The Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission Monday agreed to allow a shower and laundry trailer to operate one morning a week at The Grove on East Main Street, pending issuance of a conditional use permit.
The nonprofit Ashland Community Resource Center (ACRC) got donations and a state grant to buy a new $44,000 trailer, mainly to accommodate the homeless, but it is also available for Pacific Crest Trail hikers or anyone else, said ACRC Executive Director Leigh Madsen.
The previous such trailer was put out of commission last fall by a propane gas explosion, which burned Madsen and another worker.
The new 18-foot trailer, considerably more compact than the old trailer, has two showers and three washer-dryers. It would rotate around three spots: the east side of the Grove, the Ashland Emergency Food Bank near the south interchange and the Methodist Church at Laurel and North Main Streets, said Madsen.
The conditional use permit would be for one year. The Planning Department plans meetings soon to evaluate its performance.
It will be overseen by Parks-Rec Superintendent Rachel Dials, who told the Commission she is “conflicted” because of past behavior of the homeless at their cold weather shelter, which is near the Parks and Recreation office. She said they caused problems with smoking, dogs and interrupting classes at the Community Center, some of which had to issue refunds.
Madsen told commissioners that a survey of 150 homeless people here showed that, along with food and shelter, what they need most is a place to shower, go to the bathroom and do laundry.
The parks commission also created an ad hoc committee to oversee planning for a rebuild of the aging Daniel Meyer pool to include an all-weather enclosure. The project is needed because of the loss of Southern Oregon University’s pool and because it’s needed by schools and the community, said Parks & Recreation Director Michael Black in a memo to commissioners.
An appeal to the state legislature for a new pool — and attempts at working with the YMCA — were not successful, so, wrote Black, “Only one option for the future of Daniel Meyer Pool so far has held up to the analysis and is still being evaluated. That option is to rebuild the pool in place and include a seasonal enclosure to allow for year-round use.”
The committee includes two Parks commissioners, Black, the city finance director and eight other members yet to be named. The Parks Commission also approved a 2.8 percent cost of living increase for employees, which, because of savings and open positions, said Black, can be handled within the existing budget, which already anticipated a hike of 2 percent.
John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at email@example.com.