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MailTribune.com
  • Makeover may boost Hawthorne Park's image

    MURA might award preliminary contract for upgrade to Gold Hill company today
  • Hawthorne Park's notoriety for attracting vagrants might soon be a thing of the past if the Medford Urban Renewal Agency authorizes a $1.65 million makeover.
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    • Meeting today
      WHAT: MURA board meeting
      WHERE: City Hall, 411 Eighth St.
      WHEN: 6 p.m.
      AGENDA: Possible awarding of contract on Hawthorne Park project
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      Meeting today
      WHAT: MURA board meeting

      WHERE: City Hall, 411 Eighth St.

      WHEN: 6 p.m.

      AGENDA: Possible awarding of contract on Hawthorne Park project
  • Hawthorne Park's notoriety for attracting vagrants might soon be a thing of the past if the Medford Urban Renewal Agency authorizes a $1.65 million makeover.
    "This is the single most identifiable project that is urban renewal," said Chris Corcoran, chairman of the MURA board. "This is the ribbon on the package that was urban renewal."
    MURA may award a contract to Vitus Construction Inc. of Gold Hill at its 6 p.m. meeting today at City Hall, 411 W. Eighth St.
    Earlier this year, the MURA board was worried that it wouldn't have enough money for all of the recommended improvements in the park, located next to Bear Creek between Jackson and Main streets.
    The city had budgeted less than $1 million, which would have meant some features would have been deleted from the project.
    Since then, MURA found it has enough money left over from other projects to complete all the improvements city councilors wanted, including a splash pad, skate area, basketball courts and expanded parking lot.
    The Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians contributed $25,000 for art work on the pillars supporting the Interstate 5 viaduct next to the park.
    Other improvements include an entry plaza, gardens, restroom, play structure, field restoration, picnic shelter, dog park, walkways and lighting.
    An area also has been set aside for a future pool. Medford officials ripped out the existing pool last year. The pool, which opened on June 4, 1950, was closed in 2011 after city officials determined it was leaking 30,000 gallons a day.
    If approved by MURA, the project wouldn't start until September, with completion anticipated by June 2015. City officials had originally hoped the project would start in July.
    During construction, the park will be closed to the public.
    Under the contract, Vitus would receive $91,985 to begin pre-construction services.
    The city and Vitus will work to create a project that doesn't exceed $1.65 million.
    Hawthorne has seen its share of problems associated with vagrancy over the years, including stabbings, fights, dog attacks, littering, disorderly conduct, public intoxication and public urination.
    MURA board member Dick Gordon said, "If we do these things in the park, and add an aquatics facility in the future, it will make it more family friendly."
    Gordon said that without the aquatics facility, the park should attract lots of families, particularly to the new playground near Jackson Street and the dog park, which has areas for large and small dogs.
    The park also will receive better lighting, which will make it more visible at night from nearby streets.
    "We wouldn't be spending almost $2 million unless we expected some big improvements," he said.
    Gordon said he thinks the park will be less appealing for the homeless after the changes.
    "The fact is we will still have homeless people, but they won't settle in Hawthorne Park," he said.
    Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow on Twitter at @reporterdm.
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