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Hawthorne Park Fitness Zone unveiled

The last piece of the $2 million overhaul to Hawthorne Park is like a natural evolution for adults who remember getting exercise on a playground.

An outdoor Fitness Zone, complete with a shade structure and eight specially constructed outdoor exercise machines for arm and leg workouts, had a ribbon-cutting Thursday by city officials.

The 20-acre park, at 510 E. Main St., now includes a large play area, spray pad, dog park, skate spot, fenced futsal court, basketball court and tennis courts. The cost for the new Fitness Zone was approximately $80,000.

Recreation and Facilities Department Director Rich Dahl said the Fitness Zone, which has been open for a week, is already seeing regular use by adults who visit the park.

Dahl said the exercise area was the vision of City Manager Brian Sjothun, who was parks and recreation director when the Hawthorne remake began in 2014. 

"The exercise zone was the last planned piece of the Hawthorne Park renovation and of that $2 million urban renewal investment," Dahl said. "The renovations have been an absolute smashing success and something the policy makers and residents alike should be very proud of.

"We saw this exercise zone as a nice opportunity for adults to be able to go work out when they bring their kids to the park," Dahl said, noting that the exercise zone was the first at a city park in Medford.

"The adults can exercise, and the kids could play on the playground. It's really come a long way from where Hawthorne Park was, not only in function; but also public perception. It's really transformed how people think of not only Hawthorne Park but that entire area of downtown."

Medford resident Mara Williams tested the new equipment Thursday with her 11-year-old daughter and said they planned to frequent the park this summer.

"It's fun they have something for everyone here," said Williams, as she sat on a piece of equipment.

"It's like being able to go to the gym while your kids are getting exercise on the playground. This makes it like a playground for both of us."

— Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at buffyp76@yahoo.com

Leonel Lizzet, 8, left, and Joanna Lizzet, 10, of Talent, work out Friday on the new Fitness Zone equipment at Hawthorne Park. [Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch]