Ashland City Council, Ashland School Board,
and Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission
Joint Meeting Minutes
May 25, 2006, 7:00 pm
Civic Center, Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street
Attendance: City Councilors A. Amarotico, Chapman, and Hartzell were present. Mayor Morrison and Councilors Jackson and Silbiger were absent.
School Board Members Alexander, Amrhein, Marr, Parker, and Patton were present.
Parks Commissioners D. Amarotico, Eggers, Gardiner, Lewis, and Rosenthal were present.
Staff: MARTHA BENNETT, CITY ADMINISTRATOR
JULI DICHIRO, SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT
DON ROBERTSON, PARKS DIRECTOR
I. CALL TO ORDER
Rich Rosenthal of the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission called the meeting to order at 7:05 pm at Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street in Ashland, Oregon, on behalf of all three entities.
II. INTRODUCTION AND AGENDA REVIEW
The groups reviewed the agenda and made no additions or deletions.
III. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The meeting minutes from November 17, 2005, were approved by consensus.
The meeting minutes from March 16, 2006, were approved by consensus.
IV. PUBLIC INPUT
Susan Berryhill, 129 S. Laurel Street, lives near Briscoe and works near Lincoln and spoke of the value of retaining the school grounds as neighborhood parks for the benefit of the community.
Brian Hilden of Ashland reported that he has enjoyed contributing to the cleanup efforts for the Lincoln school grounds, expressing that Lincoln is an invaluable treasure for his family. He asked that Lincoln be preserved as a neighborhood park.
Melissa Mitchell-Hooge, 271 High Street, representing “Save our Schools and Playgrounds,” thanked everyone who came out to support the cleanup efforts at Briscoe and Lincoln school grounds. She several notes from citizens expressing a desire to retain the two school grounds as neighborhood parks.
Ann Wilton, 391 Liberty Street, stated that, as a six-year Ashland resident, she has noticed the Lincoln grounds being used extensively for recreational purposes and reported that there are no other spaces in the area that could serve the same purpose.
Paul Copeland, 462 Jennifer Street, spoke of his willing participation in the SOSP cleanup events and asked Parks to take over the maintenance for the two school grounds. He reported a number of issues discussed at School Board meetings with respect to the properties, including playground equipment / grounds maintenance costs.
Rivers Brown, 1067 Ashland Street, a neighbor of Lincoln School, expressed his desire to see the school grounds maintained and retained as a neighborhood park. He said the open space Lincoln provides to the community should be preserved and asked the three entities to facilitate the process of retaining the property as a neighborhood park.
Claire Collins, 482 Lori Lane, reported that her grandchildren play at the Briscoe School playgrounds and expressed a desire to preserve the grounds for future generations, stating that all open spaces need to be preserved. She asked the Parks Department to ensure its preservation.
Jason Houk, 330 High Street #4, speaking as an SOSP board member, expressed his happiness at seeing the three entities working together. He said that public participation is a crucial element in allowing the public process to work and he encouraged members of the public to get involved and to “be a part of the solution.”
Tina Margulies, 1131 Greenmeadows Way, stated that, as a six-month resident, she has enjoyed all the City parks but especially the Briscoe Park and she asked for its preservation as a neighborhood park.
Nancy Seward, 115 Church Street, spoke of her family’s enjoyment of the Briscoe School grounds, where her teenage son plays basketball and they participate in activities as a family. She reported that she has been involved with the SOSP cleanups and has seen all that needs to be done in terms of maintenance. She asked all the elected officials involved to find a solution, including identifying a funding source.
V. MOMENT OF SILENCE FOR JACK HARDESTY
Rosenthal requested a moment of silence to acknowledge the passing of City Councilor Jack Hardesty, a dedicated public servant and community member.
VI. BRISCOE / LINCOLN SUBCOMMITTEE REPORT AND DISCUSSION
Eggers briefly updated the group about the May 19 subcommittee meeting and read aloud the counter-proposal by Parks to the School Board regarding maintenance for Briscoe and Lincoln School grounds.
Amrhein also summarized the meeting, reporting that the School Board met subsequently on May 22 and agreed to the counter-proposal but were not in agreement about paying the $8,000 to Parks for maintenance of the non-recreational areas at Lincoln. She stated that the School Board would agree to pay for the irrigation water and that they hoped to find a long-term maintenance solution before the next budgeting cycle.
Comments and questions from those in attendance included:
- Members of all three groups expressed satisfaction with the short-term agreement between Schools and Parks.
- Parks continues to inspect and maintain all of the playground equipment at both Lincoln and Briscoe Schools.
- A School Board member reported driving around town and witnessing school grounds being used as neighborhood parks, stating that every dollar not spent on maintenance is used in the classrooms and asking the three entities to look for a joint solution for the benefit of the children of Ashland.
- A School Board member expressed that the City Council holds the key to the long-term solution and hopes they will increase Parks’ allocation of maintenance funds in future years, since all of the City’s playgrounds deserve the same level of maintenance, and further expressed that the long-term solution should take into account Parks’ expertise at maintaining grounds and Schools’ expertise at educating children.
- The groups should set a goal to find a long-term maintenance solution by the end of the 2006-2007 fiscal year.
- Parks is the ambassador for the City in terms of public parks; City Council and Parks share the same budget; Parks is charged with handling parks matters for the City.
- Budgetary intervention by City Council would help the process move forward in terms of transfer of ownership.
- The question and task should remain: “How can we secure the playgrounds in perpetuity as neighborhood parks?” not be reframed as: “How can we all chip in to maintain the grounds?”
- The original mission of the joint groups was to deal with the issue of grounds. City Council should state their position on the matter.
- It all comes down to “who’s going to pay for it?” Parks wants to help but didn’t budget for exclusive grounds maintenance responsibility of Briscoe and Lincoln in the 2006-2007 fiscal year. Would be glad to help but can’t do it alone.
- Will Schools address the $8,000 payment at their June 12 meeting? Answer: yes.
- What should be the role of the City Council in this process? Parks can only recommend to council a property exchange, they don’t have the power to purchase the land while council does.
- Council should partner with Parks and Schools to provide a funding mechanism for maintenance of school grounds.
- Short-term, Parks will work with the City Attorney to draft a Memorandum of Understanding. Parks and Schools will address and approve/deny the MOU at their individual formal meetings. If approved by both, the process can move forward.
- Long-term, Schools will request placement of the topic “Long-term Solution for School Ground Maintenance” on a future council meeting agenda.
VII. TRANSPORTATION DISCUSSION
Marr gave an overview of some of the major transportation issues facing the City, thanking Chapman for his commitment to the process.
Claire Collins, 482 Lori Lane, spoke with frustration about the #5 bus, stating that it does not properly serve the transportation needs of people traveling to the north end of the City [especially those using the hospital and doctors in the area] and needs to be extended.
Points of discussion among elected officials included:
- RVTD budget shortfall and its impact on Ashland’s bus service
- Request for an extension of bus service to North Mountain Park
- New sidewalks and their impact in terms of encouraging walking as a form of transportation
- Potential involvement of SOU in the discussion and process
- Finding a funding mechanism for addressing transportation needs
- Immediate goal: develop a transportation plan for the city; long-term goal: help citizens become less dependent on cars
- Current use of green diesel fuel for school buses and the possibility of the City buying it jointly with ASD to bring down the cost
- Underutilization of the buses for Briscoe-area children attending elementary schools within Ashland
- Potential utilization of teachers in educating children about the value of riding the school bus [thereby discouraging families from driving their children to school]
- Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission’s success in working with Walker School parents on educating the community about the importance of bicycle transportation
- Possible experimentation with a jitney service to encourage “low density mass transportation”
- The need for the Transportation Subcommittee to meet and discuss these transportation issues prior to the next joint study session
- Chapman, Gardiner, Alexander, and Marr agreed to meet to talk about transportation needs prior to the next joint meeting.
VIII. HOUSING UPDATE
Hartzell updated the group on the results from the February Workforce Housing summit, reporting that it was attended by representatives from three counties and involved discussions pertaining to the shortage of workforce and affordable housing in the area. Land shortage was a critical point of discussion at the summit and suggestions for land on which to build units included school lands. The group discussed the possibility of scheduling a tour of school lands with the Planning Commission to get an understanding of properties that might be considered.
Amrhein reported that a subcommittee of the Bond and Facilities Committee was working on a proposal that included potential solutions for workforce housing. She said that there was interest in researching options outside of the bond. Members of the subcommittee, including Lewis, Hartzell, and Parker, agreed to meet before the next joint meeting to brainstorm next steps.
IX. DISCUSSION OF NEXT STEPS
- Members of the Transportation Subcommittee—Chapman, Gardiner, Alexander, and Marr—agreed to meet before the next joint meeting to talk about transportation issues.
- Members of the Workforce Housing Subcommittee—Lewis, Hartzell, and Parker—agreed to meet before the next joint meeting to brainstorm next steps.
X. SET AGENDA FOR NEXT MEETING
- Hear reports from Transportation and Workforce Housing Subcommittees
- Add three additional items from the list generated at the initial joint meeting
- Meet again on Thursday, July 13, at 7:00 pm—Council Chambers [Note: the meeting was later postponed]
Rosenthal adjourned the meeting at 9:00 pm.
Respectfully submitted, Susan Dyssegard, Executive Secretary, Ashland Parks and Recreation