Agendas and Minutes

Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission (View All)

Parks Commission Regular Meeting

Monday, January 26, 2015

City of Ashland
January 26, 2015

Present:     Commissioners Gardiner, Landt, Lewis, Miller, Shaw; Director Black; Superintendents Dials and Dickens
Absent:      City Council Liaison – Mayor John Stromberg

Landt called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street.

Strategic Planning Meeting – December 15, 2014
MOTION Gardiner moved to approve the minutes as presented. Shaw seconded the motion.
The vote was: All yes

Regular Meeting – December 17, 2014
MOTION Shaw moved to approve the minutes as presented. Lewis seconded the motion.
The vote was: All yes

Sara Burrill, PO Box 3276, proposed an event in Lithia Park: The Forest Lights, America’s Premier Light and Sound show, modeled after Scotland’s Enchanted Forest held each October. The Lithia Park program would boost the Rogue Valley economy, with proceeds donated to local and national charities. Burrill proposed holding the event every year in December for five nights, just after dark, and concluding each night by 9:30. The lower park from the entrance to the playground would display more than eight million lights covering trees, bridges, arches, paths and water fountains. Free demonstrations by local glass blowing artists, aerial artists and figure skaters would be provided and local musicians and storytellers would perform. Burrill planned to contact local investors for financial support and return the park to its original state following the event. No flora or fauna would be harmed; event participants would be shuttled in and out of the park to reduce parking congestion. Burrill asked the Commission to consider placing the item on a meeting agenda.

Noting their full agenda, Commissioners said it was unlikely the item would be discussed that evening.

Tara Elder, 1665 Parker Street, a representative of the Ashland Soccer Club, said over 250 youth and over 50 adult members used the soccer fields at North Mountain Park (NMP). Middle school and elementary school fields were used in the past but became unsafe for play; NMP was now the only option for the Ashland Soccer Club. The Parks Department did a great job of maintaining school grounds in past years, given their staffing and equipment, and currently maintained NMP beautifully. She asked for a Parks / School District partnership allowing for school field maintenance by Parks and asked how her organization could help make that happen.

Landt expressed interest in having staff work with the school district on a maintenance partnership.

The item entitled “Bee Subcommittee Formation – Discussion and Action” was relocated to “Subcommittee and Staff Reports,” since no action was required; it was for information only.

Landt nominated Gardiner to serve as chair in 2015. Shaw seconded the nomination.
The vote was: All yes

Gardiner nominated Landt to serve as vice chair for 2015. Lewis seconded the nomination.
The vote was: All yes
Review, Discussion and Action
Dials said in 2006, the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission set an annual goal of reviewing fees and charges as a kick-off to its budget process. Annual reviews included fees and charges associated with the Calle Guanajuato, North Mountain Park Nature Center, Ashland Senior Center, adult, youth and adapted recreation programs, indoor and outdoor reserved facilities, the Oak Knoll Golf Course, the Daniel Meyer Pool, and the Ashland Rotary Centennial Ice Rink. Dials reviewed her Powerpoint presentation and packet items. On her document entitled “Recreation Programs Services on Cost Recovery,” she referred to revised cost recovery recommendations appearing in red: Ashland Rotary Centennial Ice Rink (50% - down from 70%), NMP Nature Center (25% - down from 30%), Special Events (85% - down from 90%), Facility Rentals (60% - down from 100%) and Sports Field Lighting (85% - down from 100%). Staff had heard requests from users about not raising sports field lighting fees. Staff would also be recommending fee adjustments in the following five areas:
  • Daniel Meyer Pool
    • Last increase in June of 2009
    • Currently recovering at a rate of 27%
    • Changes to apply to pool users “dressed down” to bathing suits
    • Simplify fees by combining recreation open swim, lap swim and youth water polo session and age groups.
    • For lap swim, raise from $2.50 to $3.50 for those 13 and over
    • For senior lap or gentle swim, raise from $2 to $3 per session
  • Indoor Facilities
    • Currently recovering at 53%. Fees last increased on July 1, 2013.
    • With an increase of 11% for current three-tiered rate system, rates would be raised by $2 for each: long-term / nonprofits ($18 to $20 / hour), weekday renters ($21 to $23) and weekend renters ($33 to $35).
    • Increases in line with other agencies in southern Oregon.
    • 32% of current users have free use of facilities, including the VFW, cold weather shelter, Pinochle and Garden clubs, City of Ashland public / staff meetings and the Boy Scouts.
    • 39% of users receive long-term/ nonprofit rate
    • 29% of users pay regular weekday or weekend rates
    • Even with rate increases, facility rentals would not recover at 100%. Pricing rental fees toward a 100% recovery rate would “price out” customers.
    • Staff recommends annual evaluation of rates
  • Field Use Fees
    • Two current established fees:
      • $34 per hour for field light use
      • $36.50 per team per day for tournaments
    • No current fee in place for regular field use; no revenues currently associated with field maintenance
    • Staff recommends establishing a per-season field use fee for any organization using a field (in addition to current fees for lights and tournaments). Proposed fees:
      • $100 per season: 1 day per week
      • $150 per season: 2-3 days per week
      • $200 per season: 3-4 days per week – 4 to 5??
      • $250 per season: 5-7 days per week – 6 to 7 ??
    • Other state agencies polled, including Eugene, Portland, Medford, Central Point, Albany. Most offer per-hour rates. An hourly rate system would require staff time to coordinate and be cost-prohibitive for organizations.
  • Establish Electricity Use Fee
    • Requests received throughout the year for:
      • Electricity for jump houses in park areas
      • Use of batting cages requiring electricity (Hunter and North Mountain parks)
    • These activities require electricity as well as staff coordination
    • Staff recommends a $25 fee for every four hours of park use requiring electricity
  • Facilities Fees – Recommended Changes
    • Security deposits: Lower from $300 to $150 for regular renters.
    • All-day wedding rate: Discontinue all-day rate of $800. Not utilized.
    • Half-day wedding rate: Reduce from $400 to $200.
    • Wedding package: Discontinue rate of $1150. Not utilized.
    • Lithia Park picnic areas: Discontinue $60 and $65 rates; keep $55 and $75 rates. Fees currently based on size of area; rates of $55 and $75 accurately reflect those sizes.
Dials said staff recommended implementing any approved fee adjustments on July 1, 2015. Staff was requesting direction from the Commission on the proposed fee recommendations and cost recovery goals as outlined.

In terms of fees for field use, Landt asked how the YMCA fields fit into that category. Black said the YMCA requested field use at the beginning of each year and paid nothing. The current proposals would not affect the YMCA’s current use of their fields. Gardiner asked why the YMCA would be exempt from such charges. Black said it was somewhat like the Boy Scouts using Pioneer Hall for free – a handshake agreement established in the past. Black reported speaking to the YMCA and hearing of their interest in spending capital dollars for field improvements.

In terms of field users paying for field maintenance, Landt asked if a current maintenance fee had been established for regular users. Dials said no revenues were currently associated with field maintenance.

Public Input
Tara Elder, 1665 Parker Street, said people needed to pay for what they used. As a user of fields, she said the proposed fee of $250 seemed low. She stated that electricity fees should be recovered at 100%. For pool fees, she said charging one dollar more for children 13 and older could cause a reduction in pool usage by teens.

Michael Carew, 484 Helman Street, said he was new to the community and wanted to get involved. He asked why there was no set fee for seniors regardless of swim session title, only a senior swim timeslot. In other areas he’d lived, seniors got a break in rates every time they swam. He asked for a longer season at the Daniel Meyer Pool – with the pool opening earlier and staying open well into September. He offered to volunteer his time for keeping the pool open longer. A longer season would bring a higher pool recovery rate. With the upcoming closure of the SOU pool (June of 2015), the Daniel Meyer Pool would be well utilized.

Dials said no precedent was set in the past for a senior discounted rate. She did not have the historical background available but thought it could be due to a short season at a small pool and possible concerns about overcrowding, especially during lunch hours. In the past, when staff was available, a longer season was implemented into September; however, it was not possible to open the pool earlier due to hiring and training high school and college-aged staff by June 15. Staff would look into options for keeping the pool open longer in 2015. Shaw remarked that the pool building was not winterized.

Discussion Among Commissioners
Landt noted that the important question was staffing: If the pool could stay open longer, would it be financially viable? If there was a demand, he suggested looking into staffing a longer season; Shaw concurred. Shaw said he would be fine with approving the proposed cost recovery plan and said he appreciated staff’s adjustments.

MOTION: Shaw moved to accept the cost recovery plan as recommended by staff. Lewis said he would accept the motion if a field use maintenance fee could be added to the list of cost recoveries. Shaw said that could also be added in the future. Lewis said he could approve Shaw’s motion as originally stated.

Discussion of Motion
Landt observed that cost recovery goals were being lowered because they were not being met. He felt uncomfortable with the sports lighting issue as he felt users should pay for their usage and electricity costs should be recovered at 100%. As for indoor facility rental rates, he asked why some groups used facilities for free while others received discounts or paid the full hourly rates. The system seemed unfair to some groups and favorable to others. He understood that staff could find nothing in writing from past agreements but thought the Commission should set a goal of creating more fairness in its facilities rate structure.

Shaw said he understood that some groups received free usage because they helped the City obtain the buildings, which was worthy of recognition. He suggested recovering 100% of costs for sports light usage.
Lewis said incremental increases were more acceptable to users and no cost recoveries had ever come in at 100%. He asked staff to work with the City on why Parks paid $45,000 per year to use the rentable City buildings while allowing the City to use the buildings free of charge. He suggested moving forward with the fee increases as proposed and incrementally increasing them in future years.

Black said he had asked Dials to reduce recovery rates given unmet targets. If the Commission wished to ask for a 100% recovery on field light usage, staff could adjust rates to meet that goal. In terms of free building usage for certain groups, he said staff was trying to honor long-held City traditions; however, if the Commission wanted staff to meet with the groups, that could be done.

Landt said he would vote against the current motion, since lighting costs should be recovered at 100% and facility recovery costs could be higher if steps were taken to ensure it.

Gardiner said he would vote yes on the motion, though there might be a better way to calculate and achieve higher rates of recovery.

The vote was:
Gardiner, Lewis, Miller, Shaw – yes
Landt - no

Miller asked for clarification: If toddler and youth rates existed at the pool, why not a senior rate? Dials said there was a senior swim session in place but no senior rate. Shaw asked how many seniors attended swim sessions outside the senior swim session; Dials said she did not know but could find out.

MOTION: Landt moved to approve the proposed fee structure for Daniel Meyer Pool as proposed by staff. Lewis seconded the motion.

Discussion of Motion
Gardiner asked whether seniors might be willing to give up their senior-only swim session if they were given an overall senior rate. Dials said she would look into the matter.

The vote was: All yes

In terms of the comment by Tara Elder regarding low fees for field usage, Shaw asked what Medford Parks and Recreation charged for field use per organization per season. Dials said she wasn’t sure but thought the proposed rate was a good starting point. Landt asked if the fee would be charged to every organization, including the Ashland School District; Dials said yes.

MOTION: Landt moved to approve the fee structure for field usage as proposed by staff; Shaw seconded the motion:
  • Per-season field use fee for any league using a field (in addition to current fees for lights and tournaments):
    • $100 per season: 1 day per week
    • $150 per season: 2 days per week
    • $200 per season: 3-4 days per week
    • $250 per season: 5-7 days per week
Discussion of Motion
It was noted that $250 per season would not cover any maintenance costs. Dials stated that Little League (10-12 teams) used Hunter Park for their practices and games five to seven days per week. They would also be charged the $250 per season fee. Landt said these were small fees because the Commission was in place to provide parks and recreation opportunities but he wanted staff to continue working on refining the fees and charges system.

Dials said she would change the second bulleted item, per Commission suggestion, to $150 per season for 2 days per week (noted above).

Landt said he would consider Dials’s clarification as a friendly amendment to his motion; Shaw seconded the amendment.

The vote was: All yes

Black asked for clarification from the Commission: Should staff meet with grandfathered groups about why they thought they should not pay facility use fees. Landt said that should happen as this was an equity issue. He could not vote on the proposal as currently outlined by staff. Shaw suggested moving forward with implementing the proposal but asking staff to research where the historical information was located and what it indicated. Dials stated that the new fees would not be set in motion until July 1, 2015, giving staff time to conduct this research. Black said fees and charges needed to be acted upon because staff was working on preparing budget figures for the FY15-17 biennial period. Lewis said these issues had arisen before; how would the grandfathered groups’ payment of fees (and other cost recoveries) change the overall budget picture? Landt said the fees discussion had arisen before and was never acted upon; therefore, he would not be able to vote favorably on a motion for accepting the proposed fees for indoor facilities. Dials reported meeting with the Pinochle Club several months earlier and asking them to move out of the Community Center, since they met during a high volume time, and relocate their activity to the Senior Center. They were resistant to changing their venue. She said she would meet with other grandfathered groups during the summer and report back to the Commission.

MOTION: Shaw moved to accept the indoor facilities fees as proposed by staff: Increase hourly rates by 11% or $2 per category: Long-term / nonprofits ($18 to $20), weekday renters ($21 to $23) and weekend renters ($33 - $35). He further moved to ask staff to research “grandfathered” groups about the history of free building usage and report back to the commission. Lewis seconded the motion.

The vote was:
Lewis, Miller, Shaw – yes
Gardiner, Landt – no

MOTION: Lewis moved to approve the staff recommendation for electricity use: $25 for every four hours of time requested using electricity. Gardiner seconded the motion.

The vote was: All yes
MOTION: Landt moved to accept the staff proposal for security deposits, wedding rates, picnic fees and Lithia Park usage rates as proposed:
  • Security deposits: Lower from $300 to $150 for regular renters
  • All day wedding rate: Discontinue all day rate of $800. Not utilized
  • Half-day wedding rate: Reduce from $400 to $200
  • Wedding package: Discontinue rate of $1150. Not utilized
  • Lithia Park picnic areas: Discontinue $60 and $65 rates; keep $55 and $75 rates. Fees currently based on size of area; rates of $55 and $75 accurately reflect those sizes.
Lewis seconded the motion.

The vote was: All yes

Black said a National Citizen Survey was recently completed and Parks ranked extremely high (98%) as compared to the 500 other cities participating in the survey. He said Mayor Stromberg would talk about many City achievements at the first “State of the City” event at the Ashland Community Center on Tuesday, January 27, at 5:30 p.m.

Black presented highlights of 2014 accomplishments for Ashland Parks and Recreation in 2014:
  • Deferred maintenance in parks:
    • Golf hole #9 replaced and golf course netting replaced
    • Hunter Park and Daniel Meyer Pool improvements
    • Park signs replaced throughout the system (with new logo)
    • Calle Guanajuato resurfaced
    • Nature Center scholarships grant received ($3,000)
    • Ashland Creek Park Grant ($309,000)
    • APA Award – Lithia Park designated as one of ten great places in America
    • Historical restorations awards for Enders Shelter and Atkinson Bridge
    • Forestry and Trails Division accomplishments, including building Ashland Creek Park
    • Miscellaneous: new Parks Director, new Parks logo, ice rink cover, review of Dogs in Parks policy
  • Parks Development Subcommittee: Commissioners Landt and Lewis
  • Dogs Subcommittee: Commissioners Miller and Shaw
  • Forest Lands Commission: Commissioner Miller
  • Golf Course Subcommittee: Commissioners Gardiner and Lewis
  • Joint Powers Committee: Commissioner Gardiner
  • Open Space / Land Acquisition Subcommittee: Commissioners Landt and Shaw
  • Public Arts Commission (Parks liaison): Commissioner Lewis
  • Signs, Plaques & Memorials Subcommittee: Commissioners Lewis and Shaw
  • Bee City Subcommittee – Commissioner Gardiner
Black said FY 2015-17 goals would be set for two years but modified in 2016, with completed items removed. He reviewed a presentation in which he described the background of the goal setting process, prioritization of goals, and the top five goals:
  • Partnership toward year-round competitive swimming pool
  • Transfer of The Grove to Parks
  • Sidewalks built on Winburn Way and a second dog park developed at lower Clay Street
  • Update of Trails and Open Space Plan
  • Lithia Park master plan
Priorities within goal categories were outlined:
  • Trails, open space and land conservation
  • Volunteers
  • Facilities and programming
  • Planning and development
  • Organization
  • Parks and recreation governance
Due to low or no votes, several recommendations for deleted goals included:
  • Public park space governed by users
  • Evaluate Oak Knoll Golf Course in terms of dogs
  • Improved signage at Oak Knoll
Black said next steps would include workplan items. The top five goals would be continually worked on by staff. For the SOU pool item, Landt said it would be helpful to have a Parks Commission aquatics representative. Black said the pool community currently needed some input from people knowledgeable about pools; no decisions or guarantees were being made at this time. He felt more funding would be needed from the community than was realized. While Representative Buckley could provide some funding through a state grant, he could not provide all funding. Representative Buckley was currently asking for a number for what it would cost to build a new pool to replace the existing SOU pool.

Miller voiced interest in serving as the Parks Commission representative among the pool community. Other commissioners voiced support for his role in that capacity.

Landt asked for an additional goal: under “Planning and Development,” a parks maintenance and design standards goal. He said this had been a goal some years back but was never completed. Black said he would add the goal under that category and work with Landt in that capacity.

MOTION: Shaw moved to accept the FY 15-17 goals as outlined by Black, including “Parks Maintenance and Design Standards” under “Planning and Development.”

The vote was: All yes

Bee Subcommittee Formation – Update
Dials said that as of December 16, 2014, Ashland became the fifth Bee City USA in the US. Staff developed a news release and distributed it the following week. Staff was now working on forming a subcommittee, one of the requirements for the designation of Bee City USA. The deadline for citizen applications was March 6. After March 6, Gardiner and the staff liaison, Libby VanWyhe, would be reviewing applications and proposing three citizen subcommittee members to the Commission.

Ashland Creek Park Update
Dickens reported that a substantial completion meeting was set for the following day with Parks staff and the contractor for Ashland Creek Park, Roxy Ann Rock.

Open Space Subcommittee Update
Landt said a realtor was hired to help the Parks Commission locate properties for purchase based on the City’s Open Space Plan. The realtor, Eric Poole, had been helpful and effective.

Landt reported on a recent visit to the Skate Park, where he saw 24 users, all of whom were not wearing helmets. Given that there had been an accident in the past, he asked for greater enforcement of rules at the Skate Park.

  • Study session set for February 9 at 7:00 p.m., Parks Office, 340 S. Pioneer Street
  • Joint meeting with Council set for February 11 at 7:00 p.m., Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street
  • Regular meeting set for Monday, February 23 at 7:00 p.m., Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street
By consensus, with no further business, Gardiner adjourned the meeting at 9:45 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Susan Dyssegard, Administrative Supervisor
Ashland Parks and Recreation

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