Jackson County will pay $156,000 plus interest to Cascade Christian High School as reimbursement for improvements the school made to Table Rock Park.
The county is poised to regain ownership of the park after a jury ruled earlier this month a deed restriction requiring the land to remain open to the public had been violated.
County commissioners approved the payment at its Tuesday work session. The park is next to the private school on Chevy Way in northeast Medford.
A jury ruled Nov. 8 in Jackson County Circuit Court that the city of Medford, the 7.5-acre park's most recent owner, violated a deed restriction when it granted exclusive access to Cascade Christian for sports activities 65 percent of daylight hours during the school year. County officials claimed the city had blocked the park's entrance when it was supposed to stay open to the public.
"As we approached this trial, we acknowledged Cascade Christian had made improvements and that they should be compensated for that," County Administrator Danny Jordan said.
The county purchased the park property in 1982 using both general funds and federal Land and Water Conservation dollars. Two years later, it transferred the property to the city of Medford with deed restrictions.
The park's main entrance is accessed through Cascade Christian's parking lot.
"Essentially what the verdict did is put the park back into county inventory. The county's responsible for it," Jordan said.
The next steps for the park are not yet known. The county is waiting for a 30-day appeal period to pass before making any plans.
"When judgment is executed, officially it's a public park," Jordan said. "In the county's opinion, it's been a public park the whole time."
County officials said they are still willing to discuss a potential use agreement with Cascade Christian while keeping the property open for public use.
"We haven't really determined what those options would be," Jordan said.
Commissioners directed the county counsel Tuesday to explore whether they could recover the cost of improvements from the city of Medford.
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.