July 25, 2019
Medford City Hall, Medford Room
411 W. 8th Street, Medford, Oregon
The Medford City Council Study Session was called to order at 6:00 p.m. in the Medford Room of Medford City Hall on the above date with the following members and staff present:
Mayor Gary Wheeler; Councilmembers Kay Brooks, Tim D’Alessandro, Dick Gordon, Alex Poythress, Eric Stark and Kevin Stine; Acting City Manager Ryan Martin, Deputy City Manager Eric Zimmerman, City Attorney Lori Cooper, Deputy City Recorder Winnie Shepard
Councilmembers Clay Bearnson and Michael Zarosinski were absent.
Bear Creek Greenway Enhancements
Parks, Recreation and Facilities Director Rich Rosenthal suggested allocating the $300,000 budgeted for Bear Creek Greenway improvements as follows: $188,350 toward Greenway lighting along the 17 miles within the City limits, $88,650 toward riparian restoration and blackberry removal, $10,000 for sharps disposal containers and $13,000 for additional trash receptacles.
Council and staff discussed the potential for garbage or other items within the bins. Assistant Director of Parks, Recreation and Facilities Tim Stevens confirmed that garbage and other items might be included in the containers, but the openings are small.
Deputy Chief of Police Scott Clauson noted there are successful programs that use the sharps boxes. Typically areas are treated as a type of amnesty zone, allowing use of the box without fear of crime.
Council discussed the importance of public notice and a potential media campaign promoting the containers to help eliminate needles in public areas. Mayor Wheeler suggested possibly displaying a container in a Council meeting as part of the campaign.
Oregon Stewardship Program Manager Jim Hutchins advised that he has seen a significant decrease in needles along the Greenway. In areas where they would previously find three to 10 needles, now they only find one. His group finds a lot of caps, but no needles.
- Greenway Lighting:
- Would create a 2.5 mile lighted corridor from McAndrews to Barnett Road, when coupled with the existing lighting
- Includes 71 solar powered, 30 watt LED street lights, installed at 120 foot intervals
- Current fixtures have already been retrofitted
- Solar lighting fixtures are less expensive than hardwired
- Riparian Corridor Restoration:
- Additional funding will enhance existing efforts
- Estimates 92 additional acres could be abated in these areas: west of airport near Gilman Road; Midway and Railroad Parks northward; between Jackson and McAndrews; north and south of US Cellular Community Park and South Stage Road near San George Estates
- Most of the work would be completed by contractors, using tractors and equipment
- Sharps containers:
- Purchase of two industrial sharps disposal containers to be placed near Hawthorne and Railroad Parks
- They cost approximately $3,000 each, plus the disposal fees
- Parks Maintenance staff would be emptying these and disposing of the waste; unfortunately Rogue Disposal is not equipped for picking up medical waste containers of this size
- If Council approves this option, staff will create a notification plan and how the public can use these disposal sites
- Parks maintenance employees are already trained in handling medical waste
Councilmember Gordon voiced concerns with staff lifting the increased weight of the trash; increased weight was estimated to be between 20 and 30 pounds. He also questioned whether the trash pick-up plan had been approved by Risk Management; it had not. Councilmember D’Alessandro recommended Risk Management review the pick-up policy/procedure. He also suggested the City consider equipment for picking up these cans in the next biennium.
Councilmember Brooks suggested cameras in areas that are accessible by vehicles to prevent the public from dropping off large items. Councilmember Poythress requested repurposing the 32‑gallon cans for recycling.
Mayor Wheeler confirmed there were no objections to staff moving forward.
Deputy City Manager Eric Zimmerman advised that the downtown parking program was absorbed into the City after Medford’s Urban Renewal Agency disbanded. A Commission was created, but staff was not trained in parking specifics and handles mostly administrative tasks.
Currently, the Municipal Code mandates the Parking Commission will advise the Council on the following matters related to parking: downtown parking policies; plans for management of parking regulations and safety; proper public use of parking; protection of parking structures and lots; grievances, objections and suggestions regarding parking; requests for changes, additions and variances; and manage the short and long-term planning for parking as it relates to revitalization and development.
Currently, the Parking Commission is working on:
- Trash receptacles:
- Use larger trash receptacles along the greenway; from 32-gallon to 55-gallon cans
- Increase the number of receptacles
The on-going challenges include:
- A public survey regarding the current parking system and potential changes
- Addressing security concerns, particularly for students that need to cross the bridge from the parking lot to the schools and for late night after the bars close downtown
- Developing a valet policy
- Working with the student board to assist students in need
The Parking Commission has received suggestions regarding the expansion of the parking district, but Mr. Zimmerman recommended improving the existing system first. He requested direction from Council regarding:
- Identifying parking goals
- Having an adaptive system which reduces reliance on surface lots
- Improving signage and regulations, as street parking can be confusing for people
- The amount of City involvement with downtown parking
- How the Parking Commission could better serve the Council
- Whether the Commission’s service be technical or advisory and noted that current staff has no formal parking education or experience
He recommended nesting the Parking Commission under the Transportation Commission and utilizing the parking fund to hire/contract with a professional to develop and manage a parking program and manage enforcement contracts. Councilmember Poythress and Parking Commission Chair Kristy Painter agreed.
Councilmember D’Alessandro recommended a specific study to provide suggestions for improvement and agreed to housing the Parking Commission under the Transportation Commission. He noted that college students can purchase a bus pass for $12 per term.
Councilmember Stark stated that with his downtown business, his clients often mention the lack of parking, but everyone has different parking needs. He was unsure that a study could answer those questions.
Mayor Wheeler recommended hiring a professional; someone local, with a background in public parking issues that could also serve as a coordinator. He requested replacing the double painted lines in the garages with single lines.
If Council approved moving the Parking Commission under the Transportation Commission, Mr. Zimmerman recommended that CMO staff continue to serve the Parking Commission for a period time, with the goal of administrative duties to be transferred eventually.
Council discussed title of Commission versus Committee. The City’s Boards and Commissions appear to have been named as Commissions or Committees regardless of the duties or responsibilities.
Councilmember Stine suggested that parking management return to MURA. MURA Executive Director Harry Weiss agreed that a collaboration with MURA and parking management would be beneficial. However, currently there is no strategic management plan, strategic operating plan or an organizational structure, because currently the parking strategy and operations are unknown. Mr. Weiss also noted there was a significant amount of work for a consultant to design this system, before allocating funds. He reminded Council that there are many competing needs and MURA assets are limited.
Other Commission Direction
Council discussed the Multicultural Commission:
- There have been a lot of studies, but no changes
- Create an exemption or permit for people living in the downtown area
- The fees are fairly strict
- Parking is completely self-funded
- A portion is used to pay part of an employee in the CMO
- Majority of the fund is used for enforcement
- Approximately $500,000 in contingency
- $48,000 is spent on security; Parking Commission requested an additional $50,000 to fund a daytime presence in the garages
- Parking should be part of wayfinding
Commission does not want to disband. Council discussed a variety of options, including: serving as an ad hoc committee, only meeting when called or their assistance was required, report directly to the Parks and Recreation Commission to receive direction and duties. Mr. Zimmerman suggested expanding the Commission’s scope to include diversity and equality on a broader sense. It could be a “diversity” versus a “cultural” commission; they could address issues like race, sexual orientation, gender, religion, etc. No objections were received to this idea. Councilmember D’Alessandro requested information on what other cities are doing and then outline the Commission duties and/or modify the title.
Deputy City Recorder Winnie Shepard clarified that the Multicultural Commission could modify their meeting date and time independently, they have no Council Liaison and were not a subcommittee of the Parks and Recreation Commission.
Councilmember Brooks will work with the Multicultural Commission Chair and arrange a meeting to discuss.
The meeting adjourned at 7:45 p.m.
Winnie Shepard, CMC
Deputy City Recorder
- It was noted that they have not met for approximately four months due to lack of agenda items and unavailability of members
- Needs Council direction
- Disbanding was discussed during a previous study session, however it was dismissed
- Commission would like to be more involved with the Multicultural Fair; however, the Fair is under the Parks Foundation
- Moving to a quarterly meeting dates might be helpful
- Council previously discussed nesting Multicultural Commission within the Parks and Recreation Commission
- Commission has always had quorum issues
- Questioned the duties assigned in the Code for the Commission