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MailTribune.com
  • Fighting Back in Union Park

    City officials, police hope improvements will help deter illegal activities at site known for disturbances
  • Troubled Union Park in west Medford — sometimes referred to as "drug park" — is set for a makeover this fall as city officials search for ways to discourage criminal activity.
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  • Troubled Union Park in west Medford — sometimes referred to as "drug park" — is set for a makeover this fall as city officials search for ways to discourage criminal activity.
    A community garden, night lighting, pathway improvements and more playground equipment should help make the park more family-friendly and less intimidating, officials say.
    The improvements will be made thanks to a $162,000 community development grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
    "It's about time," said Cody Groves, an 18-year-old who hangs out at the park. "I'm surprised they want to do stuff with this park."
    Groves said he thought the city had forgotten about the 1.38-acre park at 501 Plum St., east of Columbus Avenue.
    "Everyone knows this is the park where bad stuff happens," he said.
    The park is in a neighborhood that has seen its share of high-profile crimes this year, including two stabbings and three drive-by shootings.
    Groves said that despite the problems in the park, families still use it. He said the feature he would like to see the most is a new playground.
    The renovations, planned by Medford Parks and Recreation, are also welcomed by Medford police, who vigorously patrol the neighborhood.
    "I'm encouraged that there are improvements on the horizon," Deputy police Chief Tim Doney said.
    He said he was chasing a suspect wanted for a parole violation through the park Thursday. After the suspect was arrested, a resident approached Doney, thanking him for the police presence.
    Doney said residents want a safe park, and the improvements planned will encourage more family-friendly activities.
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