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Advocates promote 27-acre open space in White City

WHITE CITY — An open house Thursday night will give community members a chance to consider plans for developing 27 acres at the community's center that would include sports fields and courts, an amphitheater and open space.

Amid talk of possible incorporation and a push towards urban renewal in recent years, White City community advocates are proposing a development that would bring some city amenities to the area.

Thursday's open house begins at 7 p.m. at the Rogue Family Center, 3131 Avenue C.

Plans developed through community participation call for development of a large parcel next to the Rogue Family Center — and surrounding the community's new library. It would be designed to incorporate sports fields, a water play area, basketball and tennis courts, picnic pavilions, a band shell, 234 parking spaces and a 2,000 seat amphitheater.

Last, but certainly not least, community activist Joy Reich said, would be a central area next to the family center with walkways, a fountain and flags, an arbor, gazebo and planter strips.

With urban renewal efforts sunsetting in 2010, Reich said, efforts to beautify and properly plan the community were more crucial than ever. Reich is also spearheading efforts to create a city out of the unincorporated community that formed from the remains of the World War II Camp White military training site.

Plans for the park and amenities began last fall with a $25,000 grant from the Oregon Community Foundation. Project coordinators, which include the White City Urban Renewal Agency, the White City Community Improvement Association, Cascade Community Pool and White City Youth Against Drugs, gathered ideas for the space during a community meeting in October.

The White City Urban Renewal District owns the property, valued at $3.5 million; funding for development of the project would likely come from grants.

Loretta Livaudais-Mapes, a member of the White City Charitable Foundation, said she had long hoped to see the community have improvements taken for granted in most cities.

"I think the idea of a community center is wonderful," said Livaudais-Mapes, a counselor in White City schools for 27 years. "I'm 100 percent for it.

"White City has been doing a lot of improving in its environment over the past few years and this is another step that they're taking to make their world a little bit better," she said.

"I can see families picnicking there, having family get-togethers, the amphitheater with summer programs, all kinds of activities. "¦ I see this being a real positive focal point for the community."

Reich said final approval of the project, which was designed by Medford's Galbraith and Associates, will require completion of a study to plan for mitigation of any vernal pools found on the property. That could cost up to $100,000.

Construction timelines will be determined by the success of fundraising and grant efforts.

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at buffypollock@juno.com.

A Thursday meeting will provide a look at plans for a 27-acre open space in White City that would include playing fields and an amphitheater. The property is adjacent to the existing Rogue Family Center, shown at the lower left in the drawing, and the community library branch, which is situated just northeast of the family center.