Don't stop half-way at Hawthorne

City officials should approve the entire plan for the park makeover despite cost

After voters turned down a tax levy to build two new swimming pools, Medford officials had to come up with a new plan to revitalize Hawthorne Park. That proposal now carries a higher price tag, but the additional investment is worth it.

The City Council, acting as the Medford Urban Renewal Agency board, will consider the plan in a meeting at 6 tonight. Board members should make every effort to approve the full proposal.

Besides removing the closed and unusable Hawthorne Pool, the plan calls for a dog park, separated into areas for large and small pets; a skate park at the park's northwest corner near the intersection of Jackson Street and Biddle Road; a play area and a spray pad where children can get wet in warm weather; basketball and free play courts; and expanded parking. The plan also includes restoration work along Bear Creek, a creek overlook area, a picnic shelter, new walkways and lighting, and new restrooms.

The latest plan is estimated to cost $1.7 million — more than the $1.5 million base plan that already exceeded the $1 million MURA originally set aside for the park. But officials note that figure represents worst-case scenarios, and the various elements of the plan could end up costing less when bids are submitted.

As municipal improvement projects go, $1.7 million is a relatively small expense, and we think it's warranted.

Without a new pool, a water feature is essential to draw families, as is the proposed skate park — which would be designed with beginning skaters in mind.

On Tuesday night, the Medford Parks and Recreation Commission voted to recommend that the MURA board adopt the full proposal. Commission Chairman Rich Hansen has backed the expanded plans and urged his fellow commissioners to do so as well.

A primary goal of the restoration work has always been to make Hawthorne an attractive destination for families, which would discourage transients from frequenting the park, which has caused problems in the past. If that is still the city's intention, family-friendly features such as the water feature and the skate park are essential.

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