Cycle Oregon grant would pay for bike corral in Jacksonville

If approved, racks near Bella Union would include elements of town's historic character

JACKSONVILLE — A bike corral is being planned in a space that might have held horse-hitching posts in bygone days on California Street, where 1800s buildings line the city's main artery.

Bike enthusiast and Planning Commissioner Nathan Broom secured a $3,500 grant for the city from Cycle Oregon, the annual, weeklong bike tour that has visited Jacksonville three times, once on an overnight stop. He hopes the corral will encourage others to ride.

"I mainly see it as a visibility issue — that you can bike to Jacksonville and do business there," said Broom. "I hope this will be one more reminder that we could have biked there."

If approved, three bike racks will be installed on the northeast corner of the intersection of California and Oregon streets in a no-parking zone in front of Bella Union restaurant.

Jacksonville metal artist Cheryl Garcia already has created a preliminary design for the corral, which she would build. Cedar posts and cross bars would be utilized, but iron bars partially would cover them to prevent vandalism. Metal strapping also would be used.

Before work can begin, the design must be approved by the state's Historic Preservation Office and the city's Historic and Architectural Review Commission.

Approval from the state office is needed because the area where the bike racks are envisioned falls within the town's National Historic Landmark District. Municipal codes require HARC's approval.

Encouragement of additions that are compatible with the historic nature of the area — but that won't be confused as historical artifacts — are encouraged by the Historic Preservation Office, said Garcia.

It's a fine line to walk, she adds.

"What I've heard lately is SHPO wants to make sure that an addition to a town fits into the historic character, although it may not necessarily look historic," said Garcia.

Garcia and Broom are preparing a revised design and other information for the state agency, and they hope to have approval before HARC meets April 24.

Cycle Oregon sometimes makes grants to communities it visits in Oregon, with many targeted toward the smaller towns riders go through. It awards about $100,000 each year.

"It's sort of a destination area for cyclists. They stay in Jacksonville, Medford and Ashland," said Jerry Norquist of Cycle Oregon. "If people are going to ride their bikes, which contribute to the economy, they like to have a place where they can lock up their bikes."

Other local Cycle Oregon grants have gone to the city of Butte Falls, the Butte Falls School District, the city of Ashland and the Bear Creek Greenway.

Each rack in Jacksonville would be 3 feet tall by 28 inches wide. City workers would install them if they are approved.

Oregon's Department of Transportation has approved the installation. California Street is part of state Highway 238.

Other bike-parking racks in the city are located at the library, several blocks from the historic downtown core.

Bella Union management was happy to hear about the racks, said Broom. While riding customers often visit the restaurant, its back patio is not suitable for bikes, he said.

"We aren't removing any parking spaces," said Broom. "We are just reorganizing a little bit of asphalt available to us."

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.


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