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Medford wants input on urban renewal

The Medford Urban Renewal Agency will hold the first of three meetings Thursday to take public input on options for extending or eliminating the urban renewal district as well as for possible projects if the program is continued.

The meetings will begin at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 18, and at the same time June 15 and July 20 in the Council Chambers on the third floor of City Hall, 411 W. Eighth St.

MURA was created in 1988 with the primary goal of revitalizing downtown and its surrounding area, encompassing about 575 acres. Medford City Council serves as the urban renewal agency board.

Nearly $67 million has been spent on projects that include The Commons/Pear Blossom Park, One West Main office complex, the South Gateway redevelopment, Vogel Plaza, Bear Creek Dam removal, Craterian Theater redevelopment, several street projects and the RCC/SOU Higher Education Center. It also developed the Sixth Street and Evergreen Street parking garages and several other parking lots and funded renovations to Hawthorne Park.

Urban renewal projects are funded by increased property taxes that occur within the urban renewal district, partially created by the associated improvements. That redirection of tax funds is eliminated with the sunsetting of the district, and the MURA board has already voted to cease collecting the tax funds. However, the board is considering extending the life of the district to take on additional projects that would be funded using all or a portion of MURA's remaining bonding capacity of $22 million.

People unable to attend one of the three meetings can still comment by emailing project ideas and comments to comments@cityofmedford.org. Comments must be received by 5 p.m. July 21.

For more information on MURA and its projects, see the city of Medford website at www.ci.medford.or.us. Medford Urban Renewal is listed under City Departments.

The Commons at Pear Blossom Park in downtown Medford was a joint effort of the Medford Urban Renewal Agency and Lithia Motors. Medford officials are asking for input on whether to continue MURA. - Mail Tribune / File Photo