ashland.news
June 13, 2024

Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission fast tracks hiring process for director position

A photo illustration shows a potential design for a crosswalk on Winburn Way at Ashland Plaza at the north entrance to Lithia Park. These are not crosswalk designs submitted by artists. The painted crosswalk is still in the proposal stage, and these examples show what a painted crosswalk could possibly look like.
March 7, 2024

Also signal approval of public art proposals at entrance to Lithia Park — on condition they have representatives on the selection committee

By Morgan Rothborne, Ashland.news

Ashland Parks & Recreation will have chosen its next director by April, according to a discussion during parks commissioner’s meeting Wednesday night.

“I asked for a quick process because I wanted to settle the question of who’s directing parks as quickly as possible,” Commissioner Jim Bachman said.

Bachman said he asked city of Ashland Human Resources Director Molly Taylor to create a process that would “get us done with the final decision in mid-April.” 

According to the process listed in the meeting materials, the position will be advertised from March 7 to March 28 on the city of Ashland website and government jobs websites. By April 1, applicants will be screened in an executive session and candidate interviews held the following week. The final date to hold the executive session and choose a candidate is still to be determined, Bachman said. 

Commissioners did not discuss the possibility of Interim Director Leslie Eldridge applying for the permanent position. 

Eldridge resigned her position as a commissioner, and went on hiatus from her position as an instructor at Southern Oregon University, after previous director Michael Black’s resignation took effect in July 2023. She became interim director in August 2023. 

The hiring process was unanimously approved . Commissioners also voted unanimously to approve a new job description for the position. 

In other APRC business Wednesday, commissioners set the stage for summer concerts, debated public art installations outside Lithia Park and approved the lease of Calle Guanajuato for 2024. 

A request for exemption from the Butler Bandshell 8 p.m. noise policy for concerts this summer is part of APRC’s ongoing efforts to bring more public events to Ashland’s parks, said Rachel Dials, deputy director of APRC. 

The Ashland Folk Collective will be partnering with APRC to bring live music into the space for two shows for as yet undetermined Monday nights in June and July, said Joan Campbell, a board member with the folk collective. Shows would end at 8:50 p.m., a “hard stop,” time, while decibels would not go beyond 93,  she said. 

Local businesses have already committed $10,000 to make the free concerts a reality, said Eric Herron, co-owner of the soon-to-open Phoenix Phoodery. The noise exemption allows the concerts to take place later in the evening when the weather is cooler, he said. A few food trucks will also operate during the show. 

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the exceptions for the concerts. 

Commissioners considered an additional piece of the Marking Ashland Places public art project. The first iteration of the MAPs project has been installed in Railroad Park, with the intent to eventually install medallions marking Ashland’s history throughout the city’s historic districts. A subsequent installation is intended for Lithia Park — MAPs II — an additional “hub plaque,” and sculpture near the entrance to Lithia Park. 

Referring to the park as the “crown jewel,” of Ashland, Commissioner Rick Landt made a motion to create a public discussion process prior to approving the site for a sculpture installation.

“This is Lithia Park — if it was any other park I would not be asking for this. But it really matters what we do in Lithia Park,” Landt said. 

Commissioner Stefani Seffinger, a liaison with the Public Arts Commission, stated parks commissioners should have “some trust” for the commission. 

On the motion for a public discussion of the potential sculpture, commissioners Bachman, Justin Adams, Jim Lewis, and Landt, voted yes, while Seffinger voted no. All voted unanimously to approve the proposed design for the plaque. 

A photo illustration shows a potential design for a crosswalk on Winburn Way at Ashland Plaza at the north entrance to Lithia Park.

An additional public art installation to function as a crosswalk just before the entrance to Lithia Park was recommended and adopted by the Public Arts Commission and has been approved by the Historic Preservation Commission, said Public Arts Commission Chair Ken Engelund. 

Seffinger stated some Ashland residents have seen the proposed designs and questioned their safety. Engelund responded the idea was created by Public Works director Scott Fleury as an avenue for “traffic calming.” 

“If you want safer streets, paint them. Much research has been done, around the world actually, putting art and decorations in these streets does improve traffic calming,” Engelund said. 

Dials stated the images available for the designs are computer generated and what is installed will confirm to what is legally required. Example artwork was made available in the APRC meeting materials. Parks Commissioners were asked to consider the installations as part of the process rather than responsible for overall approval, she said. 

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the concept and continuation of the process, but voted two to three on an amendment with the condition that an APRC staff member and commissioner would be on the selection committee. Commissioners Backman, Lewis and Landt voted yes while Seffinger and Adams voted no. 

The lease agreement for use of Calle Guanajuato by the Lithia Artisans Market and restaurants was approved for 2024 with a unanimous vote. 

Email Ashland.news reporter Morgan Rothborne at morganr@ashland.news.

March 10: Clarification added that crosswalk designs shown are conceptual only, used to illustrate what artistic crosswalks could look like. They are not proposed designs submitted by artists.

March 11: Corrected to say that historic medallions have been installed in the Railroad District, not yet throughout the city.

A photo illustration shows a potential design for a crosswalk on Winburn Way at the Ashland Community Center at a bridge to Lithia Park.
Picture of Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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