The Medford Planning Commission on Thursday gave final approval to Cascade Christian High School to complete playing fields, a track and a community park on a vacant city-owned property behind the campus on Chevy Way.

The Medford Planning Commission on Thursday gave final approval to Cascade Christian High School to complete playing fields, a track and a community park on a vacant city-owned property behind the campus on Chevy Way.

Called Table Rock Park because of frontage at Table Rock Road, the dual soccer-football field, softball field and nearly 400-meter track will be open to the public in mid-August, and Cascade athletic teams will begin practice on the fields in the fall.

"It'll be great for our kids," said Cascade Athletic Director Dave Fennell. "It'll be a place of their own to practice and have a good time. Any time practice is closer to the school you get more kids who participate."

The final step for the park's debut was commission approval of a conditional-use permit for the park because the land is zoned for single-family residences, even though the property's deed restriction says the land may only be used for recreation.

The city agreed last September to lease the tract to Cascade for $12 a year for 25 years in exchange for establishing a park and allowing the public to use it after school hours and on the weekends. Under the agreement, Cascade will have exclusive use of the property from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday when classes are in session. Both athletic teams and physical education classes will use the fields.

Students removed blackberry bushes and opened a pathway along the creek from the school to the park. Students already use the creek for biology and ecology classes.

Visitors can use the path on the southeast side of the Cascade campus to access the park and park in the school's parking lot. There are no other entrances to the property.

The property already has been cleared, leveled, planted with grass and equipped with an irrigation system, said Jim Akery, executive project manager for Medford-based R.A. Murphy Construction Inc.

"This used to be rolling hills and an old barn that was falling over," said Reid Murphy, construction company owner who donated the company's services for the project.

Cascade has been trying to develop fields for the school for nearly seven years, said Murphy, whose sophomore daughter attends Cascade.

The 7.5-acre parcel seemed to be a good fit because it was accessible from Cascade's new campus, and it hadn't been in use for nearly 30 decades, Akery said.

The project cost about $100,000 after donations of services and materials. It would have cost about $250,000 if the school had paid full price, Akery said.

When the school of about 300 students initially moved two years ago to the new campus at Chevy Way from its previous location in Jacksonville, the football, soccer, softball, baseball and track and field teams had no place to practice, Fennell said. A neighbor allowed the football team to do exercises on his lawn, and the players also used a yard on the campus, he said. Other teams paid or borrowed space for practice at various locations, including the U.S. Cellular Community Park, the Fichtner-Mainwaring Park, the Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinics in White City, Grace Christian School and White Mountain Middle School, he said.

The property originally was purchased with Land and Water Conservation Fund grants, which allowed it to be used for recreational purposes only.

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or pachen@mailtribune.com.