MINUTES FOR THE JOINT STUDY SESSION
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL/PARKS & RECREATION COMMISSION
July 20, 2005 - 1:00 p.m.
Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street
CALL TO ORDER:
Council Chair Kate Jackson called the meeting to order at 1:07 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilor Hardesty, Amarotico, Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman were present.
Mayor Morrison and Councilor Hartzell were absent.
1. Gun Club Lease Extension
Parks & Recreation Director Don Robertson stated that the issue before the City Council and the Parks & Recreation Commission was the possible extension of the Ashland Gun Club's lease. Mr. Robertson explained that in February of 2004, the Parks & Recreation Commission was approached by the Ashland Gun Club with a request to extend their lease to 2029. He explained that the Gun Club had received a grant for new skeet shooting equipment; however the grant was contingent on them having at least 10 years remaining on their lease, which is currently set to expire in 2009.
At the time the Parks & Recreation Commission heard this request, several concerns were voiced. The Historic Commission considers this property historic and expressed concern that the lease extension could harm the site or limit their ability to have the property listed on the National Register of Historical Places. Concerns were also voiced by neighbors regarding the noise, increased traffic and after-hours use. Mr. Robertson noted that at the time of its inception, the property the Gun Club occupies had very few surrounding neighbors, but in current years this area has become more urbanized and the noise, especially during National Guard and police training sessions, has become a complaint of the neighbors.
In reviewing the information, the Parks & Recreation Commission requested the Legal Department's opinion regarding their ability to grant the lease extension. The City Attorney concluded that the Commission did not have the authority to extend the lease on the city owned property because their own lease on the property does not extend to the 2029 date. Because of this, it is necessary for the City Council to get involved and provide direction as to how this issue should be resolved.
Historic Commissioners Dale Shostrom and Keith Swink addressed group and presented a slide show of historic pictures. It was noted that this historic site is the source of the Lithia water and some of the photos included: the Lithia Springs well house and pump, the Gillette bottling house, the gazebos at Lithia Park and the Railroad Depot and the Lithia fountain located on the Plaza. Mr. Shostrom explained that the area around Ashland has long been known for its springs and commented on the history of the spring water. He stated that there was little doubt that this site had features that would make it eligible to be placed on the Historic Register and requested the creation of a master plan so that this property can best serve the desires of the community.
George Kramer/386 N. Laurel/Stated that the historic site designation does not require certain uses and stated that the National Register status would not preclude the use of the property as a Gun Club. Mr. Kramer stated that the property was in sufficient standing to merit its listing on the Historic Register and explained the connection to federal funding. He clarified that in the future, if the City were to undertake in a project on that site that included any sort of federal involvement, it would require the property to be evaluated for historical significance and there would be some implications if it was determined a significant site. If the City does not have a federal nexus, than the City can do with the property what they want.
It was questioned if more people would want to visit the site if it was listed on the historic register. Mr. Kramer stated that this would create more awareness and presumably curiosity, but there is no requirement that the site be made available to the public.
Comment was made that this property was a possible terminus for the greenway and Mr. Robertson clarified that the future greenway, when and if it becomes fully built out, would involve a section of trail that would border this site.
Mike LaNier, 211 Genessee, Medford/Chuck Parlier, 6801 Irish Lane,/Bill Longiotti, 245 Arnos/Spoke on behalf and the Ashland Gun Club and voiced their concern that they have been kept out of the loop. Mr. LaNier noted that the Gun Club has been the lease holder of this site for over 30 years, yet the only way they were made aware of these meetings was by reviewing the minutes. Request was made for the City to place the Ashland Gun Club on their mailing list for any Historic Commission, Parks & Recreation Commission or City Council meetings where their lease is scheduled for discussion. It was pointed out that they were not even notified about this study session.
Mr. LaNier commented on the dumping that goes on at the site by the City's Public Works Department and stated that if it is going to be designated as a historic property they need to figure out how to do the preservation. He spoke regarding the residential growth surrounding the site and explained that they have extremely rigid rules and noted that there is no record that a safety violation has ever occurred on the site. Mr. LaNier submitted an invitation to the Council and Parks Commission to attend one of the upcoming activities so they can see how safety operations are handled.
Mr. Parlier stated that safe places to discharge firearms are few and far between and noted that prior to the Gun Club being located at this site; they met in the Historic Armory. He stated that the Gun Club furnishes a safe place to discharge firearms and stated that they do not shoot at the structures. He also noted that everyone goes through a thorough orientation process. He also commented that the Club provides a Hunter Safety Training program and noted its success in preventing fatalities.
Mr. Longiotti stated that approximately 90% of the property was under land fill, due to the excessive dumping of saw dust from the old mill plant. He noted the common practice of dumping dirt on the site, but explained that they have been able to create berms from the dirt, which are what catch the projectiles. He also noted that berms are specifically located around the pump house to protect it. Mr. Longiotti stated that the structure is in pretty good shape considering the length of time it has been there and noted that some of the buildings are buried.
Mr. LaNier noted that the Gun Club was supportive of identifying a master plan as mentioned by the Historic Commission.
City Attorney Mike Franell explained that there are two leases for the property, one between the City and the Parks & Recreation Commission and the other between the Parks & Recreation Commission and the Gun Club. He stated that both leases expire in 2009; therefore the Parks & Recreation is not able to grant an extension that is beyond what their lease is. It was noted that the Gun Club's receipt of their grant funding was on hold until this issue is resolved.
Administrator Gino Grimaldi stated that if the Council wished to extend the Gun Club's lease, Staff would work with the Gun Club and the Parks & Recreation Commission to bring back options.
Comment was made that the Council should use this opportunity to address the complaints of the neighbors. Mr. Franell noted that the City could specify in the lease that they want complaints to first be directed to the Gun Club so they are provided an opportunity to resolve the issue, but if they are unable to reach a resolution, that the City becomes involved.
Mr. Longiotti noted that the Ashland Police Department utilizes the facilities and conducts night shooting, which is one of their highest complaints. He also pointed out that contrary to what has been stated by neighbors, the National Guard is not permitted to fire fully automatic firearms on their range.
Mr. Grimaldi requested direction from the Council, noting out that the meeting would be ending shortly. Council agreed to look into how the lease would be extended and agreed with the concept of extending it for a specific period of time. Their concerns regarding the neighbors' complaints, historic significance and clean-up were noted and it was clarified that the Parks Commission would work on preparing possible conditions of the lease and this issue would come back to the Council. Mr. Grimaldi noted that there would be several opportunities for public comment when this issue is addressed by the Parks Commission and the City Council. In the interim, any comments should be directed to the City Administrator or the Parks & Recreation Director.
Meeting was adjourned at 2:10 p.m.
April Lucas, Assistant