Portal's merit in the eye of the beholder

Restored Greyhound station entrance draws varied opinions
Mason John McElhearn wipes down the green tile portal in The Commons. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell photoBob Pennell

A green-tile "portal" in The Commons in downtown Medford has drawn mixed reviews after workers put the finishing touches on it, with one observer calling it an "eyesore" and another saying it's "awesome."

The portal, which was the former entrance to the Greyhound bus terminal, is next to a new stage in the $14 million downtown redevelopment project known as The Commons.

The former entrance to the Greyhound Bus terminal is almost finished as a second park in The Commons gets closer to completion.

KOGAP Enterprises Inc. of Medford is building the $1.5 million park between Fourth and Fifth streets.

The portal was a source of contention with the Medford City Council and others once it was proposed to be saved as a historical reminder of the area's past. It continues to have its critics.

"Those tiles are kind of an eyesore," said Adrienne Weiss, a 44-year-old Talent resident who works in downtown Medford.

She was even less impressed by the cost to remodel the portal: $30,000, with replacement tiles costing about $250 each.

"That should have come down," she said. "That's a waste of money."

But Amber Powell, a 32-year-old Central Point woman, was more enthusiastic after watching the efforts to build the park and remodel the Greyhound entrance from her office in the Lithia Motors headquarters.

"The color of the tile is nice," she said. "It will blend in well with the rest of the park."

When she first saw the portal before the tiles were replaced, she thought the structure looked "hideous."

With the tiles replaced and the metal bracing in place, she said, "It's pretty awesome to see."

More work will be done to fill in some of the cracked tiles, and the original Greyhound letters will be installed and backlit by neon.

Mason John McElhearn, who's installing the tiles, said he's had a "hate-hate" relationship with the project.

"I think it looks a little better," he said.

He said the south end of the park under construction has too many features crammed together: the portal, the stage and a dressing room.

"It looks crowded here," he said.

McElhearn said he wouldn't have installed ceramic tiles on the portal because they are porous. He would have recommended porcelain tiles instead.

He said he would recommend putting a sealer over the tiles, which would cost $400 to $500 every two years.

Medford residents will be able to take a look at the finished portal and the completed park for the holiday during a tree-lighting ceremony scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 30.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow on Twitter at @reporterdm.

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