MINUTES FOR THE REGULAR MEETING
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
February 16, 1999
Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Council Chairperson Laws called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m., in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilors Laws, Reid, Hauck, Wheeldon and Fine were present. Mayor Shaw and Councilor Hanson were absent.
Councilor Fine noted that Councilor Hanson had been called away for a month of training with the National Guard, and would be absent for this meeting and the next.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Councilor Wheeldon asked that the paragraph on page 6 beginning, "Wheeldon stated that a policy was needed..." be corrected to indicate "Reid stated that a policy was needed..."
The minutes of the regular meeting of February 2, 1999 were approved as amended.
SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS & AWARDS
1. Update and presentation by the Bicycle & Pedestrian Commission.
Tim Garry, current chair of the Bicycle & Pedestrian Commission, noted the five areas of focus for the Commission: infrastructure, education and promotion, safety and enforcement, modal equity, and serving as an advisory body/liaison/resource for the Council and the community. Noted that all members try to walk or bike to work every day, and expressed the hope that Ashland remains a bicycle and pedestrian-friendly town. Garry cited the Siskiyou Boulevard Bike Lane project as one he would like to emphasize, as it will link the downtown, schools, and university. Stated that this would make cycling much safer, and that he hopes work on this project will continue.
Garry noted that Jennifer Hadden, who was absent tonight, also walks and bikes daily, and introduced Landon Hilliard. Hilliard spoke on multimodal equity, and noted the opportunities for multimodal transportation in Ashland. Pointed out that Ashland Free Ride Day will be coming again in May, and explained that Town Cruises will begin in March as a means to bring attention to the need for bike lanes on Siskiyou Boulevard.
Garry noted the contribution of members Tom Powell, Russ Rickert, and Council liaison Carole Wheeldon, and introduced new member David Young. Young spoke on the lifestyle choice of minimizing automobile usage and the need to take methods of transportation other than the automobile seriously. Emphasized that the community is full of accidents waiting to happen, and education of cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers is needed.
Garry noted that new members Theresa Johnson and Jesse Ferraro were absent tonight. Said that he would like to emphasize the Commission’s role as a community resource, and that they take this role seriously.
Councilor Reid noted the work that had already gone into the design of Siskiyou Boulevard on the part of Phil Arnold would be a good starting point for new efforts, and stated that she did not think it would be necessary to "re-invent the wheel". Laws noted that a tentative plan for Siskiyou Boulevard is nearly in place with the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), and emphasized that the City’s Transportation Plan illustrates Ashland’s commitment to multimodal equity.
2. Update and presentation by the Chamber of Commerce regarding parking issues.
Rick Nagel/President, Ashland Chamber of Commerce/Noted that there are currently twenty four active committees, including this one, which has twenty one members representing a broad cross-section of the community. Explained that they have attempted to approach the issue holistically, in an integrated manner from a total community standpoint. Emphasized that parking is not just a tourist or downtown issue, but that their concern is to provide access for citizens to the businesses in the City, including doctors, pharmacists, attorneys, and CPAs. Pointed that it is not there intent to create a huge parking lot, or an extensive mass transit system. Concluded that what the Chamber has to offer is two-fold: 1) a willingness to help; and 2) the presentation of concepts relative to the creation of an integrated plan.
Michael Donovan/180 Logan Drive/Stated that he has been a business owner for twenty-six years, and is pleased to work with community members on this project. Emphasized that this proposal has not just focused on the downtown area, but has tried to address transportation issues relative to Southern Oregon University and Ashland Community Hospital as well. Expressed the hope that there will be a partnership with the City in the next fiscal year to determine the feasibility of this proposal. Noted the memo and studies which have been presented to the Council, and asked that the Council look at the City of Aspen, Colorado’s award winning plan. Stated that Ashland is similar to Aspen in many ways. Urged multimodal equity, and asked that the Council join with the Chamber in conducting comprehensive studies for coming year, including looking at the feasibility of an expanded, city-operated transit system. Stated that enhanced transit service will be central to any strategy in dealing with traffic and congestion issues. Also suggested that there is a need for a parking structure downtown, near the Mark Antony Hotel and Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and that this is a critical juncture because of the Hotel’s renovation and the Festival’s expansion. Suggested that there will need to be incentives and disincentives to encourage the use of a new parking structure. Also cited neighborhood parking zones and paid parking as possible options.
Explained that in the case of Aspen, Colorado, paid parking revenues were used to fund buses, and this has slowed the growth of traffic there. Suggested that the Chamber would like to see shuttles every 10-15 minutes from park-and-ride sites at either end of town, and would like to work in partnership with the Bicycle & Pedestrian Commission. Concluded by suggesting an ad hoc citizens’ advisory committee to address downtown issues, such as the expiration of the revenue stream from the Downtown LID, and to work on updating the Downtown Plan.
Councilor Hauck noted that one element the Council has identified in their strategic planning process was the downtown/parking issue. Reid recognized the need to look at the bus issue and to look into alternatives, and to find parking options. Reid questioned if the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is considering providing parking for patrons in their expansion, or if they are seeking a partnership with the City. Donovan suggested that a partnership between the City, the Festival and the Mark Antony would be desirable, and noted that representatives of the Festival were present and could speak to this issue.
Jim Watson/Administrator, Ashland Community Hospital/Speaking on behalf of the Hospital with regard to transportation and parking, he emphasized that they want to improve access for their customers. Urged a long-term solution to these issues. Concluded that growth continues for the Hospital, and they are excited by the community wide approach to this planning effort.
Paul Nicholson/Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Executive Director/Noted that studies of their patrons ten to twelve years ago indicated that 60% felt parking in Ashland was fair or poor. This has improved to just over 30% over the last twelve years. Stated that tourists don’t see the same dilemma that citizens are aware of. Explained that even with their expansion, the Festival will not grow by more than 10% in seat capacity, and this growth will not necessarily translate into an increase in tourists as they hope many patrons will stay for more shows. Emphasized that the Festival supports an integrated plan, and feels that an intra-city transit system is desirable. Suggested that there should be incentives to discourage employees from driving to work. Noted that Ashland has an aging population, and that there is a need to offer them options. Festival recommends and supports the thoughtful analysis that has gone into this proposal, and will strongly and actively collaborate in working to deal with these issues.
Councilor Reid questioned the ownership of the Hargadine parking lot. Nicholson noted that this lot was purchased by the Festival and given to the City. The City currently holds a 50-year lease to the Festival. Reid stated that while she is opposed to parking structures in principle, she feels that there could be some designs she would support. Expressed concern over the mistakes made in other cities, and suggested that Ashland learn from the mistakes made elsewhere.
Ron Bolstad/Vice President, Administration and Finance, Southern Oregon University/Expressed the University’s commitment to participate fully with the Chamber in this community effort. Recognized the University’s impact on transportation and parking, noting that half of the students and one-third of the employees commute from outside of Ashland daily. Urged that efforts be made to ensure that access is available. Noted the patronage of the greater Rogue Valley community for University events, citing the 14,000 visitors and participants in programs at Schneider Museum of Art, and the 4,000 school groups who attended workshops for Shakespearean Studies, as examples. Emphasized that access needs to be made available, and noted that the timing is impeccable as the University will be updating its Master Plan. Concluded by recognizing Directory of Community Development John McLaughlin for his involvement in this process.
Sophia McDonald/Associated Students of Southern Oregon University, President/Reiterate Bolstad’s comments, noting that University students share the same concerns. Noted that a survey this fall cited parking as the students’ second most important concern, after legislative issues. Concluded that the students are eager to help, and are committed to finding alternative solutions to the transportation issue.
1. Minutes of Boards, Commissions and Committees.
2. Monthly Departmental Reports.
3. Confirmation of Mayor’s appointment of Theresa Johnson to the Bicycle & Pedestrian Commission for a term to expire April 30, 2000.
Councilors Fine/Reid m/s to approve the consent agenda. Voice vote: All AYES. Motion passed.
1. Public Hearing to consider proposed assessments for Fordyce Street Local Improvement District.
City Recorder Barbara Christensen explained that Council had been given an updated handout that included a revised list of property owners. Confirmed for Council that dollar amounts had not changed, and that the revisions had to do only with names. Noted that this list was the one used for mailing, and the correct property owners had been noticed properly.
Public Works Director Paula Brown noted the lengthy construction process and the large number of lots involved. Stated that seven formal letters of concern had been received, but staff does not feel that these warrant reductions. Pointed out a correction in the last line of the background information of the Council Communication, noting that the assessment methodology was based on area (acreage) rather than frontage feet. Noted that the project costs went over, but were within the 10% limit, but that with the $77,0000 credits given, the costs were reduced by almost 25%. The final cost was significantly lower than any original estimates. Concluded that this has been a fairly difficult project.
Councilor Wheeldon asked for clarification about the entrance to the Clear Creek Subdivision. Brown explained that the City removed some asphalt, and some curbing and paving had to be redone on the Clear Creek side. Credits were given for the curbing done, and a storm drain was put in under the right of way. Stated that most of the costs were born by the City with the credits that were given.
Public hearing opened at 8:03 p.m.
Colin Swales/Owner of several lots in the Ashland Willows Subdivision/Opposed to this project from the start, and feels that the impetus for the project was in the City’s need to upgrade the storm drain system. Questioned the discrepancy in the footage of storms drains credited, and the cost per lineal foot credited, versus the costs given in the original estimate. Suggested that savings in one area of the project are made up elsewhere, in the City’s favor. Explained that the City’s original estimate was $224,000, and the low bid was only $189,000, yet the total cost was much more.
Carolyn Eidman/554 Fordyce Street/Noted the tearing up of the street while not putting in underground utilities, the widening of the top of Fordyce Street, the issue of credits and the interest earned on money provided by the county. Questioned the requirements placed on contractors by the City, and noted that residents were not notified when their driveways were to be cut, and were not told to evacuate when gas lines broken several times. Stated that the quality of the workmanship is unbearable, and she hopes that this contractor will not be given work by the City again. Stated that the traffic calming devices do not work, that a blind intersection was created, and that there are parking problems.
Swales noted that when the project began, they had a paved street with lighting; now they have sidewalks instead of ditches, but the parking strips are only filled with ¾- minus gravel that are full of weeds and trash. Urged any neighborhood considering an LID to look at Fordyce, and see that these issues are addressed before beginning.
Robert Monroe/562 Fairview Street/Stated that he has owned property at 521 Fordyce Street for two years, and was made aware of the LID before his purchase. Explained that he accepts the LID, but has issues with being deprived of TID irrigation water, despite his having water rights and being promised that he would continue to have full access to TID water after the project’s completion. Also stated that, having done some paving himself, he feels the paving job is one of the worst he has ever seen. Cannot believe the poor construction of the speed bump, and feels that the paving job should have been rejected at the time of City inspection. Noted that the park rows are filled with gravel that will only allow weeds to grow.
Brown responded to the issues raised by noting that difference between the estimate, bid and the final cost is normal, and was probably due to additional requests on the part of the City. Stated that "Huffman and Wright" were the contractors, and explained that they had not been used for City projects before. Stated that the paving is not the best job she has seen, but that it was acceptable to the inspecting crews. With regard to the park rows, Brown noted that dirt was brought in, but she was uncertain if all park rows had been filled. Councilor Hauck questioned what the policy is for park rows. Brown stated that more dirt could be brought in to fill the park rows as needed. With regard to the up-sizing of the storm drain line, and Swales’ question about the lineal feet, Brown stated that she was uncertain of specifics, but that the information included in the Council packets was what was paid for. Brown concluded that she would avoid the raised crosswalk design in the future, and would look at using something different or redesigning the crosswalk on future projects. Stated that the dead end created will be eliminated with the extension of Seena Lane in the future. Noted that she had not heard of problems with TID water, but she can check into it and see that additional water is provided as needed. Emphasized that the TID problem will be sorted out.
Councilor Fine questioned the speed bump, and Brown noted that it is awkward because Seena Lane has been extended, despite the City having reconfigured it once. Brown emphasized that it was inspected, and redone, to conform with the specifications.
Councilor Wheeldon noted the number of lessons learned with this project, and suggested that a checklist be kept and revisited to ensure these lessons are carried into future projects. Brown noted that much of the difficulty here was related to the large number of lots, and stated that a checklist of this sort would be helpful.
Chairperson Laws asked for clarification on the raised crosswalk traffic calming measure. Brown stated that she would do the design differently in the future, but it is not a traffic hazard. Suggested that it could be improved with better striping to make people aware of the impediment to traffic. Laws recapped the issues, noting that dirt would be brought in as needed, that the paving was inspected and accepted, that the speed bump was not a hazard but could be re-striped to improve its effectiveness, and that Brown would be looking into problems with the TID line and contacting Mr. Monroe. Stated that other questions should be referred to Public Works.
Public hearing closed at 8:25 P.M.
Reading by title only of "A Resolution Levying Assessments in the Amount of $179,247.61 for Curbs, Gutters, Storm Drain, Sidewalk and Paving Improvements in the Fordyce Street Local Improvement District No. 77."
Councilors Hauck/Wheeldon m/s to adopt Resolution #99-14. Roll call vote: Laws, Reid, Hauck, Wheeldon, and Fine, YES. Motion passed.
PUBLIC FORUM No one came forward to speak.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS None.
NEW AND MISCELLANEOUS BUSINESS
1. Council Meeting Look Ahead.
City Administrator Mike Freeman offered to answer any questions the Council might have about the Look Ahead.
Wheeldon asked that the March 2nd study session be rescheduled so she can attend the wrap-up on strategic planning. This was discussed, and Freeman indicated that this issue would likely be finished at the study session on February 19th.
It was also noted that on February 19th, there would be a discussion of scheduling future study sessions. Laws recognized the difficulty of scheduling study sessions so that all Councilors could attend, and suggested that the Council consider meeting every Tuesday night. Wheeldon suggested adding study session items to the regular meetings, so that all meetings would be from 7:00 to 10:30 p.m. Agreed that these ideas would be discussed on Friday, the 19th.
Hauck inquired what the "NERT" item was on the Look Ahead; Freeman stated he would check into this and see that it was clarified on the next Look Ahead.
2. A Motion to Adopt the Findings for the Approval of Planning Action #98-091, Hillside Inn, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd.
Councilors Hauck/Wheeldon m/s to adopt the Findings. Roll call vote: Laws, Reid, Hauck, Wheeldon, YES. Fine, NO. Motion passed 4-1.
3. Letter to City Council from Sister City Committee regarding request for funding for visit from Guanajuato in April.
Meredith Reynolds and Sean Van Ausdall of the Ad Hoc Sister City Committee presented the Council with a draft budget for their thirty year anniversary celebration event, along with a brief history of the sister city relationship and programs.
Reid questioned if this was a different event from the usual Guanajuato visit that occurs around July 4th each year. Reynolds noted that this is a new item, at an additional cost. Explained the exchange that occurs between these two cities, and noted that the Council has always allotted funds for the exchange. Ashland citizens and the University also participate, and there are donations. Noted that there has been limited spending over the last five years by the Committee, and this will be a once in thirty year event. Explained that they tried to hold a celebration of the twenty fifth anniversary, but there were too many competing events. Stated that this celebration will be an opportunity for representatives of both cities to look at the accomplishments of this program over the last thirty years, as well as a chance to plan for expanding the exchange programs.
Fine indicated that while he feels the $2000 requested is reasonable, he has concerns that this might give the appearance of the City’s endorsement of a government that has never held free elections. Reynolds stated that Guanajuato is different from this trend elsewhere in Mexico, and invited Fine to participate in the event and see for himself. Van Ausdall noted that both Ashland and Guanajuato pay dues to Sister Cities International, and this is not about governments, but rather about people-to-people relationships.
Councilors Reid/Fine m/s to approve spending $2635.00 to fund a visit from Guanajuato in April. Voice vote: All AYES. Motion passed.