Agendas and Minutes

Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission (View All)

Trail Master Plan Update Committee Meeting

Friday, February 24, 2017

City of Ashland

February 24, 2017


Parks Commissioner: Jim Lewis
Additional Committee Members: Luke Brandy, David Chapman, Torsten Heycke and Stephen Jensen 
City and APRC Staff: GIS Analyst Lea Richards; Forest Resources Division Fire Chief Chris Chambers; City Planner Cory Darrow; APRC Director Michael Black; APRC Interim Parks Superintendent Jeffrey McFarland; APRC Executive Assistant Susan Dyssegard and APRC Minute-taker Betsy Manuel


APRC Commissioner Mike Gardiner; Jim McGinnis


Chapman called the meeting to order at 10:00 a.m. at Ashland Fire Station #1, 455 Siskiyou Boulevard, Ashland, OR.


Chapman added to the New Business Agenda Item a.0 – Process 


Heycke submitted an amendment to the Minutes of January 25, 2017, regarding challenges to obtaining easements. The amendment read: “Heycke spoke about AWTA’s challenging efforts to obtain easements along Bear Creek and the TID.”   
Brandy asked that the Final Discussion, paragraph two (2) include mention of bigger picture regional trails and where they fit into the overall trails system.
Chapman stated that he did not nominate himself as Chair, as was stated in the Minutes, but due to the fact that the record was unclear, his comment would remain an objection rather than an amendment.
Chapman approved the Minutes of January 25, 2017, as amended, by unanimous consent.
There was none.

a.0 Process
Chapman noted that in his experience, updates to an existing document revised the original resulting in the loss of the historic version. He proposed that changes to the original Trail Master Plan be tracked and described in an addendum. Chapman commented that in his opinion, creating a document in that manner would preserve the original for posterity and save time. 
Black stated that typically a Master Plan was not completely rewritten. He noted that in this case the original document was not available; therefore, his preference would be to record changes and update information within an addendum. In response to a question by Heycke, Black indicated that replacement of the entire document would be a different process.  
Jensen replied that substantial addenda could pose difficulties as well. He highlighted the experience of reading a heavily annotated report. Tracking could become arduous as the reader searched for the most current information. He advocated for the insertion of addendum changes into the body of the work.   
Lewis stated that the existing document was comprehensive. He estimated that fewer trails would be added as time went by, intimating that it would remain to be seen whether the number of revisions would be substantial.
Chapman suggested postponement of a decision about the methodology until the scope of the work could be more closely examined.
Jensen stated that he would like to see an after-action report to better track the proposed changes. Brandy agreed, pointing out as an example pages 58-62 of the existing Master Plan where a number of action items were identified. Without an after-action report, there would be no way to determine whether progress had been made or actions completed. He advocated for a more organic reporting process.   
McFarland commented that the action items could be listed with a status notation - i.e. actions that were completed or were in-progress, etc. He noted that the document describes corridors that exist and provides descriptions of challenges the corridors present. He stated that there had been many changes over the past ten years, including additional property acquisitions and easement agreements. McFarland suggested the insertion of a definitive list detailing the changes depending upon the format agreed upon.   
Chapman stated that GIS analyst Richards had questions about the best way to distribute paperwork and maps relating to the updated plan. He indicated that it might be appropriate to create a web presence where all documents related to the Trail Master Plan update were housed. Black offered to create a link on the APRC website.  
Chapman talked about instituting a Subcommittee or two to assist with a more focused look at a particular element. He questioned whether Subcommittee meetings would need to be noticed as a public meeting and whether public meeting rules would apply. Chapman described as an example, capturing changes with maps, an element where accuracy was enhanced by some input as the process unfolded. Richards agreed stating that a “Subcommittee” of two or three could create documents more quickly and with greater accuracy than bringing the process to the entire Committee.      
Black indicated that such an informal group would not be subject to public meeting laws as long as the reports were brought directly to the Trail Master Plan Update Committee.      
a.1  Short Discussion: High-Level Impressions about the 2006 Document
 Heycke described the document as a “bold vision,” stating that he would prefer a more actionable version. He expressed reservations about organizing the manuscript by creek corridors, calling it somewhat unrealistic. Heycke noted difficulties such as trails that are outside of Ashland’s jurisdiction. He named several destinations such as Emigrant Lake, Grizzly Peak, Tolman Creek and Wrights Creek that are primarily outside Ashland’s jurisdiction. He asked about the responsible jurisdictions that could pursue actionable goals in those areas, asking whether the Trails and Open Space Update Committee should plan for those areas when the authority to do so was elsewhere.  
Heycke talked about TID’s lack of flexibility that had been known to limit progress on trails that align with the TID canals. He inquired about how to identify the entity or entities with authority to acquire properties or easements for the development of trails. McFarland noted that APRC had a specific Real Estate Subcommittee focused on property acquisitions.
McFarland explained that the Real Estate Subcommittee worked to acquire properties that would enhance connectivity. He stated that they were also tasked with the development of neighborhood parks and/or open space. Part of the mission was to work with partnerships to accomplish those goals. McFarland highlighted a current project to acquire the Imperatrice property in partnership with the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy. If accomplished, the project would become a regional project with extended connectivity. He stated that it was important to recognize certain connections outside the City’s jurisdiction in the Master Plan.
Heycke stated that he appreciated what APRC did to acquire properties. He inquired about the status of Wrights Creek and Tolman Creek related to connectivity. McFarland replied that APRC had sponsored a discussion about possible Wrights Creek acquisitions but that it was dependent upon the decisions made by private property owners. Black added that once those areas were a part of the Master Plan, there would be additional funding opportunities, such as SDCs that could be used to work toward trails development.
McFarland also noted that each planning action undertaken by the City of Ashland was noticed for APRC consideration. McFarland stated that APRC’s task was to review those actions to determine whether there would be an impact on trails and open space or on proposed trails and open space. In that way, APRC could comment on the action that then became a matter of public record. Theoretically, the commentary must be taken into consideration when finalizing a planning action. In response to a question by Heycke, he stated that the planning notice for agency comments went out in the pre-application stage.
Jensen suggested that the Master Plan could be refined to include more specific language about the planning processes. He quoted page 17 as follows: “Further, the Planning Department will flag relevant components of the planning regulations and permit processes to ensure that trail considerations are given full attention…” Jensen stated that in his opinion, the Master Plan should be specific, so that the process of review was not overlooked and happened in every instance.
Chapman added that the original document alluded to the process in the original Master Plan. He referenced page 19 where there was a notation to determine mechanisms for the planning process.   
Lewis noted that there were some corridors in the list that were currently active, along with others where there had been no activity. He relayed that TID had some key areas in addition to private properties. Lewis stated that this type of process requires long timelines and a look ahead that could certainly be longer than the ten years of the Master Plan. He detailed the piecemeal process as part of the challenge when developing trails. Lewis suggested that /the APRC Real Estate Subcommittee might broaden their mission by including the purchasing of easements to achieve trail connectivity.  
Heycke pointed out areas where different organizations overlap. The Bear Creek Foundation for example was considering an extension of the Greenway to Emigrant Lake. He stated that AWTA (Ashland Woodland and Trails Association) also looked at extending the trail and decided that the project was more appropriate for the Foundation. Black noted that APRC had a similar goal for expansion in that area.
There followed a brief discussion about the roadblocks that prevent trails from achieving a destination – such as Emigrant Lake – and/or increased connectivity. Black indicated that APRC was actively working to extend the Bear Creek Greenway Trail from the Ashland Dog Park to North Mountain Park to Willow Wind School. McFarland commented on a situation whereby a TID corridor in the area had been identified, various property owners had been approached and were willing to grant easements, but the Bureau of Reclamation had blocked the effort.   
Black suggested retaining the big picture overview in the update, with the addition of a component for actionable items with identifiable timeframes. He noted that it was a way to measure progress. Black explained that the big picture was valuable as a tool for alternative types of funding. Heycke agreed, affirming the bold vision, while noting his preference for actionable goals and objectives. Jensen concurred, noting that breaking the vision into smaller components would be helpful. McFarland talked about a short-term and long-term vision to complement with actionable components. Black clarified that there would be one overarching (long-term) vision with short-term actions identified for accomplishment.
Chapman expressed concern about the Wrights Creek development, stating that there was activity in that area that could damage the riparian area and prevent trails from developing. Ashland City Planner Darrow stated that Jackson County would alert the Ashland Planning Department when an applicant submitted plans to develop land that was outside City limits but within the Urban Growth Boundary or in areas identified as “mutual interest” lands. Wrights Creek was such an example. Darrow said that there were systems in place that functioned as a series of checks and balances when developing lands outside City of Ashland’s jurisdiction.     
Heycke questioned the jurisdiction of the Clay Creek and Hamilton Creek corridors, stating that much of the trails in those areas traverse streets. He suggested that the street portions could be called bicycle lanes, and therefore subject to TSP (Transportation Systems Plan) oversite. Black replied that those corridors should be a shared responsibility. He noted that both the TSP and the Trail Master Plan were approved by the Ashland City Council as part of the Comprehensive Plan. Theoretically all plans within the Comprehensive Plan should be taken into consideration. To ensure that end, Black suggested a goal to create more awareness of the synergies between trails and modes of transportation.
Richards proposed a review of the TSP to determine the connections between the TSP and the Trail Master Plan that were already in place. She noted that maps in the TSP were user specific.
Lewis commented that connectivity was the applicable standard whether the trails were within City limits or part of a more comprehensive system continuing outside the City’s boundaries. Black differentiated between trails that are recreational in nature and trails that provide connectivity from one place to another. He reiterated that connectivity elements should be reflected in the TSP as well as the Trail Master Plan because of transportation funding sources. In response to a question by Jensen, Black suggested that references to trails and open space connectivity could be inserted into the TSP.
Chambers recommended synergies with the Ashland Forest Plan and the Ashland Watershed Trails Plan. He advocated for a chapter in the Trail Master Plan depicting connectivity between Federal forestlands and wilderness areas and trails within the City of Ashland. He stated that the resulting network melds the livability of the community with wilderness recreational uses. Chambers talked about access to Hitt Road and its importance in terms of connectivity and the potential for heavy use.
In response to a question by Jensen about the Watershed, Black intimated that the context for transportation connectivity would be trails that take cars off the road. Because of the transportation element, some trails could become eligible for CMAQ (Congestion, Mitigation and Air Quality) funding.  
Chambers noted the value in connections to trails for special events such as mountain bike races. McFarland noted the value in creating a chapter about the trails that interface with the City. He stated that the Trail Master Plan could assist various entities, such as the Real Estate Subcommittee, to consider priorities from the Trail Master Plan. Lewis highlighted the Hitt Road connection as an area that provides access to recreational opportunities that interface with City neighborhoods. He noted other valuable uses in the area such as important staging areas for wildfire safety.    
McFarland agreed that alternative ways of looking at the corridors described in the Trail Master Plan could enhance the connectivity value. New designations in the Plan could be developed and the corridors could be defined as interface connections and regional connections.
The Trail Master Plan Mission and Vision statements were reviewed for prospective changes. In response to a question by Brandy, Chapman explained that the original principles reflected public comments gathered from community workshops. He stated that a series of neighborhood meetings (similar to a road show) had facilitated the input. Chapman noted that the process did not necessarily need to be duplicated for the current update.
Lewis recommended a community meeting prior to final approval by the City Council. Black proposed two public meetings – one early-on to receive input, and one just prior to adoption by the City Council. These meetings would communicate how the public input was utilized and what the resulting plan looked like. Brandy pointed out that the Vision Statement states that the Master Plan “...reflects the tenor of Ashland citizenry” and therefore efforts should be made to include them in the process.  
There followed a brief discussion about making and tracking changes to the original document. Darrow noted a consensus that the Vision Statement would undergo only minor changes. He suggested that each Committee member bring back two bullet-points regarding proposed changes. He stated that the bullet points could then be collectively compared.  

  • Vision Statement:

“A diverse network of trails that connects downtown, schools, neighborhoods, and surrounding areas” 
Jensen questioned the wording of “surrounding areas” - indicating that it could be more specific. Heycke replied that in his opinion, surrounding areas satisfactorily references the Cascades, Emigrant Lake, Grizzly Peak and so on. Lewis agreed, emphasizing future unknown connections.
Chapman invited observer Tim Turk to comment. He noted the important places referenced in the Vision Statement – the downtown, schools and neighborhoods – seemed specific while the statement “surrounding areas” was vague. He stated that local recreation areas such as the Ashland Watershed might be mentioned as well. Black agreed, suggesting that the statement might be refined to include access to recreational opportunities.
Black stated that there were lots of different kinds of trails and each had a purpose and meaning. He advocated for removing the words “surrounding areas” and referencing natural areas instead. He volunteered to work with staff to synthesize the comments into a definitive statement for Committee review.

  • Mission Discussion:

It was agreed that the paragraph that begins with “In addition the committee outlines a twelve-month work plan…” would be stricken from the document as well as the sentence that states “The committee finalized its mission in January 2004.”
The first bullet point under Mission reading “Describe a system of trails for pedestrians and non-motorized vehicles on public lands and privately granted easements” was changed as follows: “Develop and maintain a system of trails for pedestrians and non-motorized vehicles on public lands and privately granted easements.”
No changes were developed for the following bullet points:

  • Increase trail connectivity between Ashland’s neighborhoods and natural areas and varied environments.

  • Increase trail connectivity to surrounding areas.

  • Enhance the quality of life for all residents and visitors in Ashland.

  • Establish appropriate trail standards based on approved uses, site opportunities and constraints.

It was decided that APRC staff would come back with an updated statement for the Mission and Vision based upon the comments discussed by the Trail Master Plan Committee.
Chapman also suggested an addendum that would lay out a final strategic plan in a format with the designations alluded to earlier – i.e. Completed, Ongoing and so on. 
Black noted that once the document was vetted, the updated version would be re-adopted in its entirety. 
Chapman announced that the Agenda for the meeting of March 10, 2017, would include a review of the goals and objectives.
IX.   NEXT MEETING DATE AND LOCATION                                                                                   Chapman confirmed that the next meeting would be held in the Siskiyou Room of the Community Development Building located at 51 Winburn Way on March 10, 2017, from 10:00 - 11:30 a.m.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 11:30 a.m.
Respectfully submitted,
Betsy Manuel, Minute-Taker    
Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission  

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