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City Hall landscape plan revives

City Hall grounds have been stripped of trees, grass and sidewalks this week, but at least one person has been looking forward to the barren look.

John Galbraith, landscape architect of Galbraith & Associates Inc., said he was disappointed last fall when the City Council tabled his landscape proposal, but now he's excited that the &

36;245,000 project is finally happening.

We'll have canopy trees on either side of City Hall, said Galbraith, explaining the new design will be dramatically more inviting than the old one.

City Hall's yard is getting a major overhaul this year with new streetlamps, landscaping and sidewalks.

Crews are removing several honeylocusts and Autumn Blaze flowering pear trees ' all but a single spruce in the front, to make way for four months of landscape work.

— The demolition project began May 21 and is expected to take a couple of weeks, according to Parks and Recreation Director Scott Archer. A new walkway and concrete plaza area will be put in at the end of June and a water feature is scheduled to be built in July. Irrigation will be installed in August, followed by the planting of lawn and vegetation, all of which will require much less water than the previous landscaping required. The trees are scheduled to be planted in October.

A landscaping plan to cover the one-acre parcel surrounding the city offices was tabled by the City Council in October after learning that the lowest bid, &

36;465,000, came in at twice the estimated cost.

The council approved &

36;200,000 in February 2003 to cover the city's portion of the project. Because the new landscaping will save water, Medford Water Commission has offered &

36;45,000 in grants. And the council sent Archer and Galbraith back to the drawing board.

Archer said he's able to cut costs by having the city act as general manager and break up the work into separate projects.

Galbraith said the number of landscape plantings will remain the same as in the original plan.

Also, Medford Urban Renewal Agency, which will install new sidewalks, street lamps and trees around the block, offered to build a 30-inch-high retaining wall on Ivy Street, so that won't come out of the landscaping budget. The sidewalk project also will begin this summer.

After the demolition's done, MURA can begin the streetscape, said Eric Iversen, senior planner with MURA.

Archer has heard people are troubled about so many trees being cut down, but the honeylocusts and the Autumn Blaze flowering pears were declining in health in recent years, to the point that cables were used to hold them together, he said.

The new landscape plan calls for replacing the trees with Dynasty Chinese elm along Eighth Street, Sterling Silver linden along Oakdale Avenue and American hornbeam along Ivy Street.

Every one of the trees that are coming out will be replaced once or twice over, he said.

Some pine trees on the back side of the building are showing signs of stress and are being evaluated, said Archer, so their fate is still unknown.

On the Web

To review the Medford City Hall landscaping plans, visit the Web site at

and go to the Parks and Recreation Department page. Click on City Hall Landscape Redesign in the left column. The architect's sketch for the original design (since modified) and the project schedule are there.

Medford's Lady Liberty waits for a safe harbor Parks and Recreation Director Scott Archer said the parks commission, arts commission and city staff are considering a place of prominence for the city's 8&

189; -foot replica of the Statue of Liberty, currently in storage.

The City Hall landscape plan had included a new home for the statue, but that's being reconsidered to save money, said Archer.

We're in the process of exploring potential alternative sites, such as the Carnegie Building, said Archer.

The statue, a gift to the city from the Crater Lake Council of Boy Scouts of America in 1951, was in Hawthorne Park, but had been a target for vandals for years.

From numerous dents to spikes on her headdress being snapped off to her arm being broken off ' twice ' Lady Liberty has taken a beating. The last time her arm was broken off it ended up in a metal scrap yard. Residents raised money for repairs in 2002, and the statue was restored by Gordon White of Medford in his metal shop.

Archer said all she needs now is to come out of storage and find a safe home.

She's going to go somewhere, he said.

A worker blows wood chips from newly cut trees next to Medford City Hall on Oakdale Avenue this week. The trees and others on the grounds were cut to make way for a huge renovation of the sidewalks and building grounds. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell - Mail Tribune Bob Pennell