Agendas and Minutes

Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission (View All)

Parks Commission Study Session

Monday, March 17, 2014

City of Ashland
March 17, 2014

Present:  Commissioners Gardiner, Landt, Lewis, Seffinger, Shaw; Director Robertson; Superintendent Dickens
Absent:  City Council Liaison-Mayor John Stromberg; Superintendent Dials

Seffinger called the study session to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Ashland Senior Center, 1699 Homes Avenue, and said the meeting would begin with the final noticed agenda item: “Final Staff and Commissioner Comments.”

Robertson welcomed HR Manager Tina Gray and voiced his intention to retire effective June 30, 2014. If the commission agreed, following his retirement, he could continue working on the commission’s behalf as a contracted employee for up to 1,039 hours, the legal Oregon limit for PERS per year. Robertson distributed a draft director employment contract and expressed a preference for not overlapping with the new director but said that was a commission decision. Gray distributed a document from the League of Oregon Cities outlining different methods of recruitment. She said an RFP for recruiters could go out and stay in place for a month, through April, 2014, with an agency hired in early May. Gray talked about the process for City recruitments and said once the commission chose a recruiter, that person would meet with commissioners individually, in small groups or as a body to discuss desirable qualities and pinpoint challenges and benefits of the position. Some of the most recent City of Ashland external recruitments were reported to include the Fire Chief, Police Chief and City Administrator while the City Attorney recruitment was handled in-house. Robertson said ORPA and NPRA offered job listing boards on their websites but not recruitments. Gray said a recruiter would be more familiar with the market and typical director-level recruitments ranged between $20-30,000 in price depending on services provided. Staff pointed out that a direct award might be a viable option if three qualified quotes were received.

In terms of Robertson’s service as a contractor, Landt expressed a preference for being fiscally responsible and asked for an amendment to the employment contract stating that the Parks Commission had authority to choose the term of Robertson’s employment after June 30, 2014. When asked by Gardiner about a proposed rate of pay, Robertson suggested his current hourly rate plus health benefits received by Parks staff.

Discussion Among Commissioners
Lewis said it was helpful, during the 2003 director recruitment, to use a third-party recruiter as they helped the commission choose the best Ashland Parks Director. Given the premiere importance of the position, it was appropriate to hire a recruiter to serve as an advocate for the commission and handle recruitment duties.

Gardiner agreed with Lewis and said he remembered how helpful it was to hire a firm to vet applicants during Robertson’s recruitment based on criteria established by the commission. He said the applicants in the last process held varied backgrounds and he hoped the commission could discuss desirable Parks director qualities in advance.

Landt said using a recruiting firm was foregone but what wasn’t yet determined was how to streamline the process of hiring a firm. He suggested hiring a firm sooner rather than later and asked whether a full RFP was required.

Gray said she would notify the commission the next day about the quickest way to move forward given City of Ashland purchasing requirements. Robertson said he could send the commission recruitment materials from the last Parks Director search. He reminisced that his hiring process required three rounds of interviews and a written sample of his work. He expressed hope that the commission would embrace the process as a positive opportunity to start fresh and take the department to a new level.

Seffinger said it would be hard to lose Robertson as he did a wonderful job for the commission. She suggested carving out adequate advance time to discuss desirable director qualities and asking Parks management about their desired qualities for a director.

Shaw said it would be appropriate for Dickens and Dials to apply for the director position if they wished to do so. He thanked Robertson for preparing a draft contract for commission consideration. Having participated in similar processes in the past, he thought the new director would probably start in the fall timeframe.
Seffinger said the item would appear on the April 21 study session agenda. Commissioners agreed to include it on the March 24 regular meeting agenda first and direct staff either to issue a full RFP or make a direct award based on three qualified quotes. Commissioners asked for an advance questionnaire regarding director characteristics and Gray said that would be part of the recruiter’s job. A recruiter could talk to multiple tiers of City staff and stakeholders to gain a full spectrum of desirable qualities for a Parks Director. Dickens said the recruitment costs would come out of the professional services line item of the Parks budget. Gray asked whether the commission wanted to have a public input period for the recruitment process. Landt said a garden party for the candidates could be opened to the public. As the commission reflected on the process, Robertson said they might wish to reach out to Dickens, Dials and Dyssegard for input but he asked them to not reach beyond that staff level as it could cause a disruption. Gray offered to serve as a resource to the commission throughout the recruitment process.

Landt asked, for future agendas, that the item “Final Staff and Commissioner Comments” not include the word “final” as it could be misleading.

Robertson and Dickens welcomed Senior Center Manager Chris Dodson and Recreation Coordinator Lonny Flora and said they would talk about the Ashland Senior Center and pool facilities. Discussion points would include recent building and facility upgrades as well as identified problems and a vision for the future of the center and pool buildings. Dickens asked Dodson to speak about completed Senior Center projects.

Dodson said each week nearly every class at the Senior Center was full. On average, classes ran at 85% capacity, the meal program was full, and the facility was nearly always in use. She talked about the difficulty in offering new or additional programs and services with limited physical space. An earlier attempt to offer options at The Grove proved unsuccessful due to the population served as well as issues associated with staffing two locations. The group discussed the growing senior demographic in Ashland.

The commission spent 45 minutes viewing the Senior Center, pool, chemical room and locker rooms.

Senior Center Upgrades
Dickens said full spectrum, energy-efficient lighting was installed; the bathroom was remodeled, including a new water-saving toilet; the entryway was redone and a slip-resistant mat installed; an ADA-compliant door was installed along with a push-button door opener; office area lighting was upgraded and an energy-efficient, climate-controlled heating and air conditioning system installed. Sidewalks were replaced and a ramp constructed leading up to the back entrance to the building. A defibrillator donated by Ashland Fire and Rescue was mounted on the wall.

Pool and Pool Buildings Upgrades
Dickens said $150,000 was set aside in the Parks CIP / deferred maintenance budget for a new roof and solar panels. Staff met with a pool architect and engineer to hear options for the building and discuss identified problems. Built in 1982, the pool building was well-constructed at the time but uniform standard codes had changed. Options for upgrading the building included a new roof and solar panels, better space utilization by reconfiguring locker rooms to create a new flow, and installation of new flooring and paint. Dickens reported on ventilation system problems in the pool building. A new roofline was discussed and Dickens suggested a possible roof replacement lasting 40 years. Robertson said there were limited options for ADA clients’ private, supervised changes with the help of opposite sex support team members. Modern pool standards called for ADA-accessible changing areas allowing for supervised changes. Shaw suggested family or caregiver changing rooms, with space borrowed out of the larger locker rooms. Flora said a major functional deficiency involved pool visitors gaining access to the pool deck via locker rooms and gang showers. He hoped visitors could access the pool more directly. Robertson said the structure was built on a slab and plumbing challenges could occur if changes were made to the floor plan. Seffinger said the commission discussed a multi-generational facility at Hunter Park. Staff said a reconfiguration / redesign / expansion of the pool building would include hiring an architect to create a plan for: ADA-upgraded changing rooms, direct access to the deck and upgraded staff work areas. Flora said quotes were received for the kiddie pool ranging from $3,000 - $12,000 for decommissioning of the smaller pool or $30-40,000 for installing a separate filtration system. Robertson said a public process would be needed before shutting down the smaller pool. Flora said the kiddie pool was not heavily used. The group moved outdoors and talked about the new shade structure over the outdoor seating area, an improvement over the previous cover.

Mechanical / Equipment Room
Dickens reviewed upgrades, including a new hot water heater for temperature-controlled showers in the locker rooms. He reported hearing positive feedback from pool user groups and said upgrades would continue, with staff seeking direction from the new director and the commission.
To summarize, Dickens said the boiler would need to be switched out, the roof could remain for another season, the dry deck flooring around the pool would be replaced with sectional flooring, and a new coat of interior paint applied to the main pool building.

Dickens reminded the commission that the tennis court surfaces, irrigation system, tennis court lights and sidewalks were previously upgraded but it was important to also focus on aging buildings at Hunter Park.

Robertson said the commission received an email earlier that day with a draft revised City-Parks Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The latest MOU represented the City Administrator’s attempt to capture feedback from the March 12 joint City Council / Parks Commission meeting. He pointed out Section E on the first page in which the “City” and “Parks” were redefined. He also reviewed “i,” on page 4, in which it was stated, in the second sentence, that “The Parks Department would comply with the City’s Website and Social Media policy and adhere to the provisions of the City of Ashland Employee Communication Guide, except that the Parks Department may develop non city-standard web sites for senior populations and stand-alone recreation enterprises.” Robertson said a council member suggested striking the second sentence and Seffinger agreed. In the same section under “b,” an earlier request for the phrase “without deviation” to be removed did not occur.

Commissioners voiced appreciation for the March 12 joint meeting with council. Lewis said it was a productive meeting and he heard support for Parks and many positive comments from councilors. Landt agreed and said the councilors’ tone was different than a year earlier when Parks funds were removed and deposited into the City General Fund. Seffinger agreed that the meeting was different from past joint meetings in that the Mayor allowed Parks to assist with planning. She felt this meant Parks was considered more equal with council. Gardiner stated that the commission never really deviated from City policies and practices.

In terms of the two proposed Parks projects for the $470,000 in Parks funding (sidewalks along Winburn Way and a second Dog Park off lower Clay Street), Robertson said the projects could probably not begin until the next biennial budget period.

Dickens reviewed the $179,000 quote from Robertson Sherwood Architects for pool facility upgrades:
  • $35,000 – new solar panels
  • $24,000 – 40-year roof
  • $60,000 – equipment upgrades
  • $60,000 – bathhouse improvements

Dickens said staff would prepare a formal recommendation for commission consideration.

ADJOURNMENT – With no further business, Seffinger adjourned the meeting at 9:11 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Susan Dyssegard
Ashland Parks and Recreation

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