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Council to hear Mt. Ashland expansion plan

The Ashland City Council will hear a presentation from the Mt. Ashland Association on plans to carry out a limited expansion of the Mt. Ashland Ski Area this spring and summer.

The presentation will take place during a council meeting that starts at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in the Ashland Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main St.

The association, which runs the nonprofit ski area, plans to widen existing runs by cutting trees, add approximately 101 parking spaces to the existing parking lot, and use excavated material from the parking lot project to re-contour the Sonnet beginner's run to make it less steep.

The estimated start date for the run widening is April 24, according to a letter from the association to the U.S. Forest Service, which has authority over the project.

Trees will be cut and pulled to deck areas over snow to minimize ground disturbance. The felled trees will be trucked away.

The association hopes to start the parking lot project and the re-contouring of the Sonnet run in late August.

In December 2012, association officials estimated the limited expansion work planned for 2013 would cost about $250,000.

That is far less than the estimated $3.5 million cost of carrying out a larger expansion plan approved by the Forest Service that also includes cutting new ski runs and adding chair lifts, buildings and a snow tubing facility.

In other business on Tuesday, the council will:

€¢ decide whether to renew the lease for the downtown Ashland Police Department substation;

€¢ decide whether to give final approval for the addition of a new Transportation System Master Plan to the city's Comprehensive Plan;

€¢ hear an update on the city's Economic Development Strategy;

€¢ hear a proposal to form a committee to research sustainable funding for the Ashland Parks and Recreation Department;

€¢ and decide whether to support the placement of a measure on the May 2014 ballot to ask Jackson County voters to approve a Rogue Valley Heritage District to support historic programs at a cost of 5 cents per $1,000 in assessed property value.

For a complete list of agenda items and for details on each item, visit www.ashland.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=15427.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.