City of Ashland
PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION
February 25, 2002
Present: Commissioners Eggers, Jones, Landt, Lewis; Director Ken Mickelsen
Absent: Commissioner MacGraw
CALL TO ORDER
Chair Landt called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. at Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Regular Meeting – January 28, 2002
The vote was: 4 yes – 0 no
Open Forum - None
ADDITIONS OR DELETIONS TO THE AGENDA - None
GARFIELD PARK SKATEBOARD AREA REDESIGN
Director Mickelsen reminded Commissioners that the idea to redesign Garfield's skateboard area to accommodate street-style skating had been initially presented by a group at the January 2002 Regular Commission Meeting. He explained that Commissioner MacGraw, who had been working with the group on this proposal, was unable to attend tonight's meeting. Director Mickelsen referenced Commissioner MacGraw's proposal on this topic (as outlined in her February 6, 2002 memo), which, in part, suggests that the Commission "commit $5,000 toward the upgrade, contingent upon the group's raising the balance of money necessary to complete the skateboard area as proposed...the Commission portion shall not be made available until such time as the balance of funding is obtained to complete the project."
Zach Mellecker (2909 Diane Street), a member of the group, highlighted some of the points of the proposal and presented the Commission with a petition signed by local businesses that have expressed support for this project. In response to questioning from Commissioner Lewis, Mr. Mellecker expressed his strong belief that the redesigned Garfield Park Skateboard Area would attract as many users as the Water Street Skateboard Park (i.e. high usage). Commissioner Jones inquired as to the fiscal accountability logistics of the fundraising endeavor proposed by the group. Mr. Mellecker deferred to Director Mickelsen, who explained that the Department and perhaps the Ashland Parks Foundation could work with the group in that area.
Discussion Among Commissioners
Commissioner Jones expressed her support for this "win-win" project, noting that over 80% of the funding for the proposed improvements would come from the interest group itself.
After some discussion about the budgetary ramifications of committing $5000 from the 2002-2003 Budget toward this project, there was general agreement among Commissioners to support such a commitment from the 2002-2003 Budget's "Capital Outlay" category.
Commissioner Lewis stated his view that "this is seed money that would help them get the rest of (the money)" and that the project was worth addressing the budgetary issues to make the money available if needed.
MOTION Commissioner Jones moved to have the Commission designate five thousand dollars ($5000.00) from the 2002-2003 Budget's "Capital Outlay" category to go toward skateboard area improvements at Garfield Park. Commissioner Landt seconded.
As a friendly amendment, Commissioner Landt asked to include Commissioner MacGraw's proposal, slightly modified, from her February 6, 2002 memo, as stated below:
I propose the Commission support the upgrade of the Garfield Park skateboard area as detailed in the following points:
This proposal is made with the following stipulations:
The vote was: 4 yes - 0 no
TREE ORDINANCE: SHOULD STANDARDS FOR PARKS DEPARTMENT BE DIFFERENT THAN FOR PRIVATE CITIZENS?
Director Mickelsen expressed the Department's support of the guidelines for Parks in the Draft Tree Ordinance as written by the Tree Commission. He introduced Department Horticulturist and Arborist Donn Todt and Department Assistant-Horticulturist and soon-to-be Certified Arborist Anne Rich.
Donn Todt, Parks Department Horticulturist and Arborist, explained that he was also the Department liaison to the Tree Commission and has been active in the Tree Commission for twenty years. Mr. Todt spoke about the impetus behind the Tree Ordinance and explained that the Parks Department is known to be 'part of the solution,' rather than part of the problem. He noted that "the Tree Commission's process in building an ordinance has been completely open and transparent," and pointed out that the Tree Commission had been responsive to public input (such as eliminating the Tree Ordinance's applicability to 'single family residence private property'). Addressing some Commissioners' desire to have the Tree Ordinance altered to require the same standards for Parks as for private citizens, Mr. Todt detailed the rigorous procedures already followed by the Parks Department prior to removing a tree. He explained that "within the Parks Department, we have a completely different situation (from that of a private citizen)...we already have professional staff paid by the taxpayers to evaluate trees." He went on to stress that Parks doesn't wish to 'be above the law,' but rather, he pointed out, "if we have to apply for a permit to remove trees in the process of normal Park maintenance...that's kind of a duplication. While redundancy is important in biological systems, it is generally perceived as inefficiency within the staff of a small city."
Bryan Holley (324 Liberty Street), a current member of the Tree Commission, was present to answer any questions the Commission might have. Mr. Holley briefly explained why the Tree Commission decided to look at Parks' tree activities "in just little bit different way than we looked at all the other entities in the City." The Tree Commission decided on a different protocol for the Parks Department because "we respect the activities and the professionalism of this department, we believe you have the best interest of the trees in our parks already in mind, and we want to work with you in a way that doesn't create an obstacle to your doing this work." Mr. Holley stated that "the Parks Department is not in need of remedy," and finished by quoting Oscar Wilde: "Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds."
Discussion Among Commissioners
Noting that he was the person who had wanted this item on the agenda, Commissioner Landt gave an overview of his position. Stressing his belief that the Parks Department has a "tremendous amount of expertise" in this area, Commissioner Landt explained that his concern, rather, was "the public trust." He is against "one set of standards for city government and another set of standards for private citizens and developers." He said "I'm not thinking it would be at all wise for the Parks Commission to have to have every tree in the system have to get a permit before it can be removed...I would rather see a change in the ordinance so that everyone can live with it...I think probably the rules for the developers and private citizens are probably too stringent if they really aren't workable for the Parks Department either." He proposed the Commission send a resolution to the Tree Commission, the Planning Commission and the City Council that said, "The Parks Commission requests that any tree protection ordinance enacted hold the Parks Department to as high or higher standards than private citizens and developers." As to "the specifics of how that's done," he said, "that's the Tree Commissioners purview and I'm sure that they can do that." He concluded by saying "I know how I would hope that we would vote, but frankly, I just want to make sure that I'm on record as standing up for citizens to be treated in the same way that our city is perceived (to be treated)."
Commissioner Jones stated her belief that the Parks Department is already operating under higher standards "because we have the experts that are guiding the decisions" about the trees. She said, "I think that we're really under different standards, yes, but those standards are higher."
Commissioner Lewis agreed with Commissioner Jones and suggested that perhaps the difficulty was one of semantics with the word "exempt." He suggested changing the wording of the ordinance to remove the word "exempt" and to simply put the guidelines for the Parks Department in a separate category. A separate category for Parks is appropriate, he argued, because Parks are so much different from everyone else--"more trees, more canopy--we need hired people on staff to take care of these" and so have already surpassed the level of concern and decision-making the Tree Ordinance would require for other entities.
Commissioner Eggers said she would first like to underscore all of the positive things said about Parks Staff. "At the same time," she said, "I believe we as a public entity should be held to the same standard as everyone else. The Tree Commission and the City Council ultimately get to define that standard. I'm hoping they would define that standard in a way that it would apply to everybody." She also spoke about staffing changeovers and said "that's one of the reasons we need laws and regulations, to say that no matter who is there we will maintain that same high standard."
MOTION Commissioner Landt moved that the Commission send a resolution to the Tree Commission, the Planning Commission, and the City Council saying "the Parks Commission requests that any tree protection ordinance enacted holds the Parks Department to as high or higher standard than private citizens and developers." Commissioner Eggers seconded.
The vote was: 3 yes - 1 no (Lewis)
--Commissioner Jones was absent from this point forward--
SCENIC/NORTH MAIN PROPERTY ENTRY DESIGN
Director Mickelsen explained that the property at Scenic/North Main needed to be partitioned so that a portion of that property could be sold. A subcommittee established at the December 2001 Regular Meeting had been looking into the best way to develop the North Main entranceway into the future park. The plans endorsed by the subcommittee were provided for Commissioners' review.
Commissioner Landt, a member of the subcommittee, added that the subcommittee had tried to "come up with a plan that maintained the value of the existing house that we will sell--that money will go back into our parks and open space acquisition fund--and at the same time have an entryway that drew people into the park."
Public Comment - None
Discussion Among Commissioners
MOTION Commissioner Landt moved to recommend that the City Council approve the partitioning of the North Main/Scenic property in the manner shown on the North Main Park Conceptual Park Entry drawing. Commissioner Eggers seconded.
The vote was: 3 yes - 0 no
CALLE GUANAJUATO LIGHTS
Commissioner Landt stated his understanding "that this issue is for the most part resolved in that the light that has been tried on the west end of the bridge meets our policy of no direct light shining off of our property."
Director Mickelsen noted there still seemed to be some confusion about the lighting policy (particularly with some of the terms and interpretations, such as "direct light," "shining off parks property," and "can't see the lightbulb") and suggested that clarification at a later date might be appropriate. In relation to lighting on the Calle, he said, "we would like Commissioners to come down...to make sure that the majority of the Commission feels that it meets our policy." Noting that "we've been dealing with this issue for a really long period of time now," Staff suggests a brief evening study session at the Calle during the first week of March (to show different lighting options to the Commission) "so that we can put this issue finally behind us."
Public Comment - None
Discussion Among Commissioners
Commissioner Eggers and Commissioner Landt indicated they had been to the Calle and had looked at the two examples of shaded lights.
Director Mickelsen noted that Staff wanted to be sure that a majority of the Commissioners were in agreement "before we go through the process of retrofitting all these lights."
Commissioner Lewis explained that he had not seen the lights at night and was still in favor of the evening study session he had requested at the January Regular Meeting. Noting that if Commissioners Eggers and Landt had "already made a decision," he said such a meeting would allow himself, Commissioner Jones and Commissioner MacGraw the opportunity to evaluate the shaded lights and to discuss the policy and "get this behind us."
Commissioner Landt stated "I don't see that there's any policy issue that needs to be addressed...the only question that I have is 'do the lights meet the policy?" Noting "I'm for putting this behind us now", he would like to direct Staff to install shrouding on all lights. "As far as I'm concerned, at that point we're done."
Commissioner Lewis agreed, saying, "if you (Commissioners Landt and Eggers) are satisfied, I would go along with the fact that it meets your criteria of the policy. I would back you then, if you want to move on with it."
MOTION Commissioner Landt moved to direct Staff to "shroud the rest of the lights on Guanajuato Way in a similar fashion to the shrouded light at the west end of the bridge in order that direct light remains on Parks property." Commissioner Eggers seconded.
The vote was: 3 yes - 0 no
NEW BUSINESS - None
SUB-COMMITTEE and STAFF REPORTS
STATUS OF NETTING--YMCA CITY PARK
Regarding an earlier problem with errant soccer balls at YMCA City Park, Director Mickelsen referred to a letter in Commission packets from City Attorney Paul Nolte. In his letter, Counselor Nolte indicated "the problem has been abated, and it is unnecessary and inadvisable to recontact the attorney to seek further closure on this matter."
Commissioner Landt reported that Ashland Soccer Club adult soccer is currently being played on the field in question. He cited his concern that "there may be a liability issue here that has not been addressed." Director Mickelsen expressed surprise at that information, explaining that the Department had met with the Soccer Club less than two months earlier and had understood that the Soccer Club would not schedule any adult soccer on the field in question. Director Mickelsen agreed to follow up with the Ashland Soccer Club and report back to the Commission.
REVIEW OF RENDERING - LITHIA PARK PLAYGROUND RESTROOM
Director Mickelsen presented the rendering to the Commission and entertained Commissioners' comments and questions.
STRAWBERRY/HALD - MAP OF PROPOSED TRAILS - Informational purposes only
Jeff McFarland, the Department's Forestry and Trails expert, was present to speak on this topic. He has been working with the Trails Commission and the Planning Commission on this project. He gave some background information, noting that neighboring property owners are concerned with illegitimate trails accessing Strawberry/Hald across their properties. Mr. McFarland explained that it would be expedient to construct the first stage of the Strawberry/Hald trails system, conduct the next stage of fuels reduction in Strawberry/Hald, and obliterate the illegitimate trails all at the same time. Two of the property owners have offered to donate a total of $3000 toward the first stage of this process.
STAFF REPORT - NORTH MOUNTAIN PARK- Informational purposes only
Director Mickelsen distributed a letter to the Commission from a member of the North Mountain Monitoring Committee. The writer expressed his disappointment and concern that the report presented at the January Regular Meeting did not note that a neighbor had come to a Monitoring Committee meeting to talk about the noise at North Mountain Park or that the writer had received phone calls from neighbors about noise at the park. Although it was not an issue at every meeting, there was concern that the park had generated some noise.
ITEMS FROM COMMISSIONERS
Commissioner Eggers reported that her current term as the Commission's representative on the Forest Lands Commission will expire in April. She volunteered to serve in this capacity for another term. Director Mickelsen agreed to send a letter indicating as much to the City Council.
UPCOMING MEETING DATE(S) and PROPOSED AGENDA ITEMS
Upcoming Meeting Dates
Proposed Agenda Items for March
ADJOURNMENT – By consensus, with no further business, Chair Landt adjourned the meeting.
Respectfully submitted, Robyn Hafner, Department Secretary, Ashland Parks and Recreation Department