Agendas and Minutes

Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission (View All)

Parks Commission Regular Meeting

Monday, April 27, 2015

City of Ashland
April 27, 2015 

Present:   Commissioners Gardiner, Landt, Lewis, Shaw; Director Black; Superintendent Dickens; Administrative Supervisor Dyssegard and Assistant Manuel
Absent:    Commissioner Miller; City Council Liaison, Mayor Stromberg; Recreation Superintendent Dials

Chair Gardiner called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street.
Study Session and Special Meeting – March 11, 2015
MOTION:       Landt moved to approve the minutes as presented. Lewis seconded the motion.
The vote was all yes.

Study Session and Special Meeting – March 16, 2015
MOTION:       Shaw moved to approve the minutes as presented. Lewis seconded the motion.
The vote was all yes.
Regular Meeting – March 23, 2015
MOTION:       Landt moved to approve the minutes as presented.  Shaw seconded the motion.
The vote was all yes.
There was none.
There were none.
  • Update on Budget Process
Black referred to the earlier joint meeting with Ashland City Council, remarking that it was a first step in the budget approval process. He announced that the Parks Budget Hearing was scheduled for May 7, 2015, and he encouraged all to attend. In response to a question by Gardiner, Black noted that the Ashland Police Department was also scheduled to make a presentation that evening.
Black said his budget presentation overview would focus on the benefits and value Parks provided to the community. It was anticipated that a majority of the time allotted would be spent fielding questions from the Citizens’ Budget Committee.  
There followed a brief discussion of the role of Commissioners at the meeting. Discussion also centered on the philosophy of expending funds allotted to Parks. Black stated that the budget cycle would be spent sifting the numbers to realize some savings and cost efficiencies. He agreed that the budget should reflect actual needs. Black noted that the $550,000 coming from the General Fund would assist in balancing the budget. He stated that the capital infusion would give staff time to develop budgetary efficiencies. Black highlighted retirement payouts and other extraordinary expenses. 
Gardiner noted that the Commission was gaining experience with budgeting as well. He stated that the City had changed the way funding was determined for Parks. Gardiner was optimistic about moving forward, expressing confidence in the new Director and with the current Commission. Black noted that the proposed Performance Audit would help in managing the budget more efficiently. 
Black welcomed Park Technician III, Bill Miller, and highlighted his expertise in the area of water management. 
PT III Miller spoke about lessons learned the previous year with regard to drought management. He said water conservation was important in providing ongoing drought mitigation. Ashland citizens were serious about conserving water, which contributed to a substantial reduction last year (30% in 2013/2014). He noted that the City was able to keep the Reeder Reservoir full through September. 
Miller said the City of Ashland had 70 irrigation lines and over half of them serviced parks. He explained that the Upper Duck Pond provided 70% of the irrigation to Lithia Park. Miller said TID water was available as a backup source but water volumes fluctuated based on flow levels.
Miller noted that each Ashland park had unique characteristics, from full shade to full sun. He explained about the central irrigation monitoring system and said that in drought years, monitoring water fluctuations changed from weekly to daily – sometimes even hourly. He listed a number of factors that were weighed when planning water use. Prior experience would help initiate a proactive stance when weaning plants from excessive water use. He noted that no annuals were planted the previous year as Parks was transitioning to perennials. Parks was also isolating irrigation lines so shrubs could be watered separately from other types of plants because of differing water requirements. He talked about a reassessment of watering needs for trees, noting that once a tree was established, less irrigation was needed. Miller noted that in some areas of Lithia Park, sub-ground water helped to keep areas green despite reduced irrigation.
Miller noted technologies and other innovations that assisted in water management. He reviewed the spreadsheet provided by the City on water production from the watershed. He said it was a record that would be helpful going forward, establishing a benchmark for low water tables. Parks was also working with GIS to produce a detailed, color-coded map of each irrigation line. Miller explained that the map detail would be helpful, especially when addressing water leaks on weekends.
Miller highlighted other efficiencies such as a transitioning away from drip lines to a low water distribution system called bubblers. He talked about the 24-hour hotline instituted by Parks that allowed members of the public to report on water line breaks so they could be quickly repaired. He finished by noting that water was a precious resource and he hoped Ashland would understand the proactive approach Ashland Parks and Recreation used in managing its water.
Miller replied to questions from the Commission. Gardiner asked about the percentage of acreage currently irrigated (approximately 378 acres). Lewis asked about the dead vegetation at Walker School, stating that complaints were received. Miller commented that the Ashland School District had jurisdiction in that area and the district would discover how much more difficult it was to restore an area once weeds were established.
Shaw asked if the 30% reduction in water use was sustainable; Miller replied affirmatively.    
  • Golf Course Subcommittee Meeting
Lewis reported that the topics discussed at the April 16 Golf Subcommittee meeting included an update on FootGolf, golf course signage and maintenance, dog policy implementation and Golf budget adjustments. He noted that the official opening of FootGolf at Oak Knoll was set for May 11, 2015.  Ten holes of FootGolf would be offered instead of nine. A new supplier was identified for Golf signage, and wording for implementation of the dog policy was still under review. Maintenance issues discussed included plugging of lawns and TID irrigation, which would continue through September 15, at which time the domestic water source would be used. Adjustments to the Golf Course budget were said to be currently under consideration. 
  • Bee City USA Subcommittee Meeting
Gardiner noted that the first meeting of the Bee City USA Subcommittee, held on April 13 at the North Mountain Park Nature Center, focused on the election of a Chair (Kristina LaFever). Quarterly meetings were agreed upon and dates set. The subcommittee identified potential events and activities to promote awareness of Ashland’s Bee City USA designation.
  • Staff Reports

Dickens noted that the opening ceremony for Ashland Creek Park was scheduled for May 20, 2015, from 11:30 to 1:30. Hot dogs would be served and crafts and other activities provided for the public, staff and their families.
Landt noted a recent complaint from a community member about unleashed dogs on Parks-managed trails. Black stated that dog rules had to be enforced and monitoring increased. Those who did not comply could be cited by police and fined.  In response to a question by Landt, Black noted that woodland areas would be monitored as closely as possible. The Forest Service also required dogs to remain on leash.
Landt asked staff to postpone planting grass at Ashland Creek Park until fall 2015. He highlighted the commitment of the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission toward water conservation, noting that planting in the fall would demonstrate such commitment. Postponement of the planting would provide an educational opportunity for the public and set an example of conservative water management in a drought year.  
Dickens said the planting was scheduled for the first week of May. Black explained that the direction to seed in spring 2015 came from him. He noted that the area under discussion was approximately one-half acre in size – about half of what was originally planned. Black noted that a portion of Ashland Creek Park would remain in its natural state to reduce water consumption. He expressed a willingness to halt the planting if directed by the Commission.
Further discussion focused on the pros and cons of proceeding with planting grass as originally scheduled. PT III Miller described the steps currently being taken to irrigate using water-saving technologies and conservation strategies at the park. Shaw suggested posting signage detailing water conservation measures. Dickens noted that 80% of the grass would need to be planted at Ashland Creek Park to comply with DEQ’s storm water management objectives. 
Landt noted for the record that he was proposing a motion to plant lawn at Ashland Creek Park in fall 2015. 
MOTION: Landt moved to direct staff to wait until fall 2015 to plant grass or at least postpone a substantial portion of the grass planned for Ashland Creek Park until then. The motion died for lack of a second.  
Black noted that he would take away from the discussion the idea of posting signage to explain APRC’s water conservation measures at Ashland Creek Park.
Gardiner thanked Landt for bringing the issue forward.
Budget Hearing:   May 7, 2015 @ Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street - 7:00 p.m.
Study Session:     May 11, 2015 @ The Grove, 1195 E. Main Street - 7:00 p.m.
Regular Meeting:  May 18, 2015 @ Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street - 7:00 p.m.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 8:04 p.m.
Respectfully submitted,
Betsy Manuel 


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