TALENT — Low-cost park upgrades such as benches, bike racks and water fountains are at the top of the Parks Commission's budget wish list for 2013-14.
Parks commissioners identified the small items for existing parks, along with further development of Chuck Roberts Park, as top priorities in the ongoing revision of the city's master plan for parks.
"Through the years, one of the goals of the master plan already in place was to have an adequate number of those basic parks facilities," said commission member Ryan Pederson, who presented the ideas to the City Council in December.
Parks commissioners have yet to adopt the revisions, and Pederson says he expects they will work on the document through 2013.
"We've had some good discussions on what our priorities are," said Pederson, who thinks it could be finished by the end of the year.
Mayor Bill Cecil appointed Darby Stricker, a veteran of city politics, last summer to help the commission revise the master plan. Devised in 2006, parts of the plan have stalled due to a lack of funds.
Each commissioner manned a booth during the September Harvest Festival, where they asked members of the public to complete a survey on parks facilities to help with the revisions. Opinions also were sought through the city website and The Flash city newsletter.
A splash-pad water facility at the 12-acre Chuck Roberts Park was identified as the public's top desire for the second survey in a row, said Pederson.
"We'd like to make that a part of any expansion," said Pederson. Other items identified include a trail in the park and padded material to replace wood chips in the playground area.
Cost of a splash pad would range from $150,000 to $200,000, said City Manager Tom Corrigan.
The commission and city officials haven't overlooked larger improvements while focusing on smaller items. Applications for improvement grants in Chuck Roberts Park have been made to three private foundations, said Corrigan.
The city entered an agreement with Public Affairs Research Consultant Resources of Bend in December 2011. The firm identifies grant opportunities for small communities.
Grants could be used to upgrade bathroom facilities, replace playground equipment and establish a trail.
Chuck Roberts' parking lot will be overhauled this spring under an Oregon Department of Transportation air quality improvement grant announced in 2009. Talent will provide 10 percent of the $347,000 cost to pave and upgrade the lot, which is currently dirt and gravel.
H2 Construction was the apparent low bidder for the work, which is combined with two projects in Central Point, said ODOT spokesman Gary Leaming. A start date has not been set.
Consideration will be given also to near-term improvements and future work at Lynn Newbry Park. In November, City Council approved a no-cost lease of the property from ODOT.
Commissioners are also considering how to proceed with undeveloped parks, including Joseph and Wagner parks along Wagner Creek and 19-acre Suncrest Park, located on the west side of Bear Creek.
"(Suncrest) is something we'd like to develop, but because of significant costs, it's on our longterm development list," said Pederson.
Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.