Ashland City Council, Ashland School Board,
and Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission
Joint Meeting Minutes
September 8, 2005, 7:00 pm
Civic Center, Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street
Attendance: City Councilors Chapman, Hartzell, and Jackson were present. Mayor Morrison and Councilors A. Amarotico, Hardesty, and Silbiger were absent.
School Board Members Alexander, Amrhein, Marr, Parker, and Patton were present.
Parks Commissioners Eggers, Gardiner, Lewis, and Rosenthal were present. Commissioner D. Amarotico was absent.
Staff: GINO GRIMALDI, CITY ADMINISTRATOR
JULI DICHIRO, SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT
DON ROBERTSON, PARKS DIRECTOR
I. CALL TO ORDER
Mat Marr of the Ashland School Board called the meeting to order at 7:00 pm at Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street in Ashland, Oregon.
II. INTRODUCTION AND AGENDA REVIEW
Gardiner reported on the process used in creating the meeting agenda, stating that a representative from each entity proposed topics that were important within their organizations. Representatives included Marr from the Ashland School Board, Hartzell from the Ashland City Council, and Gardiner from the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission.
The combined group agreed to add, at the bottom of the agenda, item VI-b: “Discussion on Hurricane Katrina Relief.”
III. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Group members requested the following amendments to the meeting minutes from July 28: Add Juli DiChiro as present; correct the spelling of Amy Amrhein’s and JoAnne Eggers’ names; include the addendum referencing the numbering system referred to within the minutes (Note: the referenced list was later sent as an email attachment); and strike Littleton as being absent (she was no longer a board member).
Rosenthal moved to accept the minutes as amended; Alexander seconded. The minutes were accepted with noted amendments.
IV. PUBLIC INPUT
Linda Richards, 245 East Nevada Street, spoke of the value of preserving the school playgrounds as neighborhood parks, noting that her son grew up in and around the Briscoe School grounds and that she is aware of the ongoing efforts by parents, school administrators, and teachers to protect those resources.
Melissa Mitchell Hooge, 271 High Street, speaking on behalf of “Save Our Schools and Playgrounds” (SOSP), expressed appreciation for the work of the combined boards and strongly urged the Parks Department to restore their responsibility for maintaining the school grounds throughout Ashland. She reported on the work of the volunteer cleanup crews that joined together on August 20 at both Lincoln and Briscoe Schools and thanked the people who participated in the work and the businesses that supported those efforts with donations of food, water, and gift certificates for the workers. She announced that the cleanup events will be held on the first Saturday of every month until a decision can be made as to the future maintenance at Lincoln and Briscoe School grounds. Finally, she expressed concern about the inadequate water supply being provided to trees and grounds at the two locations and about the future health of those areas.
Paul Copeland, 462 Jennifer Street, stated that he participated in the August 20 cleanup and voiced his concern about the future of the trees and plantings at those locations. He proposed a potential lease by Parks of the playing fields in exchange for maintenance.
Carol Voisin, 908 Fox Street, speaking on behalf of the Housing Commission, expressed concern about the lack of affordable workforce housing in Ashland and said that the situation has reached crisis proportions. She stated that the biggest issue associated with the problem is the lack of land in this area, and she asked the school board to find the will to engage in this crisis and to consider the possibility of allocating some of its available land for affordable housing and workforce housing.
V. STRATEGIC PLANNING SESSION I
Public Land as Shared Assets
Gardiner referenced his written statement, explaining that, at a past study session, members ranked topics in terms of importance and determined the critical nature of the issue of public land as shared assets. His statement referenced the publicly owned lands that benefit Ashland’s entire population and asked how best to cope with the potential loss of those lands.
Group members asked questions and made comments, including:
- How do we find a mechanism for allowing the public to use school district property, with the school district being compensated for that use?
- How do we embrace shared values and/or maximize use of public lands for common purposes such as emergency responses?
- How does SOU factor into the topic of public land as shared assets?
- How do we avoid buying the school grounds, since they have already been purchased by the city and its citizens through taxes?
- How do other Oregon cities deal with matters relating to purchases of vacant schools/land; what precedents have been set within the state?
- Would it be possible or practical to share lands and properties without purchasing them, in exchange for maintenance?
- Talked about the informal past agreement between Schools/Parks and the possibility of formalizing it in the future.
- How do we find a creative mechanism (lease? ownership? deed restriction?) to forge a long-term agreement between Schools and Parks, with the notion that we are dedicated to looking at the highest and best use for parks and open space for the benefit of the citizens of Ashland?
- Which entity would take responsibility for making this happen?
The discussion led to the creation of a Steering Group consisting of members from each body, for the purpose of determining whether the highest and best use for Lincoln and Briscoe Schools would be as open space. The group agreed to meet and develop “next steps.” Steering Group members include:
- Amy Amrhein—School District
- JoAnne Eggers—Parks Commission
- Alex Amarotico—City Council
Housing (Workforce, Affordable)
Hartzell read her summary of housing concerns and announced that a two-county summit on workforce housing is scheduled in February of 2006 in Grants Pass.
The group agreed to begin thinking about a joint effort around workforce housing and the funding of the Housing Trust Fund. It was suggested that a Housing Commission liaison from each body (specifically Schools and Parks) would be helpful in moving the process forward.
Comments and questions included:
- How do we, as a city, become more creative in developing solutions to the housing problem in Ashland? Perhaps by creating smaller dwelling units – in cooperation with the Planning Department.
- Should we consider using public lands (as in parking lots and school lands) for the purpose of building smaller units? Would the School District be interested in using their lands as housing sources?
- Would the Parks Commission consider allocating some of its parks purchases for potential housing options?
- Can the School District make affordable housing one of its considerations while planning for the long-term future of school property inventories?
- How can we influence the situation and not let demographics control us?
- How would affordable housing subsidies be delivered? How would we avoid creating inequities among the lower income population?
- How do we encourage people to get involved with the existing Housing Commission?
The group agreed to appoint a liaison to the Housing Commission at its next joint study session. That person will work with Hartzell, Council Liaison to the Housing Commission.
Marr summarized his transportation statement, articulating that the most important contribution families could make (to relieve congestion on city streets) would be to use the school bus system. He stated that research on alternative transportation has been conducted, but that marketing efforts are needed so that people become aware of the significant investments the city has made to promote non-motorized vehicle transportation options.
Comments and questions included:
- Members talked about encouraging carpooling, using public transportation and school buses, and both the “walking school bus” and the “rolling school bus” options for getting kids to school.
- “Car Free Day” was announced, scheduled for September 22, which will include several events at which people will be encouraged to use non-motorized vehicle alternatives to transportation.
- How can the city ensure that bike lanes are kept clear for cyclists?
- How do we encourage greater bus use within the city?
- How do we encourage extending the number of hours buses are available to patrons within the city?
- Members were encouraged to look for ways commissions could continue working together on events, such as in the case of the Bike Swap and Car Free Day (Parks and Recreation Commission and Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission).
- How do we appeal to the two biggest users of public transportation—seniors and school children?
- There was consensus to make alternative transportation promotion a city-wide goal in the next year, with a focus on students.
Members were encouraged to attend Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission meetings, scheduled for the third Thursday of every month at 5:15 PM—at the Siskiyou Room in the Shakespeare building.
Measure 37 (Impact on Growth)
Due to time constraints, this matter was tabled until the next meeting. Members were asked to consider the following questions when preparing for this discussion:
- What is this? Define it.
- Where are we at?
- What do we want to accomplish?
- How do we move forward?
- What is needed from the other groups?
VI-a. DISCUSSION OF NEXT STEPS
These matters were considered during discussions of each item.
VI-b. HURRICANE KATRINA RELIEF EFFORTS
Group members discussed how to assist, city-wide, with the relief efforts in the Gulf States, and whether it would be practical to promote or implement fundraising at that level, or instead to encourage individual and small-group fundraising and support.
Hartzell agreed to spearhead an effort to develop a relationship with the flood and hurricane-ravaged areas, and to find ways to best support recovery efforts. A community meeting was proposed, at a date and time to be determined.
VII. SET AGENDA FOR NEXT MEETING
- Hear reports from subcommittee members on the items discussed.
- Add three additional items from the list generated at the initial joint meeting.
- Meet again on Thursday, November 17, at 7:00 pm—Council Chambers.
Marr adjourned the meeting at 9:20 pm.