Agendas and Minutes

Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission (View All)

Parks Commission Regular Meeting

Monday, November 28, 2016

City of Ashland
Regular Meeting 
November 28, 2016

Present:  Commissioners Gardiner, Landt, Lewis, Shaw; Director Black; Superintendents Dickens and Dials; Executive Assistant Dyssegard; Assistant Manuel
Absent:  Commissioner Miller; City Council Liaison Mayor Stromberg
Chair Gardiner called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. at Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street.
Study Session—October 17, 2016
Landt clarified Paragraph 5, Page 4 under Discussion among Commissioners. The sentence reading “Landt noted that the more functionality built into the infrastructure, the more elements there would be for other uses” was clarified as: “Landt advocated maximizing the number of functions for each element.”
Motion: Landt moved to approve the October 17, 2016, Study Session Minutes as amended. Shaw seconded.

The vote was all yes.

Regular Meeting—October 24, 2016
Motion: Shaw moved to approve the October 24, 2016, Regular Meeting Minutes as presented. Lewis seconded.

The vote was Gardiner, Lewis, Miller and Shaw—yes
Landt abstained as he was not present at the meeting.

There was none.

Gardiner reported that there was one additional item on the agenda. He announced that Parks Superintendent Bruce Dickens would retire effective December 1, 2016. Gardiner presented Dickens with a plaque in appreciation for his service with APRC spanning June 2011 through November 2016. Dickens said he wished his successors the best, adding that he had enjoyed working with APRC staff and crew.
Landt told the story of a recent planting of fig tree cuttings at Ashland Creek Park. He explained that the cuttings had been taken from the mother fig tree at the same park because of a concern that the tree might be damaged while the park was under construction. He stated that he was pleased to participate in the planting with Dickens as it was representative of the great working relationship he had enjoyed with Dickens through the years and symbolic of Dickens’ last contributions. Landt indicated that Dickens would be able to see the results of his work as the trees grew and flourished. 
Shaw spoke about his first recycling project, which came about because of Dickens’ responsiveness to Shaw’s suggestions for recycling, presented at a time when Shaw was merely a citizen rather than a Parks Commissioner. He relayed his appreciation for Dickens’ attention to detail in listening to Shaw’s ideas for recycling and attending to the work of installing recycling baskets (attached to garbage cans) throughout the parks system. Shaw added that Dickens’ receptiveness continued throughout his tenure. He noted that Dickens also responded to ideas for installing trash cans and dog stations along Winburn Way. Shaw stated that those actions contributed to a cleaner and less polluted parkway and they eventually reached other parks and trails throughout Ashland. Shaw relayed that the willingness to be innovative and implement new things was one of the reasons he decided to join the Parks Commission.

Dickens noted the hard work of APRC staff that had allowed for so many accomplishments throughout the years.
Black also expressed appreciation for Dickens’ accomplishments. He said Dickens was leaving a lasting legacy, including his spearheading of a book about the history of Lithia Park, written by John Enders, entitled Lithia Park: The Heart and Soul of Ashland. Black relayed that Dickens would be remembered with each book sold, as his name appeared in the “Acknowledgements” section. He said book revenues would support Lithia Park through the Ashland Parks Foundation, the book’s sponsor.

Dickens said he would ease into retirement and was looking forward to new beginnings wherever they might lead.

There was none.
There was none.
  • Garfield Park Update (Information)
Project Manager Jason Minica noted that Vitus Construction was selected for the Garfield Park project and a timeline for the project had been outlined as follows:
  • January:       Mobilization, Volleyball Court improvements
  • February:      Basketball Court upgrades and improvements, Shelters, Paths and Sidewalk
  • March:          Waterplay Splash Pad and surrounding improvements  
In response to a question from Gardiner, Minica stated that Garfield Park would remain open to the public while under construction. Areas of construction would be staggered so that only a portion of the park would be closed at any time. Repairs and upgrades to the restroom building would require a short-term closure. During that period, porta-potties would be on site for public use. New sidewalks would be installed at the shelters and around the Splash Pad, with other sidewalks repaired.
  • Hunter Park Update (Information)
Minica displayed a photo of the existing playground, stating that it was at the end of its usefulness. He explained that after researching playground options and canvassing the surrounding neighborhood to gather information about preferences, a Playcraft product was selected. Minica said neighbors had advocated for a toddler-appropriate play area.
The Playcraft design was described as having a forest theme. Included would be two bear rockers for toddlers, a simulated forest service truck structure and a large general play structure with slides, walkways and balancing equipment. The play structure would be suitable for children ranging in age from toddler to twelve years. One of the swings would be an infant swing that could be shared by a parent. A “stand and spin” structure would also be included in the new playground.

Two new picnic tables would be added, with one engineered to accept a wheelchair, thereby meeting requirements for ADA (American Disabilities Act) accessibility. The large play structure was also considered ADA-compliant. 

Commissioner Discussion
There followed a brief discussion regarding ADA accessibility and questions about the materials used as flooring for the play area. In response to a question about the surface materials, Minica noted that the playground surface would be covered with wood chips. Black stated that the playground itself was considered ADA accessible in that it would have hard surface access to ramps leading into the playground. The structures themselves would be accessible but not rated as ADA-compliant because of the wood chip surface. Shaw cautioned against promoting the playground as handicapped accessible because of potential difficulties in navigating access to the structures.  

Lewis asked whether Walker School’s playground was ADA-compliant because of the rubber matting surface. Minica said it was.

Shaw asked about possible re-purposing of the old playground equipment. Dickens replied that past efforts to re-use or donate used playground equipment had been denied because older structures were considered a liability. Black added that the City of Ashland’s liability insurance policy did not cover the repurposing of used playground equipment.
  • Fuels Reduction Grant Report (Information)
Jeff McFarland stated that APRC had been awarded a fuels reduction grant sponsored by the 2016 Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB). Three of the main grant partners were the City of Ashland/APRC, Lomakatsi Restoration Project and the Nature Conservancy. He stated that Chris Chambers of Ashland Fire and Rescue collaborated with APRC on the grant and it was through his assistance that the five-year grant was awarded.

Criteria for the award included properties in close proximity to the Ashland Forest Resiliency Project areas. For Ashland, the first phase of the project would include forty-one acres of the Acid Castle Rock Property, twenty-six acres of the Lawrence Property and sixteen acres located within Siskiyou Mountain Park. McFarland explained that the estimated costs per area were $53,950, $38,400 and $12,800, respectively, for a total of $105,150. Of that, APRC would pay 10% or $10,515, with the grant paying for the balance of associated costs with the 90% OWEB cost share.

McFarland noted that most of the acreage selected was in need of fuels reduction, although slopes greater than 65% would be too steep to treat. He stated that the Lawrence Property was very steep so fuels reduction work would be primarily along the ridges. McFarland emphasized the importance of fuels reduction for the Ashland properties because of the proximity to homes and Ashland’s watershed. In addition, the Acid Castle Rock Property was populated with valuable oak woodlands. McFarland stated that the oak woodlands were diminishing and fuels reduction treatments would assist in preserving those important ecosystems.
At Siskiyou Mountain Park, each vegetation zone had been labeled and outlined on a unit map. The underbrush and invasive species such as Scotch Broom would be removed and burned. Once cleared, a ground burn—known as a prescribed burn—would be conducted. Phase I would include units SMP 6 and SMP 2, slated for clearing early in the grant. Since 1992, staged treatments had been conducted with the help of volunteers in an effort to stay ahead of damaging vegetation.

McFarland displayed pictures of the 2009 burn, noting that fuels reduction treatments prepared the land to preserve natural resources and lessen the intensity of a wildfire.

Commissioner Discussion
Shaw said the trail intersecting the Granite Street Trail and Hearts Nature Trail contained hillsides full of debris. McFarland stated that the source of much of the debris was damage caused by a major fire in 1959, which were now full of undergrowth.

Gardiner asked about the timeframe for the work. McFarland noted that an RFP for the contracted work would be advertised in January, with the work possibly beginning in March. He said the window for prescribed burns would span late winter / early spring through May, depending upon the weather.
Gardiner also asked about the availability of funding for future years. McFarland replied that the grant was operative for approximately five years, depending upon the properties identified. He stated that the properties were scored and prioritized based on the need for treatment and other criteria. McFarland indicated that there were additional APRC properties that could qualify for treatment.

Lewis inquired about administration of the grant and McFarland stated that, each year, recipients would need to ensure that the grant funding was reinstated. McFarland noted that there was additional land within the Parks system to include in the prioritization process, an important step in qualifying lands for treatment.     
  • Parks Superintendent
Black announced that McFarland would serve as Interim Parks Superintendent while a search was conducted and a new superintendent hired. Congratulations were given to McFarland.
  • Lithia Park, the Heart and Soul of Ashland by John Enders
Black distributed copies of the John Enders book to the Commissioners. He noted that book edits were completed in-house by Susan Dyssegard and Dorinda Cottle. Black stated that the book and associated publication rights were owned by the Ashland Parks Foundation. Proceeds from book sales would be held by the Foundation for the benefit of the Ashland parks system. 
Landt asked whether the author had donated his time and expertise. Black replied that the project was funded through donations to the Ashland Parks Foundation along with monies set aside for the Lithia Park Master Plan.
  • Calle Policy

Dials reported that the amended Calle Policy would be presented at the APRC Regular Meeting on December 19, 2016. She stated that the amendments were well underway.
Gardiner noted that there would be just one meeting in December, with no Study Session held.

  • Regular Meeting—December 19, 2016 @ Council Chambers 1175 E. Main Street—7:00 p.m.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 7:45 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 and Regular meetings are being digitally recorded and are available upon request. 

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