MINUTES FOR THE JOINT STUDY SESSION
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL and the PARKS COMMISSION
May 8, 2002 -12:00 p.m.
Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor DeBoer called the meeting to order at 12:16p.m.
Councilors Hartzell, Jackson, Morrison, and Hearn. Reid and Laws were absent. Parks Commissioners Lewis, Landt, Eggers, Jones, and McGraw.
Commissioner Rick Landt gave a report on the Parks Commission's draft Open Space Plan proposal and the vision of a two-tiered plan, with both long-term and short-term goals. The short-term plan includes the creation of two neighborhood parks, two athletic fields, five open-space areas and trails along Bear Creek, Wright's Creek, Upper Liberty Street, Nevada Street to North Main, and the Willows area trail connection. The long-term plan includes properties currently used as open space but that are ear marked for other kinds of development. Acquiring these properties would be a monumental effort but would be of tremendous value to the community. Included in the long-term plan are a number of creek corridors, Talent Irrigation Ditch (TID) segments, and Grizzly peak. Landt noted that the two-tiered plan has potential for gain without a lot of cost. Areas with higher density have a higher priority in the plan with a goal of achieving the greatest benefit for the greatest number of people.
The council asked if the owners of properties indicated on the long-term plan know that their lands are included in the plan. It was clarified that those owners have been contacted and that the owners who are not interested in selling have been indicated on the map. The reasoning for keeping the properties on the map is because there may be different owners and opportunities for acquisition in the future. Hartzell suggested getting together with the Housing Commission to explore possibilities of working together in acquiring lands with compatible uses which might serve both parks and affordable housing needs. Hearn expressed his pleasure with the Parks Commission's process and vision, and noted that identification of Master Trail Systems is a council goal.
Eggers mentioned that tours have been conducted for people interested in learning about various properties and how these properties might add to our parks or trails system.
The difficulty on obtaining conservation easements and amount of staff time was considered, and where development might fit into the acquisition plan. It was clarified that the short-term plan has four properties requiring significant development and five requiring minimal development. At this point, obtaining ownership is important. Director of Parks & Recreation Ken Mickelsen noted that there are limited resources available for park development.
Landt explained that there is increased demand for trails, but that acreage previously accessible for walking is being lost due to housing development, changes in community values, and landowners closing off access to trails. He noted that there currently is no legal pedestrian access to TID trails, but that the goal is to open up, legally, as much of this trail system as possible. Hearn noted that this is a reason to address the Master Plan so that when development occurs, the Planning Department has opportunity to address parks needs during the process. He noted the creation of a private entity called, "Ashland Woodland Trails," meeting for the first time on May 20, and whose mission includes assisting in raising funds to benefit parks.
Hartzell suggested moving the acquisition of TID segments from the long-term plan to the short-term plan in order to keep it higher profile for staff. Landt noted that it originally was on the short-term plan but had been moved due staff time constraints. He stated that it could, at the council's direction, be moved to the short-term plan. Landt agreed to provide to the council both the criteria list and the Commission's rating information.
The Mayor agreed that the TID system should be moved over in order to keep it in focus for staff. He suggested that Grizzly Peak be removed from the plan due to the distance from the city limits. He also noted that the city has a long history of sharing park space with schools and suggested that the city explore maintaining school park space in exchange for use of the parks after school hours. McGraw and Hearn voiced support of this idea. Eggers commented that this issue is not so simple and questioned the fairness of taxing Ashland property owners for this.
It was noted that the purpose of bringing the plan to the council was to hear the Council's input and incorporate the input into the plan. The plan will be presented to the Council for approval and then will proceed through the formal Planning Commission public hearing process. The Planning Commission will then make their recommendation to the Council, which would provide for a public hearing and adoption by ordinance. Community Development Director, John McLaughlin, explained that this plan is an update of the city's current Open Space Plan map and would be an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan.
Aaron Benjamin/740 Emigrant Creek Road/Commented on the potential for pocket parks and compatible uses. He suggested including in the plan the concept of searching for and identifying parcels that might be subject to compatible uses, such as affordable housing and pocket parks. He advised inviting the Housing Commission and School District to work session to share ideas and goals.
Dr. Richard Hendrickson/444 Monte Vista Drive/Expressed his favor on the proposal of moving trail development up to the short-term plan. He noted that it is unfortunate this has not been done in the past.
Funding options were discussed and it was suggested to form a sub-committee composed of Parks Commissioners, Council Members, and other members. Landt explained that the current acquisition funds from the Prepared Meals tax have been spent on properties purchased over time, and that if the city wants to fulfill this plan additional funding is necessary. Hearn volunteered to serve on the sub-committee. Hartzell volunteered to serve as a back up member. Mayor expressed his hesitancy in forming a new committee. Mickelsen noted that the sub-committee would be a joint effort with the ability to meet frequently. Mayor suggested that this be put on the agenda for next year's council goal setting. Hartzell expressed non-support on waiting and that the formation of a sub-committee could put issues on the screen without being time intensive for staff.
Landt noted that the Parks Commission hopes to have the plan update process completed by the end of summer and if the plan were adopted, a funding mechanism would need to be in place. Mayor noted that the funding mechanism is the Meals Tax and what is being talked about is an additional funding mechanism. McGraw noted the need for new funding and expressed support for a volunteer sub-committee. Landt agreed to serve on the sub-committee.
Meeting was adjourned at 1:49 p.m.
Respectfully submitted, Jan Brunelle, Assistant to City Recorder