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Land buy will expand Riverwalk Park

The Ashland City Council has authorized Ashland Parks and Recreation to spend $400,000 to purchase a property along Bear Creek to expand Riverwalk Park.

The 11.01 acre property, owned by two private citizens, Kathleen Kahle and Paul Mace, is at 345 Clinton St. The property lies in between Oak Street and North Mountain Street.

By acquiring the land, APR will be able to establish a through trail for bikes and pedestrians connecting the two neighborhoods, Parks Director Michael Black said.

"This is the outcome of over a year's effort in trying to secure a piece of property that is instrumental to provide a vital link for pedestrian and bike transportation," Black said. "This will be a significant improvement for the area, because right now the closest throughway from Oak to North Mountain is Hersey Street."

The appraised market value as of July was $380,000, documents show. The department has also agreed to build a fence to separate what will soon be public land from the couple's private property. The 840 linear feet with a 6-foot wood fence, as requested by the couple, is estimated to cost $16,000.

The property purchase is funded through the Food and Beverage Tax and System Development Charges — both sources, totaling $540,000, are restricted to the purchase and improvement of park lands in Ashland. 

Mace and Kahle bought the property of 23.35 acres in 1988 for $155,000, according to property records. Under the presented proposal, the city acquires 11.01 acres of the tax lot, with 90 percent of the purchased property locates in the 100-year FEMA Flood Plain and the remaining land considered to have "buildable characteristics."

"(The property) will also provide future opportunities for expanding Bear Creek's greenway," Black said.

The proposal was unanimously approved by the council at Tuesday's meeting, with strong support from councilors.

"I think this is a purchase that makes a lot of sense," Councilor Traci Darrow said. "The acquisition and the potential expansion of the greenway has long been a goal for many people in Ashland."

"This is a home run," Councilor Rich Rosenthal said. "It's fantastic for advocates of the greenway — a huge step forward for that."

— Reach Ashland Daily Tidings reporter Tran Nguyen at 541-776-4485 or tnguyen@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on twitter @nguyenntrann.