Parking study nixed

The City Council balked at spending $50,000 on a study of downtown parking issues that would have included recommendations for resolving parking problems.

The money would have come out of $120,000 the city has set aside for parking studies and improvements.

A council majority voted on Tuesday night not to approve spending the $50,000. Instead, they decided to send the parking study issue to the Ashland Transportation Commission for further discussion and review.

Councilor Russ Silbiger said the city has a 2001 traffic study that provides information that could be used.

Councilor Carol Voisin said the city is already undertaking a transportation plan, while Councilor Eric Navickas said he didn't want a parking study that looks at parking in isolation from other issues, such as mass transit.

"I don't think it's appropriate to allocate money for that without looking at the whole situation," he said.

Ashland Finance Director Lee Tuneberg said he would have liked to have the study results because the city is being asked to make decisions about parking without adequate data.

For example, the cost for running equipment in the city's Hargadine Street parking garage is going up, but the city is unsure how much to raise parking fees because it doesn't have details about the parking situation elsewhere, he said.

The city also traded a 13-space parking lot on Lithia Way to help finance an affordable housing project on Clay Street.

"The input from the community was that that would further harm our parking problem we already have," Tuneberg said.

Councilors Kate Jackson and Greg Lemhouse wanted city staff to bring the issue back to the City Council for more discussion, and voted against the motion that sent the issue to the Transportation Commission.

"I see this as a step along the way for the planning we do for downtown," Jackson said, adding that the city can't wait to amass a huge amount of money for a downtown plan.

A proposal to create a comprehensive but costly downtown plan was scrapped a few years ago.

In other business

Among other steps taken Tuesday night, the council:

  • authorized the city administrator to send a letter to Ashland Community Hospital — which was once run by the city — that waives the city's right to resume hospital operations;
  • ratified the city administrator's decision to end mandatory water curtailment in Ashland because of the return of fall rain;
  • adopted guidelines for items on public sidewalks;
  • heard a report from Ashland Fire & Rescue Chief John Karns about how the city handled the Siskiyou Fire in September;
  • approved Mayor John Stromberg's appointments to the new Economic Development Strategy Policy Group and Technical Advisory Committee;
  • approved a requirement that commercial vehicles and school buses carry chains in town when chains are required on Interstate 5 to go over the Siskiyou pass;
  • and ran out of time to consider whether to direct city staff to prepare a grant application for up to $1 million to help fund road construction on the undeveloped Croman Mill site. Regular council meetings start at 7 p.m. and they must stop at 10:30 p.m.

Staff writer Vickie Aldous can be reached at 479-8199 or

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