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Agenda & Minutes

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Mayor & Council (View All)

City Council Study Session Agenda & Minutes

Thursday, September 12, 2019

September 12, 2019                                           

6:00 P.M.                                                                               
Prescott Room, Medford Police Station
219 South Ivy Street, Medford, Oregon

The Medford City Council Study Session was called to order at 6:00 p.m. in the Prescott Room of the Medford Police Station on the above date with the following members and staff present:
Mayor Gary Wheeler; Councilmembers Clay Bearnson, Kay Brooks (arrived at 6:11 p.m.) Tim D’Alessandro, Dick Gordon, Alex Poythress, Eric Stark, Kevin Stine, Michael Zarosinski (arrived at 6:07p.m.); City Manager Brian Sjothun, Deputy City Manager Eric Zimmerman, City Attorney Lori Cooper, Deputy City Recorder Winnie Shepard
Councilmembers Tim D’Alessandro and Dick Gordon were absent.
Aquatics/Event Center Options
City Manager Brian Sjothun explained that the City and various local agencies have been working to bring an aquatics/event center to the area for years.  He clarified that the study session wasn’t to determine a design, only to provide a concept. 
Parks, Recreation and Facilities Director Rich Rosenthal introduced Justin Caron, the Principal/Vice President of Aquatics Design Group; David Wilkerson, the Principal of ORW Architecture; and Jeff Bender, the Principal/ Director of Design at ORW Architecture.
In January 2019, Council directed staff to provide event center concepts that emphasized aquatics, as well as the estimated construction costs. 
Mr. Rosenthal outlined many benefits of building an event center, including:  meet the community’s current and future facility needs, stimulate the economy, support healthy activities, offer swim safety programs, provide an area for sporting events, etc.  The proposal complies with the City’s biennial goals, the Leisure Services Plan and the mission of the Parks and Recreation Department.
A December 2018 survey indicated that 83% of people support the construction of a new community aquatics facility, 73% were inclined to vote in favor of a funding mechanism and 60% preferred a utility fee increase over a property tax increase. 
Medford’s only public pool, Jackson, saw more than 14,000 visitors this season.  However it was constructed in 1960 and has had very few upgrades over the years.  The Mr. Rosenthal was hopeful it would open in 2020, but voiced concerns with finding parts and the maintenance expense.
Mr. Rosenthal outlined the proposed center of 163,380 square feet:
  • Built on Wes Howard property
    • 58 acre lot size
    • Convenient location, on the corner of Ross and Rossanley
  • Aquatics area of 72,920 square feet
    • A recreation pool
      • Interactive play structure, lazy river and play features
      • Zero depth entry area
      • Includes three lanes for laps and/or teaching
      • Two stand-alone water slides
    • A 25x33 meter competitive pool
      • 13 lanes, 11 deep water lanes
      • Ideal for swim meets
      • Large enough for water polo
      • Could host regional and/or national aquatic competitions
    • Outdoor splash pad
  • Recreational event center
    • Could hold 364 exhibit stalls
    • Variety of sports activities
    • Open space of nearly twice the size of the Expo’s Compton Arena
      Mr. Rosenthal noted various available properties within Medford, but only one is large enough to accommodate all amenities and the parking area: Howard Memorial Sports Park.  
      Mr. Rosenthal played a 3-D walkthrough of the proposed facility, noting it would take at least two years to build.
      The construction cost for this proposal was approximated at $56 - $60.6 million.  Mr. Rosenthal outlined and compared this expense to the construction expense of other local facilities.  The only closest to this proposal was found in Shoreline, Washington which had an indoor recreation and aquatics facility and cost $88 million to build.
      Research indicated that the City’s cost recovery for the proposed aquatics center would range from 65-105%; the event center would be 100-110%.
      Chief Financial Officer/Deputy City Manager Ryan Martin reviewed the possible funding mechanisms to fund the project:
  • Refund a $6m bond outstanding on the USCCP
  • Increase the transient lodging tax (TLT) from 9% to 11%
  • Expand the current car rental tax to all City rentals; current tax applied to rentals initiated at the airport
  • Increase the Parks fee by $2.40 per month
    Mr. Sjothun explained that the funding for USCCP was received through an increase in the TLT, an additional $2.56 per month on the utility fees, and initiating a car rental tax for rentals initiated at the airport.
    Mr. Martin defined TLT as a tax charged to people who utilize hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, etc.  Councilmember Bearnson noted that increasing the TLT and car rental taxes would not increase taxes for Medford residents.
    Since 2008, USCCP has had an estimated economic impact is more than $100 million.  The potential economic impact of this proposed event center is unknown, as the community has never had a facility of this caliber.  This event center will provide opportunities for activities that Southern Oregon has never offered; the possibilities are endless in an indoor space that large.  Justin Caron, the Principal/Vice President of Aquatics Design Group, explained that their organization researched similar facilities, similar demographics and similar communities. Based on that research, they created some rough estimates for cost recovery percentages. 
    Mr. Rosenthal added that the City could have a higher cost recovery, based on the fees charged to users.  Mr. Sjothun advised that Council could impose an out-of-district fee for non‑Medford residents utilizing the event center.  He also proposed a naming rights agreement, similar to that of USCCP. The funding received pursuant to this agreement could be dedicated for scholarships to ensure that residents of all income levels could visit the event center.
    Council discussed the construction “kit” recommended for the facility’s recreational portion. David Wilkerson, ORW Architecture, outlined the cost benefits of a pre-fabricated metal building. The interior is easily modified.  The exterior could be modified with cosmetic improvements, but they are not designed for major revisions, to keep costs low.  Mr. Wilkerson very roughly estimated $15 a square foot to incorporate acoustic options within the event center, not the entire facility.
    Councilmember Stine believed that the City needs this facility; residents are unable to participate in the activities demanded by citizens. 
    Councilmember Brooks questioned how Council could move forward if the voters rejected paying one-third of construction expense; Mr. Martin estimated that the Parks utility fee could be increased by $1.50 to cover that portion.   Various funding options were reviewed to reduce the cost to Medford residents (TLT, bonds, car rental, etc.).
    Senior Vice President of Travel Medford Eli Matthews opined that local hoteliers would support a TLT increase, as they benefit from the extra room rentals.  He also noted that youth sports are a $15 billion a year industry. 
    Council discussed their support of an event center, but voiced concerns regarding voter approval.  There were no objections to increasing the TLT and car rental taxes, because those impact the tourists.
    Mayor Wheeler confirmed that Council directed staff to move forward; no objections were received. 
    Councilmember Stine recommended the TLT increase to be included on the May ballot.
    Liberty Park Plan
    Principal Planner Carla Paladino outlined the history of the Liberty Park Neighborhood Plan, noting that this study session was to provide revision recommendations to the draft plan and to receive direction from Council. She advised that the plan recognizes the needs and wants of the residents of that area. 
    The City received a grant from the state last year for this project.  A team was created, consisting of the [Liberty Park] Neighborhood Advisory Committee, City of Medford staff and APG and Jacobs Consultants was assembled to work on the Plan.  They determined the following goals:
  • Create a safe neighborhood
  • Minimize crime and impacts of homelessness
  • Enhance places and lives
  • Increase quality and range of housing options
    1. Maintain existing historic housing while increasing the housing options
  • Support and foster local businesses
  • Promote family wages jobs and educational opportunities
  • Make better connections to the greenway, downtown and other areas
Land Use Considerations
  • Seek opportunities for infill and redevelopment
  • Enhance the Bear Creek Greenway and park spaces
  • Create a land use framework
  • Partner with law and code enforcement
    Transportation Projects:
  • Traffic calming – reducing speed, reducing lanes, etc.
  • Greenway connections
  • Lane reconfigurations – lane reductions/configurations on Central and Riverside
  • Sidewalk infill; providing a buffer from traffic
  • Bicycle network; connectivity
  • Bus stop relocations
  • Pedestrian crossings; improve safety
  • Alley improvements
    Ms. Paladino provided the draft plan to Council and requested revisions, suggestions and corrections.
    Council discussed the potential lane reduction on Riverside.  Ms. Paladino advised that through public outreach, approximately 50% of citizens approved the lane reduction. Councilmember Brooks believed that three lanes of traffic in each direction was excessive; there are only four lanes on the freeway.
    Councilmembers agreed that the area’s streetscaping/aesthetics needed improvement.
    Council discussed funding options.  Ms. Paladino advised that the City received funding for study, but not for implementation.  The team did not consider funding options; the grant was limited to the Plan.
    Councilmember Zarosinski questioned whether the Greenway improvements proposed in the Plan were included in the Greenway Master Plan. They were not included in the Greenway plan, but the team did review it.
    Council discussed the significant blight, and chronic nuisance properties in the neighborhood.  Councilmember Brooks noted that the [Liberty Park] Neighborhood Advisory Committee has been discussed blight at length.
    Medford Urban Renewal Director Harry Weiss advised that the Plan is a guiding document for how the City Council and MURA can align services and leverage resources to complete area improvements.  He advised against closing the blighted hotels as people were using them as residences. Although it wasn’t ideal housing, closing them could potentially create homelessness.
    Ms. Paladino clarified that she will bring back the final plan in December and a Council meeting in January.  There were no objections.
    The meeting adjourned at 7:11 p.m.
    Winnie Shepard, CMC
    Deputy City Recorder

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