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Ashland City Council talks trash

Ashland City Council approved a contract Tuesday with Pathway Enterprises Inc. for another year of custodial services — even as councilors debated the ongoing problem of overflowing garbage cans in city parks.

The $435,654.36 contract for 2023 was awarded to Pathway Enterprises partly out of the council’s respect for the organization and partly because the state is forcing the city’s hand.

Public Works Director Scott Fluery said the Oregon Department of Administrative Services has a legal handle on who the city hires for work of this nature.

“When a municipality requires services that can be provided by a qualified rehabilitation facility that’s approved by DAS locally, you are obligated to work with them,” Fleury said.

Pathway, a nonprofit, focuses on connecting adults with disabilities with jobs. Fleury said that by law the city had two choices — renew the contract or hire its own employees. The existing contract was set to expire June 30.

Councilor Gina DuQuenne questioned the contract when there’s a growing garbage problem in the city’s parks.

“Between December and now, I know of three different private citizen groups who have gone and cleaned up Lithia Park and, I think, North Mountain Park,” DuQuenne said.

COVID-19 closures drove down revenue for the Parks Department, forcing the city to contract out garbage services in some of the city’s largest parks rather than hiring its own employees, said Sean Sullivan, business operations manager for the Parks and Recreation Department.

“Right now we’re seeing a big change in this community — with the amount of trash and vandalism that we’re dealing with on a regular basis, and I don’t know what the answer is,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said one of the primary problems was a dumpster near the tennis courts at Hunter Park.

The department removed the dumpster, saying it was a magnet for dressers, mattresses and other items that should have gone to the dump, forcing the Parks Department to haul it away.

Mayor Julie Akins suggested Pathway Enterprises could be invited to come before the council to address issues.

The council approved the contract, with DuQuenne voting no. Councilor Shaun Moran was absent.

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