does not have, nor plan to use chemical deicers. 

When we’re actively plowing and sanding the roads, our maintenance yard at the corner of B St. and Mountain Ave. (pictured at left) becomes the center of our operation. The City currently has about 200 cubic yards of cinders stored at the maintenance yard (at B Street and Mountain Avenue). Each truck holds between one and half and two cubic yards of cinders and depending on the conditions it takes about half an hour to apply that volume of cinders. There’s another 1,000 cubic yards of cinders at a storage yard  on Glenview Dr. 
 
 
Commission and Committee Updates
Planning Commission
The Planning Commission discussed two planning actions at its November meeting. The first was at 209-221 Oak Street, also known as the "Bricks on B" project. The Commission approved a proposal involving the full restoration of two historic homes on Oak Street near B Street; the construction of six new townhomes along B Street between Oak and Water Streets; and the construction of a new, detached residential cottage.  This project, by the architect and applicant of the new "Winston Building" at the corner of Water and B Streets, will redevelop dilapidated properties near the downtown and redevelop an entire block of B Street as shown below.


The second project the Commission approved was located at 474 Russell Street. This project is the construction of two new mixed-use buildings at 474 Russell Street in the Falcon Heights subdivision, just north of the Railroad Property. Both buildings will be two stories, with the first an 8,688 square foot building consisting of commercial space and garages on the ground floor, and four residential condominiums on the second floor; and the second a 12,617 square foot building consisting of commercial space with six residential condominiums on the second floor. The buildings will be connected by a skywalk over a central plaza space, as shown below.



Previous Updates:


November 13, 2015

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