Agendas and Minutes

Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission (View All)

Parks Commission Study Session

Monday, July 20, 2015

City of Ashland
Study Session  
July 20, 2015

Present:  Commissioners Gardiner, Landt, Lewis, Miller, Shaw; Director Black, Superintendents Dickens and Dials; Administrative Supervisor Dyssegard and Assistant Manuel 

Absent:  City Council Liaison, Mayor John Stromberg

Chair Gardiner called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. at The Grove 1195 E. Main.    
  • Swings for Ashland Creek Park
Black began the discussion by noting that the Commission requested consideration of two additional items for the newly completed Ashland Creek Park: swings in the play area and access to Ashland Creek from the park.   
Gardiner explained the rationale for adding swings to the play area in Ashland Creek Park. He noted the popularity of swings in other City of Ashland parks and said they well used by children of all ages. Both adults and young children enjoyed interactions involving swing sets in parks.     
In response to a question by Shaw, Dickens replied that preliminary research indicated that the cost to purchase four swings (two bucket seats for toddlers and two swings for youth) and develop a play area suitable for swings would range from approximately $13,000 to $15,000. He suggested locating the new equipment along the north side of the play area and defining the space with a 3-ft. block wall. Wood chips would blanket the proposed area.
Discussion among Commissioners
Landt suggested placing the swings where two sidewalks meet, thereby eliminating the need for a block retaining wall. If the wall was needed to provide boundaries for the play area, then reducing the wall from 3 ft. to 2 ft. might help to reduce the footprint. Landt questioned the availability of funding, noting that several other projects were removed from the CIP (Capital Improvement Plan) due to lack of funding. He proposed prioritizing the projects to add perspective and assist with decision-making. 
Shaw focused on donations as a possible avenue for funding the project. The Ashland Lions Club had adopted the neighborhood park through the APRC “Volunteer in Parks” Program, and the cost of adding swings to the play area might be within their purview.

Discussion included a review of the policy governing donations. It was stated that the sponsorship policy for APRC currently limits the types of acceptable donations. Shaw proposed incorporating a broader strategy into the policy to create additional opportunities for public donations. 

Funding strategies for additional equipment were discussed. Changes to the policy would be necessary prior to moving forward with private donations for playground equipment. The Ashland Lions Club could be approached about a possible funding request. Small project grants were also considered. In the meantime, the undertaking would be added to the list of projects in need of funding.

Landt proposed a Commission-prioritized list of unfunded projects with similar cost projections, including those for Lithia Park. He noted that the Lithia Park Master Plan could be modified to include playground equipment needs; alternatively, the project could be funded outside the Master Plan. Landt expressed a concern about funding without consideration of the Lithia Park Master Plan because of the potential for overlooking other important projects. In addition, prioritizing projects would ensure an orderly process as funds become available  
Further discussion was postponed until the list of unfunded projects could be reviewed.
  • Creek Access
Shaw described his vision for creating access to Ashland Creek from Ashland Creek Park. He stated that it seemed appropriate to add access, validating the Park’s name and neighborhood character.  He proposed a viewing area anchored by a bench or table with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) access.

Discussion among Commissioners
Shaw noted that controlled access would provide an avenue for people to enjoy the sights and sounds of the creek without disruption of the creek’s habitat. He highlighted the unfettered access of neighbors who live along the creek on the side opposite to Ashland Creek Park.
Landt explained the historical significance for protecting the riparian area, noting that access to the creek within Lithia Park had degraded the creek banks. He stated that efforts to restrict access would be difficult in Lithia Park, but that new parks could integrate more environmentally sensitive setbacks.
Gardiner reported that the original plan for Ashland Creek Park included limited creek access. Changes to the original plan omitted access as well as a proposed basketball court. Those alterations to the plan had facilitated increased riparian setbacks.
There followed discussion regarding possible access points, the creation of shaded areas for protection from the midday sun, changes to the riparian setbacks, and other options for improving park amenities. 
Black presented a draft of the request for proposal (RFP) to solicit applicants interested in conducting a performance audit for APRC. He stated that once the RFP was reviewed by APRC, the Advisory Committee would evaluate the proposal and provide additional feedback as needed. The RFP would then be returned to the Commission for final approval.    
Black proposed a timeline for advertising the RFP and selecting auditors as well as an estimated timeline for conducting the audit.  He reviewed the 12-page request for proposal, noting the topics delineated and expected scope of the project. Services provided by APRC and program goals were detailed, as well as anticipated accomplishments.
Black highlighted the primary scope, emphasizing an added objective calling for evaluation of conversion to a special Parks and Recreation District. He stated that an outside opinion would add perspective based on best practices throughout the country.      
Black explained the requirements, qualifications, and deliverables detailed in the RFP as well as the selection process and accompanying legalities.   
Discussion among Commissioners
Gardiner noted that the Advisory Committee would convene once the remaining members had been chosen. He stated that a City Councilor had yet to be designated by the Council. Final confirmation of proposed member Mary Cody, a Budget Committee member, also remained.   
Landt suggested that the budget for the project be included in the RFP.
There followed a brief discussion of the pros and cons of communicating the budget up front. Black replied that he would share the information if asked but his preference would be to allow applicants to communicate their fees or costs for services. He stated that the contract would be negotiable depending upon the information provided and the quality of the application. The final decision would be based on a number of factors and the successful applicant might or might not be the lowest bidder. 
Other discussion focused on the best timeline for the actual audit. It was agreed that the schedule would depend upon the availability of the auditors, once the majority of staff holiday vacations were completed.          
Dickens reported that the level of bacteria in Ashland Creek had spiked significantly as a result of a recent storm. He noted that the numbers were the highest he had ever seen. Signage was posted where access to the water was permitted, warning people about the dangerous conditions. A public service announcement and additional postings along the creek were planned.     
Dickens commented that E.coli in Lithia Park’s designated play area averaged approximately 119 parts per thousand at any given time. A current reading measured contamination at the playground at 980 parts per thousand. The number at the reservoir was much higher, at approximately 8,800 parts per thousand. Dickens stated that contamination would remain dangerous until the water temperature cooled and rains filtered the material. 
In response to a question from Shaw, he stated that the bacteria originated in Ashland’s watershed.    
  • Pickleball
Shaw highlighted a petition received by the Commission requesting better lighting for evening play of pickleball in Lithia Park. 
Black noted that the petitioners wanted to see lighting similar to that provided in Hunter Park – a request that could be addressed during the Lithia Park Master Plan process and after project funding became available.  He suggested that Parks staff improve the existing lighting for better illumination. 
  • The Ashland Creek Flood
Black highlighted recent flooding along the Calle, stating that both Public Works and APRC did everything they could to ameliorate damage and control the flooding. He noted that there was confusion about the gate that provides access to the creek, stating that it was not designed for floodwater control.
Black stated that there would be an insurance claim to mitigate damages.
  • Water Leak at Oak Knoll Golf Course
Black noted that an irrigation line ruptured at the Golf Course and water entered the crawl space of a nearby neighbor. He emphasized that the situation was resolved promptly. A review by a disaster specialist was undertaken to ensure that all damages were alleviated. Black expressed confidence that the matter would be resolved without an insurance claim.
  • BBQ for Elected and Non-Elected Commissions, Committees and Boards
Gardiner reminded everyone that the APRC agreed to co-sponsor, with Council, a BBQ to be held on August 30, 2015 from 3-5:00 p.m. at the Oak Knoll Golf Course. He encouraged those present to attend.
  • Conservation Meeting

Shaw reported that he would be making a presentation to the Conservation Commission about APRC’s recycling efforts in Ashland’s parks. He stated that he would emphasize the success of the recycling program and encourage the Conservation Commission to expand the project into Ashland’s downtown core. 
By consensus, Gardiner adjourned into executive session at 8:15 p.m.
Executive session: Real Property Acquisition ORS 192.660(2) (e)
By consensus, Gardiner adjourned out of executive session at 9:15 p.m.
Respectfully submitted,
Betsy Manuel, Assistant 

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