Agendas and Minutes

Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission (View All)

Parks Commission Regular Meeting

Monday, June 27, 2016

City of Ashland
Regular Meeting
June 27, 2016

Present:  Commissioners Gardiner, Landt, Lewis, Miller, Shaw; Director Black; Superintendents Dickens and Dials; Executive Assistant Dyssegard; Assistant Manuel
Absent:  City Council Liaison Mayor Stromberg
Chair Gardiner called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. at Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street
Study Session – May 16, 2016
Motion: Shaw moved to approve the Minutes for May 16, 2016, as presented. Lewis seconded.
The vote was all yes with Landt abstaining.
Regular Meeting – May 23, 2016
Motion: Landt moved to approve the Minutes for May 23, 2016, as presented. Miller seconded.
The vote was all yes.
Special Meeting – May 31, 2016
Motion: Lewis moved to approve the Minutes for May 31, 2016, as presented. Miller seconded. 
The vote was all yes.

  • Open Forum

There was none.
Gardiner announced a change to the SUBCOMMITTEE AND STAFF REPORTS, stating that the Forestry and Trails presentation would be postponed until the July 25 regular meeting.
There was none.
Performance Audit (Information)
Director Black introduced Ginny Jaquith, lead consultant representing Matrix Consulting Group, the firm hired by APRC to conduct Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission’s Performance Audit. He said Ms. Jaquith would present a draft of Performance Audit findings and provide recommendations. Final changes would be made following Commission and Performance Audit Steering Committee reviews, with the document returned to the Commission for final review and approval at the July regular meeting.
Jaquith said the project report started with a working description of the entire APRC operation and ended with recommendations for improvements designed to increase organizational efficiencies and facilitate changes to support the high level of services already in place and promote growth. Jaquith referred to the existing strategic plan, goals and objectives, noting that they provide the basic framework for the future. She observed that current APRC management was capable of providing the leadership to move forward. She acknowledged the strong working relationships between APRC, the City of Ashland and APRC clients served.    
Jaquith shared ways to streamline internal operations, find pathways to enhance existing services and re-focus on maintaining existing sites before seeking additional parks system acquisitions. Key recommendations were divided into four categories: Administration, Parks, Recreation and the Oak Knoll Golf Course.
Key recommendations for the Administration Division:
·         An expanded Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) that would include a Repair and Replacement Plan ensuring that aging park amenities could be repaired or replaced without delay.
·         Updated technology, accessible throughout the organization.
·         Streamlined policies and procedures tracking historical policies while providing greater clarity regarding the policies and procedures currently used.
·         Revised or re-negotiated joint use agreements and maintenance agreements between entities such as those with the City of Ashland, Ashland School District and other organizations.
Jaquith noted that APRC often did not receive proper remuneration or in-kind reciprocation for services provided. She said reassessing and possibly renegotiating agreements would be an important next step.
·         Continued promotion of the APRC “brand”
Jaquith encouraged enhanced visibility for the APRC brand, designed to increase recognition of the programs offered and highlight their inherent value.
·         Create a separate Golf Operations Unit under the Administration Division
Jaquith outlined opportunities for increased capacity and improved revenue generation.

  • Alternative Governance Structure

Jaquith said no changes were recommended for APRC’s existing governance structure.
Key recommendations for the Recreation Division:

  • Development of a strategic plan based on current goals and objectives

Jaquith stated that a comprehensive plan would define the next steps for moving forward as a Recreation Division and help with the development of program offerings, staff training and the identification of budgetary needs.

  • Conduct a Community Needs Assessment

An assessment would help identify underserved populations in the community, gaps in the types of programs and services offered and shortfalls in cost recovery.

  • Create a policies and procedures manual, available to all Recreation personnel

Such a policy would clarify personnel roles and promote consistency throughout. 

  • Refine customer feedback processes

Jaquith identified the Nature Center as a model for customer feedback and evaluation. A refined APRC customer feedback process would assist Recreation personnel in determining what programs worked, what programs were not cost-effective, the numbers of people attending programs and any changes needed. She suggested an online evaluation system to reach a maximum number of participants.

  • Formulate and implement a Program Cost Recovery Policy

This policy would assist Recreation management in identifying cost-effective programs while providing flexibility in setting a fee structure in response to market forces.

  • Identify the underserved populations in Ashland

Staff could use the tools listed above to take note of the underserved and develop appropriate programming to fill those needs.
Jaquith said the Parks Division was highly regarded in the community and a valuable asset for Ashland. She stated that maintaining existing parks and open spaces was an important priority and the acquisition of new sites should be secondary. 

Key recommendations for the Parks Division:

  • Prepare a detailed inventory of the parks, trails and open spaces to be used in planning.

A greater level of detail would help identify future maintenance and reduce costs, as proactive maintenance generally forestalls deterioration of facilities and landscaping.     

  • Differentiate between APRC facilities and public places that are available to the public. Disseminate information about the trails: where they are and what facilities are available.

Jaquith said mixed information was posted on the website, making it more difficult for the public to            process available resources.

  • Increase awareness of the condition of each park or open space and determine the level of acceptable conditions.

This would change the focus to preventable maintenance and facilitate proper resource management. Jaquith noted that some sites needed a higher level of service than others. Once identified, this information would help direct resources to the places they were most needed.

  • Develop maintenance standards and performance targets.

Jaquith recommended implementing routine maintenance procedures that were consistent throughout.

  • Cross-train personnel in skilled areas.

Special functions, such as irrigation management, are carried out by a few highly trained people. Building staffing depth through cross-training would result in broader application of those skills.

  • Increase seasonal maintenance crew.

Hiring for seasonal fluctuations would ensure the high level of service expected by the public.

  • Adopt a computerized maintenance management system.

Easy access to maintenance data will assist with identification of preventable maintenance and facilitate the management of related expenses. 
Jaquith reported that there are a number of municipal golf course business models across the country that could provide an alternative to current APRC operations. In the meantime, setting up the Oak Knoll Golf Course as a separate combined division (maintenance operations and clubhouse) would provide a higher level of oversight and increase APRC’s opportunities for revenue generation. Jaquith suggested converting to a golf course Enterprise Fund that provided a business structure model.
Combining the clubhouse and golf maintenance operations would reduce redundancies and enhance management of the unit. Jaquith said golfers’ perceptions of the grounds and amenities were crucial to a successful venture.  

 Key recommendations for the Golf Course Division:
·         Operate the Oak Knoll Golf Course as a business model with business management strategies.
Adoption would provide a more flexible operation that could be adjusted for seasonal fluctuations. Market strategies could incent clients to use the facility during down times, with promotional strategies adjusted accordingly.  
·         A separate golf course unit would free employees to focus on the potential for expanding programs as appropriate for golf course facilities.
Jaquith emphasized the balance between investment in the golf course and revenue generation, noting that there were significant opportunities for increased programs and services.           
·         The condition of the greens is important to golfers’ perceived value.
The condition of golf course amenities is a key element to providing a good experience for golfers, regardless of the fee structure. .                                           
Shaw clarified the current Golf Course budget and confirmed the importance of Oak Knoll facilities as a revenue generator for APRC.
Landt questioned the proposed change to APRC’s organizational structure, indicating that the Oak Knoll Golf Course was listed as a unit of the Administration Division. Jaquith replied that the unit would report to APRC Director Black and the organizational chart would list it as a Division in the same way that Parks and Recreation were listed.     
Gardiner discussed the opportunities for customer feedback within the Recreation Division. He noted current efforts to obtain customer feedback and asked whether further refinement was needed. Superintendent Dials replied that the system for program evaluations and customer feedback followed by the Nature Center could be applied to all Recreation programs. Utilizing their system would add depth and provide additional levels of helpful feedback.
In reply to a question by Gardiner, Dials said one way to broaden and strengthen recreational programs would be to add an advisory level group of citizens to assist with planning. Black agreed, stating that a group comprised of two Commissioners, some staff and several residents could generate new ideas and options for the Recreation Division. Jaquith added that the proposed organizational changes could enable Recreation staff to focus more fully on underserved populations. 
Landt initiated a discussion about underserved populations in Ashland and suggested identifying those groups in order to provide additional outreach. Jaquith explained that in her view, alternative youth sports would engage Ashland youth lacking in interest for traditional sports such as baseball or football. She pointed out that teens are a difficult segment to reach. Engaging youth at earlier educational levels, such as Junior High, could lead to increased teen involvement. Older youth and active adults were also identified as segments of the community in need of additional programming.            
Gardiner asked about the recommendation for a Recreation Master Plan, specifically the importance of a Master Plan when goals and objectives for the Division were already in place. Jaquith replied that a Master Plan would build on current goals and objectives and assist the Division in planning for the future.
Gardiner asked about the current process for program development and models for recreational master planning. Dials noted that debriefing each event or program helped staff focus on future improvements. New programs were typically initiated by staff or community members wishing to teach a class. She said program offerings had been expanded significantly from the original small core of offerings conducted out of the Nature Center, Daniel Meyer Pool and Ice Rink. Planning for future programs would facilitate more structured growth and assist with outreach for underserved populations. In response to a question from Gardiner, Jaquith said there are a number of master planning models to emulate, including those from the National Recreation and Parks Association.
Shaw observed that defining target groups partially depended on customers’ level of fitness and ability. He acknowledged the Commission’s support of ongoing training for staff by encouraging regional and national conference attendance, thereby aligning with best industry practices.
Black said the proposed reorganization of the Golf Course Division would not create a need for additional FTEs. He reported that staff was already moving forward in implementing many of the suggestions in the APRC Performance Audit. Discussion of goals for the Senior Center, Master Planning for Recreation and the restructuring of Oak Knoll Golf Course were already underway or ongoing. He stated that the Audit would be reviewed by the Commission to assist staff in establishing priorities and timelines for implementing the most immediate needs as outlined in the report.      
Lewis commented that the Audit would become a valuable tool for future planning. He felt that the Commission and staff had identified many of the points raised in the Audit and were in the process of brainstorming solutions. Lewis described “next steps” as evaluating and assessing Performance Audit recommendations, determining budgetary impacts and assigning timelines for implementation. Lewis recalled the Recreation Division’s small stature prior to Superintendent Dials’ arrival in 2004, with few programs offered as compared with the current roster. He noted the Golf Course Subcommittee’s current efforts to address many issues raised in the Audit.
Shaw noted that the Performance Audit contained a recommendation for additional seasonal hiring during peak times. He inquired about a suggestion for financing the extra staffing. Shaw indicated support for expanding volunteer assistance by encouraging participation in enjoyable projects. He acknowledged the value of work groups donating services on an occasional or regular basis. He voiced support for neighbors reporting maintenance concerns about their neighborhood parks and said promoting ownership of local parks could result in safer and cleaner facilities.
Jaquith said seasonal personnel could concentrate on maintenance issues, such as keeping restrooms clean and well supplied during the busy season, with volunteers committing their time for a project or two year-round.
Gardiner commented that City Administrator Dave Kanner recently noted the lack of a specific process for cultivating future Parks Commission members. It was stated that Ashland City Council appoints citizens to act as liaisons, thereby creating a pool of mentored candidates for future Council openings. Gardiner suggested that citizens at large could be asked to join APRC Subcommittees to engage their interest in Parks Commission business.
Black indicated satisfaction with the Performance Audit, stating that he looked forward to moving forward with proposed recommendations. There followed a brief discussion about the timelines for adoption and next steps toward prioritizing and addressing Audit findings. Black stated that the Commission would approve the final document and the results would be shared with the Ashland City Council as an information item.   

Shaw expressed appreciation for the detailed overview of APRC operations as outlined in the Performance Audit and said the ideas presented would lead to improvements.   

  • 4th of July Events Update (Information)

Black reminded the Commission about their invitations from the Chamber of Commerce for a pre-4th of July BBQ on June 30. He talked about APRC’s final preparations for the 4th of July Parade highlighting the 100-year celebration of Lithia Park. He said APRC was selected as the Grand Marshal for the parade and he invited the Commission to be a presence in the APRC float. All staff, family of staff, volunteers and Commissioners would be provided with a commemorative T-shirt for their participation, identifying them as members of APRC. He said a BBQ lunch would be hosted by APRC on the 4th and he invited the Commission to attend. A 50-year time capsule dedication was scheduled at the Lithia Park Bandshell at approximately 1:30 p.m. Dickens described items slated for inclusion in the capsule and said APRC was currently accepting articles and artifacts from those interested in participating.

  • Helman School Tennis Courts

Shaw noted that the resurfacing of the Helman School tennis courts was completed and new nets were expected soon. Once set up, the tennis courts would be open to the public for tennis and pickleball.
Dials announced that the Calle Guanajuato mural dedication, painted on the side of Sesame Restaurant, would take place on Thursday, June 30, 2016, at 10:30 a.m. She invited those present to attend.

  • Study Session, July 18, 2016 @ The Grove, 1195 E. Main Street, 7:00 p.m.

  • Regular Meeting, July 25, 2016 @ Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street, 7:00 p.m.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 8:15 p.m. 
Respectfully submitted,
Betsy Manuel, Assistant
The Minutes are not a verbatim record. The narrative has been condensed and paraphrased to reflect the discussions and decisions made. Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission Study Sessions, Special Meetings and Regular meetings are digitally recorded and available upon request.   

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