Central Park gates locked on Tuesday morning. KEVIN GOLDY | THE DAILY INDEPENDENT

ASHLAND Central Park is set to reopen on Saturday.

The park will be opened under some guidelines. The gates to the park will remain closed. The park’s common areas such as the playgrounds, athletic courts, library commons, restrooms, ball fields, the cabin and the dog park will remain closed as well. It will be open from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m.

“We can get another place open for our people to enjoy,” said Mayor Steve Gilmore.

City officials ask citizens to respect social distancing guidelines and avoid gathering in groups of 10 or more.

The city also had the first reading of an ordinance that will allow restaurants to have outdoor dining until Sept. 1. The date was originally for July 4, but commissioner Pat Steen asked the commission to consider extending the date.

The ordinance states the city is allowing the use of city right-of-ways for the purpose of outdoor dining or the outdoor display and sale of merchandise.

 “What we are hoping happens is it allows a little more leniency for our restaurants that can go outside,” said Gilmore. “We can stay under the governor’s guidelines and regulations keeping space between (everyone) and people can get out on the sidewalk and space it that way. It’s going to help. If merchants want to put things out in front of their stores to catch the eye as you’re driving by through town or whatever the case may be.”

Commissioner Amanda Clark said she wanted to thank the commission for getting behind the idea and helping the local businesses.

There were two ordinances that died for the lack of a second.

The first was the ordinance that would require property owners to register residential housing units within the city of Ashland. There would be a penalty for the violation of the ordinance. 

The second was the ordinance that would enact regulations to promote the abatement of public nuisance properties. This ordinance would require owners of the properties who have recurring public nuisance activities on their properties to take reasonable actions to abate the misuse of the property.

Gilmore said this was an ordinance the city may look into in the future.

“I think we need more time to look at this,” said Gilmore. “There is a cost factor involved and we don’t need to get into more cost factors right now for sure. This isn’t an appropriate time with all the things we are dealing with.”

The commission voted to table an item from the consent agenda that included increases and benefit reductions for all city employees with the exception of the Ashland Fire Department union employees. This item was mentioned for the first time in the special May 7 meeting.

“We want all the information we can possibly get before making a decision,” said Gilmore.

The item stated the changes were reviewed and recommended by the Insurance Committee for the commission and could save the city approximately $712,526.88.

The item included the following changes:

• For those on an employee-only plan, the health only would increase $10 (from $25 to $35) per paycheck. For health and dental, it would increase $13.78 from $27 to $40.78 per check.

• For those on an employee-plus-one plan, the health only would increase $15 from $50 to $65. The health and dental plan would jump from $54 to $75.54.

• For those on a family health plan, the health only would go from %70 to $90. Health and dental would be $103.72 instead of $75. 

As noted by Clark, insurance plan changes have been under consideration long before the coronavirus-related budget crisis.

The item noted this would include any current employee who was hired prior to March 1, 2018, who has a spouse that waives their employer’s plan and onto the city plan. This will increase from $27 per paycheck to $35.

The item also contained a medical deductible and out-of-pocket increase. Those are as follows:

• The medical deductible would increase from $1,000 to $1,5000 for an individual.

• The medical deductible will increase from $2,000 to $3,000 for a family.

• The maximum out-of-pocket cost would change from $3,000 to $3,500 for an individual.

• The maximum out-of-pocket cost would change from $6,000 to $7,000 for a family.

The change in benefits would also include the cut of the health reimbursement the city provided the workers. This would cease for the calendar year 2021, but all balances would remain available for city employees until they have been used.

The next meeting for the Ashland Board of City Commissioners will be at noon on May 28.

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