Public opinion favors situating the playground and pool at Hawthorne Park closer to surrounding streets to improve this downtown recreational facility and make it less of a haven for criminal behavior.

Public opinion favors situating the playground and pool at Hawthorne Park closer to surrounding streets to improve this downtown recreational facility and make it less of a haven for criminal behavior.

"We heard safety was a really big concern in the park," said Dan Jenkins of MacKenzie Group, which was hired by the Medford Urban Renewal Agency to study upgrading the park.

Preliminary plans and a survey helped gauged local residents reactions to improving Hawthorne Park, plagued in recent years by criminal activity and homeless people who sleep overnight.

The MURA board has set aside $1 million to upgrade the park in hopes of incorporating into the revitalization of downtown. The money doesn't cover the costs of a new swimming pool, which is part of a $14.5 million bond measure before voters this fall.

A poll of local residents found that 513 approved a proposal that would make playgrounds, the pool and other intensive activities more visible from surrounding streets. Another similar proposal that would place a new swimming pool near Main Street came in second with 421 approving. A third proposal, which would cluster activities in the center of the park, received thumbs up from 318 respondents.

Some of the options that received the most favorable ratings include a swimming pool, playground, restrooms, lighting and making improvements along Bear Creek.

— Damian Mann