ASHLAND PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION
REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
May 21, 2001
ATTENDANCE -- Present: JoAnne Eggers, Sally Jones, Rick Landt, Jim Lewis, Laurie MacGraw, Councillor Don Laws, Director Ken Mickelsen. Absent: None
CALL TO ORDER - Chair Landt called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. at the Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Regular Meeting - April 23, 2001 - Councillor Laws noted that he was present at the meeting but that it was not recorded on the written minutes. Commissioner Eggers made a motion to approve the minutes of the Regular Meeting minutes of April 23, 2001 as corrected. Commissioner MacGraw seconded. The vote was: 5 yes - 0 no
Special Meeting - May 2, 2001 - Related to the third bullet under the first item related to the community involvement process for updating the Parks and Open Space Plan, Commissioner Eggers said that she believed the discussion had indicated that an individual would be selected to help develop the process, not just evaluate it. Other Commissioners concurred. Commissioner MacGraw made a motion to approve the minutes of the May 2, 2001 Special Meeting as corrected. Commissioner Eggers seconded. The vote was: 5 yes - 0 no
PUBLIC PARTICIPATION - Open Forum
Gregg Howe (1555 Windsor Street) said that he wanted to re-introduce a topic which he had brought up a couple of years ago. He presented copies of a letter that he had written to the Commission in August of 1999 which requested that the Commission consider entering into a "co-sponsorship agreement" with the Ashland Soccer Club as a means of clarifying the club's role in the community related to assisting in co-ordinating soccer programs and field use. Commissioner Eggers indicated that she would like the item noted for placement on a future meeting agenda.
Susan Rust (42 N. Wightman) said that there were several items on which she would like to comment:
1) She thanked the Commission for the excellent work done on the playground at Lincoln Elementary School.
2) She complimented the Department on its co-sponsorship of the nature-scaping workshop which was held recently. She said that she believed that the efforts of Linda Chesney and Donn Todt from the Department's staff helped to make the event a tremendous success.
3) She suggested that the Commission consider placing a sculpture of "swans" in the lower pond instead of replacing the swans. She said that she believed that this could be a win/win scenario related to the question of keeping swans in Lithia Park; it would be a way of preserving the historic relationship of having swans in the park without having "real swans" placed in a habitat which is not beneficial to them.
4) She wanted to compliment the Department on the zero-scaping that has been going on at N. Mountain Park. It's an excellent opportunity for people to learn how to use native materials and water saving irrigation systems. She said that she hoped that during this season of projected drought that the Parks and Recreation Department would take a lead in demonstrating conservation measures for both water and electric energy. It would be an excellent educational opportunity for the community to encourage a more sustainable use of our resources.
5) And, lastly, related to the Commission's efforts to update the Open Space / Park Land Acquisition Program, she encouraged the Commission to come up with a "plan" that encompassed not only a map that shows properties that have been identified for possible acquisition but a written document that outlines the vision for the program and includes what exists now, what is proposed, and how it all works together.
Bob Merten (1047 Park Street) said that he is a fairly new resident to Ashland and has been following the discussion related to water quality issues and keeping swans in the lower pond in Lithia Park. He said that he would like to see the swans remain at the lower pond and that he believed that if the Commission can discourage the over-feeding of the ducks and swans with bread that both the water quality of the pond and the health of the waterfowl would be improved. He suggested that coin-operated "feeders" be installed so that visitors to the pond could purchase small quantities of grain to use as feed.
ADDITIONS OR DELETIONS TO THE AGENDA - Commissioner MacGraw suggested a change to this evening's agenda: To move the report related to water quality in the Lithia Park ponds from Unfinished Business to Staff Reports. She said that as it might be a lengthy item, perhaps other business could be taken care of earlier on the agenda. With no opposition from other Commissioners, Chair Landt moved the item to Staff Reports.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS - None
Lighting of ball fields and tennis courts during an energy emergency - Director Mickelsen reported that the Commission has no existing policy related to energy conservation during emergencies. He said that the Department consistently strives to use water efficiently and has been working with City staff related to possible water curtailment this season. He said that to the best of his knowledge, the City does not have a policy related to curtailment of electrical energy. He said that Department staff has begun to look at ways to reduce consumption of electric energy during the anticipated shortage. He said that he understood that Commissioner Landt is going to ask that the Commission consider a proposal related to usage of ball field and tennis court lights during an emergency situation.
Bill Anderson (370 Patterson St.) said that he believed it would be a wasteful expenditure to purchase lights for the soccer field at N. Mountain Park when, due to the energy shortage, perhaps they should not be used. He said that he believed the Commission should hold off on installing the lights until the energy crisis is over.
Jim Moore (1217 Park Street) said that there has been a lot of discussion in Ashland about what the community can do to reduce electric energy consumption. He said that it was his understanding that the Conservation Department has discussed trying to reduce consumption by 10%. He said that there has been a lot of impassioned discussion related to the installation of athletic field lights and how they will benefit children's programs. However, he said that he felt it was important to also teach our children the need to conserve energy resources. He said that we don't know if this is a short term problem or a long term problem. He said that he felt that it would be a mistake to forge ahead with a project that would not be in keeping with the direction the community needs to take regarding conservation.
Bob Merten (1047 Park Street) made the suggestion that the Commission could consider utilizing solar power to light the athletic field lights. Energy conservation is always going to be an issue.
Gregg Howe (1555 Windsor), speaking on behalf of the Soccer Club, presented Commissioners with a written statement which he read into the record. Referring to the proposed installation of lights for the soccer field at N. Mountain Park, he said that he had heard that some people were viewing the project as somehow "symbolically" incorrect when we are expecting an energy crisis. He said that looking at the lights in that manner was misleading and he believed that, first and foremost, the lights should be a "symbol" of the community's commitment to its youth: their health, welfare, physical and emotional development.
Mr. Howe said that, regardless of what the lights "symbolize" to people, it's a fact that they do use energy. He said that the Soccer Club has looked at how much energy the lights would use and has asked itself how much energy would Soccer Club members need to save as individuals in order to make up the difference. In a series of examples he illustrated that through Soccer Club members' efforts alone, enough energy could be saved to make up the difference. For example, he said that if the club's 300 member families voluntarily turned off their air conditioners during one nice hot day in August, enough energy would be saved to power the field lights for all the club's conceivable needs for an entire year. He said that in a "crisis", everyone expects to sacrifice. He stated the Soccer Club's commitment to helping save energy by saying "when you need to save energy (lots of energy), ask us. . .We will be there to help."
Cate Hartzell (881 East Main) said that although she as a City Councillor has her own forum in which to speak, she believed that the energy conservation issue was important enough that she wanted to comment on the topic. She encouraged the Commission to separate its process and decision about installing athletic field lights at N. Mountain Park from the issue of energy conservation. She said that she believed that at the Council's level of decision making that the need to conserve energy would be considered along with the need to build infra-structure but that did not mean that infra-structure projects would be halted. She said that she believed that soon the Council would come up with some principles related to energy conservation and hoped that the Commission would join in city-wide efforts to reduce energy consumption.
Dave Beaudoin (815 Oak) encouraged the Commission to look at the topic from an energy conservation point of view, not a "symbolic" point of view. As Mr. Howe stated, "symbolism" is a very subjective thing that can mean one thing to one person and another thing to another person. He said that he did not believe that it was necessary for the Commission to go back on its decision related to the soccer field lights in order to focus on energy conservation. He said that it is certainly the Commission's decision as to how it wants to implement conservation measures, and, if athletic field lights cannot be used for that reason, so be it. However, if the Commission chose to go back on its decision to install the lights for "symbolic" reasons, he said that he believed that it would divide the community at a time when we all need to be working together.
discussion among commissioners
Chair Landt opened the discussion by saying that he had asked that the item related to usage of ball field lights and tennis court lights be placed on the agenda so that the issue of energy conservation and the Commission's responsibility to the community in that regard could be addressed. To that end, he said he had drafted the following proposal that he would like for the Commission to consider: That Parks Department athletic field lights, including lights at North Mountain Park and tennis courts, shall not be turned on when the following conditions exist: 1) During the period of time when an energy emergency is declared by the City, State or Federal government, or by Bonneville Power Administration; and 2) When local citizens are being asked by any of the above named governmental bodies to curtail their electrical use.
Commissioner Eggers opened discussion saying that she wanted clarification on how the word "curtail" was being used in the proposal. She said that it was her understanding that when people were being asked to "conserve" that it was voluntary; when asked to "curtail", it was mandatory. Commissioner Landt said that he intended a broad interpretation of the word "curtail"; that is, the word "reduce" could be substituted if an emergency is "officially declared." Essentially, if citizens are "officially" asked to reduce their consumption, then it would also be appropriate for the Parks Department to do so.
Councillor Laws commented that when the City refers to "conservation" it means to develop ways to do what you would normally do but do it more efficiently; when "curtailment" is used it means that a cutback is needed, usually on a temporary basis, and it is mandatory. He said that at this point, due to a myriad of reasons, BPA is projecting that our wholesale cost of electricity could go up as much as 50% by October. What Bonneville is asking for on a regional basis, not just in Ashland, in order to keep the price increase under 100%, is that consumption decrease by 10%. He said that it would be in our best interest to do this before October so that when Bonneville sets its new rates that it doesn't have to do so at super-high prices.
MOTION - Commissioner Landt made a motion to adopt a policy as stated in the proposal previously read. Commissioner Eggers seconded.
By way of clarification, Commissioner MacGraw asked if the current conditions whereby citizens have been asked to curtail electrical energy usage qualifies under the proposal. In response to an inquiry by Commissioner Landt, Councillor Laws said that even though we can consider ourselves in an emergency situation, he did not know of any "official declaration" of emergency that would qualify under the proposal.
Commissioner MacGraw offered a friendly amendment which would be to instruct staff to begin working immediately to investigate and implement measures to reduce energy consumption throughout the parks and recreation system. Among those measures would be the reduction of the number of hours that tennis court lights can be used, working with sports groups so that use of the lighted field at N. Mountain Park would be minimized, and whatever other opportunities could be developed to reduce energy usage while still keeping the parks safe. Commissioner Landt said that he appreciated the ideas but would rather have them addressed separately.
Commissioner Eggers confirmed that the policy would only go into effect if both conditions are met. Commissioner Landt said that was so.
The vote was: 5 yes - 0 no
MOTION - In addressing the broader topic of reducing electrical energy consumption, Commissioner Landt made a second motion which stated that the Parks Department, due to the developing electrical energy shortage, shall take the following actions related to electrical use within the parks system: 1) Implement a 2% per month reduction in energy usage each month until an overall reduction of 12% is achieved and that the first reduction be completed by the end of June, 2) That staff shall provide the Commission with a plan for implementing this reduction by the Commission's June 2001 Regular Meeting. Commissioner Eggers seconded.
Commissioner Landt said that he set the percentage at 12% instead of the minimum of 10% because he felt that it would be appropriate for the Department to set a good example for the community. He also said that in speaking with Director Mickelsen about the proposal that he understood that staff has been taking some measures to reduce usage already. He said that if future usage were compared to the prior year's usage measurements could be made to determine the percentages of decreased usage. He said that he would leave it up to staff to come up with the appropriate means to make those measurements.
Commissioner MacGraw asked for staff comment on the motion. Director Mickelsen said that staff would work with City staff on this area of conservation similarly to the way we have worked with the City on water curtailment to determine the best way to approach an effective reduction and to be able to measure it. He said that he believed that achieving an accurate, measurable 2% decrease each month would be difficult. He said that once staff has had the opportunity to work with City staff, he would like to be able to present a system-wide plan to the Commission about how the overall 12% reduction could be made. He said that one immediate action that he would like would be for the Commission to adopt a policy whereby tennis court lights would be turned off at 9:30 p.m. or 10:00 p.m. instead of 11:00 p.m.
Commissioner Jones commented that she agreed that implementing and measuring 2% on a monthly basis did not seem practical. She said that she would be satisfied with having staff develop a plan that would be presented to the Commission whereby a 10+ percent overall reduction could be achieved.
Commissioner Lewis said that he believed that using the percentages as a target rather than a requirement would be a good way to go. He felt that a target slightly more than the asked for 10% was appropriate.
Commissioner MacGraw said that she would prefer for staff to report back to the Commission next month after they have had the opportunity to work with City staff.
Commissioner Landt said that he was concerned with setting a goal that was not measurable, and, although there might be some technical difficulties, he believed that staff could develop a means to make those measurements. He said that he did not believe that the Commission needed to become involved with the specifics of how the consumption would be reduced, just indicate that it needed to be reduced. An example would be re-setting the time frame for when the tennis court lights could be used. He said that there was no Commission policy that the lights would be turned off at 11:00 p.m. and he felt that staff should make the decision to cut the time back if it felt that was an appropriate measure to take to reduce electric consumption. He said that at this time he felt that all the Commission needed to do was to set measurable goals.
Commissioner Eggers said that she would like to have some kind of guidelines determined as to how the consumption would be measured, for example, perhaps May this year could be compared to May last year. And, she would suggest that gaining a 10% to 12% reduction over a period of six months would be reasonable. She said that she would give staff as much flexibility as possible to determine the best way to reach that goal and to work with the City's Conservation Department.
Commissioner Landt offered to amend his motion as follows: That item #1 would simply say that the Commission's goal was to reduce electrical energy consumption in the parks system by 12% by October 1, 2001. As second to the original motion, Commissioner Eggers said that she would support the amendment. The vote was: 5 yes - 0 no
MOTION - On a related topic, as part of the Department's efforts to reduce electric energy consumption, Commissioner MacGraw made a motion to set a policy which states that lights on tennis courts would be set to go off no later than 9:30 p.m. Commissioner Jones seconded.
Commissioner Landt inquired whether or not there is a current, written policy for the shut off time. Director Mickelsen said that there was not. However, the common practice has been for the lights to be available until 11:00 p.m. He said that if this long-standing practice is going to be changed, he would prefer that the Commission establish the new time as a policy.
Commissioner Eggers said that prior to setting a policy she believed that it was important to notify the public so that comment could be heard before the decision was made. Since this specific item was not advertised as such on the agenda, she would prefer that the Commission not make the decision this evening. She said that if staff chose to immediately change the time as part of its overall efforts to conserve, she would have no problem with that.
Commissioner Jones said that because we are in somewhat of an emergency situation and cutting back the hours that tennis court lights would be used would help, she saw no problem with the Commission taking action at this time. Commissioner Lewis commented that if staff simply made the change there would still be no time for public comment so he felt that the point was moot.
Commissioner Landt said that if the time is changed, he would prefer to hold off a week or so. The reason to hold off would be to give staff the opportunity to post notices at the courts so that the public would be aware that the time would be changing prior to it just happening. He said that as there was currently no written policy, he believed that staff could make the decision; that the Commission did not need to become involved at this level.
The vote was: 3 yes - 2 no (Landt, Eggers)
Appointment of sub-committee to review performance evaluation process - Chair Landt said that he wanted to appoint Commissioner Jones and himself to serve as a sub-committee to review the performance evaluation process. He said that he had a personal interest in serving on the committee and chose Commissioner Jones as the second Commissioner because of her background. Without objection, the sub-committee was formed.
SUB-COMMITTEE and STAFF REPORTS
Improving water quality in Lithia Park ponds - Chair Landt introduced Paul Kay, the volunteer consultant who was assisting the Commission in investigating possible treatment options for improving water quality in the Lithia Park ponds. In a brief presentation, Mr. Kay touched a wide variety of topics related to the causes for the poor water quality in the ponds. He reviewed a report dated May 15, 2001 that included a list of possible criteria that could be used in making decisions about how the water quality would be addressed. He asked that Commissioners individually take the opportunity to complete the worksheet included in the report that would assist him in prioritizing the criteria. He said that he would use that information in developing the possible treatment options that would be presented to the Commission in an upcoming Study Session.
ITEMS FROM COMMISSIONERS - Commissioner Eggers said that she is a member of the citizen advisory committee for the Department's Environmental Stewardship Program at North Mountain Park. She said that she had just participated in a very rewarding, all day strategic planning meeting with that committee. She said she came out of that meeting appreciative of the fact that the program "was in good hands" under the direction of staff and that it continues to have very strong support from the community.
UPCOMING MEETING DATE(S) and PROPOSED AGENDA ITEMS - A Study Session was set for 11:00 a.m. on May 30, 2001 to discuss water quality in the Lithia Park ponds. The next Regular Meeting will be Monday, June 25, 2001. Proposed agenda items: the Ashland Soccer Club's suggestion concerning "co-sponsorship", monitoring the impact of using lights at the soccer field and charging for their usage, and reducing system-wide electrical energy consumption.
ADJOURNMENT - With no further business, by consensus, Chair Landt adjourned the meeting.
Ann Benedict, Business Manager, Ashland Parks and Recreation Department