Ashland Parks & Recreation Explore Ice Rink & Japanese Gardens Access Overhauls

ASHLAND, Ore. — At a special meeting on Wednesday, the Ashland Parks & Recreation Commission (APRC) discussed the aging Ashland ice rink, limitations on ADA parking at Lithia Park on Winburn Way at the Japanese Gardens, and other miscellaneous items on the agenda where costs will have to be incurred.


Aging Ashland Ice Rink Infrastructure Needs To Be Replaced

To avoid a total shutdown next season, numerous elements of the aging infrastructure of the Ashland Rotary Centennial Ice Rink must be replaced, or costly repairs effected, according to Ashland Parks & Recreation Manager, Lonny Flora. The items that need attention are:

  • Large Canopy: Erected in 2013 to protect the ice and skaters from weather fluctuations, the canopy is dismantled at the end of every season and put up again before the next season because of the Ashland Municipal Code. A sizable budget commitment of about $50,000 was suggested to cover wear and tear in the fabric covering, compared to the estimated $63,000 to replace it. Flora said, “It’s just not working anymore, it wasn’t designed to be a temporary structure that goes up and down every year.”
  • Trailer that shelters ice rink staff and equipment: The trailer and the aging supply of rental skates need repair. Staff spend more time sharpening the blades and trying to prevent laces from breaking, as the skates get older.
  • Chiller for the rink: Almost as old as the rink itself, the 1996 machine is struggling. And is at risk of complete failure.
  • Portable toilets: Subject to vandalism,  additional expenses in repairs are expected.
  • The Zamboni: Stored at the Lithia Park shop, the machine needs hot water to create ice, but the closest source is the city’s building at 51 Winburn Way. Staff have to drive the Zamboni up and down Winburn Way which is not ideal.


Leslie Eldridge, the Interim Parks and Recreation Director, said there has been discussion of finding a way to create a permanent rink structure that can offer year-round recreation, like roller skating rinks. Commissioner Justin Adams suggested it they talk to friends at the Rotary Club who had put their name on the rink, to see what support could be available.

Keeping the ice protected as the weather during the operating season of Thanksgiving to President’s Day gets more unpredictable every year means more open days and revenue. A single day’s closure could see $3,000 to 4,000 of revenue lost. Commissioners have directed staff to develop plans with a budget to revitalize the ice rink.


New ADA Parking Area At Japanese Garden Gets The Green Light

Plans for plans for parking compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in a space adjacent to the Ashland Japanese Garden were unanimously approved by commissioners. The parking will be across from the pickleball courts and next to the volleyball courts on Winburn Way.

This comes as high numbers of people with limited mobility seeking better access to the park were noted. Funding for the project has been potentially identified in the Parks Capital Improvement Projects master plan. The importance of expanding sidewalks for pedestrian and multi-modal transportation safety on Winburn Way was also part of the discussion.

There has been over a decade of conversation and planning about making Winburn Way better for multi-modal transportation, especially for those walking dogs.  Commissioner Stefani Seffinger said, “It’s dangerous, and it shouldn’t be.”


Ongoing APRC Projects

Other APRC business included:

  • Session one lessons at Daniel Meyer Pool which are now 90% full. The park’s new SmartRec system. Can be used to book one of the remaining spaces.
  • Temp employee Cheryl DeSaram will be available at the Ashland Senior Center for a time to help seniors struggling with online bill pay for city utilities from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays at the center.
  • A new smart irrigation system using weather forecasting and other tools to better monitor and conserve water is being installed in Ashland’s parks. In phase two this year, Garfield, Glenwood, Triangle, Railroad, Clay Street, and Calle Guanajuato parks will get the new system.


APRC commissioners can be sent comments via the contact form on the city of Ashland website.

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