Council to vote on Plaza redesign

The Ashland City Council will consider whether to approve a modified Plaza redesign plan that includes bench seating, pavers instead of concrete underfoot and the shrinking of one proposed concrete wall.

The council meets at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in the Ashland Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main St.

Ideas to redesign the Plaza have been debated around town since early summer, when city officials tapped the Ashland and Mt. Shasta, Calif.-based firm Covey Pardee Landscape Architects to create a plan to spruce up the Plaza and make it more resilient to wear-and-tear.

Some residents have worried about proposals to remove comfortable but worn wooden benches and replace them with low concrete walls for seating.

The landscape architects have responded with a new design to build bench seating with backs into several sections of the concrete walls. One wall that was especially wide and long would be shrunk in size.

The walls would still serve double duty by protecting trees and landscaping.

Instead of concrete underfoot, pavers could be used.

Plans still call for replacing lawn areas with landscaping plants.

Some residents have said the lawn areas are trampled, with compacted soil that is harming tree roots. Others have said the lawns' condition isn't that bad, and the grass is comfortable and welcoming.

Under the revised plan, several large trees that are suffering would still be replaced over time with tree species more suited to tight urban environments.

The estimated $227,000 cost to carry out the Plaza redesign has been reduced to $170,000. City staff members could carry out some of the work, including concrete demolition, grading and landscape planting, according to a city staff memo to councilors.

Money for the project would come from city lodging tax revenues set aside for downtown improvements and economic development, the memo stated.

In other business Tuesday night, the council will consider whether to approve paying $65,000 and giving city-owned land to a neighbor who's land has been contaminated with lead by the nearby Ashland Gun Club.

James Miller, who is not opposed to gun club operations, is offering to sell his 12 acres of contaminated land to the city of Ashland for the $65,000 plus 3.8 acres of city property not far from his land and the gun club.

Recent soil sampling revealed the majority of Miller's land has been contaminated with lead from years of shotgun firing. Pellets have traveled beyond the gun club property, which is owned by the city of Ashland, and onto Miller's land, according to a city staff memo to councilors.

Councilors also will consider a new downtown Plaza use policy.

Performers would be limited to four performances per month on the Plaza.

They would not be able to perform on the same night of the week within a four week period, unless no one else has booked the Plaza for the desired day.

The performances themselves would be limited to two hours, although extra set up and take-down time would be allowed.

An existing ban on the selling of merchandise on the Plaza would remain in effect.

At the end of the agenda, councilors may reconsider their decision earlier this month to keep restrictions on downtown drive-thru windows in place.

For a complete list of agenda items, visit

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