Agendas and Minutes

Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission (View All)

Parks Commission Study Session Minutes

Monday, March 18, 2013

City of Ashland
March 18, 2013

Present: Commissioners Gardiner, Landt, Lewis, Seffinger, Shaw; Director Robertson; Superintendents Dials and Dickens
Absent:  City Council Liaison Voisin

Seffinger called the study session to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Parks office, 340 S. Pioneer Street.

Dickens said a donation was received from park volunteer Ann Auble for Japanese Garden improvements. Proposed upgrades included a replaced gateway, improved landscaping, and a new teahouse. Dickens distributed a drawing showing the gateway and other details from architect Ian Wessler. He welcomed Wessler and invited him to speak to the commission.

Ian Wessler said he appreciated the opportunity to present his draft drawing and design notes for Japanese Garden improvements. He said the new gateway would announce the garden to park patrons and serve as a public entrance with a Japanese feel. Built-in wooden benches, providing a resting place, could be removed for maintenance or future replacement. Product details included timber beams and central posts, powder-coated steel posts and rails, powder-coated steel band / collar around base of central posts, and handcrafted wood joinery for securing gate pieces. Wessler said the beams and columns would last longer if painted.

Wessler provided answers to commissioner questions. When asked about using steel for the gateway, Wessler said steel cost more and didn’t provide the same level of character. Lewis said seating in the gateway was not traditional and suggested seating at the back of the teahouse. Wessler said benches in the gateway would provide an ideal view of the garden. Commissioners asked Wessler to look into cedar rather than Douglas-fir. Wessler said removing the drooping yew trees in the gateway would allow more space for Japanese maples. Landt asked Wessler to include in his design the minimization of long-term maintenance of new features.

Robertson said event organizers for the Siskiyou Challenge, a six-leg multi-sport relay race, requested a one-year trial permit for alcohol in the Lithia Park bandshell parking area at the conclusion of their event on Saturday, September 28, 2013. He said in 2012, the finish line was moved toward Pioneer Hall to allow food activity in the hall, with event sponsor Standing Stone Brewing Company providing food and beer to race finishers to OLCC standards. The relocated finish line proved unsafe and event organizers requested a 2013 bandshell finish (as in 2011), with Winburn Way closed to motor vehicles from Nutley Street to the upper duck pond loop. He asked the commission if they wanted to consider a one-year trial alcohol permit for 2013.

Tracy Harding, Siskiyou Challenge Co-Race Director, said the event was a big contributor to the community, with proceeds donated to Rogue Valley Farm to School.

Dials said that if the request was approved, Public Works would require an OLCC license and a signed document from the City Recorder’s office. The City of Medford allowed, with advance approval from their Parks Director, the serving and consumption of liquor at certain special events. She indicated that all Siskiyou Challenge booths would be charged a standard $25-per-booth fee.

Discussion Among Commissioners
Landt said OSF asked, in summer 2011, for permission to serve alcohol in Lithia Park to their patrons when “Bowmer in the Park” was erected due to a collapsed main beam at the Bowmer. As per Parks Commission policy, the request was denied. He said the Siskiyou Challenge organization was doing good things for the community, along with many other organizations in the City, and he asked if two commissioners had interest in adding the topic to a regular meeting agenda. If not, he asked them to move on to the next agenda item.

Lewis said the commission changed its policy about selling in the park several years earlier when it agreed to allow limited concession sales in Lithia Park during City Band concerts. He suggested allowing a beer garden in the parking lot adjacent to the bandshell on a trial basis. He said there were exceptions to every rule and it was the commission’s role to listen to exception requests.

Robertson said he found no documented allowances of alcohol in the park other than at Pioneer Hall, the Community Center, and the Calle Guanajuato (all located within Lithia Park boundaries). If staff agreed to allow a trial, he said a rash of requests could be forthcoming.

Hearing no other commissioners express interest in the future agenda addition, Seffinger closed the discussion.

Dials referenced the 2012-2013 ice rink report prepared by Recreation Coordinator Lonny Flora. She said the season spanned November 16, 2012, through February 26, 2013 and the ice rink was used throughout the season for a variety of skating options: free sessions, hockey and figure skating lessons, a hockey tournament, broomball, open skate, private rentals and scheduled group skating sessions. Ice rink staff maintained the ice in all types of weather and the rink had three closures due to inclement weather. Expenses of $81,530.08 included materials and services such as skates, new hockey goals, and programming equipment along with wage and benefits costs. Revenues totaled $72,155.70, an increase of nearly $11,000 over the previous year.

Robertson said the commission had an earlier discussion about the cost of a temporary cover: $112,000 for a cover lasting ten years (including setup, teardown, and storage fees). He said permanent covers were estimated at $500,000 and staff recommended a temporary cover for the skating rink area in Lithia Park.

Public Input
Richard Hobbins, 553 Suncrest Road in Talent, president of the Southern Oregon Adult Hockey Association (SOAHA), spoke in favor of an ice rink cover that spanned the entire rink area. He said the Lithia Park facility was important to the community, especially youth, and a permanent cover would be an amenity used for many different activities. He said Lithia Park was a beautiful place to play hockey.

Ian Horlacher, 328 Bridge Street, secretary / treasurer of SOAHA, reported on his involvement with hockey for 30 years, including during high school, college, and as an official. He said a rink cover would be an investment in the local community and outdoor hockey helped people get back to their roots.
Dials said the rink was closed, in the 2011-2012 season, at least ten days due to poor weather conditions and no cover.

Commissioners said CIP funds were set aside in FY 12-13 for a temporary cover. Robertson suggested moving forward with a bid for a temporary cover before the end of FY 12-13 (June 30).

Cyndi Dion, 897 Hillview, said she was working with community members on secure funding for Parks. She referenced a letter she sent to the commission and council the previous week about secure funding for Parks. She asked the commission if they had any questions.

Seffinger read a prepared statement in which she reported meeting with the mayor, some councilors, and some City staff since the March 11 joint council / commission meeting. She said the Parks budget would be secure for the next two years but she was concerned about a dependable funding stream after that. She said an ad hoc committee with a public input component was proposed, comprised of several councilors and commissioners, to address long-term, stable funding for Parks. She said she would make a presentation to council at their March 19 meeting.

Robertson said the budget process previously involved forming a draft budget with the help of the commission, receiving feedback from the City Administrator, making changes as needed, then recommending approval of the Parks budget to the Budget Committee. This year the process was different, with the City Administrator serving as Budget Officer and presenting the entire City budget to the Budget Committee. He distributed a compilation of Parks expenses and revenues along with a sheet on the “value of a penny” in terms of Parks’ portion of tax receipts. He said if county estimates of tax receipts were low, that could lead to a perceived “windfall” if tax receipts came in higher than anticipated. He said the Parks ending fund balance currently stood at $2.2M but the City Administrator said he needed a portion of those funds to balance the City budget. Robertson said Parks could encounter problems in a few years and possibly need to reduce programs and services if the City’s use of Parks funds was ongoing. He said the proposed ad hoc committee could look at Parks’ funding stability as well as sustainable funding sources for the entire City.

Robertson reviewed the draft Parks biennial budget for 2013-2015. Categories included personal services, materials and services, capital outlay, and others. He distributed lists of deferred maintenance projects for FY 12-13 and FY 13-14 and said nearly every item on the 12-13 list would be completed by the end of the fiscal year, excluding the Perozzi Fountain, Enders Shelter, and main Lithia Park bridge. Robertson said there was only one increase proposed for the next fiscal year: an additional $10,000 for Park Patrol (a 33% increase) for improved rules enforcement in parks.

City Councilor Dennis Slattery thanked the commission for their work and said the ad hoc committee was a good idea. He said regular communication between the commission and council was a key to their success. He suggested looking for efficiencies and not duplicating services in the City.

Discussion Among Commissioners
Landt said the Ashland City Charter specified that Parks would present its budget to the City, not have their budget presented for them by the City Administrator / Budget Officer. Lewis suggested making the unwritten “gentleman’s agreement” (the $2.09 per thousand in tax receipts for Parks) a written agreement through a memorandum of understanding.

Slattery said council was looking at forming a new agreement, formerly known as the gentleman’s agreement, to provide sustainable funding over the next four to six years without micromanaging Parks’ processes.

Robertson said the City was relying on using a portion of the Parks ending fund balance of $2.2M to meet its budget over the next fiscal year.

Landt said he was tired of backroom decision-making without public involvement or scrutiny. He said the Parks ending fund balance was a big deal and he asked how a public forum could be created to allow the ending fund balance to see the light of day.

Seffinger said she would propose open, public meetings at the council meeting the following evening. Robertson said the Parks ending fund balance of $2.2M took 100 years to accumulate and when it was gone, it was gone.

Calle Contracts – Annual Review Schedule
Dials said Calle seating agreements would be reviewed at the regular meeting on Monday, March 25. Two new restaurants wanted to use the same outdoor seating area on the Calle: Oberon’s Tavern and Salame. One restaurant was willing to share the space and the other was not interested in sharing. Both had outdoor decks and met the criteria for outdoor seating. Both would complete their paperwork by the deadline. Each could utilize 3-4 tables on the Calle. Staff would need to ensure that the space was split evenly if the commission chose to allow that. Dials agreed to measure and mark the Calle space with chalk so the commission could review it on their own before the meeting on Monday.

Hunter Park Sidewalk Replacement Project
Dickens said the final concrete pour for the Hunter Park sidewalk replacement project occurred on Friday, March 15. During the ramp replacement at the Senior Center, staff found dry rot and had to call in a structural engineer and submit a change order. He said all the completed rehabilitation and repair projects could prevent potential safety hazards and project manager Steve Ennis had been very helpful.

With no further business, Seffinger adjourned the meeting at 9:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Susan Dyssegard
Ashland Parks and Recreation


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