Letters to the Editor

Grove decision was a betrayal

In an uncanny betrayal of its own citizens, the Ashland City Council recently voted nearly $100,000 toward architectural drawings to turn our community center into a new police station without any public input. That's right. Nada. None. Unbelievable, you say? Irresponsible? Perhaps you can think of a few other choice words.

If you haven't been to the "Grove" lately, there's a large plaque inside with names of hundreds of citizens who cared enough about their community to donate money toward a youth and community center. What does that mean to the council? Apparently nothing. It is a betrayal of all those who donated funds and who use the Grove for various activities and events, and to the memory of Steve Groveman for whom the center was named.

There is plenty of city-owned land around the existing police station to remodel or expand as needed, not to mention the lot right across Mountain Avenue at B Street that once housed a temporary fire station.

With a growing population of seniors and a crowded senior center at Hunter Park, the Grove is a perfect resource for community meetings, classes and events. It's also centrally located in town making access easier (and parking less of a burden) than trying to relocate existing events to Pioneer Hall or other downtown venues.

This letter has an angry tone as that is what I felt as I read about the council's actions last week. I know the individual council members want the best for our city as do the citizens. If we're going to spend money on feasibility studies, let's study the needs for community events, exercise classes, the bike swap, etc., as a whole as well as needs for an updated police station.

Phil Eschtruth Harrison


No alternative to The Grove

It was with concern and sadness that I read about the likely loss of community use of The Grove facility on East Main as the police department makes plans to take over the building.

Although there was apparently a 2010 committee appointed by the Ashland City Council that has made that recommendation, the May 19 Tidings article was the first public announcement of which I was aware.

Lest the council think there were no objections to that plan, I want to make sure that they realize that the dance space in the building is a unique and precious item. To my knowledge there are no other similarly sized dance/exercise spaces in Ashland that offer the same good wooden floor surface, good acoustics, and affordability. I have come to that conclusion after our nonprofit Ashland Folk Music Club searched extensively for a venue for our monthly community contra dances.

When the Ashland School District initiated its policy of requiring a $40-per-hour custodian fee in addition to the rental fee, we were priced out of its facilities. Briscoe School no longer rents its gym. The Community Center on Winburn Way is too small, and the zoning for that building does not permit the taking of admission.

There are a handful of other dance spaces in Ashland that are too small, and a few spaces (such as Pioneer Hall) that don't have appropriate floor surfaces. During the 2009-2010 season we were thus forced out of Ashland to Talent and Medford, but lost many of our Ashland attendees.

This season we have had the pleasure of coming back to Ashland at The Grove for our contra dances, and have been very pleased with the space. Our attendance has increased, and the Ashland Parks and Recreation staff have been a delight with which to work.

I can understand the convenience for the Ashland Police Department taking The Grove, and I understand that the city of Ashland previously purchased the HUD rights to the building that had previously required it to be used in part for low- and moderate-income individuals. However, the building was conceived and built, with many private donations, with the idea of serving the youth of our community.

Our organization is but one of many groups and individuals who currently rent The Grove. Please realize that by taking away the dance space, you are taking away something for which there is no current alternative.

Gordon Enns, treasurer

Ashland Folk Music Club

Please reconsider Grove conversion

Greetings! As an Ashland citizen, I try to keep up with local and civic events as best as I can, but was surprised to hear of the co-opting of The Grove for use by the Police Department.

I am part of the local dance community and appreciate The Grove's merits as a spacious, well-lighted dance floor in a central location and would like continued access. The other building rental options are not sized well for dance classes and dances.

I have also taken other city-administrated classes in the building and have always wondered why it was so underutilized and why the various recreational features were removed. Not everyone can afford to join the YMCA or fitness centers and it is nice to have alternative recreational facilities available for dances, tai chi, parties and such.

It seems that there are so many traditional office spaces available that could meet the needs of the Police Department. Please give this matter a second look and see if we can salvage one of our only sizable civic spaces for citizen use.

Maura Hayes


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