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Public art, wildfire commission and more on Ashland City Council agenda

Jamie Lusch / Mail TribuneFlags are on display at the City of Ashland Council Chambers building.

Ashland City Council will consider several issues Tuesday night critical to the city’s culture, health and safety.

The Wildfire Safety Commission will present its annual report detailing initiatives and projects undertaken by the commission over the past year. The group is one of several city commissions slated to undergo structural changes in a bid to free up staff time under a plan proposed by City Manager Joe Lessard.

According to meeting materials, councilors will vote on a resolution establishing structural and procedural changes for how commissions will function, what their duties will be and their varying degrees of involvement with City Council. The current resolution is a revised version of Lessard’s original proposal, including updates from community and council members.

Councilors also are scheduled to vote on a public sculpture called “Ancestor’s Future: Crystallizing Our Call,” slated for Ashland Creek Park.

The piece has stirred controversy on social media, while some councilors and past and present members of the Public Arts Commission have questioned the approval process for the statue.

The piece has been expected since the “Say Their Names” T-shirt memorial in Railroad Park was vandalized in 2020. Community members connected to “Say Their Names” approached city staff seeking a permanent piece of public art to memorialize Black lives. The art has already been approved by the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission and the Public Arts Commission. Now council will vote on whether to approve it.

Councilors also are slated to vote on the adoption of a new master plan for the TAP (Talent, Ashland, Phoenix) intertie water system, a plan intended to improve access and sharing of water resources in anticipation of future drought in the valley. Talent and Phoenix have already adopted the plan.

Mayor Julie Akins’ appointments of Echo Fields and Rich Rohde to the Housing and Human Services Commission will be up for approval from council Tuesday.

Fields has a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Oregon. Fields has taught classes on social policy and has served on the commission the past three years.

Rohde is a retired community organizer, founder of RV Community Development Corp., a board member of the Oregon Fair Housing Council, a member of the Jackson Care Connect Community Advising Committee and Unite Oregon Action, according to applications for both candidates submitted with meeting materials.

The council also is expected to vote on a master plan for the city’s sewer collection and stormwater systems.

Also, 145 liquor licenses are up for renewal for businesses and restaurants throughout the city; the restaurant Sammich will have its application reviewed for the first time.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Morgan Rothborne at mrothborne@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4487. Follow her on Twitter @MRothborne.