Agendas and Minutes

Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission (View All)

Parks Commission Study Session

Monday, January 13, 2014

City of Ashland
January 13, 2014

Present:   Commissioners Gardiner, Landt, Lewis, Seffinger, Shaw; Director Robertson; Superintendents Dials and Dickens

Absent:    None

Seffinger called the study session to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Parks office, 340 S. Pioneer Street. She said a “State of the Parks” speech would be presented at the January 27 regular meeting highlighting 2013 accomplishments and 2014 goals.

Seffinger suggested using the February 26 study session as a planning forum for the March 12 joint meeting with council. She suggested reviewing commission goals, objectives and policies at the March 17 Parks Commission study session.

Gardiner asked for a preview of Seffinger’s “State of the Parks” speech before January 27. Seffinger said she would send the commission an advance copy.

Seffinger said the commission previously discussed a request by Ashland Little League (ALL) to place advertising banners on Hunter Park outfield fences but the commission decided to delay a decision pending further information from staff.

Robertson said he reviewed City ordinances and Parks policies relating to the topic. He also spoke with Planning Director Bill Molnar about City ordinances that could affect the commission’s decision. Robertson reviewed three City ordinances: 10.68.060 allowing for selling of certain items such as concessions with approval from the Parks Commission; 10.68.110 prohibiting removal, destruction or defacement of any structure, monument or property in parks; and 10.68.080 prohibiting posting or attaching of items to trees, fences, railings or other structures without permission from the Parks Commission. He referenced Parks Commission Resolution 99-02, approved in 1999, that outlined the commission’s responsibility to best serve the community, with restrictions placed on commercial use of parks as established by City ordinance and authorization for the commission to grant permission for certain commercial activities in parks. He said the commission had the authority to allow or prohibit such uses or to direct staff to administer those policies on their behalf. He said City code restrictions could prohibit approval of the request by overruling commission approval. Robertson said his discussion with Molnar included a point about possibly allowing signage that would not be visible to anyone outside the area. He said posting a sign on the inside portion of a fence might work if it wasn’t noticeable to motorists or pedestrians driving or walking by. Molnar said the request might also make sense if approved on a one-year trial basis. Robertson said the commission could make their signage approval conditional upon Ashland Little League obtaining Planning Department approval.

Public Input
Ken Buccino, 1000 Emma Street, President of ALL, said he appreciated the commission’s consideration of the request. He said ALL wanted to utilize the Hunter Park fence space to help raise funds for kids who could not afford league fees, since Little League charter stipulated that children could play ball even if their families could not pay. Field maintenance costs and other expenses cut into dollars set aside for scholarships. He said ad sponsors would help supplement ALL coffers.

Robertson said it was common practice to allow outfield signage on field fences for the benefit of youth sports organizations. He said sometimes a modest fee was associated with authorized signage but that was the exception rather than the norm.
Discussion Among Commissioners
Shaw said the banners would be visible from Homes Avenue. If the ALL signage request was approved by the commission, he could see similar requests coming in for soccer, baseball, hockey and other sports groups. Gardiner asked about the number of signs ALL wanted to post and Buccino said sponsorship solicitations had not yet begun. He said ALL was thinking about four-foot by three-foot signs costing up to $500 per sign, with signs going up on opening day and coming down on closing day. Landt said he did not have strong feelings about the ALL sponsorship signage but did have strong feelings about not wishing to go through the commission approval process each time the matter arose. He said he preferred referring staff to a set of commission-approved guidelines for future requests. Gardiner voiced agreement with Shaw’s and Landt’s opinions. Lewis said the commission made many exceptions, including allowing alcohol on the Calle and selling along Winburn Way. He said if the ALL request was for the good of the community, the commission should consider it as an exception. This would help subsidize a community effort by allowing children to play ball; it was not about sales or capitalism. Seffinger said she heard the commission making two suggestions: 1) directing ALL to obtain Planning Commission approval and 2) approving the request at the commission level on a one-year trial basis but restricting placement options. Gardiner said he would agree to the request on a one-year trial basis but was not comfortable opening it up to every field in every situation. Landt concurred and said the commission would hopefully develop a policy to help determine how similar requests could be resolved in the future. Shaw said he was concerned about visual clutter. Ashland parks were bucolic and folks walking along those areas might question the commission’s decision to allow advertisements. Landt said he hoped staff would obtain a legal opinion before asking the commission to vote on the matter. Robertson said he hoped ALL would make good word choices for signage. Seffinger summarized that before making a decision the commission would need: 1) a legal opinion on limiting wording on signs; 2) guidelines on the number of signs and their visibility from the road; 3) ALL signage approval from Planning.

Through the years, Robertson said he visited every possible type of youth sporting event and observed similar signage on nearly every post and fence.

Robertson said he would write a staff report for the January 27 regular commission meeting.

Seffinger said members of the public were requesting updates on the commission’s plans for fountain restorations and the commission needed to make a decision soon.

Robertson said the long-term prognosis for the fountain was not good. The fountain itself was not the biggest problem; the area around the fountain was failing. Though a beautiful piece of art, it was in a state of decay. He reported speaking with John Frigonese, Planning Director during the last restoration. Robertson said he visited Italy and saw the fountain upon which the Lithia Park fountain was modeled. Further, he spoke with contractors about the project. Contractor Jim Oleson, responsible for the recent Atkinson Bridge and Enders Shelter restorations, was introduced and welcomed by Robertson. Robertson said the commission’s options included: 1) doing nothing; 2) removing the fountain; 3) completely restoring the fountain; 4) making modified restorations; 5) replacing fountain materials with different materials.

Robertson recommended not removing the fountain from Lithia Park as it was a key element within the community. Allowing the fountain to crumble was also not wise. Attempts at fundraising for restorations through the Ashland Parks Foundation were not highly successful and raised mostly questions about whether the commission planned to restore the fountain. Without a clear goal from the commission, fundraising would continue to be a challenge. He said $18,000 had been raised but the bulk of it came from a trust fund donation out of the Salem area.
Dickens said he contacted the State Historic Preservation Office about the fountain project and learned there were very few restrictions if the fountain was restored back its former historical state; however, if alterations were intended, he would need to seek approval from SHPO.

Landt said every surface of the fountain needed to be addressed and made new.

Lewis said he’d worked on several historic restorations in the past. Lithia Park could lose its special assessment from the state but would not lose its National Historical Registry if the fountain were removed. He said other recent restorations in the park, including the Atkinson Bridge and Enders Shelter, paled in comparison to this project. It would cost a minimum of $500,000 and the last restoration was just 23 or 24 years ago by world-class sculptor Jeffrey Bernard. The fountain came to Ashland from the San Francisco exposition, along with the Lincoln statue, and it was made from a weaker material: terrazzo marble.

Landt thanked Lewis for his input and said this large dollar project would need to be a community decision.

Lewis said the original fountain was heavily vandalized over the last 100 years and would continue to be vandalized over the next 100 years. Major problems included plumbing, the pool and the slab, which was at the wrong level.

Robertson said the erosion underneath meant the fountain and stairs were unsupported. Frigonese indicated it was made with cheap materials, with focus placed on the pool and stucco layered on top. Some of the gargoyles had been vandalized on the lower stem. The second bowl, the upper stem, and the child were replications from the original model. Certain items discussed for removal were not historical. The historical elements could be restored: the ones important to the community. Proposed costs would include improved landscaping, installation of new drainage, removal of the top section followed by repacking and re-plumbing, surface restoration, clearing the pool and making other historically accurate improvements.  

Landt said this was a perfect example of an out-of-place feature that was off the beaten path and highly vandalized, with the albatross of maintenance placed upon Parks. He said it was historical and held sentimental value but the commission was stuck with it. He suggested including the entire community in the project, not just the Parks Commission.

Seffinger suggested placing three options before the public: removal, partial restoration, complete restoration.

Shaw said some of the commissioners campaigned on the importance of historic restorations in Lithia Park. He did not want a referendum from the community as it was the commission’s duty to handle such matters.

Lewis said telling the community realistically that this structure would be a ruin without public funds would be clearly understood by the community. He said those funds could be used for fields or trails.

Robertson asked what the commission needed before deciding what to do. Landt suggested a less expensive option and asked how much it would cost to demolish and rebuild the structure.
Gardiner said community members might be interested in contributing but needed to know the commission’s intention before making donations.

Shaw asked for more details on funding options and said council made a point of talking about Parks using their $500,000 in Ending Fund Balance monies or risk losing them. He asked if those funds could be used for this purpose or what the other funding options might be.

Robertson said the primary source of funding would be City bonds, with a half-million set aside for use in Lithia Park. Funding could also be provided through Food and Beverage Tax receipts or through fundraising. An “add package” could be requested through the City budget process or the commission could utilize their $500,000 in the Parks reserve / contingency fund, although other projects might be more appropriate.
Dickens said design and engineering work was needed to calculate the cost of materials and services. Landt said any reputable contractor could give an estimate.

Public Input
Jim Oleson of Oleson Concrete Construction suggested hiring someone reputable who worked with long-lasting products. He said he would work on the project for free if he didn’t need to make a living.

Final commissioner comments included: Landt—complete the project to a “functional standard” rather than an “historical standard;” Shaw—if the commission chose to put money into it, do it right and make it last; Lewis—fundraise and indicate to the community the need for considerable support; the commission should not spend $500,000 on the project; Gardiner—get good figures for different degrees of restoration, then clearly report those to the community and make them aware of what the commission was dealing with.

Staff was directed to obtain preliminary estimates on Butler-Perozzi Fountain repairs within two months.

Dials said a five-foot-wide, four-foot-deep trench was dug down the middle of the Calle Guanajuato so the work was underway. Staff hoped the project could be completed by the April 1 deadline. In terms of the Allan Sandler building in that vicinity, she said the Calle contractor, KOGAP, had the authority to permit Batzer (Sandler’s contractor) to simultaneously work on a separate project. Landt asked for signage as well as erosion control measures associated with the project. Dials said she would visit the site the next day to resolve those concerns.

Landt asked the commission to move forward with key issues: land acquisition, important trail sections, a second dog park, and the Clay Street neighborhood park, all central goals and the commission’s mandate to which staff and commission time were not being devoted. If the commission worked on goals at their March 17 study session, they would then need to follow through. He said before any additional parks were designed, he wanted to talk about design and maintenance standards.

Shaw thanked Dickens for installing recycling baskets on the front of a select number of garbage cans in parks. He said he appreciated the follow-through on this pilot program. Robertson said Channel 12 picked up this news item and he served as the spokesman. Dickens said it was a great idea and an inexpensive way to install recycling baskets quickly. With just a dozen baskets placed during the pilot phase and some small signs attached, the cost was just $20 per site and the twelve test baskets would allow staff to discern whether the concept worked. He said this was one idea gleaned from a parks and recreation conference.

ADJOURNMENT – With no further business, Seffinger adjourned the meeting at 8:37 p.m.
Respectfully submitted,
Susan Dyssegard
Ashland Parks and Recreation


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