City of Ashland
PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION
June 5, 2002
Present: Commissioners Eggers, Jones, Lewis, Landt, MacGraw; Council Liaison Don Laws; Director Ken Mickelsen
CALL TO ORDER
Chair Landt called the meeting to order at 10:30 a.m. at the Department Office, 340 S. Pioneer Street, upper Lithia Park. He said that there were two items that would be addressed: a maintenance agreement related to school grounds and water quality at the lower duck pond in Lithia Park.
Maintenance agreement for School Grounds
In response to a request by Chair Landt, Director Mickelsen introduced the item by saying that the purpose of the meeting was to give the Commission the opportunity to ask any questions it might have about the proposed agreement. The proposed agreement would be drafted related to increasing the level of maintenance that the Department would perform on school grounds and to formalize the cooperative agreement that the District and Department have related to use of schools for community activities. He said that if the Commission could agree in concept with the items to be contained within the agreement, then School District staff and Parks Staff would work with City Attorney Paul Nolte to draft an appropriate agreement.
Director Mickelsen said that it would be beneficial for the agreement to be in place by July 1, 2002 as it related to the FY 2002-2003 budget year. He said that if the Commission approved the agreement in concept today, staff planned to have the draft agreement ready for the School Board to review and approve at its meeting on June 10th. The Commission could then review it and approve it at its Regular Meeting on June 24th.
Mayor Alan DeBoer, City Attorney Paul Nolte, and School Superintendent Julie DiChiro were present to respond to Commissioners questions and discuss the agreement in concept. Commissioners had received a memorandum from Councilor Laws that reviewed the purpose of the proposed agreement. Parks Staff had also provided a brief list of salient points which would be covered in the agreement.
Discussion of the topic
Commissioner Eggers inquired as to what the specific differences would be between the existing agreement between Parks and the District and the new agreement.
Commissioner Laws said that primarily it would related to the Department taking on a significantly larger portion of the maintenance of school grounds in exchange for a formalized agreement that would ensure that the community would have use of school district properties when they are not in use for school functions.
In response to an inquiry by Commissioner Eggers, Director Mickelsen said that there would not be "more" land made available to the community because the District already makes its land and facilities available to the community through the Community/School Park concept that has been working for many years. In exchange for the City providing a higher level of maintenance of school grounds, the District will enter into an agreement that will formalize the agreement that the community will be able to utilize school land and property when it is not in use for school purposes.
Commissioner MacGraw said that it was her understanding that no monies would actually change hands. City Attorney Paul Nolte said that that was so. The $205,000 that the City's Budget Committee had approved would be placed in the Parks and Recreation's Department's budget to cover the cost of the maintenance it would be performing on school grounds. In exchange, through an "Intergovernmental Agreement," the District would agree to make its grounds and facilities available for community use.
Commissioner Eggers asked whether or not taking on the additional maintenance on school grounds would impact on the level of maintenance in parks. Director Mickelsen said that additional personnel would be hired to cover the man-hours required to take care of school maintenance. It would impact slightly on supervisory levels because of the need to provide expertise and planning.
Commissioner Lewis asked if this were a project for one year only or could it possible expand into a more on-going agreement. Director Mickelsen said that the agreement under consideration is for one year only. However, depending on a wide variety of circumstances, it might extend into the future. He said that certainly, if funding was made available to Parks, the Department could continue to provide maintenance for school grounds. Councilor Laws commented that if the agreement were to continue beyond FY 2003, there would need to be a new source of revenue generated, perhaps a new levy or expanding the Youth Activities Levy. He said that prior to considering having the agreement expanded for more than one year, there would need to be a lot of discussion.
Councilor Laws said that he felt it was important to remember that the School District has only been able to budget about $115,000 annually for grounds maintenance. As a result, the grounds are deteriorating and if the trend continues will become unusable. The Parks and Recreation Department has indicated that it will cost $205,000 to provide a level of maintenance that will keep that from happening. If the grounds were allowed to continue to deteriorate, the community would lose much of what it uses as neighborhood parks, recreational facilities, and open space.
Referring to recent news items related to the decision to close one of the elementary schools, Commissioner Landt commented that it was of concern to him that whatever school is chosen, that the community does not lose the use of the ballfields or playgrounds at that site. Superintendent DiChiro said that she couldn't answer the concern at this time. She said that the committee that has been formed to address the school closure issue will be looking into all aspects of the problem. Referring to the utilization of the elementary school sites as neighborhood park sites, Commissioner Landt said that "in this crisis, we don't want to lose the things that we have worked really hard to create."
Mayor DeBoer said that he believed that was one of the important reasons behind moving forward with the arrangement that is being worked on for this next year. He said that for years he has seen that the School District has not been able to spend enough money on grounds maintenance. He said that he's also seen the Parks and Recreation Department and community groups using these fields for recreational purposes. Recently, the District and Parks entered into an agreement related to construction and maintenance of the playgrounds at the elementary schools which are used as neighborhood playgrounds. The current agreement will set forth the concept that if the District provides the land, the City will provide the maintenance. He said that he believed this will bring us closer to being able to keep school grounds viable as neighborhood parks and he would assist in negotiations to help keep them so.
Chair Landt commented that there appeared to be support among Commissioners for entering into the Intergovernmental Agreement as discussed in concept. However, he questioned the time line for having the agreement in place by July 1st indicating that if either the School Board or Commission wanted changes made to the draft, that there would not be sufficient time to do so.
Director Mickelsen said that a draft of the agreement would be ready for the School Board to review and hopefully approve on the 10th. Assuming that the agreement were sufficiently well-drafted so that the Board would only want minor changes at most, it would then be ready for the Commission to review and hopefully approve on the 24th, again will minor revisions at most. Superintendent DiChiro said that as well as meeting on June 10th, the School Board would be meeting in special session on June 25th. If needed, the Board could re-visit the agreement on the 25th.
Commissioner Eggers asked that the draft agreement be e-mailed to Commissioners at the same time it goes out to the School Board for review on the 10th.
Commissioner Landt made a motion to authorize Staff to work with School District Staff and City Attorney Paul Nolte to draft an intergovernmental agreement between the City of Ashland Parks and Recreation Department and the Ashland School District that is based upon the discussion occurring in the meeting today and on Councilor Laws' memorandum dated June 1, 2002. Commissioner MacGraw seconded.
The vote was: 5 yes - 0 no
Prior to moving to the next item, Chair Landt said that he wanted to express his thanks to all the people who put their creative heads together to come up with ways to make our community better.
Water Quality at Lower Duck Pond
At Chair Landt's request, Director Mickelsen introduced the topic saying that, in e-mail correspondence dated June 3, 2002, Commissioners had received information on three options related to methods of improving water quality at the lower duck pond in Lithia Park. The information included staff's thoughts on pros and cons for each option and anticipated costs associated with implementing each option. Earlier, Commissioners had also received a proposal from Paul Kay which outlined a fourth option the Commission could consider. He said that staff had no recommendation related to the different options. At the Chair's request, Superintendent Gies briefly discussed the pros and cons of the options and answered Commissioners questions.
Al DeBoer (2260 Morada Lane, Ashland) said that both he and his wife have been embarrassed by the water quality in the ponds once we stopped the water flow through the ponds. He said that he believed that both the upper and lower ponds were significant features in the park. He encouraged the Commission to come up with a permanent solution for both ponds that would ensure the kind of water quality that would again make them enjoyable features in the park. He thanked Commissioners for taking his "citizen comment".
For informational purposes, Chair Landt said that the solution for the upper pond would be implemented shortly. Superintendent Gies said that staff was waiting for the last "parts" to arrive so that the work could get underway.
Discussion among Commissioners
In response to a question from Commissioner Landt, Commissioner Eggers said that the Aqua Cube solution was not her first choice because there was no guarantee of water quality. The company selling the Aqua Cubes believe they would do the job, but offer no guarantee.
Commissioner Landt commented that he would be supportive of trying the Aqua Cubes simply for fiscal reasons. He said that he believed the issue was going with a guaranteed approach for $20,000 or to try a system costing $3,000 to see if it works. He said that trying the cubes as a first step made sense.
Commissioner Eggers said that it really wouldn't be a first step, however, because the Commission has already tried two other things. She said that finding a solution for the lower pond has turned into a long process. Rather than try something else that might not work, she would prefer to go with the guaranteed solution.
Commissioners Jones and MacGraw agreed with Commissioner Eggers. Commissioner Lewis said that he was also inclined to support the solution offered by Paul Kay because he guaranteed his results or "we got our money back."
Commissioner Landt said that he was personally struggling to make a decision at this time. On the one hand was a low cost, incremental solution. On the other was a more costly, integrated solution. But still no one knows what the results will be and 5 - 10 years down the road the Commission may want to do something entirely different. He wasn't sure what would be in the best interest of the community. However, since the Commission seemed to be leaning towards approving Mr. Kay's "guaranteed" solution, he said that he felt it would be appropriate have more clarity than the proposal outlined related to success of the solution. Director Mickelsen concurred indicating that if the Commission approved Mr. Kay's solution wording would be placed into the contract that would stipulate criteria that would outline success and whether or not the "guarantee" had been met.
Commissioner MacGraw made a motion to move forward with Paul Kay's proposal related to improving water quality at the lower duck pond and that a contract be written that would stipulate the criteria that would need to be met. Commissioner Eggers seconded.
In discussion of the motion, Director Mickelsen mentioned that the proposal called for 2% of the surface area of the pond being used for plantings. He said that from a historic point of view, staff would prefer for the area not to be turned into a wetland and, therefore, supported no more than 2% of the surface area be planted. Commissioner Jones asked Mr. Kay if he needed more than 2% to make the solution work. He said that he did not, he believes that 2% will work. He said that if it did not, he felt it would be appropriate for him to come back to the Commission to ask for a greater percentage because he would not have fulfilled his commitment.
Commissioner Landt disagreed indicating that if more plantings were appropriate for the solution or more plantings would simply make the area more aesthetically pleasing, sticking to the 2% limitation would be inappropriate. Proposing to add any plants has already changed the historic perspective. He said that he believed that limiting planting to 2% was a mistake and for that reason he would probably vote against the motion.
Commissioner Lewis disagreed with Commission Landt saying that he believed that it was important to maintain the historic look even if in practice it was slightly different. He said that if no more than 2% was needed, if 2% would do the job, then the Commission would be accomplishing its goal of improving water quality without dramatically impacting on the historic nature of the pond.
The vote was: 4 yes - 1 no (Landt)
With no further business, Chair Landt adjourned the meeting.
Respectfully submitted, Ann Benedict, Business Manager
Ashland Parks and Recreation Department