ASHLAND CONSERVATION COMMISSION
January 31, 2001
CALL TO ORDER– Council member Susan Reid was introduced as the new chairperson of the Conservation Commission. She called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. Members present were Susan Reid, Bruce Moats, Kari Tuck, Karen Amarotico, Russ Chapman, Howard Braham, Mort Smith and Paige Prewett. Staff present was Dick Wanderscheid. Dan Murphy represented Ashland Sanitary & Recycling. Member Russ Otte was unable to attend the meeting.
APPROVALS OF MINUTES – The Minutes of the November 29, 2000 meeting were approved with four changes.
PUBLIC FORUM – There was no one present who wished to speak.
Green Business Update – Ross Finney updated the Commission with the good news that DEQ approved his grant application, which will allow him to expand the Green Business Program countywide. Funding will be available in May. He will be creating a parallel set of standards to what we have in Ashland. Finney stated DEQ apparently had a $200,000 budget windfall for this year's funding cycle, so it received a record number of applications for funding. Only 45% of these requests were funded, so he felt it was a good sign there was a lot of support for his project. He noted he has been unable to get much work on the Ashland program lately because he has been completing work on the Quality of Life Index for Jackson County Civic League (he passed these reports around to the members). He did, however, get the Green Business ad in the Shakespeare Playbill. He is now planning on going back to the pilot businesses to survey them on where the benefits are and how to improve the program. Finney said there is a lot of good sustainable business activity going on in the area and noted he will be working with the Crater Lake National Park company in putting together an expansion of its recycling program.
He then reported he had talked with a silk-screening company in Medford regarding the logo decals and said he received a quote similar to what he had received from Lightning Copy. He will report more on this at another meeting. In the meantime, he will be talking to the pilot businesses on how important they feel the logos are. Personally, Finney feels it is a very important item, but since there is quite a cost in getting them printed, he wanted to be sure it would be a benefit. Reid asked if he had considered asking the participants to pay a fee for participation and the logo. Finney said since this is a voluntary effort, they wanted to keep the costs down as much as possible for the businesses, however, in the future, this may have to be considered. Finney said 250 logos would cost $600, 500 would be $716 and 1000 would be $984. 250 should be plenty.
The Commission congratulated Finney on the successful funding of his grant application.
ASHLAND SANITARY & RECYCLING UPDATE – Dan Murphy reported 1) The spring schedule is set – March 5 will be the start of the phone book drive at the depot and transfer station, April is free leaf and grass month at the transfer station, April 14 is chipper day and April 16-20 is chipper week. 2) A new event Ashland Sanitary is working on with Rogue Disposal is free latex paint disposal days, tentatively scheduled on April 27 and 28. The reason for this is that half of the hazardous waste event generates latex paint, which is a non-hazardous waste. The paint will be collected at the two transfer stations. Smith asked if it could be dropped off at the depot. Murphy said the transfer station serves the entire area, and the depot could be overwhelmed. Smith suggested a specific site or sites (i.e. a parking lot) where people could drop off the paint, and then one truck could pick up the cans. Chapman said there is more room at the transfer station and they would like to keep the entire event on their property because it could get messy and they would have total control of the scene in case there is a problem. He added that basically, the transfer station serves all the areas south of Barnett Road in Medford. Reid suggested keeping track of the number of cars that deposit paint at the transfer station this year in order to better deal with the issue next year. Smith stated he is concerned that a lot of people won't be willing to take one or two cans as far as the transfer station, whereas if it were in town, he feels more people would be likely to do it. He maintained it needs to be as convenient as possible in order for this to be successful. Murphy said data will be collected this year. Chapman stated this goes back to only buying as much as is needed and that responsibility and liability should go back as far as the manufacturer assuming some of the responsibility for finding secondary uses. Murphy clarified there will be no charge for the paint drop off, while the hazardous waste event is $5.00 per car. He also stated this event will be for commercial and residential customers. Smith asked for clarification of putting dried latex paint cans in the trash receptacle and Murphy said it would be all right. Amarotico asked if there is a program to give neutral-colored used paint to people, organizations or the school district to make it more cost effective. Murphy responded they had talked about setting up a used paint table, with primer in particular because it doesn't matter what kind or color of wall it goes on. Something similar was started last year during the hazardous waste event for household chemicals, etc. Amarotico volunteered to help out at the reused paint table. 3) The hazardous waste collection event is tentatively scheduled for May 4 and 5 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Expo Center. 4) Murphy said he still had the worm bin for North Mountain Park and Prewitt offered to pick it up.
Education Subcommittee – Tuck reported the committee (Tuck, Smith, Braham and Amarotico) had been meeting to write the articles for the Tidings. Smith said he thought there should be three articles rather than two, and reported he had spoken with the temporary editor who was very receptive to this. He would like Murphy to do an article on where the recycled material goes to stimulate interest in the subject. Then the committee would do two articles, one on home recycling and one on business recycling. He will talk to the new editor about this. He then brought up the fact that there has been very little precipitation so far this year and also that there is an energy crisis. He asked if anyone thought water and energy conservation should be written about first because of the timeliness. Wanderscheid said the Commission has previously written articles on both these subjects for the Tidings. Reid stated she had a Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) article on "Waste Not Want Not" with 25 great energy habits to adopt. Wanderscheid noted the City will be running an ad based on this and will also be writing about deregulation and electric utility information in the City Source newsletter. Tuck said the Commission is already committed to the Tidings series and if the members want to go beyond that, they can decide later. Smith stated he had also talked with Fran Berteau, from the City's Administration office, about getting something in the utility bill stuffer and she was very receptive to that. Format for the Tidings articles was discussed. The Commission felt it would be best if each article could be enclosed in a box of some sort, easily identifiable as coming from the Conservation Commission (Sustainable Ashland logo), and easy to tear out in order to post them in the house as reminders. Tuck said she feels it is very important to have the logo included with the article and the Commission agreed. Discussion ensued regarding recycling, paper in particular. Smith noted he had asked about paper recycling at the depot about a year ago and was told when grayboard was accepted, a bin of mixed paper was filled every day. Now a bin is only filled once a week with just high-grade paper.
TID Subcommittee – Wanderscheid briefly explained the memo from the Water Department included in the packet. The Commission discussed the article in the Tidings regarding backflow devices in Talent and whether they are required or not. Wanderscheid stated all the information in the article was not completely accurate and it is much more complex than one might think. There are state laws that have to be considered in addition to local laws.
MORE OLD BUSINESS:
Letter from Bill Bradbury – Wanderscheid explained the letter included in the packet was in response to the letter sent by the Conservation Commission to the Secretary of State regarding the recyclability of the Voter's Pamphlets. In explanation, the State had done its homework and decided to do what was actually best for its citizens. Wanderscheid noted it was good for the Commission to send the letter and is sure the State will think more about it when the next pamphlets are sent. Chapman noted if the Commission wanted to respond to the letter, he would suggest the State contact Oregon Refuse and Recycling Association headquarters office in Salem in order to get help with this problem. Reid said she was impressed with the letter that was sent to the State and the one received in response. She thought a letter informing the State that this resource is available would be a good idea. Chapman volunteered to write a draft letter for the next meeting.
Electronic Debit Update – Wanderscheid updated the Commission with the following statistics: there are currently 723 out of 10,000 accounts in the program, it was promoted through a separate insert in the utility bill, it was mentioned in the utility bill newsletter, there was a short article about it in the City Source, and the customer service people try to mention it to people when a new connect comes in. He noted it is in the City's interest to get as many people on this as possible because it saves the City money. The plan is to keep promoting it. There needs to be 3-4,000 people in the program before separate batches can be justified. There are eight billing cycles every month so these would have to be separated eight different times. At this time it would be very difficult to get rid of the envelopes. As always, Wanderscheid said he will make sure all envelopes that are turned in to him are returned to Utility Billing for reuse. Prewitt suggested printing a few words about this program on the bill itself. Wanderscheid replied it would take too much programming. Smith said he thinks it is still important to make sure people realize the statement is still mailed to the residents so they can keep track of utility usage and charges during the month.
Goal Setting – Wanderscheid reviewed the goals that were adopted last year. One of the goals discussed at the November meeting was street sweeping. Braham suggested spending at least an hour or an entire meeting on goal setting. Reid stated if any of the Commission goals need to go to a Council Strategic Planning session, she would be happy to take them. She also noted she had recently met with Wanderscheid, Community Development Director John McLaughlin and former Conservation Commission member Risa Buck regarding sustainable housing. She said she will be taking this goal to the Strategic Planning session. Wanderscheid clarified if the Council prioritizes this, it will take a lot of coordination to make it work because he, Planning Staff, Planning Commission, and the Conservation Commission would all be involved. Reid added the density bonus program in Planning was mainly designed for the larger builder in Ashland. She would like to see these programs redesigned since there is a resource the City is losing because the individual lots (new homes and renovations) are not being addressed. Wanderscheid noted Buck's vision is much more than just energy conservation. It is looking at the embodied energy of building materials, heat loss, transportation, etc. Reid agreed this would be an ambitious project, but said the community would gain nothing if it isn't even talked about. Reid also informed the Commission she is very involved with a committee on energy conservation through The League of Oregon Cities and discussed some of the energy concepts being worked on. Tuck stated she feels more time needs to be spent on goals. Chapman informed the members he had spoken with Adam Hanks regarding the Adopt-A-Street Program because it has languished a bit since its inception. Hanks is very busy but would also love to see the program re-energized and would be willing to help to get more going with it. Chapman then showed the Commission a small brochure the County has for its program, and said it would be nice to have something similar for Ashland's program. He wanted to bring this up because it would be another budget possibility for the Commission, perhaps to pay for tree-free paper. He would also like to develop a system to recognize the volunteers, as was originally recommended. Advertising in the Sneak Preview, Lithiagraph and Tidings could also be paid by the Commission. The City already has the necessary safety items for volunteers. Chapman said he could put up notices about the program at the depot and Ashland Sanitary's office. Wanderscheid said since the Council will be meeting within the next few weeks for Strategic Planning, he will make sure the major goals are distributed to the members as soon as possible. The agenda for the February meeting will begin with the discussion of goals.
Template for Local Government Sustainable Development Programs – The Commission briefly discussed the examples of sustainability programs that were included in the packet, agreeing some of these should be discussed as goals. Wanderscheid passed around the full document. The website address is www.upa.pdx.edu/CWCH/.
Budget Balance – Wanderscheid related the $330 for the North Mountain Park compost bin was not included in the remaining balance as shown on the agenda. The current balance is $1,028.44.
COMMISSION ITEMS – 1) Smith asked for clarification of the number of kilowatts of power that are produced at Bonneville in order to get one kilowatt to us. Wanderscheid responded this is not an exact science, but it is somewhere in the neighborhood of 5-10 kilowatts that are needed to be generated at Bonneville Dam in order to get 1 kilowatt at more distant sites. 2) Reid noted that tonight she had heard a segment on National Public Radio on wind power. She was pleased people are talking about it again. She stated the Council wants to bring green power into the City's mix and that some of the wind power systems qualify as green. Reid said, however, that solar power holds so much more hope and that by producing power, it reduces energy use, therefore, and there is no waste. Smith said if the government would in some way underwrite the installation of solar systems, many more people would do it. Wanderscheid noted people can still get tax credit in Oregon for solar water and solar electric systems. Reid said it is information like this that the City should advertise. She then noted Wanderscheid is a great resource for all energy conservation and solar matters. After a short discussion on upgrading existing and building new transmission lines and power plants, Wanderscheid commented a conservation kilowatt is just as good as a solar kilowatt and it is much cheaper. Reid related that is why she does not want to miss the opportunities of building single family homes within the community or rehabbing older homes. When Reid mentioned weatherizing homes, Wanderscheid stated the City still has a weatherization program and that we have weatherized hundreds of rentals in addition to all the owner-occupied homes. Seven million dollars has been spent on these kinds of measures in the last 20 years. Reid added the City of Ashland is a model for the Northwest as far as spending the energy dollar to capture energy conservation. Wanderscheid said we have the lowest per capita electric consumption of any community in the Northwest. 3) Smith stated PP & L is giving its customers two free fluorescent light bulbs. When he inquired about Ashland doing this, he was told it was a possibility. Wanderscheid related BPA has a program and it will probably consist of mailing two $6.00 coupons to all Ashland citizens. 4) The only item on the February 28 agenda will be goal setting.
AJOURNMENT – The meeting adjourned at 9:05 p.m.