Agendas and Minutes

Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission (View All)

Parks Commission Study Session

Monday, March 21, 2016

City of Ashland
March 21, 2016

Present: Commissioners Gardiner, Landt, Lewis, Miller, Shaw; Director Black; Superintendents Dials and Dickens; Administrative Supervisor Dyssegard and Assistant Manuel

Absent:  City Council Liaison, Mayor Stromberg

Also Present:  Jason Minica, Parks Project Manager; Laura Harvey, Golf Course Superintendent; Betsy Harshman, Administrative Assistant

Gardiner called the Study Session to order at 7:00 pm at The Grove, 1195 E. Main Street.

Ms. Kristina Lefever, 2359 Blue Sky Lane was called forward.
Lefever thanked the Commission for their support of the conference entitled Pesticides, People, Pollinators, and the Planet. The event was scheduled to begin on Friday, April 15, 2016, at the SOU Stevenson Union with a happy hour spanning 5-7:00 p.m. The conference would include workshops and presentations by experts in the field from 8:00 am to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 16, 2016. The guest of honor was reported as Ms. Phyllis Stiles, Executive Director for National Bee City USA.
  • New Staff Member
Director Black introduced newly hired Betsy Harshman, formerly with City of shland Public Works. Black explained that Betsy would join APRC as an administrative assistant and would focus on procurements, contracts and assistance with budget tracking.
By consensus, Gardiner adjourned into executive session at 7:10 p.m. for legal counsel pursuant to ORS 192.660 (2)(h) and (2)(e)
Gardiner adjourned out of executive session and into the regularly scheduled Study Session at 7:36 pm.
Black said the Real Estate Subcommittee earlier met to discuss the lower Clay Street property, adjacent to the YMCA Park, as a potential second dog park for Ashland. The subcommittee’s recommendation was to discuss the property with the full Commission.
Black presented two concept plan options. He said choosing one of the two options would assist staff in determining a potential path forward, including cost estimates.

Option One
Option One includes one full-sized (60’ X 110’) soccer field and a smaller field adjacent to it. A trail is planned that will lead to the nearby YMCA Park.   
Black explained that the concept plan encompasses the entire property, not just the portion set aside for the dog park; hence the varied uses outlined in Option One. He outlined the need for a drainage infrastructure, a small dog park and a larger one in addition to the soccer fields. Access points were mapped as was off-street parking areas. Miscellaneous other uses, both actual and conceptualized, were depicted in an overlay of the property and its surrounds.

Option Two
Black said the subcommittee walked the property and discussed a potential plan to incorporate two full-sized soccer fields. Option Two would significantly decrease the square footage and footprint of the dog park to allow for two full-sized soccer fields.

Discussion among Commissioners
Landt detailed the lessons learned from designing and constructing North Mountain Park. In his opinion, the potential Clay Street dog park was analogous to the NMP project in terms of myriad uses planned for both properties. In the case of North Mountain Park, two premier baseball fields had competed for space with the planned Nature Center, which was designed to showcase natural elements. As a result, the two fields were not able to operate concurrently. Landt suggested giving extra care to ensuring sufficient space for all uses.
Landt commented that the Clay Street property was originally purchased for additional soccer fields at the YMCA Park; however, as the needs of the community changed, a second dog park became a higher priority. He recommended careful planning with adequate public input to allow for stakeholder involvement. He said the design process should be painstaking and based upon the highest use of the property.  
There followed discussion about the best way to engage stakeholders, design Options One and Two, budget preparation for the project, possible timelines and next steps. Black said the design featured in Option One would create a large dog park and an adjacent one for small dogs. He recommended Option One rather than Option Two.      
Miller inquired about access to the soccer fields, pointing to the desirability of direct access. Black replied that an access point could be added.     
In response to questions from Lewis, Black noted that the property sloped and would have to be re-graded. Managing water runoff for the park could be accomplished with a bio-swale drainage area. He said the more uses of the land, the greater the water runoff.    
On-street parking was discussed, with approximately fifteen parking stalls planned to accommodate dog park users. Black stated that he did not anticipate any additional parking requirements as a condition for development. In response to a question by Gardiner, Black noted that Options One and Two depicted parking in different locations along Engle Street. He explained that moving the parking area in Option Two was necessary because of constraints that might cause a bottleneck in the area. Covered seating, provisions for water and other details were debated.     
Black asked for direction for move forward. Once there was a consensus regarding the preferred option, a budget estimate could be prepared. Black proposed a process similar to that employed for Garfield Park – i.e. advertising for an Open House or Public Hearing as a way to receive public input based upon the preferred concept plan recommended by the Commission. Further discussion focused on the most effective way to obtain public comment.
Landt indicated that creating a budget prior to a definitive design could be construed as putting the horse before the cart. He advocated for more information based on stakeholder input. Shaw commented that input from various stakeholders could result in a deadlock as each group would have its own focus. He highlighted numerous soccer fields within Ashland’s boundaries but only one dog park.
Lewis weighed in regarding the benefits of an Open House. He noted that although a design plan would be presented at such a meeting, the concept could be amended if a better plan became apparent. He stressed the value of public input and buy-in, noting that while it might take more time, it was part of a thoughtful process. While there would be no obligation to alter the plan based on commentary received, it might facilitate a better decision.        
Landt expressed the importance of obtaining supplementary data such as a needs assessment.
Shaw expressed a concern about losing the dog park focus. He emphasized the number of schools that now had usable soccer fields due to APRC maintenance. Miller noted that while there were many soccer fields to choose from in Ashland, there was currently only one dog park.         
Black stated that this first session was to acquaint the Commission with the concept options. If an Open House was the preferred methodology, then he would introduce the session by a reference to the Commission goal to expand dog park access for the community. The pros and cons of holding an Open House were briefly debated, and Black agreed to present additional information gathered from stakeholders at the regularly scheduled business meeting on March 28. He would also provide a process recommendation and possible timeline then.  
Gardiner stated his preference for a speedy resolution to allow for forward momentum. There was a brief conversation about current staff workloads and the length of time required for project completion. Black was careful to note that staffing the project would depend upon current workloads. Project construction was tentatively scheduled to begin in May and continue through September. 
Lewis relayed a cautionary tale that originated because of the development process for North Mountain Park. He said that while the original intent was to create a true sports park, because of compromises for both sports-minded and naturalist individuals, the project outcome included some unintended consequences.  
Golf Course Superintendent Laura Harvey was called forward to speak to the Commission. Dickens noted he would be assisting with the Golf Course Report.
Black introduced her report, noting that due to the quality of golf course infrastructure and some deferred maintenance, a Golf Course Master Plan was advisable. He stated that Ms. Harvey would highlight accomplishments to date as well as current progress made on other Golf Course projects.   

Harvey reviewed a list of repairs and enhancements as follows:

  • Asphalt overlay and crack seal in the parking lot

Harvey noted that the overlay was beginning to buckle.

  • New drainage and Greens replacement on numbers seven, eight and nine

One Green had been completely rebuilt and intermittent work had been completed on others.

  • Driving range netting replacement (three poles along Highway 66)

Harvey said the netting contract was in place and the nets would be installed as soon as weather allowed, with the remaining poles replaced as well.
Dickens emphasized the need to proactively maintain property and equipment prior to its inevitable wear and tear.

  • Purchase of a greens roller

Harvey expressed appreciation for the new equipment, noting that it slowed the deterioration of existing equipment while prolonging the usefulness of each roller. 

  • Portable restroom at driving range

Harvey said the new restroom was a result of customer requests.
Other accomplishment included:

  • Major tree pruning and replacement

  • Rebuilt bridge on the number four green

  • Re-carpeted Clubhouse

  • Rebuilt/Re-sodded Tee numbers two and seven 

  • Leveled out driving range tee

  • Two greens constructed on driving range ​

Harvey listed some of the regular maintenance chores including but not limited to weed and moss control and daily mowing of greens, tees, fairways and roughs. She said tree wells are cleared with a weed eater, bunkers are raked, trash is removed daily, and the driving range is sanded and seeded daily. The tee boxes are sanded and seeded approximately twice a week, cups are changed, hardscape areas are cleared and irrigation is repaired and programmed. 
Also highlighted was ongoing irrigation repair work and the continual need for additional repairs. Harvey explained that a new pump station with more powerful water pressure caused breaks in the old lines. Dickens further explained that it was to be expected when mixing old equipment with new. He stated that replacing the irrigation system was such a large undertaking that it would most likely be completed in sections.      
Harvey presented new permanent signage and a new logo for the Oak Knoll Golf Course. She also shared a wish list of future improvements such as the replacement of all 35 netting poles.       
Minica talked about the Clubhouse repairs and associated cost estimates. Removing all external glulams and constructing new roofing and skylights was estimated at $90,000. Removing the damaged glulams and replacing just the support pillars would cost approximately $60,000 while a hybrid possibility would be $86,400. All three were engineered to accommodate expansion of the Clubhouse as a whole.        
Other wish list options included modernizing the driving range, converting the decomposed granite cart paths with asphalt and a trial run of mobile food venders on site. Harvey stated that greens 1,2,3,4,5 and 6 needed to be rebuilt and re-graded. Dickens noted that the equipment storage area consisted of open bays with no way to secure the area. He stated that enclosing the bays would be desirable. Several other wish list items were also detailed, with the development of a Master Plan the most practical route for addressing needed repairs and anticipated improvements.
Dials conducted a tour of the renovated Grove building, showcasing the new reception area where two employees (Amanda and Sherrill) would conduct their business from starting on Thursday, March 24, 2016. The Grove would be open to the general public from 8:30 am to 5:00 on weekdays. A corner of the reception area was reserved for local maps and other self-serve brochures. 
Dials pointed out the new conference room, noting its intended use for internal meetings and other work. The room would not be available to the public. Blinds for the windows were on order. External banners would notify passersby of the new administrative offices.
Recreation Manager Lonny Flora would have an office, a shared office would accommodate the ice rink and pool managers, and Volunteer Coordinator Lori Ainsworth would also have an office, leaving one empty office that could be used for Parks and Recreation staff needing access to a computer. Remaining space included an office for Superintendent Dials, a staff break room, an IT room, a supply area for shared equipment and a staff restroom.  
Gardiner announced that the topic would be postponed until the business meeting of March 28, 2016. 
Gardiner indicated that the Bee City USA Subcommittee would be making recommendations for changes to the Integrated Pest Management program. The Subcommittee would also request a financial sponsorship for the upcoming Bee City USA Conference.
Gardiner reviewed 2015 Subcommittee assignments. It was agreed that assignments would remain the same in 2016, including for the two external City committees: the Joint Powers Committee and the Forest Lands Committee. It was noted that the JPC meets quarterly with jurisdictions responsible for sections of the Greenway and the Forest Lands Committee includes a voting position held by a Parks Commission member.
Black updated the Commission on an administrative reorganization currently underway. He reviewed staffing changes of the past year that included the addition of two new employees: a Capital Facilities Manager (Jason Minica) and an Administrative Assistant (Betsy Harshman). APRC was formerly divided into three divisions that would be merging into two divisions only. This process necessitated new job descriptions and/or organizational changes as follows:

  • New job descriptions 

Two people currently serving as Park Tech III’s would become Supervisors, reporting to the Parks Superintendent. Bill Miller was the new supervisor of Lithia Park, Western Division and Irrigation and Jeff McFarland was the supervisor of Forestry, Trails and Open Spaces. Arborist Pete Baughman would begin reporting to Jeff McFarland.
Lonny Flora would manage the Golf Clubhouse as part of his Recreation Manager duties. Clubhouse Assistant Haley Jones-Fasnacht would divide her time between the Golf Course in the summer and Ice Rink in the winter. Tom Cronin would begin reporting to Lonny Flora.
Betsy Harshman’s position as Administrative Assistant would focus on procurement, contracts and budget administration. Harshman would work closely with Administrative Supervisor Susan Dyssegard to track and implement recommendations from the APRC Performance Audit.
Jason Minica would be promoted to take on additional responsibilities as a Park Tech III and Project Manager for capital improvements. In addition, he would begin managing facilities and supervising and monitoring the custodial crew, ensuring that facilities were kept in good repair. Procurement processes for repair projects would also become a necessary focus.

  •     Organizational Changes

Black said the reorganization would result in several new direct reports for him: Senior Center Program Manager Chris Dodson; Promotions Coordinator Dorinda Cottle and Capital Facilities Manager Jason Minica.     
In response to a question by Shaw, Black explained that the Executive Administration Group would consist of Parks Superintendent Bruce Dickens, Recreation Superintendent Rachel Dials and Administrative Supervisor Susan Dyssegard. This team would meet weekly to determine directives and discuss current projects and workflow. The Executive Administration Group, along with other newly aligned employees, would support the work of APRC as a whole – not within separated Divisions. Susan Dyssegard would be taking on additional HR work. All three members of the Exec Admin group would continue to report to Director Black.   
Seven positions for park technicians would be shifting areas of responsibility in terms of grounds maintenance. In making the changes, Black and Dickens considered the strengths and areas of expertise prior to re-assignment. Possible additional changes could be expected in the future.         
Dickens would be moving his office from the Parks office to the Golf Course maintenance shop to be closer to his staff. Rachael Dials would have an office at The Grove to be closer to Recreation personnel. Susan would move to an office closer to Black, which would serve as a secondary reception area, with primary reception occurring at the Grove. The partially vacated Parks buildings would be put to use as well, first as an office for Master Planning, supplies and equipment and later re-purposed for other uses. The initial reorganization was expected to be completed by the end of April.           
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 9:10 pm 
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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