By David Runkel


Solar Panels on New Water Plant? Maybe Not


One way to cut costs of the proposed new water treatment plant is to drop the idea of installing solar panels on it, saving $1.5 million to $2 million.


This idea was floated last week by a city councilor during the discussion on the proposed 77 percent increase in water rates over the next five years to pay for the new plant, now estimated to cost between $55 million and $70 million.


What councilor made the suggestion?  The most unlikely one!  Eric Hansen who knows something about solar.  He’s the owner and chief executive officer of True South Solar.  Solar “is something that could be added later” if a grant to pay for it is obtained, he said.


Putting solar on the plant was added to the project at the initiative of Mayor Tonya Graham.  Skeptics of the idea contend solar would never be economical, that the panels would not produce sufficient energy savings to recoup cost.


The high range $70 million plant construction cost is twice the estimate made two years ago when Council agreed to reduce the capacity of a new plant to below that of the current facility in order to cut costs.


Updating the current plant  instead of building a new one was proposed by Councilor Gina DuQuenne, who said she would not vote for any rate increase over two percent.


The big water rate boost is not the only utility charge increase likely in the near future, Public Works Director Scott Fleury told Council.  Upcoming will be wastewater and electric increases.


Housing and Human Services Advisory Committee’s Expanded Role


After Council last week approved first reading of the new camping law on a split vote,  Councilor Paula Hyatt got unanimous support for putting the Housing and Human Services Advisory Committee in charge of planning for how the city deals with the homeless.


While the word homeless does not currently appear in the list of nine “powers and duties” of the 11-member committee, it is charged with monitoring and assessing “the continuum of housing and human services needs of the community” and to “advise the City Council regarding policy and funding strategies related” to these needs.


Its second role is “to consider the feasibility of and advise the city Council on programs that assist in addressing the unmet utility, medical, transportation and food needs of seniors, children and families in Ashland and other related human services programs.”


Community activist Echo Fields is the committee’s chair and Crystal Munoz and Kathy Kali serve as vice chairs.  Other members are Alan Ackroyd, Brittney Bass, Jason Mendoza, Deborah Price, and Rich Rhode.  Councilor Bob Kaplan is the Council’s liaison.  Reese Rosenberg is the Southern Oregon University liaison, while Linda Reid is the city staff liaison. One position is vacant. The commission is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Thursday night for “goal setting.”


Outdoor Pool Open To Some 


With a new liner, the Daniel Meyer pool in Hunter Park is open for master swimmers and Ashland and Phoenix HIgh School swim teams.  It won’t open to the general public for another six months.


One reason:  Water temperature last Wednesday morning was a cool 61 degrees, Deputy Parks Director Rachel Dials told the Parks Commission last week. 


The pool liner project,  expected to extend the life of the 40-year-old pool for another five years, cost $61,000, nearly $40,000 below earlier estimates.  


Excellent Year for the Parks Foundation


While the Parks Foundation will not meet its $800,000 year-end goal to rehab Lithia Park’s Butler-Perozzi fountain, foundation chair Mike Gardner said “it’s been an excellent year” in assisting the city’s parks and recreation programs with “millions of dollars.”


So far 206 donors have pledged $550,000 for the fountain project, which includes $200,000 for ongoing maintenance of the historic structure, Gardner told the Parks Commission last week.


The foundation’s role is to raise money to support the city’s parks and recreation programs.  Established in 1995, it accepts tax-deductible contributions that support the 18 Parks and 800 acres of land and trails within Ashland, including Lithia Park and North Mountain Park. APF also provides financial support for programs and projects of the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission.  The new Japanese Garden was the foundation’s biggest contribution, made possible by Jeff Mangin, the foundation’s secretary,  and the Marechal family of Normandy, France.

Other foundation members are Donna Rhee, vice president; Michael Murray, treasurer;  Mark Knox, Nan Kane and Sean Sullivan.  The parks commission is represented by Jim Lewis.

The Butler-Perozzi Fountain was given to the City of Ashland by Gwin S. Butler and Domingo Perozzi in 1916. Sculpted in Italy, the fountain is situated on a dedicated terrace near the sycamore grove across from the Butler Memorial Bandshell.
Butler and Perozzi found the marble fountain at the 1915 San Francisco Panama-Pacific International Exhibition in San Francisco and purchased it for $3,000. A separate concrete foundation was built to house it, along with the stone staircase with easy access to Granite Street.

Over the years, the fountain was obscured by overgrowth and the sculpture was deteriorating. In 1987, Ashland sculptor Jeffrey Bernard, who had studied in Italy, was retained to restore the pedestal and statue. 

He refurbished the original four gargoyles and foliage on the lower bowl of the fountain and created bronze replicas of the cupid and water-spouting swan.  The entire plumbing system, however, is now in need of repair and modernization, as do the concrete structures that surround the fountain. Restoration contributions can be made by going to the Parks Foundation website, ashlandparksfoundation.org.


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