A publicly accessible feed from security cameras, restoration of a nationally recognized historic landmark in town and a $45,000 contract between the school district and the city were just some of the items discussed at Monday night’s Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission (APRC) meeting.
The skate park in Ashland is in an off-the-beaten track part of town, yet not far from downtown. It attracts a crowd with behavior that can be less than satisfactory for some residents, including occasional vandalism and public intoxication.
One proposed solution is 24-hour surveillance monitoring. But these cameras potentially could be more accessible for more than just the police department. With the unanimous approval of the APRC at Monday night’s meeting, Police Chief Tighe O’Meara said the entire community could have access to those cameras. This was suggested by Director Michael Black at the last discussion.
A big plus to that end is that parents can check on their kids and have some peace of mind, O’Meara said. This would be the first public access security camera in town, if the recording is broadcast for the public. O’Meara said there is a security camera in the Plaza that can be viewed from YouTube, but the camera doesn’t keep record, it simply monitors in real time.
“To generally ensure peace of mind, to the users, the parents of the users, and for the community to know that we, the community, we’re taking the skate park back,” O’Meara said. “The use of the security cameras could be for whatever we want it to be.”
So far this year, the Ashland Police Department (APD) has received 70 requests for service at the skate park, 17 cases were written up, and 18 people have been arrested or cited.
“That’s not particularly up, maybe it’s even a little bit down from last year, but I still think that it shows that there are some significant behavioral problems there,” O’Meara said.
In his presentation to the commission, O’Meara said APD could absorb the cost of the cameras. The initial cost is around $3,000; however, he said he would like to add a second camera which would bring the total cost up to $4,000.
“I think that would give us good coverage and would be a good use as a pilot program,” O’Meara said. “If it’s successful, maybe we could use it as a model for other parts in the city.”
Commissioner Joel Heller asked O’Meara if he’d considered the possibility of vandalism to the cameras. O’Meara said the police department will be prepared to cover the costs of replacements because there is a good chance that it will be vandalized. However, they’ve also considered placing it high on a pole that would be out of reach, but the logistics of that haven’t been confirmed.
“I’m aware these cameras would be targets for vandals,” O’Meara said.
The police department will pay for the installation, maintenance and upkeep of these cameras.
“I can see this application being useful to us in many different ways,” Black said. “And frankly, this would be a great opportunity for us to try it out on someone else’s dime.”
Commissioner Jim Lewis said from his experience of taking his granddaughter to the park that it’s apparent it’s an area with a lot of vandalism.
“A young person could get quite an education down there,” Lewis said.
The program was approved as a two-year pilot program.
School use of fields, courts
The commission also unanimously approved the draft of a Facilities Use Intergovernmental Agreement with the Ashland School District. This agreement is essentially a contract for the school to rent the use of the fields, buildings such as the concessions, storage and batting cages and parking at North Mountain Park as well as the Hunter Park Tennis Courts.
Black said some of these facilities are for the sole purpose of the school district, but there’s never been a formal contract. The contract would cover the cost of maintenance of these facilities. The base payment, agreed upon by both parties, is $45,000, but has the potential to increase with inflation. To keep the numbers fair, APRC is using the same CPI index they use for their COLA. Anything needing maintained that costs more than $500 will be discussed between both parties on how to split the cost.
The contract also allows the school district to be the first to reserve the facilities for the year.
Janet and Scott Fregonese, widow and son of John Fregonese, appeared before the commission to ask for its help in raising funds for the restoration of the Butler-Perozzi Fountain.
John Fregonese was a beloved Ashland city planning director for 13 years who went on to a planning career with statewide, national and even international impact. He died in June.
Janet Fregonese told commissioners about the first night John discovered the fountain disappearing behind thickets of blackberry shrubs and how he dug up the history behind it. Scott spoke about, as he was growing up, he watched the years of work that was put into it both by his father and by sculptor Jeffrey Bernard.
“The restoration of the fountain was his passion,” Janet said of her husband. “John learned that the original marble came from a quarry in Carrara, Italy, and it was still available. And our good friend and neighbor, Jeffrey Bernard, just happened to be a sculptor trained in Italy.”
She said it took many years to raise the funds and complete the project, but on July 4, 1987, the fountain was completed and rededicated.
The fountain was originally sculpted by Antonia Frilli in Florence, Italy. It was showcased at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, was purchased by Gwin S. Butler and Domingo Perozzi, and then donated to Ashland that same year. It is listed in the Ashland Cultural Resource Inventory Survey and in the National Register for Historic Places alongside Lithia Park.
“If we don’t do something about the fountain now, we may lose it,” Scott said.
A foundation was started for the restoration with a goal of reaching half a million dollars. To donate, visit frego.com/perozzi-fountain.