Agendas and Minutes

Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission (View All)

Parks Commission Study Session

Monday, October 21, 2013

City of Ashland
October 21, 2013

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

Seffinger called the meeting to order at 7:10 p.m. in the Parks office, 340 S. Pioneer Street.

Rachel Dials welcomed Libby Van Wyhe, new North Mountain Park Nature Center Manager, along with Environmental Education Coordinator Linda Chesney. Dials said Van Wyhe and Chesney wanted to purchase, install and dedicate a “Solar Eco-Post” at North Mountain Park.

Van Wyhe described the proposed Solar Eco-Post as an interactive, educational device capable of playing audio recordings of local bird calls at the push of a button. She said it would improve appreciation and enjoyment of wildlife and allow people to “bird by ear.” The proposed solar-powered model manufactured by TourMate Systems, Ltd. would require minimal maintenance and come with a rechargeable battery pack and anti-graffiti paint. Chesney quoted a price of $1,650, plus shipping, and said the cost included programming the software for the educational messages.

Van Wyhe and Chesney said the project would be funded through donations collected by the Massey family to honor long-time volunteer and ornithologist Barbara Massey on her 90th birthday. If approved, a small plaque with a maximum of six words would be placed directly onto the post. The plaque would meet all guidelines established by the Signs, Plaques and Memorials Subcommittee.

If approved by the commission, the family would announce the project to Barbara Massey on November 9.

Discussion Among Commissioners
Landt asked why the proposed project, funded by donations, was brought to the commission. In his opinion, it only required a subcommittee-level review. He said he had no problem with the concept, only the process.

Robertson said the project was presented to the commission because no similar devices had ever been installed in an Ashland park and the post could also be considered a potential target for vandalism.

Based on commissioner feedback, Seffinger suggested that staff move forward with the project.

Dickens said he received earlier commission approval to explore a master plan project for Garfield Park. Based upon that guidance, he and Robertson approached Greg Covey of Covey Pardee Landscape Architects and asked for three conceptual master plan alternatives.

Robertson contextualized the need for the Garfield Park draft plans, stating that staff explored solutions to issues previously voiced as concerns: the need to rehabilitate, expand or remove the water play feature due to incompatibility factors; a possible relocation of the existing Ashland Skate Park to Garfield Park; and removal and / or relocation of the sand volleyball court at Garfield, He said all of the topics were previously discussed by staff and the commission.

Covey said he evaluated the park and addressed landscaping, an outdated water play feature and the heavily used sand volleyball court. He said sand and water in such close proximity were not in the best interests of the facilities. Covey provided the commission with three options for improvements ranging from low to high intensity and said the options were only a starting place for commissioners and staff in terms of discussion and direction. 
Discussion Among Commissioners
Landt said he was uncomfortable having conceptual plans created without any public input. He asked whether the commission actually said anything in the past about drawing up conceptual designs so early on. He stated that public input should inform the drawings, not the other way around. Landt said he believed a “space needs assessment” would be more appropriate and useful because it would help determine whether the park had adequate square footage to accommodate both the amenities and the public demands.

Shaw said he appreciated having a starting point from which to possibly reconfigure the park. He pointed out that the public could easily provide feedback on the drawings. He said he wanted to consider the long-term needs for Southern Oregon University’s recreational uses of Garfield Park, as they owned their own volleyball courts. 

Lewis said he wanted to assess the specific needs of Garfield Park, including the possible need for a picnic shelter and conflicts of volleyball with water play elements. He said Garfield Park would not be an appropriate place to relocate the Skate Park and he did not wish to lose open spaces at Garfield.

Robertson said a public process would be critical to the project because Garfield Park was a well-loved facility and the first developed park to undergo a re-design. He suggested using a landscape architect to interpret the public’s input on the park.  

The commission discussed ways of honoring public input and obtaining feedback in order to guide the process moving forward. Robertson proposed a three-meeting public process, with the first meeting consisting of an in-depth review at why changes were needed at Garfield Park.

Alan Pardee of Covey Pardee Landscape Architects said the conflict with sand and water play could be addressed by separating the two features and providing foot showers at each area. Commissioners acknowledged and agreed with the suggestion.

Public Input
Matt Warshawski, 828 Indiana Street, park user and father of a 5-year-old, asked for the waterplay feature to remain at the park. He said a conflict existed between the volleyball players and the children and he agreed with the idea of separating the sand and waterplay features. He asked for the “dog-friendly” status at Garfield to be removed because dogs were known to frighten children and leave excrement on lawns. Lastly, he asked for any public meetings to occur during the day to allow for his participation.

Additional Discussion Among Commissioners
Seffinger requested a timeline for the public process. Robertson said staff would develop a timeline and present it to the commission at their regular meeting on Monday, October 28, 2013.

Seffinger asked staff to explore state-of-the-art park amenities and trends for parks. Dickens asked the commission and staff to consider budget constraints when planning park upgrades. He said funds were budgeted only for waterplay feature upgrades at Garfield Park for the biennial FY 13-15 period.

Dials said staff received three bids for Calle resurfacing on October 2, 2013. The low bid of $387,808.60 was submitted by KOGAP Enterprises, Inc. of Medford, and the two remaining bids came from Roxy Ann Rock and Pilot Rock.

The KOGAP breakdown was reported as follows:

  • Parks portion of the project: $286,618.60
  • Water portion of the project: $75,890
  • Electric portion of the project: $25,300
Dials said the project would be included on the regular meeting agenda if Monday, October 28. The project required approval by the Ashland City Council, serving as its Contract Review Board, because the contracted services would exceed $100,000. The project had been previously reviewed and approved by the Water and Electric departments as well as the project manager, OBEC.

Dials said the recent archaeological digs on the Calle had revealed just two human teeth to date. Archaeologist Jeff LaLande was reportedly submitting a report to the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and proposing opening just 20 test pits instead of 47 due to a lack of discoveries. If SHPO approved fewer test pits, construction could begin earlier. Dials said she hoped to begin construction by mid-November but would wait for the completed archaeological survey before making that determination.

Robertson brought up the potential issue of liquidated damages which would be difficult to collect even though they were included in the contract. He said the restaurants and property owners could become impatient if their season had to start later due to project delays. Furthermore, if delays occurred and weather conditions prevented moving forward with concrete work, the project could be delayed and completed at a later date. Robertson said he believed Parks would not need to re-bid if this occurred. 

 A joint meeting of the commission and council was scheduled for Tuesday October 29, at 7:00 p.m. in Council Chambers. Seffinger and Landt, both members of the Ad Hoc Committee (AHC), updated the commission on the latest work of the AHC and presented a tentative agenda.

Seffinger distributed the final report of the AHC and said she and AHC chair Pam Marsh met with Mayor Stromberg regarding the structure of the meeting. They also spoke with the City Attorney about how to legally conduct the meeting. Based on their input she said the meeting would be a joint special meeting, co-led by herself and the Mayor. Meeting notices would be separately posted by City and Parks staff and any motions would be separately voted upon by each body.

The tentative joint meeting agenda was reported to include a call to order, brief discussion of the AHC process, and a review and discussion of AHC recommendations. It was stated that any motions would be voted upon and if consensus wasn’t reached, those recommendations would be further deliberated at the committee level. A global “memorandum of understanding” based on the recommendations of the AHC would be proposed.

Commissioners thanked Seffinger and Landt for their AHC work on behalf of the Parks Commission.

Seffinger said she attended the 2013 NRPA Congress and learned about the importance of using social media for parks and recreation departments. She reported meeting with City Attorney Dave Lohman about the legality of having a separate Facebook page for Ashland Parks and Recreation. Seffinger suggested that staff alter the commission web page to add a pop-up with a bio of each commissioner, similar to the City Council’s web page.

Shaw acknowledged the success and positivity generated by the celebration of the Atkinson Bridge and the Enders Shelter earlier in the evening. He requested additional celebrations upon project completions. Seffinger said Recreation Coordinator Lonny Flora and Dials were planning a celebration when the roof was completed for the Ashland Rotary Ice Skating Rink.

ADJOURNMENT– By consensus, with no further business, Seffinger adjourned the meeting at 9:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Susan Dyssegard                                                           Amanda Glass  
Ashland Parks and Recreation                                         Ashland Parks and Recreation

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