Agendas and Minutes

Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission (View All)

Parks Commission Regular Meeting

Monday, November 23, 2015

City of Ashland
November 23, 2015

Commissioners Present: Commissioners Gardiner, Landt, Lewis, Miller, Shaw

Staff Present: Director Black; Superintendents Dickens and Dials; Administrative Supervisor Dyssegard and Assistant Manuel; Lori Ainsworth – Volunteer Coordinator; Pete Baughman – Park Technician III and Certified Arborist; Laura Harvey – Park Tech III and Golf Course Superintendent; Bill Miller, Park Technician III and Irrigation Supervisor 

Absent:  City Council Liaison, Mayor Stromberg

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

Study Session – October 19, 2015  

MOTION: Miller moved to approve the Minutes for October 19, 2015 as presented. Landt seconded.
                                       The vote was all yes

Regular Meeting – October 26, 2015
Motion:  Landt moved to approve the Minutes for October 26, 2015 as amended. Lewis seconded.

Shaw asked for a correction to the Minutes for October 26, 2015 as follows:
Page 5 under Miscellaneous: “Shaw complimented staff on the lighting of the tennis courts at Hunter Park and Lithia Park. He stated that the early morning lights were appreciated.”
Should be:
“Shaw complimented staff on the lighting of the tennis courts at Hunter Park and Lithia Park. He stated that the early evening lights were appreciated.”
Amended Motion:  Landt moved to approve the Minutes for October 26, 2015 as amended. Lewis seconded.
                                                                        The vote was all yes
There was none.
There were none. 
There was none.
  • Review Request for Easement Adjustment on Granite Street Trail (Action)
Black stated that APRC received a request from Kerry Ken Cairn Landscape Architecture on behalf of the property owner to adjust the easement for 255 Granite Street. The Granite Street easement provides a passageway to access an APRC hiking trail via the property owner’s driveway. The easement, originally recorded in 1999, enables walkers, joggers or hikers to use the driveway and adjacent wooden steps to access the remainder of the trail.
Black explained that changes to the easement would allow for better development of the property and improvements to the walking trail. The homeowners offered to finance associated trail system changes on their property. The proposed location and path alignment would maintain a similar rise in elevation and the new stairway would be upgraded with better materials for longevity.     
Black recommended approval of the amended easement with the following conditions:
  • Access Easement for Maintenance
That APRC be granted permission to use a portion of the driveway as a staging area for materials used in trail maintenance with the understanding that no materials would be stored on site. This will allow Parks staff to ferry the materials by wheelbarrow to the upper trail, bypassing the stairs.
  • Concrete Pattern to Continue on Driveway for Wayfinding
That a concrete pattern would delineate the pedestrian area and continue to define the stairway.
  • Stairway Placement
That the stairs would be aligned to provide visibility at the furthest distance from the driveway, allowing people walking the path to see from the furthest point down.
  • Wayfinding Signage
That APRC would provide (temporary) signage to provide notification about access point changes.
  • Stair Standards for Construction to be Approved by APRC
That APRC would approve the stair risings and runs for ease of use. 
Once approved by the Commission, Ashland City Council would need to review the terms and then adopt and record the easement for the City of Ashland.  
Discussion among Commissioners
Landt expressed appreciation for the thoughtful proposal and the equitable balance between the property owners’ needs and the needs of the community. He applauded the homeowners for their plan and stated that, in his opinion, both parties would benefit from the proposed changes. Landt noted that the new easement would remain in perpetuity.
Motion:  Landt move to approve the easement change as presented by staff. Shaw seconded.
The vote was all yes
  • Annual Presentation on the Parks Integrated Pest Management Policy (Information)
Parks Superintendent Bruce Dickens presented a synopsis of the APRC Integrated Pest Management Program while noting that Ashland’s entire IPM was available on the City of Ashland Website.
According to Oregon statutes, Integrated Pest Management was defined as a coordinated decision-making and action process using the most appropriate pest control methods and strategies in an environmentally sound manner to meet pest management objectives.
Dickens noted that herbicides, pesticides and insecticides would never be eradicated and it might not be prudent to do so. Managing pests and their damage, however, was appropriate. Dickens pointed with pride to the approach used by APRC that eliminated 99% of artificial pesticides while keeping Ashland’s parklands and cityscapes in good order. He noted that Parks staff was committed to being good stewards of the properties they manage while accepting the reality that weeds and pests would always be present no matter how hard volunteers and staff worked. 
 Dickens highlighted two successful areas in Lithia Park, the Upper Duck Pond and the Japanese-style garden. He noted that a large number of volunteers worked at keeping the grounds in top condition primarily by hand-weeding sensitive areas.
Dickens detailed the myriad number of pesticide-free parks and cityscapes. Weed abatement vegetation management methods in Ashland, in order or use, were outlined as:
  1. Mowing & irrigation
  2. Fertilization, aeration, top dressing, reseeding
  3. Mechanical control
  4. Mulching
  5. Geo-textile and barrier fabrics
  6. Labor
  7. Minimal herbicides​
Dickens explained the rationale for each of the uses. He noted that careful landscape planning and design resulted in an increase of desired vegetation and a subsequent reduction in weeds. Any new or refurbished landscapes were designed with weed abatement in mind. All areas were managed with the goal of preventing weeds from going to seed, thereby compounding the amount of effort needed to keep the landscapes neat and clean.
Dickens reported on the number of 2015 volunteer hours to date: 4,800, a number that was consistent with 2014. The number of 2015 work parties had increased over 2014, as approximately 39 were conducted in 2014 while 50 had been held in 2015 to date.
Volunteer Coordinator Lori Ainsworth commented that APRC was grateful that so many groups donated their time to Ashland’s parks – including school groups, service organizations and businesses. She noted the success of the Adopt-A-Park program and the community support received from SOU and the summer Youth Conservation Corps program.
There followed a discussion about the recruitment of volunteers, educational components that enhanced the work of volunteers and other efforts to teach children and adults an appreciation of the natural world.
Dickens reviewed exemptions to the pesticide-free areas, explaining that all three were too problematic to control with manual weeding or posed safety concerns: North entrance medians on Hwy 99, North Mountain Park baseball fields and the Oak Knoll Golf Course. He said broadleaf weeds at the golf course were handpicked whenever possible but the tightness of the grass made manual eradication difficult. A small amount of highly diluted herbicide was therefore used in that area as a preventative measure. 
North entrance medians on Hwy 99 were also discussed. Dickens explained that the narrow medians separating single lanes of traffic on both sides, around which traffic flowed at 45 to 50 miles per hour, proved too dangerous to allow for manual weeding.
The baseball fields at North Mountain Park were also discussed in terms of their exempt status in order to provide a safe playing surface. Weeds in the area tended to develop an underground root mass, creating a situation where they spread exponentially if disturbed.  
Dickens highlighted the ongoing testing of organics for weed abatement. He shared results of some tests conducted, stating that none of the products was completely effective and some resulted in unsatisfactory side effects.
Dickens was appreciative of the dedicated volunteers who assisted with the work of keeping cityscapes and parks neat and orderly. He noted that parks staff alone could not sustain the level of care needed to maintain parklands and cityscapes in Ashland.
In conclusion, Dicken summarized successful approaches for weed abatement in Ashland:     
  • Continue to test alternative methods for weed control and pest reduction.
  • Continue to use volunteers and staff to manually control weeds by hand weeding, mulching and using ground covers.
  • Design parks facilities to allow for the application of strategies for weed abatement.
  • Prevent the spread of invasive species through controls such as the washing of equipment between uses.​
Black expressed appreciation for Ashland’s IPM program. He noted with pride that volunteer efforts are a key component of the Parks system, stating that Ashland’s parks are managed primarily by manual weeding, with few exceptions.    
Black noted that APRC was always looking for alternative ways to reduce weeds and they worked collaboratively with groups such as the Bee City USA Subcommittee and others throughout the Valley. He highlighted collaboration with Pollinator Project of the Rogue Valley in seeking a grant to continue testing alternative methods for weed abatement.
At the Oregon Recreation and Parks Association Conference in early November, staff laid the groundwork for connecting with the Northwest Center for Alternatives for Pesticides (NWCAP) based in Eugene. Black stated that in his opinion, APRC could harvest new ideas that would complement the largely pesticide-free strategies used by APRC. Black also suggested working with NOAH and NWCAP, organizations that were noteworthy for their expertise in environmentally safe practices. He stated that a biologist from NWCAP would be willing to conduct a peer review of Ashland’s IPM plan to ensure that APRC had the best and most up-to-date information.     
Discussion among Commissioners
Shaw commented that a letter was received from Jackson County regarding a concern about the need for controlling noxious weeds like leafy spurge and Japanese knotweed, both located in cooperative weed management areas. He asked whether the letter was just a warning about certain invasive species or whether there was an infestation.      
Dickens noted that the Bear Creek Greenway was heavily infested with the weeds, which are difficult to control because of underground segmented rhizomes. In reply to a question by Shaw, Dickens stated that volunteers attempted to manually weed out infested areas but the results were less than exemplary.
Shaw noted that Jackson County recommended the use of herbicides for controlling noxious weeds.   
Public Comments 
Kristina LeFever of 2359 Blue Sky Lane in Ashland was called forward.

LeFever thanked Superintendent Dickens for his presentation, noting that not all Ashlanders are aware of APRC’s safe practices and the rationale behind APRC’s use of diluted herbicides and pesticides. She said disseminating the information could encourage residents to cut down on their use of dangerous products.
LeFever explained her involvement with Bee City USA and the Rogue Valley Pollinator Project, reiterating that the International Agency for the Research of Cancer recently stated that glyphosates are a probable human carcinogen. In addition she said glyphosates affect the navigational abilities of pollinators, affect the soil and create amenable areas where bad bacteria can grow. LeFever stated that although APRC uses very little of the harmful chemical, it still poses a concern.  
LeFever suggested alternatives such as planting more desirable vegetation and using ground cover, among other strategies. She provided information regarding best practices; for example, some golf courses plant irises in their ponds because the plants clean the water as it runs off. LeFever asked about replacing one weed with other, more desirable vegetation options such as ground cover in tree wells.  
Jim Thompson, PO Box 388 in Talent, was called forward.

Thompson highlighted Ashland’s environmental leadership and asked for permission to borrow APRC’s IPM materials toward the creation of a similar program in Talent.   
Thompson noted a concern about commercial over-spray, stating that it created issues for a number of neighborhoods in Talent. He said regulatory factors were actively overlooked and he asked whether Ashland could provide ideas for managing the situation.   
Gardiner encouraged Thompson to seek further input from Director Black or Parks Superintendent Dickens. Black said Ashland’s IPM materials would be provided to Talent for their IPM program development.
Thompson expressed appreciation for the statement in APRC’s IPM policy:  “…only the safest, lowest toxicity products available will be used.”  
Kindler Stout of 130 Orange Street in Ashland was called forward.

Stout referred to the background that led to the City’s policies regarding pesticide and herbicide use, noting that APRC had made considerable progress in limiting glyphosate. He expressed a concern about the use of poisons on areas of the Central Area Bike Path through Ashland.
  • Unfunded Projects Prioritization
Black reviewed the rationale and progress made toward prioritizing a number of unfunded or underfunded projects. He stated that most of the ten projects had not been through the budget process, while others were not assigned enough money for completion. After much discussion at the November 16 study session, each Commissioner had ranked rhe projects in order of importance, sending in their list of priorities for compilation. The resulting compiled ranking was as follows: 
1.       Helman Elementary School tennis courts
2.       Ashland Creek Park overlook
3.       Ashland Creek Park swing set 
4.       Oak Knoll Golf Course Clubhouse
5.       Second Dog Park
6.       Shade Solution
7.       Bridge B at Ashland Pond (the pedestrian easement alternative)
8.       Bridge A at Ashland Pond (spanning Ashland Creek)
9.       Butler-Perozzi Fountain Repairs
10.     Winburn Way Sidewalk
Black noted that the first eight projects could be fully funded for $260,500 while current funding totaled $240,000. Black recommended approval of the ranking and voiced appreciation for the Commission’s direction about use of the available funding.    
Discussion among Commissioners 
Shaw noted that the estimate for building a second Dog Park off lower Clay Street was originally $250,000. After some discussion, funding was decreased to $110,000 to aid the Winburn Way sidewalk project. The actual cost of the Dog Park project was unknown; therefore, the outcome was uncertain. He indicated that prior to committing to a project budget of $110,000, further discussion was needed.         
Landt said the Winburn Way sidewalk project went through the budget process and was formerly considered a top priority; however, the project was currently last on the list of Commission priorities. The assignment’s revised ranking was reasonable given the Commission’s intention to begin the Lithia Park Master Plan soon. Winburn Way sidewalks would be a logical component of the Lithia Park Master Plan. 
Landt also noted that the second Dog Park – also once a top priority - was now ranked lower. He said the change was reasonable given the number of unknowns in the area that could possibly affect the Dog Park. In his opinion, he said money spent on the Dog Park should be minimal until development plans for the surrounding properties was known.
Repairs for the Butler-Perozzi Fountain were also a high priority at one time, stated Landt, yet its ranking was currently low. He explained that the $70,000 budgeted for the fountain was little more than seed money given the high cost of repairs. He cautioned against depleting the balance and advocated for retaining the dedicated funds as a sign of APRC’s commitment to restoring the fountain, which served as an important symbol of Ashland’s heritage.   
Gardiner responded, noting that the lowered ranking for the second Dog Park was primarily due to the urgent need for repairs at the Clubhouse and tennis courts. Had those two projects not needed immediate attention, the Dog Park would have been listed as a top three priority project.  
Gardiner also noted agreement in prior discussions for completion of several projects based on available funding during the current biennium. Gardiner noted that the shade solution at Ashland Creek Park was a late-to-the-game addition considered at his request. He explained that his goal was to get the most community utilization of the new park. Gardiner compared the project to recent refurbishments of the Daniel Meyer pool bathhouse, improvements that allowed for expanded programs and services. The newly created Ashland Creek Park provided an amenity to be enjoyed, yet it was partially avoided because there were no provisions for shade in the area.            
Lewis observed that the prioritization exercise had been a valuable process that could yield beneficial results. He agreed that while it was unclear whether the $110,000 assigned to create the second Dog Park would be enough, it created a potential for building the facility.    
Lewis agreed that incorporating the Butler-Perozzi Fountain repairs and the Winburn Way sidewalks into a Master Plan for Lithia Park was a sensible plan. He was less sure of the value of setting aside seed money for the fountain but noted that there was a potential for future funding from a land sale that might assist with the funding shortfall. Lewis was appreciative of a second chance to fund a number of projects that would add value to the parks system.  He expressed the hope that a separate process could be instituted to begin to raise funds toward restoration of the Butler-Perozzi Fountain.     
Shaw advocated for beginning the planning process for the Dog Park. He reminded the Commission that a second Dog Park had been promised to the community some time ago. Money had been budgeted and approved for the project and it was time to move forward. He said the existing Dog Park was overcrowded, creating safety concerns. 
There followed general discussion regarding planning for the new Dog Park, the identification of sources of funding for Winburn Way sidewalks, what the source and amount of funds would be for the Butler-Perozzi Fountain and whether both bridges at Ashland Pond should remain on the unfunded list. Black reported on efforts to seek funding for the Winburn Way sidewalks through transportation sources due to the designation of Winburn Way as a public thoroughfare.
Landt spoke in favor of moving $35,000 of available funding to the Fountain project as seed money, thereby leaving one bridge unfunded. Sources of funding for the projected shortfall were also debated.  
Motion: Landt moved to approve the funding as proposed by staff with the exception that only one bridge would be funded and the identified $35,000 for that bridge be moved into the Butler-Perozzi Fountain repair fund.

The motion died for lack of a second.
Gardiner commented that although there was a shortfall of $20,000 in potential funding sources, the timing of the projects was such that lower priority projects such as Bridge B could be funded at a future date. As money became available, the Commission could continue to debate where to apply the funds.  He suggested that the projects could remain on the unfunded list with the understanding that the lower priority items might or might not happen anytime soon. Gardiner proposed retaining the same prioritization order while adjusting known funding accordingly.        
Lewis agreed, noting that the list would include unfunded items. Developing sources of funding was a discussion point, but with only limited funds available, the direction would be to proceed according to ranking. He stated that exploring each Commissioner’s take on the issues had been a valuable exercise. Lewis commented that while the rankings differed somewhat from his personal vote, he was willing to accept the list as presented.   
Motion: Lewis moved to accept the prioritized list as presented.  Landt seconded.
Discussion of Motion
Shaw clarified that all the revenue sources would be combined and distributed in order of priority.  
Gardiner agreed but stated that the first motion was to approve the unfunded list of priorities and a second motion would be needed to provide direction to staff regarding the allocation of funds.  
Motion: Lewis moved to approve the ranking of the unfunded projects list as presented. Landt seconded.

The vote was all yes.
Black called for further direction about the $70,000 currently allocated as seed money for the Butler-Perozzi Fountain. He stated that if money was allocated in priority order without taking into consideration circumstances such as the urgency of repairs for the Golf Course Clubhouse, desirable but non-urgent projects would be funded first. He also cited the second Dog Park as an example of a project that was assigned a lower priority but had funding that was allocated in the budgetary process for 2015 and approved for the current biennium.  
Lewis highlighted the difficulty of attaching precise funding for items that had not been vetted with an accurate accounting of the costs involved. Lewis’s comments led to further discussion focused on ways to account for the unknowns, to balance and allocate available funding, and to designate priorities that would remain unfunded.      
Motion:  Miller moved to use the funding source from the Oak Knoll Clubhouse project, projected to have a $20,000 surplus, to complete priorities one, two, and three, with $20,000 moved from the Butler-Perozzi Fountain category to complete priority number six, with the additional funding allocated accordingly. Lewis seconded.
Discussion of Motion
Black reviewed each line item as follows:
1. Helman Elementary School tennis courts                       $ 12,500
2. Ashland Creek Park overlook                                         $   2,500
3. Ashland Creek Park swing set                                        $   5,500
4. Clubhouse repairs                                                          $ 40,000
5. Lower Clay Street Dog Park                                          $110,000
6. Ashland Creek Park Shade Solution                              $ 20,000
7. Ashland Pond - Bridge B                                               $          0
8. Ashland Pond - Bridge A                                               $          0
9. Butler-Perozzi Fountain                                                 $ 49,500
10. Winburn Way Sidewalks                                              $          0   
Reiterated Motion: Miller moved to use the funding source from the Oak Knoll Clubhouse project, projected to have a $20,000 surplus, to complete priorities one, two, and three, with $20,000 moved from the Butler-Perozzi Fountain category to complete priority number six, with the additional funding allocated accordingly. Lewis seconded.

The vote was all yes.
  • Annual Irrigation Presentation
Bill Miller began his presentation by noting concerns at the beginning of summer as to whether there would be sufficient water available for adequately maintaining Ashland parks and cityscapes. He stated that no valuable vegetation was lost and only trees in outlying areas where there was no irrigation displayed signs of stress.  
Miller detailed the lessons learned from the previous year that assisted staff in managing the 2015 summer season. He stated that the summer was memorable because sensitive areas were more intensively monitored.  Areas where less watering would be tolerated were identified and developed. He noted that some of the older areas in Lithia Park where the trees were used to irrigation needed extra attention. Staff arborist Pete Baughman regularly checked the trees in Lithia Park for signs of stress.             
Miller reported that irrigation for 2015 began earlier in the spring due to a dryer spring and higher temperatures. Volunteers at various community gardens were asking for water in March. Crews were dispatched with a special cart holding water and a list of trees were monitored daily. Weekly hand watering ensured that water was available for plants as needed.
Miller reviewed areas where irrigation was antiquated, further threatening old growth trees that needed specific amounts of water. In other areas, antiquated drip systems were prone to leaks, prompting the development of a call system for faster response – particularly on weekends. Miller was most appreciative of the City of Ashland’s Water Department staff, noting the high level of cooperation. Daily updates of water usage, locations where water was diverted, the condition of the Reeder Reservoir and other pertinent details helped Parks staff make good decisions regarding water use.    
Miller praised the citizens of Ashland for their conservation efforts, noting the vigilance with which the public participated in voluntary curtailment. He presented a graph depicting domestic water use for irrigation. Miller highlighted increased usage over the prior year, noting that several factors contributed to the uptick. An antiquated irrigation system with pump issues at North Mountain Park resulted in three and a half weeks of domestic water use rather than utilizing water from the Bear Creek. A graph illustrated the number of gallons used per million for the years 2013, 2014, and 2015. Highlighting the benchmark of 15 million gallons used in 2014, Miller expressed confidence that keeping the goal at that level was reasonable once the miles of faulty drip irrigation were replaced with more modern technology. Another plan that would help decrease water use was converting a portion of cityscape from lawn to native vegetation. In addition, APRC would cede approximately 100 zones of irrigation servicing the City cemetery to the City of Ashland, decreasing water usage in that area.       
Miller commented that even an updated drip system was unnecessary in areas of parkland where constant watering was not always necessary. He explained that areas of Ashland Creek Park and Scenic Park were using low volume rotors and bubblers in the tree wells rather than drip irrigation, which worked well.
Miller highlighted winter activities such as maintenance of the ice rink, equipment repair and others. Superintendent Dickens outlined additional responsibilities handled by Miller and expressed appreciation for those efforts, including management of the Community Service program, irrigation systems design, pesticide-free parks program, oversight the Parks maintenance staff, building maintenance and collaboration with other City departments.      
There followed a question and answer session. Lewis asked about TID irrigation water and whether there were transition issues because of the limited availability of TID water. Miller replied that TID set target dates for water use, giving Parks staff ample time to switch water sources. Shaw asked about the condition of the Reeder Reservoir. Miller noted that the reservoir was approximately 75% full by summer’s end.        
  • Financing for Garfield Park
Black reported that Ashland City Council approved a bond measure for upgrades to Garfield Park in the amount of $850,000. He stated that APRC had authorized a project budget of $820,000, explaining that the difference was due to an increase in the contingency fund. The contingency amount was originally at 10% to 12 % and was subsequently increased to 17% to create a more comfortable margin. Black noted that APRC could change the bond amount to the originally agreed upon $820,000 if necessary.      
There followed discussion about the timelines to access funding and begin construction. Black noted that preparations for the project could begin immediately. Actual funding would be available by mid-January.  It was agreed by consensus that $850,000 was a suitable bonding amount with the understanding that the increased contingency would not affect the scope of the project.        
  • Nature Center Program
Dials displayed thankyous received from elementary school children and teachers participating in the Nature Center programs. She encouraged those present to visit the Center and observe the program in action.  Black commented that the program was impressive and staff provided exceptional guidance.
  • Ice Rink Opening Celebration
Dials expressed appreciation for Parks staff’s coordination of the Ice Rink opening event and their assistance with setting up. She thanked Dorinda Cottle for promotions and Lori Ainsworth for organizing the many volunteers who helped create a successful event. She reported that approximately 275 people attended the opening ceremony.
Dials emphasized Lonny Flora’s leadership as Ice Rink Manager, noting that he was responsible for managing the rink and training the volunteers. She stated that Flora received a leadership award for
the rink’s line-up of programs. She read her award application aloud:
“Lonny has taken the Rotary Centennial Ice Rink from a good program to an exemplary one. Lonny is an inspiring leader to the staff he hires and trains to run operations programs and customer service at the Ice Rink. He has created a culture that inspires staff to remain positive even under the most stressful circumstances and to be prepared and safe at the same time. Examples of the environment includes programs where employee successes are celebrated. The staff is professional and well trained and they have a voice. They feel empowered to make decisions and are also held accountable for those decisions. The rink programs include a comprehensive youth hockey program as well as a skating education program that encourages beginners.”
  • Miscellaneous
Shaw complimented Parks staff on the opening ceremony for the Japanese-style garden gateway and renovated teahouse. He said the event was positively reported upon in an Ashland Daily Tidings article.
Gardiner announced that there would be no Study Session for the month of December.
Regular Meeting:  December 14, 2015 @ the Parks Office 3:40 S. Pioneer Street, 7:00 p.m.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 9:05 p.m.
Respectfully submitted,
Betsy Manuel, Assistant

The Minutes are not a verbatim record. The narrative has been condensed and paraphrased to reflect the discussions and decisions made. Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission Study Sessions, Special Meetings and Regular Meetings are digitally recorded and available upon request. 

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