City of Ashland
PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION
STUDY SESSION MINUTES
February 9, 2015
Present: Commissioners Gardiner, Landt, Lewis, Miller, Shaw; Director Black; Superintendents Dials and Dickens
Absent: City Council Liaison - Mayor John Stromberg
CALL TO ORDER
Gardiner called the study session to order at 7:00 p.m. at the Parks office, 340 S. Pioneer Street.
FY 13-15 cip PROJECT BALANCES DISCUSSION
Black said the 13-15 biennial budget period was ending and it was time to review capital projects and funding levels and sources. The commission’s capital projects – funded at $4.8M for the 13-15 biennium – had a remaining balance of $2.7M of projects. Revenues for CIP projects came from the general fund, food and beverage taxes, SDCs, grants and loans and the Parks CIP ending fund balance (EFB). Council designated certain projects as critical capital improvements for which resources could be used. Black reviewed a chart showing project numbers, project descriptions, start and completion dates, estimated budgets per project and over/under corrections along with project balances and notes. For over-budget projects, funds could be borrowed from other Parks capital improvement projects with positive balances. Black suggested balancing out the capital improvements category by using funds allocated for the unfinished Lithia Park rehabilitation project and other funded but unfinished projects. This was an opportunity to evaluate all capital projects in terms of each project’s vitality for moving into the next biennial budget. Several projects went over budget; Black hoped future projects could be accurately estimated.
Projects with positive balances included Lithia Park rehabilitation, Butler-Perozzi Fountain repairs, Lithia Park restroom replacement, and Daniel Meyer Pool bathhouse improvements. Black said columns three and five on the capital projects spreadsheet would be balanced and zeroed out if the Commission chose to accept staff’s proposed changes. He requested feedback from the Commission.
Discussion Among Commissioners
In terms of the Calle Guanajuato resurfacing project that ran over budget by nearly $200,000, Landt said he was not concerned about funds spent but wished the Commission heard about overages up front rather than afterwards. Shaw asked for regular project updates going forward, with the commission notified about changes. Lewis agreed, stating that project reminders and updates were helpful. Black said staff would share change orders or unexpected expenses with the Commission in the future.
Landt noted that funds for the second dog park off lower Clay Street were included on the CIP list but not the Lithia Park sidewalk (from the bandshell up to the Lithia Park shop)—both previously identified as projects to be funded using Parks’ EFB dollars. Black said he and City Administrator Kanner worked on locating the Parks EFB totaling $470,000. It appeared that the current balance was around $300,000, with the remaining amount used for the payout of the previous director’s HRA VEBA account.
With regard to the sidewalk project, Black suggested asking Public Works Engineering to submit a design toward determining costs.
Landt asked if the money set aside for land acquisitions had to be spent so as not to be lost. Black said budget committees were typically conservative and they liked to see allocated funds spent; otherwise they questioned why funds were requested but not utilized.
Gardiner said Black’s CIP list was a good starting point. He asked if the Commission was satisfied with how the funds were balanced by Black. Shaw said he was fine with the list for now. He remembered hearing about requests for donations for Butler-Perozzi Fountain repairs but felt the public should not be asked to pay for fountain repairs. If the Commission had funds to fix it, the Commission should use those funds and repair it. Lewis said he didn’t think the Commission should spend $500,000 on repairing the fountain. He suggested having a Commission discussion about removing the fountain from Lithia Park. Shaw said the previous Parks Director worked out a bond deal through the City—without Commission involvement—a deal that would take twenty years to repay. Black said the bonded funds needed to be used for an active project within a certain timeline and there was discussion about using some to pay for the full cost of resurfacing the Calle Guanajuato.
Black said he would bring the CIP list back to the Commission for further discussion and a vote. The record would show that a public process occurred and all CIP projects balanced out in terms of what was budgeted and what was spent in BN 13-15. He felt this would show good management by the Commission, with the Commission making sound budget decisions leading into the BN 15-17 season.
Gardiner said the February 23 regular meeting would include a proposal for how to reallocate / utilize BN 13-15 CIP funds for Parks projects, with a Commission vote following a discussion.
JAPANESE GARDEN GATEWAY CONSTRUCTION UPDATE
Dickens said the Monkey Puzzle tree (removed from Lithia Park a year earlier) was still in the curing process. Because of that, the proposed gateway woodworker, William Olsen, had not been ready to move ahead. Engineered footings for the project were needed along with fabricated steel. Staff would be required to go out to bid on the custom steel parts. The woodworking would be a direct award due to the special skills required for such work, similar to artwork. Dickens said he hoped to have the project completed by June 1. Once Olsen was ready, a contract would be drawn up for his services. Staff had current specifications and drawings for the new Japanese Garden gateway in Lithia Park.
UPCOMING JOINT COUNCIL / COMMISSION MEETING DISCUSSION
Black reviewed the joint Council / Commission meeting agenda. Items included:
Black said it made sense for Parks to use The Grove more fully, an opinion shared by several councilors and the City Administrator. Parks would be required to pay for maintenance of the building, just as it paid for maintenance of other City buildings it used. The Grove would benefit all citizens of Ashland, including under-served populations.
With regard to the SOU pool, Black said he and Dials met with pool representatives the previous week. Current options for a new regional pool included using the same footprint at SOU—with funding from user groups, the Ashland School District and other sources—or building an additional pool at the Ashland Family YMCA. SOU was not interested in funding a new pool but would provide a location for the pool and a 50-year lease for land use. Another option was for the YMCA to operate the new pool at SOU. Representative Peter Buckley offered to generate between $3-4M in funding for a new regional pool.
Discussion Among Commissioners
Lewis said a new pool would incur large ongoing expenses. Landt agreed and said the Commission could be setting itself up for high maintenance costs in perpetuity. He asked if it was typical for a town the size of Ashland to have two pools. Black said a town the size of Ashland could support two pools because the Rogue Valley was an underserved area in terms of aquatics facilities. Dials said it was difficult to accommodate all user groups at the Daniel Meyer Pool. Shaw asked how to operate a community pool that made money rather than losing money. Lewis said the Commission was discussing solving a problem Medford voters chose to pass on. Landt said the new pool would be a competitive pool so amenities for non-competitive swimmers would be limited. Competitive pools generated fewer revenues than were needed for maintenance and staffing. Other entities with vested interests would need to assist with maintenance costs. Landt specifically wanted to see the Ashland School District stepping forward with funding. Black suggested some revenue-producing options, including installing a climbing wall and having extended pool hours. Lewis said every school district in the valley would need to buy into this project and provide funding. He suggested a contractual document outlining every entities’ involvement in such a regional pool project. Landt said a significant portion of the maintenance costs would need to come from entities other than Ashland Parks and Recreation. Lewis suggested having Black share the Commission’s concerns about pool costs at the joint meeting with Council. He felt the Commission understood the need for the project but regional buy-in was necessary before proceeding. Landt said another concern with the SOU location would be parking.
STAFF AND COMMISSIONER COMMENTS
Black provided an update on the Parks / School District intergovernmental agreement: the Ashland School District had not paid for field maintenance for three years; however, Parks was talking with them about providing ongoing field maintenance. He spoke with the ASD Finance Director a week earlier and they would pay their fees until they were caught up. The ASD Athletic Director was interested in having Parks maintain the Lincoln and middle school fields, used by sporting groups, and Parks was interested in maintaining Helman School fields, with a possible trade-off of free building usage. Dials said The Grove was fully utilized, especially in terms of evening classes, and Black had been helpful in opening doors with the Ashland School District.
Gardiner said staff would begin working on sending out monthly meeting agendas and minutes to the Commission earlier each month.
By consensus, with no further business, Gardiner adjourned the study session at 9:00 p.m.