ASHLAND CONSERVATION COMMISSION
May 24, 2000
CALL TO ORDER– The meeting was called to order by Chairperson Carole Wheeldon at 7:05 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. Members present were Bruce Moats, Kari Tuck, Karen Amarotico, Carole Wheeldon, Howard Braham, Mort Smith and Russ Chapman. City Staff present were Dick Wanderscheid and Sonja Akerman, and Dan Murphy was present representing Ashland Sanitary & Recycling. Members Russ Otte and Ashley Henry were unable to attend.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES – Chapman pointed out a few corrections under Discussion of Jefferson Monthly Article by Annick Roulet-Stevenson for the minutes of the April 26, 2000 meeting. He then moved and Braham seconded to approve the minutes as corrected. The motion was unanimously passed.
INTRODUCTION OF NEW MEMBER – Wanderscheid introduced Mort Smith to the Commission.
PUBLIC FORUM – There was no one present who wished to speak.
ASHLAND SANITARY & RECYCLING UPDATE – Murphy informed the Commission 1) The new recycling building at the transfer station has been completed and without advertising yet, quite a lot of recyclable materials have already been taken. 2) The hazardous waste collection event was about the same as last year. To date the official tallies aren't out, but Murphy said there were 600+ on Saturday as well as on Sunday. Wheeldon mentioned that while at the AOR Conference, she learned that at similar events in Oregon, tables are set up with examples of alternative (green) products citizens can buy in lieu of products that end up as hazardous waste. Murphy said there was a reuse table set up and that Rogue Disposal is in charge of the event. Chapman and Murphy agreed it would be beneficial to set up a board with similar information so people can read this as they drive up to discard their hazardous waste. 3) Discount day at the transfer station will be June 10. Customers get $3.50 discounted from the regular $14.00 minimum and there is usually quite a jump in customers for this event. For each customer, $1.75 is donated to the Ashland Food Bank. 4) Worm bins have been moving fast. There is a display in the front office and Murphy said he just ordered more. He puts them together and includes a worm-composting flyer in each.
Update on Leadership for Sustainable Communities and AOR Conferences – Wheeldon reported she had attended both conferences last week. The Sustainable Communities conference was much more than the Natural Step. It began by Governor Kitzhaber signing an executive order for sustainability in Oregon by the year 2025. She noted the State sent many people to both the Sustainability and the AOR conferences to start getting on board with this. Wheeldon said she plans to write an article for the local newspapers. The Natural Step was talked about as a tool by which to achieve sustainability, which is really a context in which people think about how they make decisions. Sustainability is thought about as three legs of a stool - economics, ecology and the social aspects. A lot of things resonated about what Ashland is doing. Wheeldon said she found it very interesting listening to what other communities have done and are doing to attain sustainability. Most groups at the conference that started sustainability programs were not government groups but independent groups. Wheeldon observed the most interesting person she heard used to be a planner for the City of Seattle, who now works for sustainability on a more global basis. He spoke about sustainability as not only being a process, but a term that can be defined in many ways by many cities. Wheeldon then reported she spent a lot of time with Bob Guerra, from the Medford Department of Environmental Quality office, at the AOR conference. She commented Ashland citizens should feel very proud of the things we are doing. She will be talking to Guerra about the possibility of getting grant money for a person to oversee a program such as the Green Schools Program. She thanked the Commission for giving her the opportunity to attend the conferences.
Tuck asked what the conferences helped as far as the City is concerned. Wheeldon said she learned about ways to approach problem solving and the role of leadership, adding it doesn't necessarily have to come from the government. There were many examples about how cities can make choices. She said the challenge would be to see if we could sustain Ashland's diverse population. Braham asked that Wheeldon give the City an overview of the conference on sustainability.
Smith asked if anything was said at the AOR conference about recycling more plastics. Wheeldon responded one of the speakers was a chemist and an interesting discussion was generated about polymers and the difference between PVC and PET/PETE. PET products can be refabricated or items can be fabricated into PET and it is less harmful to the environment. She said she asked about grayboard (such as cereal boxes) and was told the fiber in it is so short by the time it is made into this type of material, it can't be reconstituted into anything else. She also found out that most paints and ink used on the grayboard are not harmful if the board is ripped up and put into compost. Also of interest is that there is not a big enough market in Southern Oregon for recycled tires so they are taken to Mt. Shasta, where they become fuel for a concrete plant. Trucking is too expensive to take them to Portland to be remanufactured as tires again. Tires are, however, picked up at Les Schwab and moved to Portland because it is a big enough company. Tuck brought up the fact that it is very difficult to read the number on plastic products. Wheeldon said this has all sparked her interest in markets for recycled products and she would like this on next month's agenda. Chapman said he gets calls on this all the time and will write up a report for next month. Wheeldon said at the Sustainability conference, making a place for a recycled products market within a city or industrial area was discussed. Also talked about was the fact that more companies are taking back their products to recycle and reuse them; in other words, they are taking responsibility for their products. Braham suggested if there were a coalition of medium sized cities, maybe there would be a greater market. Chapman said that is what Klamath, Jackson and Josephine Counties are basically doing now. Grants Pass and Southern Oregon Sanitation have an agreement with some of the industries over there to take some of the recycled materials to process. Since there is an economy in size, Ashland Sanitary, Klamath, and some of Southern Oregon Sanitation recyclable materials go to Rogue Disposal because it has a big facility and big bailer. Tuck said it would be interesting to get this information out to citizens so they know where the products are going, as this is a pertinent issue for sustainability in our area. Chapman said it would be a good topic for a Jefferson Monthly article.
Braham asked if the conferences are held annually. Wheeldon said they are, and that there is an AOR conference in the fall also. Braham commented it would be useful for other members to attend them also.
Tuck noted the decking for the porch on the North Mountain house is made from recycled plastic grocery bags. Wheeldon noted the Furniture Depot sells futons with the batting made from recycled plastic bottles. Tuck added information on some of these ideas and concepts will be on display at the North Mountain Nature Center.
COMMISSION DISCUSSION: At this time, the Commission took the opportunity to introduce themselves to Smith and he, in turn, gave information about himself and why was interested in becoming a member of the Conservation Commission.
Green Business – Amarotico reported Ross Finney had given an informational presentation to the Chamber Greeters on May 12. He will be meeting with Brother's Restaurant May 25, has met with Ashland Community Food Store and Standing Stone, and he will meet with Parkside Cottages again by the end of the month. He will meet with Ashland Greenhouses, Stratford Inn and Architectural Design Works in June. City Energy Analyst Cathy Cartmill has been at these meetings with Finney. In discussing the program, Amarotico said the incentive is for the businesses to get recognized for their efforts in promoting sustainability and conservation. Wheeldon added the business owners would benefit by saving money in terms of conservation and tightening their operations and that they would be a peer group that could draw in other businesses. Ultimately, the Commission would like members to be added every year. The Conservation Department will eventually take over the orientation and certification of the businesses. The Commissioners discussed the publicity for the program. Braham said he would like the participating businesses to agree to the exposure. Wheeldon will write a letter to Finney informing him the Commission would like to give him some publicity about the project, perhaps through the City Source. Braham suggested getting the newspaper reporters involved in writing the initial articles so this would be an independent report about a new concept. The Commission agreed it is important to get this program publicized.
Education Subcommittee – Tuck gave a brief overview of the articles written by the subcommittee in the past year. Prior to that, the subcommittee had worked with the schools in surveying the recycling they were doing, how they were doing with these programs, what they wanted to do, etc.; however not much resulted, primarily because this type of program needs a person dedicated to working on it. Wheeldon added the Commission recently sent a letter to all the schools recognizing what they have done and thanking them for their recycling efforts.
TID Subcommittee – The next meeting will be on June 13. Wheeldon recounted it came to the Commission's attention we have a failing system with TID. From a water conservation perspective, if the TID system could be improved for irrigation, it would take more people off potable water. Although there are many items regarding TID that would be worthwhile to get involved in, the Commission would like to see TID become more efficient from a water conservation standpoint. Wheeldon said one of the projects the Water Department is working on now is getting people with TID water to install backflow devices.
Braham suggested having only Green Business and TID subcommittees, however, Tuck stressed the importance of educating people on recycling and precycling and stated this would be something for the Education subcommittee to work on. She would like people to understand the entire system of recycling - what we do and can do, where there is efficiency in recycling and where the inefficiencies are so that people can make the choice to precycle. It would be nice to have this information at the depot and to also bring it in to the schools. Another set of articles was discussed on this subject. Wheeldon said it is important to continue putting this type of thing out to the public. Chapman commented there is nothing wrong with repeating this information. Braham said it would be interesting to find out what different companies have done to investigate packaging for their products. Smith said there is a need to raise consciousness to recycle more products. Tuck recommended tying in the Governor's sustainability proclamation with the overall goals of the City. This will be discussed at the meeting next month, as well as reformulating the Education Subcommittee. In a brief discussion about mailing lists, Wheeldon noted the e-mail address to remove your name is the-dma.org.
MORE OLD BUSINESS:
Jefferson Monthly Article – Smith will write the September article on using the Recycle Center.
July 4th Parade Float Discussion – The Commission decided to do nothing this year; however, next year the members would like to plan on having another float.
Budget – The current balance is $677.
COMMISSION ITEMS – Amarotico stated she would like to see an article on the progress of the North Mountain Park Nature Center. Tuck responded she has been trying to get more coverage, which is very important at this stage because they are still in the fund raising mode. Donations are still needed in order to finish the project.
AJOURNMENT – The meeting adjourned at 8:56 p.m.