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Gold Hill residents invited to dream up ideas for their future

GOLD HILL - Anticipating $5 million worth of improvement projects over the next five years, community planners are asking residents to help dream up the future look of their town.

The projects include a new library, highway improvements, reinstatement of the police department, removal of the city's diversion dam, installation of a new city water intake pump and development of recreational opportunities along the Rogue River.

Residents can contribute their ideas at a community planning meeting set for 4:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday in the Patrick Elementary School gymnasium. They can meet with city and state agencies about the various projects, ask questions and make suggestions.

The meetings are being funded by a $15,000 downtown-planning grant awarded to the city in December by the U.S. Forest Service's Old-Growth Diversification Fund.Sue Densmore, partnering with Jeff Tashman and former county administrator Burke Raymond, were chosen by the community development group Can-DO to facilitate the grant.

The Thursday meeting is the beginning of what Densmore calls "community coaching."

"This is a chance for citizens to come dream and share their ideas before big decisions are made. We want people to drop in and paste up photos or draw ideas out. It's all going to be very informal," she said.

"With so many different things coming together, it's kind of a window of opportunity to make all of the best things happen for Gold Hill."

Large projects that have received or are awaiting funding include:

? Site selection and design of a 5,000-square-foot library funded with $500,000 of the $39.8 million county library bond. Depending on community input and the potential of attaining grants, Densmore said, the library could be built larger or in conjunction with a future community center.

? Resurfacing and enhancement of Highway 99 by the Oregon Department of Transportation, funded by $1.8 million from ODOT and a $300,000 block grant from the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department.

? Design of the city's recreation corridor along the Rogue River, completed through a technical assistance grant provided to the city's Bike Path Committee. The $92,000 grant was awarded by the Rivers and Trails Conservation Assistance Program of the National Park Service.

? Removal of the city's diversion dam, which requires relocation of the city water intake; each project will cost $1.5 million and the city is working on a number of grant opportunities through state and federal agencies.

Densmore said representatives of ODOT will request feedback on lighting styles and benches for the highway improvements. Library officials will ask input on site location and enhancements to the new building. And Oregon Downtown Development Association representatives will bring drawings of what downtown could look like once the projects are done.

Densmore said the Thursday forum would be followed by meetings July 16-18 to begin incorporating community ideas into the actual projects.

For more information, contact Densmore at 779-0097 or Can-DO at 855-8936.

Buffy Pollock is a free-lance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at.