I read the letter to the editor from J. Elliott entitled "Medford needs vision" (April 19) where he bemoans the citizens of Medford for their lack of vision. That letter brings this dissertation of history and recalls the vision that the citizens of Medford established about 20 years ago.

I read the letter to the editor from J. Elliott entitled "Medford needs vision" (April 19) where he bemoans the citizens of Medford for their lack of vision. That letter brings this dissertation of history and recalls the vision that the citizens of Medford established about 20 years ago.

A committee, the idea of former mayor Lou Hannon and the City Council, was established to look at forming an urban renewal agency, to look at our identity and to establish a vision for Medford. I had the pleasure of serving on this committee with the likes of many visionaries such as Isabel Sickels. A number of hearings and workshops were held with the public to determine the vision of Medford's downtown and the image it creates for all of Medford.

As a part of those meetings, one of the most important goals of the agency was the redevelopment of Bear Creek through Medford as a people-friendly natural environment, with the downtown blended into the surroundings with walkways, overlooks, sidewalk cafes and shops; a natural urban environment to be proud of for generations to come. Our thinking was that nature and urban life can both be enhanced in Medford by a good plan and we could make Bear Creek an asset rather than an eyesore.

Months of public meetings and workshops resulted in the vision plan. It is because of the work of many good citizens that we had a plan and, most importantly, the funding vehicle to make it happen. The public gave us a mandate for this plan by providing overwhelming support and the Medford Urban Renewal Agency was created.

Each of the 20 projects was chosen as an essential part of the vision. Projects such as reducing our parking problem with parking structures and helping the arts with the Craterian Performing Arts Center were completed. Opportunities to capitalize on this without substantially affecting the other projects on the list included our new public library and education quadrant created in partnership with Jackson County, Rogue Community College, Southern Oregon University and MURA.

A number of other elements received only partial funding and therefore had limited success, such as the seismic loan program, the facade grant program, the parks program and, to a lesser degree, putting utilities underground, beautifying alleys and sidewalk/streetscape beautification projects. Two obsolete projects were terminated that allowed us to fund the library and education center.

Many times I was told by MURA Director Don Burt that the good stuff such as Bear Creek enhancement, most alleys, completed bikeways and finished sidewalks would get major funding at the end of the life cycle of the agency, the last five years. All was going according to the plan; we even held the Bear Creek enhancement workshops and created the first action plan for Bear Creek, along with completing alley and pedestrian ways. I am sure Isabel and the other visionaries would be proud of the plan created for the Bear Creek Boardwalk.

Then came The Commons, and in a short period the completed vision was killed by that project. The good stuff such as the Bear Creek Boardwalk, finishing pedestrian-oriented sidewalks and bikeways throughout the downtown, beautified alleys all over, underground utilities and a comprehensive, desirable streetscape system were put on hold. Over 50 percent of those projects and all of the Bear Creek Boardwalk construction had yet to receive funding. MURA stopped all these projects by effectively diverting all the funding to The Commons. This was over objections that many wanted time to consider if this new project was more important than the vision created those years ago. Even the award-winning facade grant program never got a dime after that.

The new project is worthy, but was it worth it to sell our vision? Given the current condition of starting The Commons, why not return to the vision plan and let them form another agency for the new project area?

So we had vision, J. Elliott, it just got tossed aside as less important than the Lithia anchor project. Now the vision is for The Commons and the one we held for so many years is gone — that is, until we give our representatives a reason to change it back and remind them that it is important to have the vision finished as planned.

Scott Henselman, a Medford real estate broker and property manager, is owner of Henselman Realty & Management.