City of Ashland
PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION
July 22, 2002
Present: Commissioners Eggers, Jones, Lewis, MacGraw; Director Ken Mickelsen
Absent: Commissioner Landt
CALL TO ORDER
Vice-Chair Eggers called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. at Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Regular Meeting – June 24, 2002 Commissioner MacGraw moved to approve the minutes as written. Commissioner Jones seconded.
The vote was: 3 yes – 0 no
Special Meeting – July 1, 2002 Commissioner Jones moved to approve the minutes as written. Commissioner Eggers seconded.
The vote was: 2 yes – 1 abstain (MacGraw)
Open Forum - none
ADDITIONS OR DELETIONS TO THE AGENDA - None
--Commissioner Lewis was present from this point forward--
UNFINISHED BUSINESS - None
PROPOSAL FOR CHILDREN'S ARTWORK SAND/PLAY AREA AT NORTH MOUNTAIN PARK
Director Mickelsen explained that this item had come before the Commission because the sand/play area proposal includes an artistic component. He noted that the Commission does not currently have an "art in the park" policy in place. He also noted that Staff was entirely supportive of this proposal.
Kari Gies, Education Coordinator at North Mountain Park, spoke about the need for the sand/play area. "But we didn't want it to just be a sandbox;" she explained, "we wanted it to be visually pleasing and we wanted there to be some structure to it." Ms. Gies went on to outline the well-thought-out project, which would incorporate children's petroglyph artwork into the cast concrete sandbox features. The artwork would be created this autumn as part of an archeology education program at North Mountain Park.
Public Comment - None
Discussion Among Commissioners
Regarding the question of art, Commissioner Eggers said, "We have said that it's very awkward if not impossible for us to do art projects in the park without having a policy." However, she went on to say, "The way I see this is basically as a sand play area and an educational project which happens to be artistic."
Commissioner MacGraw agreed, explaining that she viewed the proposal as an educational attraction and opportunity with artistic qualities, but not as 'art in the park' per se. Referencing her support for North Mountain Park's recently denied request to install the 'Two Bears' sculpture, Commissioner MacGraw again advocated making 'art' decisions on a case-by-case basis (rather than denying all requests until a 'art in the parks' policy is in place). As to the current proposal, she said, "I support this one hundred percent."
Comparing the artistic features in the proposal to the stepping stones already in front of the Nature Center or the mosaic pathway in Triangle Park, Commissioner Jones concurred, stating "I think this is part of the educational program...I'm really in favor of it."
MOTION Commissioner MacGraw moved to approve the proposed sand/play area at North Mountain Park including the artwork as outlined in the proposal. Commissioner Jones seconded.
The vote was: 4 yes - 0 no
STAFF PRESENTATION - MANAGEMENT OF DEPARTMENT'S FOREST LANDS
Saying that Lithia Park is the "front porch" of the Ashland Watershed, Director Mickelsen explained that the Parks Department, in coordination with Forest Service Fire Specialists, first started developing a fire-prevention management plan for the hillside of Lithia Park nearly fifteen years ago. On all of its lands, the Department continues to utilize a multipurpose approach incorporating recreational use, biodiversity/wildlife habitat and fire prevention. Director Mickelsen emphasized that the Department is very fortunate to have the expertise of Donn Todt, Department Horticulturist and Arborist, and Jeff McFarland, Forestry and Trails Coordinator.
Horticulturist and Arborist Donn Todt gave a slideshow presentation on fuels reduction and Parks' multipurpose approach to managing its lands. He spoke about the coordinated efforts of Staff, volunteers, Real Corps and other groups working to develop a more fire-resistant landscape while balancing other goals, such as encouraging native species. Some of these goals work in tandem. He explained that concentrated removal and seed-cycle interruption of the invasive 'scotch broom' not only reduces the ability of fire to proceed up a hillside but also increases the abundance and diversity of some of our native species on that hillside. Other goals require compromise, such as isolating stands of shrubs so that they continue to be beneficial for wildlife, but in such a way as to reduce the fire hazard.
Director Mickelsen noted that many of the interface lands under Parks' management have been identified by the Fire Department as "extreme to high fire hazard zones."
Forestry and Trails Coordinator Jeff McFarland presented detailed treatment information about these "extreme" to "high" fire hazard zoned lands under Parks' management. Of particular topical interest is the grant the Ashland Fire Department has obtained in accordance with the National Fire Plan. The grant is intended to help pay for treatment of interface properties and pays for 75% of any contracted treatment with only a 25% payment match required.
Director Mickelsen noted that the Commission might wish to consider this outstanding grant opportunity when it allocates funds in future years.
"The other thing I hope we were able to point out today," said Director Mickelsen, "is that our staff does not work in a vacuum."He went on to say that the Parks Department works in coordination with many other agencies, collaborating and sharing expertise with entities such as the Forest Service, Ashland Fire and Rescue, and Real Corps.
Fire Chief Woodley explained that Ashland is listed in the federal register as among the top communities in the United States facing wildfire threat. That, coupled with Ashland's demonstrated history of contributing resources to manage the threat--the vegetation mapping program, having a city forester on contract, the strong integration with Parks, the Forest Service, the Oregon Department of Forestry, Real Corps--positions the city well to receive federal grant money. Chief Woodley explained that the Fire Department has mapped from Ashland Mine Road to Tolman Creek across the interface and assigned a hazard category to the landscape. Using that information as a template for allocating grant funds, the Fire Department is contacting first those property owners whose lands have received an 'extreme' rating. He said, "with the grant program, we're getting strong and consistent response" from homeowners willing to reduce the fire hazard on their lands.
ACQUISITION OF LAND FOR OPEN SPACE ALONG ASHLAND CREEK
Vice-Chair Eggers explained that this piece of property had been discussed at an Executive Session just prior to the current meeting.
MOTION Commissioner MacGraw moved to recommend to the City Council that it move forward with the purchase of the open space property as outlined in the July 22, 2002 Executive Session. Commissioner Jones seconded.
The vote was: 4 yes - 0 no
SUB-COMMITTEE and STAFF REPORTS
UPDATE ON DEPARTMENT PROJECTS
Director Mickelsen offered a brief update as shown on the memorandum "Update on Department Projects."
ITEMS FROM COMMISSIONERS
Commissioner MacGraw asked about the sandy playground area at Hunter Park. Superintended Gies explained that the sand there had recently been refilled, although the Department is moving ultimately toward ADA-approved chips in playground areas.
Commissioner Jones thanked the Parks Department for getting the courts ready for the 26th Annual Big Al's Tournament. She also wanted to remind Commissioners that the court surfaces are badly in need of repair and urged Commissioners to keep that in mind for budgeting next year.
Commissioner Eggers thanked Staff for the "Management of Department's Forest Lands" presentation.
UPCOMING MEETING DATE(S) and PROPOSED AGENDA ITEMS
Upcoming Meeting Dates
ADJOURNMENT – By consensus, with no further business, Vice-Chair Eggers adjourned the meeting.
Respectfully submitted, Robyn Hafner, Department Secretary, Ashland Parks and Recreation Department