Agendas and Minutes

Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission (View All)

Parks Commission Study Session

Monday, November 17, 2014

City of Ashland
November 17, 2014

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

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

The Commission will discuss a request by the Dogs Subcommittee to establish Ashland Creek Park as a “dog friendly” park.

Ann Cramer, 735 Grandview Drive, said eight dog friendly areas surrounded Ashland Creek Park: four parks and four open spaces. Since a portion of the creek ran through the Ashland Creek Park and it was considered an extension of Lithia Park, she suggested excluding dogs from Ashland Creek Park. At Hald-Strawberry Park, she reported observing about 90% of dogs off leash, with dog waste left on the ground by dog owners.

Seffinger thanked Cramer for her comments. She said the Dogs Subcommittee, consisting of herself and Shaw, would recommend establishing Ashland Creek Park as a dog friendly park.

Discussion Among Commissioners
Shaw said the original planning process for Ashland Creek Park did not include a discussion about dogs because, at that time, dogs were not permitted in Ashland parks. Since then, most parks were opened to dogs on leash. Ashland Creek Park was a neighborhood community park. With roughly half the residents of Ashland owning dogs, restricting dogs from Ashland Creek Park could mean turning half of Ashland away from a new park. Shaw suggested increasing security of parks in terms of dogs and dog owners while also adding Woof Waste stations, trash cans and signage. He said issues related to dogs were “people issues” rather than “dog issues.”

Lewis said Cramer’s points were well-taken in terms of the creek. Dogs were not allowed in Lithia Park, nor in the main section of North Mountain Park, because of creek protections. Mixing dogs with community gardens was not a good idea. Dogs would be present in the park regardless; therefore, any dog allowances needed to be minimal. Lewis suggested restricting dogs from the riparian areas and the community gardens.

In terms of signage, Seffinger spoke in favor of posting signs about the importance of keeping dog waste and animals out of the creek. If possible, she requested a fenced area next to the playground and near the gardens to allow people with children and gardeners to keep their dogs nearby. She reported visiting the newer path across the street (adjacent to the church) and seeing no evidence of dog waste in that area. She said the pathway allowed older adults to walk their dogs on leads.

Lewis agreed with the need for Woof Waste stations and trash cans if dogs were allowed at Ashland Creek Park. In terms of the area next to the playground, he said it was too valuable a space for use as a dog run. He suggested picnic tables for that section of the park.

Black said past practices had prohibited dogs from community gardens and playgrounds. Dickens said an enclosed dog run could keep loose dogs contained until Jackson County Animal Control arrived. He advised implementation of a public process if the Commission chose to add elements to the adopted park plan.

Black said staff would bring the topic back to the Commission for further discussion and a vote at their regular meeting on Monday, November 24.
The Commission and staff will discuss the organizational structure of their Strategic Planning Meeting scheduled for Monday, December 15, 2014

Seffinger said Ashland Fire and Rescue (AFR) recently held a strategic planning session in which they invited a focus group to participate, talked about their achievements, asked participants to indicate their priorities and linked AFR’s strategic plan with council goals. Following the session, Ashland Fire and Rescue sent a findings report to Council based on participants’ recommendations. Approximately 50 people attended the session, including staff, stakeholders, department heads and members of the public.

Black said strategic planning was a way to get to goal setting. He envisioned a retreat-like session in which participants had an opportunity to talk freely, with a later session scheduled with community stakeholders if needed.

Commissioners spoke favorably about reviewing where they had been and where they were going in the future. They suggested a wider participant list at a future meeting. Lewis referenced a past public meeting on dogs at which 20-30 people attended. He said it took that many people to pull off a public meeting of the type described by Seffinger. Seffinger suggested taking the Commission’s strategic plan and matching it with the five overarching goals of Council. Black said if the Commission chose to have a second strategic planning meeting, they could invite Councilors, department heads and Budget Committee members.
Black reported that Matt Miller was the unofficial election winner of position #4 of the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission and would be invited to the upcoming strategic planning meeting.

Black said staff would conduct its own mini-strategic planning meeting the following Thursday and Friday in Bend. They would tour the Bend aquatics facility, senior center and other amenities of Bend Parks and Recreation District.

Staff will provide an overview of the November 24 Cost Recovery Report for Recreation Programs and Facilities in FY 12-13 and FY 13-14

Dials presented an abbreviated cost recovery report and said the full report would be presented the following week at the regular Commission meeting.

Dials said the Commission set a goal, in 2006, of annually reviewing fees and charges for Ashland Parks and Recreation as a kick-off to its budget planning process. Annual fees reviewed included the Calle Guanajuato, North Mountain Park Nature Center, Ashland Senior Center, adult and adapted recreation programs, indoor and outdoor reserved facilities, the Oak Knoll Golf Course, the Daniel Meyer Pool, and the Ashland Rotary Centennial Ice Rink. Staff used three assumptions in evaluating each program: 1) expenses and revenues for FY 12-13 and FY 13-14; 2) all programs with associated fees or charges; and 3) direct costs for each program. Dials said a new format was developed for the upcoming cost recovery presentation: a one-page detail report for each program or service. She said that based on the cost recovery report, staff would be looking for recommendations from the Commission on any fees needing adjustments. Staff would bring back any fee recommendations to the January 26, 2015, regular meeting for further discussion and a vote.

Black reported on the Planning Commission regular meeting of November 12 that included a planning action for the ice rink cover. The meeting helped garner support for the ice rink cover, with most participants speaking in favor of it. Staff would be planting landscaping materials in an uphill adjacent yard to act as a screen. A Planning Commission special meeting would occur on November 25, with the Planning Commission deliberating again and taking action. Black said Parks would have the opportunity to issue a rebuttal on November 25 if needed. The cover, once approved, would be a permanent seasonal structure, with no further annual approvals needed. If no appeals were submitted, staff could begin building the cover the week of December 8.
Black reported again on the upcoming December 15 strategic planning meeting of the Commission, scheduled for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at SOU’s McNeal Pavilion, 1465 Webster Street, Room PE 116.

The December regular meeting was set for Wednesday, December 17, to better accommodate busy holiday schedules. Seffinger asked staff to prepare a list of 2014 accomplishments for that end-of-year meeting.

Black said the YMCA’s executive director approached him to talk about collaboration with Ashland Parks and Recreation and the fostering of a more open relationship. Also discussed were relationships with the school district, SOU, and Ashland Tennis and Fitness Club. Black invited the Commission to participate in any future collaboration meetings with those organizations.

Dickens said Parks staff planted a new oak tree on the Plaza in place of the recently removed tree. Staff heard positive feedback from City staff and the public on the newly planted tree.
Dickens said his staff worked on an initial evaluation of the Black Swan Fountain near the Chamber of Commerce.

Dickens said ultrasonic testing of the Butler-Perozzi Fountain would begin the following day to determine the structural soundness of the fountain and surrounding components.
Shaw asked about a completion date for the Japanese Garden gateway in Lithia Park. Dickens said he would look into the status of the wood that was curing and other details related to the project.

Dials said the ice rink seasonal opening had been rescheduled due to unfavorable weather and no cover. She hoped it would occur the following day. Saturday, November 22, was the original date of the seasonal grand opening celebration but it would be postponed until around December 20. Dials said she would send a message to the Commission when she learned of exact dates and times for each event associated with the ice rink.

By consensus, with no further business, Seffinger adjourned the study session at 8:22 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Susan Dyssegard, Executive Assistant
Ashland Parks and Recreation

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