Present: Commissioners Eggers, Landt, Lewis, Rosenthal, Seffinger; City Council Liaison Silbiger; Director Robertson; Superintendent Dials
Absent: Superintendent Dickens
CALL TO ORDER
Eggers called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. at Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Study Session – June 11, 2012
Under “Open Space Plan Review,” Landt suggested striking the sentence in which Lewis spoke of keeping developed parcels on the plan, even those not immediately available for purchase. In the same section, Eggers asked for the word “expectations” to be stricken from the sentence pertaining to potential neighborhood parks [“when the land might not be needed for parks”].
MOTION: Landt moved to approve the minutes as amended. Rosenthal seconded the motion.
The vote was: All yes [Rosenthal abstained]
Regular Meeting – June 25, 2012
MOTION Rosenthal moved to approve the minutes as presented. Landt seconded the motion.
The vote was: All yes
Vanston Shaw, 180 Lithia Way #208, thanked the commission for making Ashland more dog-friendly by opening eight neighborhood parks to dogs on leash for a one-year trial period beginning fall 2011. He reported observing cleaner parks since the installation of “mutt mitt” dispensers and garbage cans. He thanked the commission for making dog walking in and around Lithia Park more enjoyable with the installation of bag dispensers and garbage cans at Winburn Way, Granite Street, Glenview Drive, and Fork Street. He said additional installations of bags and cans at Hunter and Garfield parks (Central Bike Path) made for a cleaner pathway, with less dog feces and litter. He asked the commission to consider advertising dog walking loops starting from the downtown area and highlighting locations of bag dispensers and loop lengths. He asked them to notify area motels and hotels about dog walking routes and amenities. He said allowing Ashland residents and visitors to visit parks with canine companions made Ashland a nicer place to live.
ADDITIONS OR DELETIONS TO THE AGENDA
REQUEST FROM FOREST SERVICE ON PROPOSED TRAIL MASTER PLAN
Robertson provided a brief overview on the topic, speaking about signage and multi-use trail confusion between pedestrians, cyclists, and equestrians. He said the three agencies involved with trail management—the US Forest Service, Ashland Fire and Rescue, and Ashland Parks and Recreation—worked cooperatively to ensure safe trail usage and proper signage.
Robertson said the US Forest Service was working on developing a trail master plan within affected forest areas in Ashland and the Forest Lands Commission asked for input on the draft plan. The commission was asked to consider:
· Interconnections of trails on forest service property and Parks property; compatible uses of both trails and trail networks;
· Parks’ need to retain management and control over Parks property as well as easements on private property;
· Standardized or complementary signage along common trails;
· Ability to honor special relationships with groups such as the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy and private property owners;
· Trail design / requirements for trail users of all ages and fitness levels;
· Ability to provide input beyond the suggested 7/27/12 deadline.
Robertson welcomed Fire Chief John Karns of Ashland Fire and Rescue, Recreation Manager Brian Long of the US Forest Service, and Central Division Manager Jeffrey McFarland of Ashland Parks and Recreation and invited them to speak to the commission.
Long said the Forest Service had worked on the plan for over three years. He spoke of increased mountain bikers and overall increases in trail usage and trail conflicts. He said the forest service held two public meetings in 2011 and solicited public input on trails. In partnership with the AWTA, he said an environmental analysis was undertaken and input received from every category of trail user. He estimated the cost of the analysis as $100,000, with the AWTA offering to pay half.
Karns said the Fire Department had three major areas of concern with regard to trails: coordination of the user groups and a safe environment; managing unauthorized trails; and education about trail safety in Ashland.
McFarland said the commission developed a trail master plan that was approved by council in 2005. He said trail design standards were forest service standards and all newer trails were built to ADA standards, even smaller trail portions. He said trail usage increased dramatically in the past few years and more signage was required to manage conflicts and challenges. He said Parks was working with the forest service on creating complementary signage and certain trails were designated as “pedestrian and equestrian only,” such as the newer Bandersnatch Trail. He said Chief Karns recommended implementing a trail marker system to assist emergency crews in locating and assisting injured trail users.
Commissioner comments on the draft plan included:
· Request for more data on the percentages of pedestrian / bicycle / equestrian trail users:
· Concern about a higher percentage of trails dedicated to bicycles / fewer for pedestrians only;
· Number of calls per year to Ashland Fire and Rescue; percentage of bicycle calls versus pedestrian or equestrian emergencies;
· Explanation about how trails are named (understanding that many are historical lookout accesses);
· Request for matching tables and maps;
· Question about whether forest service trail master plan was part of a scoping process or part of Environmental Assessment process;
· Question about process used in deactivating / decommissioning trails;
· Concern about illegitimate maps showing some trails as “bicycle only;”
· Concern about enforcement of rules on forest service lands;
· Concern about retroactively approving unauthorized trails;
· Request for consistent and correct language to be attached to trail signage or maps;
· Importance of educating trail users on trail etiquette.
McFarland said the biking community made strong efforts to maintain and improve trails, including building more turnouts and removing brush.
Eggers said the comment period closed on July 27. Staff was directed to send the list of commissioner comments to Brian Long at the US Forest Service office.
SUBCOMMITTEE and STAFF REPORTS
ITEMS FROM COMMISSIONERS
Rosenthal announced his intention to run for Ashland City Council in November 2012 in the position currently held by Silbiger (position #5).
Eggers said that after 16 years on the Parks Commission, she would not seek re-election in November. She said it was a pleasure to serve and encouraged others to run for her seat (position #1).
UPCOMING MEETING DATES
Study session set for August 20 at 7:00 p.m., Parks Office, 340 S. Pioneer Street
Project Update Discussion
Regular meeting set for August 27 at 7:00 p.m., Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street
By consensus, with no further business, Eggers adjourned the meeting at 8:10 p.m.
Ashland Parks and Recreation