A park in west Medford that has seen its share of high-profile crimes will get a $174,000 makeover by March 2014 that should make it more family-friendly, the City Council decided Thursday.
The council awarded the construction contract to Vitus Construction, whose bid was the lowest of four received for the 1.38 acre park at 501 Plum St.
Vitus will upgrade lighting along paths, improve pathways, install a community garden, a new irrigation system and a new lawn and add trees and shrubs.
Money for the project comes from federal Community Development Block Grants of $162,000 plus $12,266 in city park funds.
The project has been on the drawing board for years and has faced a few delays.
"Better late than never," Councilor Chris Corcoran said.
The makeover of the park — which some have called "drug park" — is an attempt by city officials to discourage criminal activity.
"Union Park has massive potential," Councilor Eli Matthews said.
Matthews said the addition of a community garden and improved lighting will greatly enhance the park for the surrounding neighborhood.
New playground equipment has been purchased by Medford Parks and Recreation and will be installed in February or March.
The park was built in 1959 and was designed by John Adams, the architect for Crater Lake National Park, according to Medford Parks and Recreation. The original master plan was only partially completed.
The renovations, planned by Medford Parks and Recreation, are also welcomed by Medford police, who vigorously patrol the neighborhood.
Police hope that more family-friendly activities in the park will discourage others who might engage in criminal behavior.
Over the years, police have taken steps to curtail drug dealing in the park, encouraging neighbors to report any illegal activity.
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at @reporterdm.