December 11, 2015

A key next step in the planned efficiency improvements of the community’s solid waste and recycling collections services is nearly set to get underway. When the Council approved a new and improved franchise agreement and new rate structure with Recology Ashland in October of 2013, one of the immediate changes was the conversion to Recology-provided trash and recycling carts. “Carting” the community was the first step in introducing fully automated collection service in Ashland. Subsequent steps included  customer communication regarding proper cart placement as well as the replacement of old collection trucks with new units that contain the specialized equipment (arms and cameras primarily) to allow drivers to pick up and dump both trash and recycling carts while staying in their trucks.
With the recent delivery of a new automation-capable truck, Recology staff is in the process of training and phasing in the truck in key collection route locations in Ashland that are most conducive to automated collections. The map below provides the locations within Ashland where the automated truck will go into service. Each dot represents a collection location (stop) and the colors represent the day of the week of that stop. Recology has already notified customers that are on the automated route and introduced the cart placement needs for this to be successful. (Postcard shown with map)
While the new automated route has the same number of stops as before, it is anticipated and expected that the number of stops per day will be increased substantially after Recology drivers become more proficient at the new equipment and the community gets a feel for how they can help with proper cart placement. While we have a ways to go, the ultimate goal is to provide automated service to between 75 and 85 percent of Recology customers. The payoff of these investments and efforts is increased efficiency, which leads to rate stabilization over time.

On another solid waste-related topic, the Department of Environmental Quality has released its 2014 Material Recovery and Waste Generation Report and it shows a slight decrease in the recovery rate in Jackson County. (Reports are not provided for individual cities.) Jackson County’s recovery rate (including credits received for education and other activities) was 46.8% in 2014, down from 49.1% in 2013. The statewide rate was 51%.  Mirroring a statewide trend, the tonnage recovered in Jackson County increased in 2014, but not as much as the tonnage disposed, thus resulting in a decrease in the recovery rate. Of the materials recovered statewide, 22% was yard debris, 20% metals, 16% was cardboard, 15% was wood waste and 12% was paper. Of those materials, 61% was recycled, 24% composted and 15% burned for energy recovery. Click here to see the 2014 Oregon Materials Recovery Report. The report for the Jackson County wasteshed can be found at this link, although as this is being written, the report has not yet been posted.

Fire Department
Ashland Fire & Rescue was at Helman School this week for educational outreach. 256 students from K-4th grade were educated on smoke alarms, family meeting places, bike helmet safety and how to safely cook in the kitchen. 
On December 9th, Ashland Fire & Rescue held a celebration ceremony for the four newest Firewise Communities; Ross Lane, Peachey Road, Paradise Lane and Ravenwood Place. This brings the total number of Firewise Communities in Ashland to 23. The communities were recognized by Chief Karns with an official plaque from the NFPA. The Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program empowers neighbors to work together to reduce the wildfire risk around their homes. Each community completed five steps to become Firewise: 1. obtain a community assessment from Ashland Fire & Rescue; 2. create an action plan; 3. hold a Firewise day event, 4. invest $2 per capita in Firewise activities per year; 5. send an application.  Over $15,000 was invested in fire prevention activities between the four new communities in 2015, well exceeding the $2 per capita minimum investment. Fourteen homeowners were present at the celebration (photo below). Ashland is still the leader in Firewise Communities for Oregon.

Also on December 9th, Ashland CERT recognized many of its members at an Appreciation Night. Over 20 local businesses and individuals donated in order to make the event spectacular. Several members were specifically recognized for their behind-the-scenes time and dedication, excessive hours spent, and increasing their volunteer support from 2014 to 2015. CERT will strive to complete a strategic plan with member support in the coming months.

Police Department
The Police Department is preparing to submit an application for a non-matching grant to install a 199-foot radio tower where the current 50-foot radio tower sits at the Ashland Acres site on the Imperatrice property. Radio issues in Ashland, and in all of southern Jackson County, have plagued all emergency service providers for years, with many “dead spots” and very problematic inter-operability issues. If this grant is awarded ($188,000 in non-matching funds) the new tower would offer much better radio propagation for southern Jackson County and aid all emergency services in protecting Ashland, Talent, Phoenix, and the surrounding areas.
Bill Modisett, a 20-year veteran of the Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) program and previous Ragland award recipient, announced that he will be retiring from the VIPS program at the end of the year. Bill has been a great asset for the department and will be missed.

Public Works Department
On Monday of this week the Street Division of the Public Works Department took delivery of a new asphalt paver, replacing a unit originally purchased in 1989. Pictured below, the old paver on the left, the new one on the right.

The old unit had become unreliable and even had a couple of small fires onboard during paving operations. It could not be trusted to complete larger projects, which meant that only projects that could be finished with other equipment were undertaken in recent years. Staff began the process of replacing the older unit several years ago, but this equipment is expensive and budgeting took some time. This new unit cost $336,452 and should be in operation for up to 20 years. In order to reduce the cost of purchasing the new paver, staff, through a cooperative purchasing agreement, joined with several other government agencies around the country to buy several of these units. By purchasing the units in a larger volume, the individual price came down considerably.
The new paver has several features the old paver did not have, most notably a track system rather than rubber tires. With the steep streets in Ashland, these tracks provide much better traction than the tires. While paving, a dump truck full of asphalt connects to the paver and it’s the paver that provides all the braking for both. Good traction is essential on steeper streets.

Pictured above is the front view of the paver. While in operations, the two sides fold down, a dump truck backs up to the paver, and the rollers that can be seen at the bottom of the picture grab onto the wheels of the dump truck. Once connected, the dump truck dumps hot asphalt into this hopper and the conveyor belt carries this asphalt to the back of the machine (pictured below). The platform at the back then lowers down to just above road height and provides a place for the operators to stand. These operators run controls that provide the proper contour to the road for drainage, and adjustments to the asphalt thickness as necessary to maintain consistency. Depending on the anticipated traffic volume, the asphalt can be anywhere from just a couple of inches thick to as much as a foot or more. In addition, the paver has one person driving it. It can be driven from either of the two seats, depending on which side of the road is being paved.

Road repairs are an expensive endeavor and something most cities struggle to fund. Ashland is no different. The primary source of street repair funds comes from our share of the state-wide gas tax. Unfortunately, this does not provide enough money to stay on top of all the necessary road maintenance or rehabilitation and as a result many roads have fallen into a level of disrepair that is very difficult and expensive to fix. This new more reliable equipment will allow crews to make more cost-effective road repairs both now and in the future. Staff is currently working on finding additional sources to fund road maintenance, repairs and rehabilitation.
Board and Commission Updates
Planning Commission 
The Commission approved a request to construct a new residence next to the Ice Rink at 85 Winburn Way. While this block has, until now, been limited to City and Parks Department uses and a non-conforming cafe next to the Ice Rink, it is actually zoned for residential use and the application requested to develop the property according to the current zoning. Because the property has slopes over 35 percent behind the existing cafe, the project required a Physical and Environmental Constraints Review Permit for the development of hillside lands with severe constraints. While Physical and Environmental Constraints Review Permits are not considered by the Historic Commission, the applicants nonetheless chose to present the proposal to the Historic Commission out of respect for the location in the Skidmore Academy Historic District and right across from the National Register of Historic Places-listed Lithia Park. The project was viewed favorably by the Historic Commission, and the Planning Commission felt the building (pictured below) was artfully designed to fit the unique nature of the block.

The Planning Commission also approved a request for Site Design Review to construct 11 multi-family residential units at 229 West Hersey Street, west of the intersection of Laurel and Hersey Streets. This is the first project in recent memory to propose apartment development in Ashland, and includes a single family home along the Hersey Street frontage with a 480 square foot apartment over its garage, and nine more apartments behind the main house, all of which will be under 500 square feet, constructed to Earth Advantage standards, and have private garages accessed off of the alley. The project (pictured below) received density bonuses for the Earth Advantage construction proposed and for providing significantly more open space through private patios, porches, and common recreation space - and consequently significantly less lot coverage - than required in the R-3 zoning district.

Early in the new year, the Planning Commission will consider a proposal to subdivide one of the existing lots in the Clear Creek Village subdivision, behind the Buddhist temple, to construct five new mixed-use buildings consisting of leased downstairs office and retail spaces and a total of eight new residential units upstairs. The application, which is still under staff review, includes the rendering below to illustrate the proposal as viewed from the intersection of Oak Street and Clear Creek Drive.


Previous Updates:

December 4, 2015

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