MINUTES FOR THE STUDY SESSION MEETING
CALL TO ORDER
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
February 2, 2000
Council Chambers, 1175 E Main
Mayor Shaw called the meeting to order at 12:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers at 1175 E Main Street.
Councilors Laws, Reid, Hauck, Wheeldon and Fine were present. Staff present: Assistant City Administrator Greg Scoles, Finance Director Jill Turner and Administrative Services Director Dick Wanderscheid.
B STREET MULTIMODAL PLAN
Community Development Director John McLaughlin explained that a study had been conducted regarding improving the transportation along B Street, between Mountain Avenue and Water Street. He explained that this was being brought forward again to the council to discuss the next steps for this project as the Planning Department looks at its work schedule for the coming year. Suggested that the next steps may involve continued neighborhood involvement, refined development plans, cost estimates and funding opportunities, and ultimately the adoption of a plan.
McLaughlin stated that there had been previous comments that the plan was too grandiose, and some mixed signals had come across as to the priority of this project. McLaughlin further discussed options and previous recommendations relative to the livability of the neighborhood, and requested further direction from the council.
McLaughlin explained that there are no cities in the region that have used the traffic calming recommendations made in this plan, but that there are some bulb-outs in Eureka, California's Old Town District. He stated that Eugene and Salem both have traffic circles on bus routes, and they allow buses to negotiate the traffic calming features in similarly sized and styled intersections. Recognized that there are still further issues to be determined relative to the uses of A Street.
Reid questioned the possibility of phased implementation; McLaughlin confirmed that budgetary concerns may mean that this cannot be done as one large project. Explained the neighborhood involvement process that occurred here, emphasizing that the character of the street and parking were taken into consideration by residents. Stated that this was a fairly conservative approach, and that the neighbors were primarily concerned with slowing traffic to make the neighborhood more livable.
Shaw noted that the safety features that are implemented in this plan are an improvement and encourage bicycle traffic.
Also explained that the traffic circle designs chosen would not encumber delivery vehicles in what is a mixed use neighborhood.
Freeman offered to contact the City of Boulder, Colorado, where they have implemented traffic circles and other traffic calming measures. Suggested that he could have a traffic circle video taped for council to view. Councilor Wheeldon noted the need to make comprehensive changes on a large enough scale to have the desired effect.
McLaughlin clarified that the changes suggested are horizontal (traffic circles, neck downs) versus vertical (speed tables and humps), as it was not felt that changes to the street elevation would be appropriate in a historic district. Shaw noted the effectiveness of the long, raised island on North Mountain Avenue near the park in calming traffic.
Hauck stated that McLaughlin's proposed next steps seemed reasonable. Shaw noted the differences between Oak and B Streets. Stated that the proposal here is more modest and conservative. Fine stated that the vast majority of citizens will find these improvements pleasant. Reid concurred that Planning should move ahead, but suggested using temporary barricades for the traffic circle at Fourth and B Streets, and reiterated her support for a phased implementation. Reid expressed concerns over the size of any barrier in this intersection.
McLaughlin noted that David Engwicht's recommendation that change is necessary, and suggested that the phased implementation might spread out changes being made to prolong driver awareness. Laws expressed his concern that in the long term, drivers may become used to the changes being implemented and increase speeds. Suggested that in any case, the changes proposed will make the street more attractive.
Wheeldon noted that the raised crosswalks have the effect of increasing the visual proximity between drivers and pedestrians, and thus increasing driver awareness.
CONTINUATION OF DISCUSSION OF HILLAH TEMPLE FINANCING
Finance Director Jill Turner presented the three scenarios for financing of the Hillah Temple building. She explained that the three scenarios assume the completion of both of the fire stations and the Hillah Building. The difference in each scenario is that the benefit of the $450,000 would be applied to a different project.
Turner pointed out the two options for only financing the Hillah Building remodel: 1) Apply the $450,000 capital fund carryover to the Hillah building remodel; and 2) Finance the Hillah Building without the $450,000 capital fund carryover. Pointed out that without the $450,000 for the Hillah Temple, increased Engineering and Community Development fees of $56,0000 annually would need to be passed on to pay for debt service.
She stated that the staff feels it would be prudent to carryover the $450,000 capital fund amount and apply it to the future financing of Fire Station #2. Explained that this is based on the long term financial benefit of locking that money up and drawing interest until November of 2004.
Turner noted that with the $112,000 annually being set aside for office space needs would be adequate to cover the debt service on the estimated $2.29 million required for the Hillah Project.
Fine questioned whether it would be possible to increase the facility charge for the ambulance service. Turner explained that the fees for ambulance services are set by the market, along with industry standards, rather than cost recovery. Fine suggested reinstating such a fee, and perhaps getting a little bit more, to build some reserve for these projects.
Freeman noted that there would be a difficulty here as any fee increase which was transferred back to the user would need to be approved by the County. Explained that this has been considered, but it cannot be done without going through the proper procedures.
Laws feels that we should be charging according to the actual cost of service, not what the market will bear, and expressed his reservations with charging rent when the city owns the building. Council discussion of whether rent should be factored into the cost of service. Shaw noted that the current fees are very near cost of service, and the city is very forgiving to those without insurance. Also noted the subscriber service that has been put into place, and suggested that the current method is very fair.
Noted that there was consensus for retaining the $450,000 to use for the construction of Fire Station #2, and that the Hillah Temple will be financed through a conventional bank loan. Freeman explained that the recommendation for financing will be brought forward through the budget process.
AMENDMENT TO COMMUNITY VALUES STATEMENT
Councilor Laws explained that the proposed amendments narrows down the values to those the community wants the city government to facilitate.
Council discussed the proposed amendment to the community values statement.
Freeman questioned, operationally, how the proposed amendment would change what the city is doing. Suggested that there needs to be an effort to look at what is being done and determine how current city projects and goals serve this value statement.
Reid expressed her concern that adopting a statement valuing citizen involvement was contradictory to seeking to avoid public involvement through a hearing on the hillside spraying issue.
Council consensus was to go with the second proposed amendment.
The meeting was adjourned at 12:45 p.m.
Submitted by Barbara Christensen, City Recorder/Treasurer