MINUTES FOR THE CONTINUED MEETING
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
October 18, 2000, 7:00 p.m.
Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street
Mayor Shaw called the meeting to order at 12:00 p.m.
Councilors Laws, Reid, Hauck and Hanson were present; Wheeldon and Fine were absent.
Bob Taber/97 Scenic Drive/Read the following statement used to gather signatures: We the undersigned support the library bond measure to provide the community with a new resource center and the upgrading of the existing historic library. We do not support any plan that requires the clear-cutting of the existing mature trees and landscaping on the property next to the existing library. We maintain that people did not receive adequate public review and input. As a result, the bond levy was passed without an informed vote of the people in accord with democratic procedures. We were completely unaware that the removal of this urban forest was a necessary condition of this development. We request that you, our elected council, stop this project until a thorough public review has been accomplished and the citizenís will is determined to assure majority approval of the clear-cutting of this urban forest as a condition of this project."
Taber presented a petition with 1,400 concerned Ashland residentsí signatures and felt that this is a substantial statement of the feelings of the people of Ashland. He noted that the people who signed the petition were angry, and stated they were completely unaware that there would be clear-cutting. He feels there was a lack of public process, and there was no disclosure for a project of this magnitude. Taber requested that the council use its power to stop the project until a thorough public review has been accomplished, and the citizenís will is determined to assure majority approval.
Barbara Ryberg/373 Vista/Noted her participation in the process of the Library expansion from the very beginning. She noted that the Carnegie (library) is a centerpiece of the project, and she would like to see it preserved and expanded. In addition, there is no tree ordinance protecting trees. She does not feel that signatures on a petition are a substitute for a law. The park is 6/10ths of a landscaped acre and not an urban forest with old-growth trees like the hillsides surrounding the city. She noted the overcrowding and illness of the old trees, and noted that new trees would be planted during the expansion. Ryberg commented on the democratic process and if the votes on the petition are accepted, it is like saying the people who voted on the levy do not count.
Erik Navickas/711 Faith/Noted that he voted for the library expansion, and added he was unaware of the intent to remove the trees. He described examples from other cities maintaining urban parks, and how they benefit the health of the communities. He feels that this is an atrocious proposal and is appalled that the City is supporting the plan. He does not feel that the current plan is supportive of the Carnegie design, but is actually destroying the concept of the building.
Don Reynolds/64 Gresham/Commented on how the focus was to maintain the Carnegie design. He stated that the newspaper published a picture, and a model was available for viewing within the library. He feels there has been enough discussion, and it is time for the changes to go through.
Bryon Holley/324 Liberty St/Read statements from the October 3 council meeting which included the following statement from Bob Taber, "They didnít have the slightest idea they were voting for this." Shaw responded that the tree issue was way in the forefront of the entire campaign, and was very much a part of any discussion. Holley described email conversations with Barbara Ryberg, where he had requested information about removal of the trees, and that after more than fourteen months, he still had not received a map designating the trees for removal. He requested that the trees to be removed be marked more prominently. Holley requested a map, and an article in the newspaper, along with the date the trees will be removed so that he could hold a vigil.
Frank Towner/1120 Oak Knoll/Questioned whether the council had the legal right to take action, given that the voters passed the library levy, he does not think the council has any authority to do so.
Bob Wilson/214 N 2nd, Talent/As the Ashland librarian, he presented himself to answer any questions, and stated that the majority of the voters chose to keep the Carnegie. He explained that In order to do so, there had to be compromises on the trees, parking, and building design. He noted that handicap access is provided, which does not now exist, and that it is important to move on and save the Carnegie.
John Sexton/264 Alta/Commented on how he was initially uncomfortable with the location of the library, but that according to a 1990 survey, there was public desire for the library to remain on Gresham. He felt that to shift the building, in order to save the trees, would only shift the focal point and purpose of the library in the community. He stated that many compromises were made in order to keep the location of the library, and it is an historic, symbolic, and meaningful building in the community.
Amy Blossom/140 Susan Lane/Noted that she is an employee of the library, and has been involved in the process for the library expansion from the beginning. She shared the process that the committee took to involve the public, which included direction from a landscape architect who worked with the committee in addressing concerns the public brought forward. She stated that the plans are currently displayed at the library for anyone seeking information.
Laws voiced his value of trees, but that trees must be put into perspective. He did not feel that the trees surrounding the library were an urban forest. He stated that it is important, to the value of the city, in maintaining a canopy of trees, but that there are other values that need to be considered. These values include the architecture and design of the building, and the dissemination of knowledge. In addition, he noted he would like to relocate the library elsewhere, but due to community support, it will remain where it is. He noted that everyone was welcome to come forward during the design of the building, that the community voted on the library, and agreed to the project. He stated that, unless there is convincing evidence that something was done wrong, he could not recommend the council make any changes.
Shaw clarified for the council that there was a 62% voter turn out for the election, and 80% of those voted yes on the levy.
Reid felt that it was not the option of the council to overturn the vote of the community. She noted her concern with the city setting an example with this project and at the same time developing a strict tree ordinance. Hauck noted that the tree ordinance currently under draft does take into account the process of removing the trees at the library. He agreed, along with Hanson, that they are not inclined to change anything at this point.
Shaw explained that the idea of having an extension to the library at another location created associated costs which made the idea impossible. She noted that she had reviewed the planning action for the last year, and over 600 trees were removed in the name of private property rights. She stated that the Tree Commission has been urged to come up with a tree ordinance addressing these concerns. Shaw felt that it would take a vote of the county, not the city, and suggested that the only option would be to circulate a petition county wide, placing the entire county library measure back to a vote of all of the citizens of Jackson County.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS (None)
NEW AND MISCELLANEOUS BUSINESS
1. Council Meeting Look Ahead.
City Administrator Greg Scoles noted that an update on the status of AFN was added to the November 8, Study Session. Reid noted her knowledge of people in Talent interested in connecting to AFN. Scoles stated more information would be available at the meeting.
2. Designation of voting delegate for Annual Business Meeting at League of Oregon Cities Conference.
Hanson was designated as the delegate.
OTHER BUSINESS FROM COUNCIL MEMBERS
Meeting was adjourned 1:00 p.m.