Agendas and Minutes

Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission (View All)

Parks Commission Study Session

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

City of Ashland
January 13, 2015

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

Landt called the study session to order at 7:00 p.m. in The Grove, 1195 E. Main Street.

The Commission will discuss current dog practices at Oak Knoll Golf Course and hear public input. Potential dog policy changes will be discussed by the Commission.

Black said the Dogs Subcommittee recently met and discussed dogs at the golf course, among other topics. They noted that dogs currently were not designated as allowed or not allowed at the golf course. Staff invited Golf Course Manager Tom Cronin and Golf Course Superintendent Laura Harvey to speak to the Commission.

Cronin said dogs had posed a challenge at the golf course for some time. Recently the situation felt out of control. A regular golfer in the women’s club, Sonja Dedrick, wrote a letter to the commission recommending that dog walkers find another place to walk their dogs, leaving the golf course for golfers. The biggest concern was people driving to the course and allowing their dogs to run up and down fairways. Oak Knoll posed a particular challenge because it lacked fencing. If the commission chose to allow dogs, Cronin suggested posting clear signage about limited areas and hours for dogs on leash. He said golfers paid dues and fees to play golf and dog walkers used the course for free. He suggested limiting the number of hours for dogs at the golf course.

In terms of designated areas, Cronin said the main road through the course – from Highway 66 up to the clubhouse – would work for dogs on leash.

Harvey said, from a maintenance standpoint, that dogs had become more challenging in the past year. Newer residents of the Oak Knoll subdivision brought their dogs to the course and dogs dug up bunkers, causing them to cave in. Dogs were also cutting up turf and droppings were found more often than before. Harvey suggested posting clear signage about keeping dogs off the turf.  

Landt said dogs had not been permitted in any City park, other than the Dog Park, until a few years ago. The Commission had since opened specific parks or portions of parks to dogs on leash. The tacit rule for the golf course had been that dogs were not allowed, but the unspoken rule was broken. He suggested moving forward with determining whether dogs should be allowed at the course.

Black said dogs hadn’t been allowed but the policy hadn’t been clearly defined for the golf course. The Commission could either allow dogs in designated places and at certain times or not allow them. He asked the Commission to define the dog policy in terms of the golf course.

Public Input
Richard Ogier, 835 Oak Knoll Drive, said he was one of the respectful dog owners using the golf course with his dog. As a golfer, he knew not to take his dog when there were golfers. He spoke favorably about a time restraint – preferably before 8:00 a.m. Monday through Friday. Due to a vision impairment, he was not able to take his dog into the woods and the golf course was the only place to exercise his dog. He reported picking up his own dog’s waste as well as other dogs’ waste. He thanked the Commission for their time and consideration.

Discussion Among Commissioners
Landt said no decisions would be made that evening, only discussion and a general plan.
Shaw reported visiting the course the following week and walking sections of the course. He spoke to Cronin and learned that having people walk their dogs while golf was in play was problematic. He wanted to find middle ground for responsible dog owners, golf workers and golfers. Signage would help but wouldn’t prevent dog violations.

Lewis said the City’s ordinances were clear: dogs were to be kept on leash, with owners carrying a means for picking up droppings; however, scofflaws were seen throughout Ashland. The main course entrance off Hwy 66 was a clear access route for dogs on leash; dog signage would be a helpful addition.

Miller said it made sense to have rules that accorded with City ordinances. He voiced support for allowing dog walkers wherever possible.

Landt asked staff or the Dogs Subcommittee to develop a conceptual proposal for dogs at the golf course. Once developed, the Commission could discuss it at a regular meeting. He agreed with Cronin’s statement that the golf course was different from other park lands: golfers paid to play and wouldn’t want their golf experience diminished. The Commission didn’t want its revenues to decrease because of dogs; it wanted the course to become self sustaining. The Commission previously discussed installing a playground in a corner of the parking lot at the golf course; could a small section of that area be used for dog walkers? He suggested consideration of both ideas.

Black said any early morning dog walking allowance would require dogs remaining on leash. Cronin said start times at the golf course varied by the season: in winter it was 9 or 9:30 and in summer as early as 6:30 a.m.

Landt thanked Cronin and Harvey for their input, including Harvey’s sketched out dog routes. He thanked Ogier for speaking on behalf of dog walkers.

The Commission will present the formatted goals discussed by the Commission and staff at the December 15 strategic planning meeting

Black said the Commission met for a strategic planning session on December 15 and participated in a preliminary vote on goals using dots. By percentage and vote counts, the two highest ranked categories were: 1) SOU Pool; and 2) Long-term care and use of The Grove by Parks. Winburn Way sidewalks, a second dog park and updating the Open Space Plan were also high priorities for the Commission. Items with red dots were designated as the Commission’s most important items. Black suggested possible Commission approval of FY 15-17 (biennial) goals at their January 26 regular meeting.

Black said approved goals would be used as workplan items for the coming biennial period. Each goal would have objectives listed and staff members assigned. Workplans would be updated on a quarterly basis. Black invited further discussion about the draft biennial budget goals.

Discussion Among Commissioners
Landt suggested several processes for voting on goals, including voting on red dotted items only (highest value) or voting on goals with any dots. He said some goals with completion dates of 2012 had never been completed. He asked whether all goals should be included on the list, even if they couldn’t be finalized within two years.

For the Open Space Plan update, Lewis expressed interest in seeing a goal completion procedure lined out, with designated staff noted. Efforts expended could then be clearly identified, including any public meetings held.

Shaw suggested authorizing Black to review the goals list to determine if low level items (with few or no dot votes) should remain on the list or be removed.

While there were six or seven goals with few or no votes, Black expressed comfort with the full list, which he described as a normal workload for two years. He suggested reviewing the list with his staff to see if any less-voted items could be recommended for removal.

Landt asked Black to estimate the number of labor hours per item – low, medium, high – to aid the Commission in determining value. Black said he would develop a ranking system (1,2,3) for each item. Landt said this was a supportive Commission that wanted staff to succeed in achieving goals.
DISCUSSION OF joint council-Commission meeting
The Commission will review the time, place and details of a joint meeting requested by Ashland City Council. Agenda items will include upcoming annual goals and the budgeting process.

Black said the suggested meeting date for the joint Commission / Council meeting was currently February 11 – a date when most councilors would be available. The other option was February 9, the date of the Parks Commission study session. Council first requested the meeting in November. A “doodle poll” went out from the City Administrator and Mayor’s office without Parks’ knowledge or input. Council’s intent was to talk about goals pertaining to Parks. At the time, the Commission had not entered into its goal setting process so the timing was off. Another date was then proposed – January 14 – but that did not work out. The joint meeting would be an important step toward determining Parks project budgeting. If the Commission chose to include “FY 15-17 Goals Review and Action” on its January 26 regular meeting agenda, the timing of the February 11 joint meeting would work because Parks would have a good understanding of its priorities for the new biennium.

Lewis asked to receive meeting materials well ahead of time. Black said he would send out a revised goals document, based on the evening’s discussion, by Wednesday, January 21. A reminder email would be sent to the Commission the following day regarding the February 11 joint meeting date, time and place.

Black said staff submitted an application for Bee City USA designation for the City of Ashland, since Ashland met all criteria. A subcommittee would be established, including one staff member, one Commissioner and three members of the public. Many citizens had expressed interest in serving on the subcommittee. Staff had been working on the application and a press release and applications would be accepted until March 6. Subcommittee candidates would be presented to the Commission at their March 23 regular meeting.

Black welcomed an Ashland resident in attendance, Claudia, whose home neighbored the ice rink.
Dials said Parks staff nominated Tom Foster to receive the Ragland Citizen’s Award and Foster was chosen along with two other community volunteers. Recipients would be announced at the State of the City event held on Tuesday, January 27, at 5:30 p.m. in the Ashland Community Center.

Black announced that Dyssegard received a promotion to Administrative Supervisor.

Landt asked staff to make the Planning Department aware of Parks goals. A portion of land designated on the Open Space Plan had been lost when plans changed and Parks wasn’t notified. Better communication could have precluded the loss of a portion of potential park land. Staff was asied to request pre-applications for planning actions on, adjacent to or overlapping park land identified on the Open Space Plan.

By consensus, with no further business, Landt adjourned the study session at 8:17 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Susan Dyssegard, Administrative Supervisor
Ashland Parks and Recreation

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