Agendas and Minutes

Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission (View All)

Parks Commission Study Session

Monday, April 21, 2014

City of Ashland
April 21, 2014

Present:  Commissioners Landt, Lewis, Seffinger, Shaw, Gardiner; Director Robertson; Superintendents Dials and Dickens
Absent:   City Council Liaison-Mayor John Stromberg

By consensus, Seffinger adjourned into executive session at 7:02 p.m.
Executive session: Employee Negotiations: ORS 192.660 (1)(D)

By consensus, Seffinger adjourned out of executive session at 7:55 p.m.

Seffinger called the study session to order at 7:56 p.m. in the Parks office, 340 S. Pioneer Street.

After receiving commission direction at the March 24 regular meeting, staff submitted a request for quotes from eight recruitment firms. Four firms responded with written quotes for the recruitment of a new Ashland Parks and Recreation Director. Firms included Prothman, Waters & Company, WBCP, and Bob Murray & Associates. Human Resources Manager Tina Gray, Robertson and Seffinger reviewed the four quotes and unanimously favored WBCP, a local firm with offices in Medford, OR, and San Jose, CA, and a strong focus on municipal work. Gray checked their references and all proved positive. Their fees of $17,500 plus expenses, not to exceed $23,400 were comparable to the three others and their local office would be convenient for in-person meetings. Robertson said the recruitment process would take twelve weeks, with the new director projected to start in September, 2014. Upon staff recommendation, the commission agreed to proceed with a direct award to WBCP.

Robertson spoke about issues and challenges facing the department with regard to current restrictions posed by the Parks Integrated Pest Management (IPM) policy. Ashland parks and properties had been pesticide-free for four years, including contracted areas maintained for the City of Ashland including non-park areas such as median strips, parking lots, the Ashland Municipal Airport, and the City maintenance yard on ‘B’ Street. Those areas were overgrown with weeds and staff requested allowances for herbicide treatments. Due to the location of the contracted areas, volunteers were not interested in weeding them by hand, nor would it be safe for them to do so.

Robertson asked the commission for permission to use herbicides, when requested by the City of Ashland, on City-owned lands, excluding parks. This would require modifications to the commission’s IPM policy at an upcoming regular meeting, with public input solicited and planned for that agenda item.

Staff also requested an exemption for proper application of herbicides at bullpens and warning tracks within North Mountain Park ballfields for purposes of safety.

Parks Horticulturist Anne Thayer said the department received a letter from Jackson County Cooperative Weed Management asking the commission to target and control two invasive species, Japanese knotweed and spurge, within riparian areas. Thayer said this would also require an exemption within the current Parks IPM policy.

Discussion Among Commissioners
Landt said the City of Ashland could be charged more, allowing Parks to hire additional staff for maintaining those areas. Alternatively, the City could do the work themselves and choose to apply herbicides. He spoke in favor of future park design alterations for parking lots and medians for better weed management and prevention.

Seffinger said not using herbicides to curb the spread of invasive species would also have a negative effect on the environment.

Shaw said delineating areas where herbicides could be used and areas that were pesticide-free might allow the department to continue adequately maintaining the contracted areas for the City.
Lewis said traditionally Parks maintained non-park areas for the City. He pointed out that the commission made past exceptions to the Parks IPM policy, allowing for satisfactory maintenance, including application of herbicides at the Oak Knoll Golf Course and ballfields.

Gardiner asked whether it would cost the City less to contract out to a different company for maintenance of those areas and Robertson said probably yes. Parks provided enormous quantities of labor and community service workers for weeding those areas but Parks was losing the battle with weeds.

Dickens said the department would receive an architectural preservation award from the Ashland Historic Commission on Wednesday, May 21, at 1:00 p.m. at the Ashland Community Center. He said this was in recognition of Parks’ historic restorations of the Enders Shelter and Atkinson Bridge in Lithia Park.

Lewis said the commission received an email from a citizen group requesting the utilization of Parks volunteers for changing out the gray pavers on the downtown Plaza. Robertson said he told the group “No.”

Dials said the Calle would be completed by Thursday, May 1, in time for its first seasonal weekend opening. Seffinger said she planned to walk the completed Calle with the Downtown Beautification Committee.

By consensus, Seffinger adjourned out of study session at 8:45 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Amanda Glass
Ashland Parks and Recreation

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