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Cascade Christian proposes land deal

The leaders of a local private school are proposing a partnership with the city in the creation of a public park on a new school campus.

Cascade Christian High School representatives asked the City Council during Thursday's study session to consider a joint venture on a 7.47-acre parcel next to the proposed school, where Table Rock Road crosses Bear Creek near Interstate 5.

Currently, the city-owned land is a field of overgrown grass.

As proposed, the school would build the first phase for &

36;250,000, at no cost to the city, and maintain it for part of the year. The city would maintain it for five months of the year, which the city estimates could cost as much as &

36;6,000 per month. School officials also ask that the city help pay for bleachers and lights in the project's second phase.

— If the plan flies with the city, the high school would relocate from Jacksonville. If the council says no, then the school would stay where it is.

The plan comes after John Duke recently donated the 40,000-square-foot building at 886 Chevy Way, formerly part of Superior Athletic Club, to the school.

For the last two years, Duke has rented it to the school for use by girls' and boys' basketball and volleyball teams, said Reid Murphy of Murphy Construction, who also serves on the school's foundation board.

As proposed, the park would remain the city's property, but the school would have use rights for games and practices.

CCHS Principal and Superintendent Ray Johnson said the school and fields currently are inconveniently spread out.

We'd just like to have all the fields and all the gyms on one campus, he said.

While council members seemed interested in the idea, some had questions.

What is the school's position on having strangers wander onto campus during school hours? asked Councilwoman Claudette Moore.

Murphy said that wouldn't be a problem for the site, which is along the Bear Creek Greenway and has several street access points.

I'm more concerned about the guys who live there in the bushes right now, he said, referring to homeless camps along Bear Creek.

Another council concern was a lack of public restrooms in the plan.

If the city approves, the school would partly fund the new campus project with the sale of its Jacksonville property. They also would launch a fund-raising campaign. Murphy said the goal is to have the new campus open for the 2004-05 school year.

Parks and Recreation Director Scott Archer told the council they also could consider things like a land swap or a sale of land, but because of the conditions under which the county deeded the land to the city, the trade would have to include similar park property.

Following the meeting, Archer said there are other public/private partnerships, such as Fichtner-Mainwaring Park on Stewart Avenue, which is a deal between the city and the Rogue Valley Soccer Club. The club gets priority use of the fields in exchange for help with park maintenance.

Archer said the proposal from CCHS would be more costly to the city than other similar cooperative arrangements.

In addition, the city hadn't planned the property to be anything more than open space and hadn't budgeted the expense of a new park's upkeep. Archer said the money would come out of the maintenance of other city parks.

The park area, while within Medford's urban growth boundary, is just outside city limits and would need to be annexed.

We basically need your blessing to go to the planning department and start the annexation process, said Murphy.

The council will discuss the topic further either at their June 5 or June 19 meetings.

Park partnership

As proposed by Cascade Christian High School, development of the park would be broken into three phases:

Phase one

includes playing fields for soccer, football and softball, including infields, backstops and dugouts. CCHS would help supply maintenance and labor. Medford Parks and Recreation would provide for water and sewer development charges. The city and school would share in drainage, irrigation and turf costs.

Phase two

includes seating and lighting for baseball and football fields. Material and labor would be shared.

Phase three

includes wetland and riparian enhancement along Bear Creek, including a walking path, picnic tables and science study areas. It's not clear who would pay for this work.

Reach reporter Meg Landers at 776-4481 or e-mail