2022 City Council Questionnaire RVMBA
2022 City Council Questionnaire: Hi RVMBA, thank you for the City Council candidates forum. I’m a RVMBA member and volunteer myself. What is your position on planning and building infrastructure in Ashland, specifically related to outdoor recreation? I'm excited for all the new infrastructure opportunities this council will have the job to weigh in on. It’s the outdoor recreation opportunities for mountain bikers that gets me REALLY excited. I think the City and Parks need to be focusing on our outdoor recreation, and specifically mountain biking. And if I’m elected we’ll have mountain bikers on both the City Council and Parks Commission to do just that! As City Counselor I will: • Recommend Parks adopt the Lithia Park Low Angle Trail & Pioneer St. Bike Promenade • Push the East Main Bike/skills Park to build • Recommend Public Works allow Parks the three gravel pit properties off Glenview (above upper park reservoir) for more parking and a Skills/bike Park and staging area. • Work towards widening bike paths in town • Study / plan safer bike parking around Plaza • Clear a permit path for events in our parks like Bike race celebrations. • Pressure local Forest Service policy to allow Class 1 eBikes. • Put the 1,952 acre “Madrone Ridge Ranch” property on the City’s radar to acquire and develop into a destination multi use trail system. Improving our outdoor recreation infrastructure is going to make living and visiting Ashland better. These improvements will also further develop our tourist economy. And the Ashland Chamber’s recommendation is to strengthen and diversity our economy by investing in mountain biking infrastructure. With OSF cutting performances in 2023 and recovering from COVID losses, do you have any specific ideas related to maintaining and/or increasing tourism revenue in Ashland? Let’s continue to increase our mountain biking tourism! More and more people visit Ashland to ride mountain bikes year around. A study done Fall/Winter 2020-2021 counted 29,737 riders on our 3 most frequented trails. That’s a lot of riders!! And the increase of organized mountain biking racing the last couple of years is notable. For instance; the first weekend in October was the Ashland Mountain Challenge — an event growing the past 10 years drawing hundreds of athletes and their families to Ashland. 95% of racers are from more than 50 miles from Ashland. We know from a 2019 survey that this event draws $175-200k into the city in 3 days. And by my count Ashland is home to 6 mountain bike races this last year. What is your overall impression of mountain biking and hiking in the Ashland Watershed, both in regards to tourism and as a local amenity for residents? I think many of us live in Ashland because of its trails and parks. I meet visitors from mountain biking towns like Bellingham WA and Bend OR are frequenting Ashland more and more with reports that they love it here. Word is spreading Ashland is great place to ride and stay, and from targeted campaigns from Travel Ashland and the Chamber of Commerce. The number of mountain bikers is growing, and growing… And that’s a blessing to our livability and tourist
economy. I also think we need to get ahead of trail expansion and bike-friendly infrastructure before more hiker/biker conflict arises. Ashland’s trails are getting congested, as is town with traffic and bikes. Multi use designations and signs need to be deployed. More trails and multiuse designations will help alleviate congestion and make hikers and bikers feel safer. What do you know about the Ashland Watershed Trail network, specifically city trails and alignments? I know the Ashland watershed trails network intimately, particularly the bike trails, because I ride them multiple times per week, and have for years. Last Saturday, October 1, I raced in the Ashland Mountain Challenge that took us from the top of Mt. Ashland, down through Bull Gap, Missing Links, Jabberwocky, over to the West side’s Hitt Road, and then back up to BTI for the final segment. That race course passes thru USFS land, APRC land and City of Ashland (public works) land. The multi-jurisdictional management needs to be better optimization for recreation and ecological values. For example, the city of Ashland owns Imperatrice property, while APRC has control over the land surrounding the Wastewater Treatment Plant. I would hope that APRC and the City could arrange land swaps and MOUs that allow lands like Imperatrice to be used as trails and open space and the open space around the wastewater treatment plant to be used as a much-needed artificial wetland. USFS, Forest Lands Commission, APRC and City of Ashland need to be more seamlessly connected in order to provide for the needs of riders — like permitting for special events and new trails. I think having mountain bikers on the Parks Commission and City Council will help RVMBA bring all interested parties together to work toward improving alignments. What is your opinion on the Rogue Valley Mountain Bike Association's Sustainable Trails Plan? RVMBA Sustainable Trails Plan is awesome! I’m very grateful for the plan. It got the ball rolling with APRC and motivated them to address mountain bikers concerns in the existing watershed. I think there’s a lot of ready to go projects in there. Ashland will be wise to keep them prioritized and implemented. My wife Brooke’s involvement in the Trails Subcommittee is gaining progress on Wonder bailout trail. She’s hoping that APRC will be able to get a solid process streamlined for proposing new and modified trails. I hope that mountain bike community and RVMBA will continue to work cooperatively with APRC to keep the ball rolling. Also, I’m doing work on trails connectivity in the Open Space group. Its inspiring me to think big… like the 1,952 acre “Madrone Ridge Ranch” property that would connect the West side of the watershed’s No Candies and Hitt Road trials all the way down to Ashland Mine Rd. By the way, I don’t think its in that Trails Plan, but RVMBA’s Mt A Jumpline fundraising is going good and Ashlanders are getting excited. If we’re lucky we’ll be riding that next year, I bet. Amazing, a destination world class pro jump line here in Ashland! That will be a new tourist draw. Thanks RVMBA! What is your position on Ballot Measures 15-210 and 15-211 regarding City of Ashland/Ashland Parks and Recreation structure?
I’m voting No and No. But that will be decided before the new Council. So, if I’m a new Councilor I’ll work with what the voters decide. What is your vision for Ashland? I love Ashland and want to represent you in Council. I feel like it’s a great place to live that’s getting better. I love all the new bike energy in town: more people riding, finding new rides, new businesses, teams, ebikes, races, DEVO, and NICA! The bike community is really helping drive wonderful culture. Let’s keep it going… I envision more of those things we love, in this great town we live in. I also see a lot of work ahead of us keeping up with City of Ashland business. We have a lot of issues, to name a few: • develop a more outdoor recreation economy for local business to thrive; • encourage smart growth and affordable housing for families and the working class; • continue to set the example for community resiliency around emergency preparedness, health, safety, and renewable energy; • foster support, stability, innovation, and gratitude to City offices and operations. I think there will be number of infrastructure projects built in the coming years aimed at increasing our livability and sustainability like freshwater expansion, renewable energy projects, affordable housing, Parks and Recreation projects, trail expansion, bike park development, and more bike friendly infrastructure. I’m eager to see the pool get built. And I also think we should start planning for a larger indoor/outdoor sports facility that all citizens can use year around — especially during extreme heat and smoke events. I vision us building more trails and more people riding bikes in Ashland. I see more mountain biking close to town. And I’m hoping we continue growing into a destination mountain bike town we’re proud of! Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to vote all the way down the ballot to City Council Nov. 8. ~ Eric Ashlanders to Elect Eric Hansen EricInAshland.com 541-842-0020 Thank you!