• Ashland plans to fix up the town for summer tourist season

    New 'Welcome to Ashland' signs, street lights, asphalt and trees are on the list
  • Ashland is planning several quick projects to spruce up the town before the height of the summer tourist season.
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  • Ashland is planning several quick projects to spruce up the town before the height of the summer tourist season.
    The City Council recently approved short-term aesthetic and safety improvements that had been recommended by the Downtown Beautification Improvement Ad Hoc Committee.
    Visitors will see three new "Welcome to Ashland" signs at a total cost of $3,150. They'll be installed near a railroad trestle on North Main Street, at Siskiyou Boulevard and Tolman Creek Road and on Ashland Street near Exit 14. The city may spend $3,000 more if it decides to light the signs.
    The city will replace unsightly asphalt along a sidewalk on Lithia Way between Oak and Pioneer streets with soil and possibly flowers at a cost of $12,500.
    In the fall, the city will add a row of trees and tree grates to help Lithia Way more closely resemble the rest of downtown.
    A new pedestrian-scale street light costing $3,000 will illuminate a dark walkway that connects Main Street with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Thomas Theatre.
    The Ashland Parks and Recreation Department has been tasked with improving the landscaping around city-owned downtown parking lots, which are suffering from sparse plantings and weeds, according to the ad hoc committee. A parks department policy to not use herbicides in most cases has created maintenance difficulties. Landscaping at a Lithia Way parking lot was recently maintained by people who had been required to perform community service, according to staff.
    Another short-term project will involve improving a messy triangle of dirt, bark chips and concrete next to a convenience store at the intersection of Lithia Way and Pioneer Street. The corner is home to a public art sculpture resembling columns of rock. Costs and other details are yet to be determined.
    The city will use lodging tax revenues to pay for the short-term projects. The city has about $62,000 earmarked for improvement projects each year.
    The ad hoc committee is continuing to work on prioritizing and formulating recommendations for longer-term improvement projects.
    Some residents would like improvement dollars spent to replace dark-gray pavers that were installed as part of a controversial downtown Plaza renovation project.
    Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-776-4486 or valdous@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.
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