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Park Square runs askew of residents

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Many of the numerous written comments submitted by the public about Park Square, the proposed 15-unit, 60-bedroom apartment complex at Park Street and Siskiyou Boulevard, noted the dire need for more reasonably-priced units in Ashland, but most weighed in against its approval because of concerns about traffic, parking and the family nature of surrounding housing, which they said would be compromised.

The city Planning Commission is set to make a decision tonight on the controversial “quad-style” apartments, which allow up to four renters to share a common kitchen.

Some residents characterized it as dorm-style student housing, thus not helpful to seniors.

Park Street resident Bob Holbrook called the project an “overreach” with density too great for a family district and called for “more imagination and respect” to save a pair of redwoods on the property. If power poles can be saved, so can redwoods, he says.

Neighbor Kathy Kane, who works in real estate, says she’s excited to see more infill to help solve the “huge” rental shortage, however, she added, dorm-style housing with no access from Siskiyou poses parking and traffic concerns.

Gwen Davies of nearby Harmony Lane wrote of fears about a possible “huge snarl” of cars going onto Siskiyou and the exhaust fumes they would impose on people walking for exercise. She said there should be space for food gardens and a recreation area that isn’t concrete. Davies said the project should be subject of a community-wide discussion over many months, and “If we continue to cram buildings and parking lots into every square inch of town, as may have already occurred by the high school, then Ashland will be a disaster.”

Daniel Cooke of Hillview Drive bemoaned the loss of mountain views and the “heartbreaking” cutting of redwoods, adding, “Siskiyou in this area is indeed a ‘hot mess’ several times a day. Packing more car ingress/egress right at the intersection of Siskiyou and Park without addressing the flaws in the current traffic flow is a bad, bad idea. There is a significant risk that drivers will opt to take nearby residential streets that were never intended for the added load.”

Avram Chetron said, “I’m alarmed at the likely impact of such a housing complex on the quality of life in my neighborhood. It is clear from the details of the plan that this complex will not attract families. It is more likely to attract individuals with little to no investment in the community and no plans for long-term residence. What is likely to follow will be an increase in crime and drugs, a continual merry-go-round of tenants who do not have the inclination to maintain their buildings or the grounds, and a general degradation of the neighborhood, including lowering property values for the rest of us, as well as our feelings of safety.”

Susan Williams wrote that the project “will essentially place an impermeable wall between everyone living on or using the street and the beautiful light and view of Ashland’s tree-covered hills to the south, or ... Grizzly (Peak) to the north residents in the area are entitled to safety, comfort, and at least the remnants of a scenic view so that the commission need not allow this overblown, hard-nosed plan to wall our view away or crowd us in.”

Although area residents express concern for safety and congestion at the intersection of Park and Siskiyou, an engineering study conducted since the last hearing said 13 accidents, of which four resulted in an injury, have happened at the intersection over the last 19 years, and the average daily trips is well below what’s allowed for the type of street.

The Planning Commission closed its public hearing on the proposal at its Sept. 11 meeting and allowed written comment for an addition week, so it will not allow additional public comment tonight. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at 1175 E. Main Street.

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

Daily Tidings / Bert EtlingA pair of redwood trees would be removed from a three-quarter acre lot along Siskiyou Boulevard to make way for a 15-unit apartment complex with 60 bedrooms. An existing apartment complex on a neighboring lot is visible at right.
Park Square apartments