The Ashland Plaza was recently transformed into a stark gray morass of pavers and angular concrete ledges. It lacks the historical ambience characteristic of our beautiful city, especially its downtown, and consequently is a blot on the image, perception and experience of Ashland as a beautiful and charming destination. Our goal is to restore the Plaza through public discussions so that it fully reflects Ashland's historic qualities, which are desired by residents, business people, and visitors alike. We want a Citizens' Plaza, not a Council's Plaza!
The public process for the Plaza redesign began in June, 2012 and ended in July, 2012, with council voting on the final concept in August, 2012 mandating that the plaza redesign be completed by the end of March, 2013. Three city commissions were consulted: the Historic Commission, the Tree Commission, & the Public Arts Commission. There was considerable criticism of the design expressed by commissioners that was not taken into consideration or acknowledged as being relevant to the goal of redesigning the Plaza. The Historic Commission actually had an alternative design that never saw the light of day. The process was not open. Councilor Voisin repeatedly asked why a simple refurbishing of the Plaza had turned into a major redesign with little public input. Moreover, she was adamant that the cost of the redesign would greatly exceed the budget allotted for the originally intended refurbishment. The rush to "get this done now" led to a small sub-committee making decisions about charcoal pavers and other details. The result is a barren, gray, and lifeless Plaza, uncharacteristic of Ashland's rich history and tradition, which has left many Ashland residents and business people upset and even disgusted with the result.
We feel a decision of this magnitude should have had much more public discussion, with alternative designs and refurbishment being considered, not just one design being implemented via a process hurriedly overseen by a few public employees.
There was genuine confusion in the Ashland City government about the color of the pavers intended for the Plaza. Various staff and council members have reported to many citizens of Ashland that they thought salmon color pavers were ordered. This was due to the salmon color of the pavers shown on the architect's renderings supplied to the Ashland Council, staff people, and to the general public of Ashland. Everyone but a few thought the salmon color they were seeing online and in print was what was being planned, but "Charcoal Gray" pavers were on the order form to Willamette Graystone, who supplied the pavers. It is known for certain that at least four members of the council were not even told by the sub-committee, or other council members who knew, that gray was the final choice for the pavers! This confusion about the paver color, and the failure to recognize and address it when the pavers arrived, needs to be fully explained by the council.
To see the Architect's salmon paver renderings, please click here.