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Joint City Council/ Parks Commission Meeting

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

                                                               JOINT STUDY SESSION                                             
March 29, 2016
Park Commissioner Chair Mike Gardiner called the meeting to order at 5:30 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street.
City Council Present:   Park Commissioners Present:
John Stromberg, Mayor
Rich Rosenthal
Stefani Seffinger
Carol Voisin
Greg Lemhouse
Pam Marsh – arrived at 5:43 p.m.
  Mike Gardiner – Chair
Rick Landt
Matt Miller
Vanston Shaw
Jim Lewis
Kathryn Thalden/550 Ashland Loop Road/Invited the Council and Park Commission to a special presentation by James Urban, FASLA. The Tree Commission was able, through the help of a special grant, to bring Mr. Urban here to provide guidance and recommendations on the trees in Ashland.  This is scheduled for Wednesday, April 6 from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m.
  1. Update on Swimming Pool
Park Director Michael Black presented the update on the research for a new swimming pool in our community.  He provided the following points of options that were previously discussed:
  • McNeal Pavilion – Issues with Timing and Funding
  • Daniel Myer Pool Bubble – Issues with Funding and Partnership
  • Daniel Myer Pool Winterization – This had been implemented and was used this past winter
  • YMCA Partnership – Unable to meet on public amenity and permit process – until we can meet on major items this is not a viable option
  • Daniel Myer Pool Evaluation – Next step – creating year-round pool to accommodate all programs – look at Daniel Myer Pool – get direction on if it is going to remain a priority to move forward with evaluation
Councilor Marsh arrived at 5:43 p.m.
  • YMCA Park – areas suitable for building were reviewed
  • Hunter Park – amenities – current size of pool is not deep enough for sports and not deep enough for diving.  May need to partner with school district for additional parking but this has not been discussed with schools district.
  • Hunter Park Pool Potential – A new pool would have to be installed that would include eight lanes and required depth.  An attached recreational pool could be built and a seasonal cover provided for the entire pool area.  There is potential with this option in that it could work in the Daniel Myer Pool area without encroaching on other property.  The cost for this option is still being determined but an initial budget of $2.5million could start the project.
Jocelyn Sanford/Voiced her support for a larger swimming pool that would accommodate swim clubs and swimmers. She shared her experience as physical therapist and swimming coach and encouraged an opportunity for physical education in swimming.
Todd Lanary/11158 Corp Ranch Rd/Voiced his appreciation to the Park Commission and Park staff for their support in moving forward with a new pool.  He identified himself as the Ashland High School Swim coach and shared the importance of this to his students and the community.
Mr. Black recommended a rectangular pool shape and noted that because of the size of the pool, additional parking spaces would be required. He estimated the cost of additional spaces as $200,000 based on $4,000 per space.  He stressed that this is all variable as this has not been discussed with the school district or city planning department. 
City Administrator Dave Kanner spoke on potential funding mechanisms that include the Capital Improvement Plan and partnerships formed with those that use the pool.  Mr. Black stated that to move forward with this option, cost and space requirements would need to be determined and partners identified.  He did not think that this would be sustainable without the support of the school districts.  He stated that he had some discussion with the school district but not to the point of coming to an agreement.
Mr. Black confirmed that he was not aware of any other sites in the community that could accommodate this option.  He stated that the operational costs during the winter months is estimated at $6,000 - $8,000 and that these costs were contracted out as there was no monies budgeted to operate during the winter.  He understands that there are issues to be dealt with, including condensation issues, and that staff has been in contact with other cities that have the same type of pool and cover which they are reviewing.
It was suggested and agreed upon that Southern Oregon University (SOU) should be approached as a potential partner.
Additional suggestion that there be discussion on recreational upgrades for all facilities and what it would take to renovate other facilities.  That a package project should be considered if a bond measure is put to the voters that includes the pool and other costs associated with recreational facilities.
Staff received general agreement and support to move forward on the potential of a larger pool at Hunter Park.  Staff will begin meeting with potential partners and bring an update back to both bodies and the public.
  1. Update on Performance Audit
Director of Parks Michael Black provided an update on the Performance Audit that has been ongoing with the Parks Department.  He explained that this began with interviews in February which included general observations of conditions.  The profile was received on March 21 and was reviewed and returned on March 29.  He expects the Best Practices portion of this audit on March 30 with a draft report due May 2.  The final report is due May 9 and will then be forwarded on to the Park Commission.  Mr. Black stated that he will then bring the report to the council for their information.
Mr. Black explained that finding comparators was difficult and provided a list of the cities that were used.  The cities varied in size but all had similar parks and recreation characteristics for comparison.
  1. Update on PERS
City Administrator Dave Kanner presented the overview of the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) which explained the different categories that determine the PERS rate that the city pays.  He provided a list of the current rates and the new rates along with PERS rate changes impact comparison information for budget years into 2019.
Mr. Kanner explained that there are two different retirement plans, PERS – for those employed prior to 2003 and Oregon Public Service Retirement Plan (OPSRP).
Mr. Kanner explained the PERS funding equation as the following: Benefits = Contributions + Earnings and that every two years the PERS Board adjusts contributions so that, over time, those contributions will be sufficient to fund the benefits earned, if earnings follow assumptions.  He also provided information on how the system is funded and the problems with the equation that PERS uses in comparison to how the system is funded.  A chart was provided that indicated expected benefit payments by status as of 12/31/2014
  1. Food & Beverage Tax Proposal
City Administrator Dave Kanner presented proposal for an ordinance regarding the Food & Beverage Tax that would increase the share that goes to the Parks & Recreation from 20% to 25%.  He explained that this proposal would redirect a portion of the increase to the Parks Equipment Fund and to the pavement management program and take the burden off the operating budget.  He provided charts that indicated the Food & Beverage revenue compared to the annual debt payments into 2023.  He agreed that the council that is seated when the Wastewater Treatment Plant debt service is paid full will need to make a decision on what to do the Food & Beverage Tax after 2022.  That this was not a decision to make today but to be made in the future.
Councilor Voisin left at 6:45 p.m.
Park Director Michael Black explained examples of what the current equipment fund provides for and that previous to the current budget, the equipment fund was not funded and all costs were out of the capital improvement plan. He stated that it was important to have a vehicle fund and that Parks has had to borrow from the city vehicle fund.  He felt that this option is a solution for a funding source for equipment.
Mr. Kanner understands that Food & Beverage Tax funding provides for purchasing property but that it also provides for maintaining the properties that are purchased.  That there is a progression on the acquisition of properties and this is a logical option.
Comment was made that it was important to be transparent and clear on what the voters are being asked to pay for.
  1. Recreation Division Move to the Grove
Park Superintendent Rachel Dials presented the move of the Recreation Division the Grove and provided pictures of the new space.
Mr. Black explained that there has been some reorganization and that the office at the Lithia Park is still being used.  The intent was to bring staff closer to their supervisors.
  1. Other Business from the Council and Parks Commission
Councilor Rosenthal requested that the council be copied on the Park Commission agenda electronically.  He felt that this would make it easier to keep the council updated.
Councilor Seffinger commented that park cleanup in other cities due to transients have resulted in increased cost.  Mr. Black did agree that there has been some impact due to use of facilities by transients but has not been tracked at this time.  He stated that staff will be keeping data that will enable tracking any future impacts.
Commissioner Shaw noted that the Parks Department has done a good job of educating citizens on use of Dog Park in terms of dog waste.  He suggested that this type of education be used in the further in the city area during the tourist season.
Councilor Marsh noted that the Park staff has been meeting with individuals from the Shelter and will report back to the council.
Meeting adjourned at 7:09 p.m.
Respectfully submitted
Barbara Christensen, City Recorder

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