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Public meetings on deer problem and railroad property cleanup coming

Issues surrounding encounters with Ashland’s urban deer population and the cleanup of pollutants by the tracks near the Railroad District will get public airings soon, the city announced Tuesday.

Following a recent attack on a homeowner in Ashland by a deer protecting its fawn, city officials are reaching out with an education campaign. A deer summit intended to give the community more information about how the city has responded to deer that are increasingly comfortable in the presence of humans and educate the public about how to deal with them.

The city recently sent out a flyer with utility bills to remind people about the dangers of urban deer. Results of a multi-year deer census conducted in the city will be discussed at the summit. The city will also clarify some of the constraints it faces when managing deer populations. The summit will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23, in the City Council Chambers at ​1175 E. Main St.

The City Council, Mayor John Stromberg announced at Tuesday's meeting, is slated to hear an update regarding Union Pacific’s cleanup plans for hazardous waste on land within the city at its next regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 15. Union Pacific owns more than 20 acres adjacent to the railroad tracks between the Railroad Park and Williamson Way and is in voluntary cleanup status with the Department of Environmental Quality.

Currently, Union Pacific plans only a partial cleanup of the property, approximately 2 acres, and, should the company submit a cleanup plan and request an excavation permit, they would be compliant with DEQ regulations, despite the fact that land-use restrictions would have to be in place after the cleanup.

Stromberg says he does not believe the current approach is in the city’s best interest. In an effort to develop a different approach, the city will provide information regarding the location and configuration of the Union Pacific property, where pollutants are present on the land, and what would be included in both the full-site cleanup and the partial cleanup currently planned. The city has requested the presence of DEQ representatives at the meeting.

Alec Dickinson is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at AlecAlaska@gmail.com