Agendas and Minutes

Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission (View All)

Parks Commission Study Session

Monday, December 16, 2013

City of Ashland
December 16, 2013

Present:  Commissioners Gardiner, Landt, Lewis, Seffinger, Shaw; Director Robertson; Superintendents Dials and Dickens
Absent: None

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

Robertson said Ashland Little League requested permission to place advertising banners on Hunter Park outfield fences as a fundraising tool for baseball scholarships and league operations. The request was not one the commission typically approved, as it fell outside normal policies and practices. If approved, the banners would be posted on fences only during the Little League season. Landt suggested reviewing Parks Commission policies and keeping or modifying them so everyone received identical opportunities. He would vote against any singular exception request and was not ready to take action at the December 23 regular meeting. Robertson said the Signs, Plaques and Memorials Policy did not address this topic. In terms of past practices, the commission typically denied requests for commerce in parks. The Little League request would be an exception to the City ordinance titled Municipal code 10.68.080—Notices Prohibited: “No one shall erect on any pole or post or attach any notice, bill, poster, sign, wire, rod or cord to any tree, shrub, fence railing, fountain, wall, post, structure or other device of any kind whatever, on any of the bases, statues, bridges, or monuments in any park without permission of the Parks Commission.”

Discussion Among Commissioners
Gardiner said Calle artisans posted signage at their market entrance during their season. Robertson said they removed the signs every evening. Gardiner asked under what ordinance or Parks policy this practice was allowed.

Lewis said the “Ashland Rotary Centennial Ice Rink” sign was posted along the rink’s back board where it remained throughout the ice rink season. Robertson said it was a condition of Rotary sponsorship. Lewis said it was still an exception. He suggested reviewing all exceptions made by the commission in the past, such as the Lions selling ice cream in the park, concession sales at the soccer and Little League fields, among others. He also proposed making policy changes if deemed appropriate.

Shaw voiced concern about leaving advertisements in the park during the entire baseball season. He asked how Medford handled similar requests and Robertson said it was a common practice at most baseball and softball fields. Shaw said allowing signs on outfield fences for three months or more could lead to soccer season requests which could lead to requests for sports of all other seasons.

Landt suggested looking at the overall policy or policies and making global changes if the commission agreed to do so. He asked staff to research and present to the commission every possible ordinance or policy to which this topic related, allowing the commission to evaluate and make informed decisions.

Robertson said staff would research City ordinances and Parks policies and bring them to the commission at their January study session. This would allow for additional time and consideration about the Ashland Little League request.                                                                                                   

Robertson said the City and Parks were approached by the Williams family, developers of the Verde Village project, about possible modifications to the agreement that was approved by council. Proposed changes included limiting vegetation removal and replacement between the Greenway extension and Ashland Creek. He referenced the Verde Village development agreement, a Parks memo to the commission dated June 20, 2007, and maps identifying the land swap area exchanged for an existing road leading into the Dog Park as well as the Greenway to Nevada Street. He said the development agreement was a legal document between council and the developer and the commission could make a recommendation to council but council had final authority. Robertson invited Valri Williams to speak to the commission.

Valri Williams, 744 Helman Street, said the weak economy was picking up so development would be starting again; however, the Williams Family wished to downscale the project to make it viable in the weaker economy. She said the hope was to plant landscaping four feet on either side of the multi-use path and repair and replant any disturbed lands. Less labor would be required of Parks if plants were kept well maintained and watered. After three years, Parks would take over maintenance and irrigation along the multi-use path. She said this could allow the road into the Dog Park to be completed in a shorter timeframe. The project was currently at a standstill, as the developers couldn’t sell or give away lots at this time. If it was less expensive to develop, buyers might have an interest.

Robertson clarified that the current arrangement called for the Verde Village infrastructure to be built first, including the main road and the path. The developers were requesting for the path and the road to be built at the same time.

Discussion Among Commissioners
Lewis said he understood the developers were asking for a phasing plan and he asked for a delay to the pathway improvements until the end. Williams said that would be possible but difficult. Lewis said this was a very important property for the commission and he wanted to see positive outcomes for Verde Village and the commission. He said this would be the time to make a comment to council about how any proposed changes could impact Parks.

Landt said leaving the blackberries in place would not be a positive outcome for Parks as the commission probably wanted them removed. The commission was being asked to reduce something that was agreed upon in the past. Lewis’s win-win concept was a good one but Landt didn’t want the public to have any perception about a sweetheart deal between the developers and the commission.

Gardiner asked if Williams considered the pathway going in earlier as a win for Parks. Williams said the path wouldn’t go in until the project was completed. She said Verde Village gave the city over $500,000 in land for the project.
Shaw said the blackberries and trees in that area provided shade. If removed and replaced with smaller vegetation, they could take years to grow to the same heights.

Robertson asked the commission what they would need for a perceived win-win scenario. He proposed a suggestion: a dollar amount that could be paid by the developer in lieu of plantings.
Landt said any changes would have to be approved by council as the development was locked in. He asked how much property Parks wanted and said this would be the best time to ask for it. The fact that the City got more out of the deal than the developers was irrelevant at this point. This was a complicated land deal and Parks owed nothing to anyone. However, Landt still had an interest in having everyone feel they got something they wanted.

Williams said the developers were asking for the path to be tied to the development of the lots on the southeast side of the development.

Lewis said this was an extensive landscaping plan and far more than Parks would do on its own. Robertson said the landscaping would be challenging to maintain, especially in the early years. Landt expressed displeasure with the City’s riparian ordinance. Seffinger said she would be concerned about the environmental impacts of the plan. Shaw said the City already approved the plan and Parks would be expected to supply the resources to support it. Landt said he would ask the developers to provide the commission with landscape maintenance costs over three years given the current design. Robertson said staff would research the topic and place the item on the December 23 regular meeting agenda for further discussion and a vote.

Lewis said several MOU meetings took place with subcommittee members Lewis, Seffinger, the Mayor, and Pam Marsh of council. At the last meeting, the group reviewed the draft MOU sent out by City Administrator Kanner.

Robertson said a proposed joint meeting would occur in February or March for a full MOU review by council and the commission. He said the MOU followed the chart that outlined responsibilities of the two elected bodies. Kanner provided a first draft, Robertson reviewed it with his direct reports and provided an update, then Kanner and Robertson met again and laid out the chart side-by-side with the list of duties to ensure that all topics were covered. Seffinger said one change involved a request by Parks to develop a separate Facebook page and Twitter account.

Robertson asked the commission to review their calendars for the end of February or early March for the joint meeting with council. Commissioners provided their availability for the proposed months.

Commissioners asked questions about the budget for Ending Fund Balance projects and the costs for a permanent ice rink cover. Shaw talked about the snow that recently collected on the cover and asked if it was a dangerous situation. Robertson said the snow was dislodged by staff and signs were posted around the rink.

Gardiner reported reading the entire winter / spring recreation guide and said it was an excellent issue.

Robertson distributed the Comprehensive Unit Financial Report for the period ending June 30, 2013, and said it would be discussed at the regular meeting on Monday, December 23.
By consensus, with no further business, Seffinger adjourned the study session at 8:25 p.m.
Respectfully submitted,
Susan Dyssegard
Ashland Parks and Recreation


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