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School-park idea

Local editorials

The burden is on Cascade Christian to convince the city of the benefits

Often, projects that combine public and private resources add up to something positive for everyone.

Cascade Christian High School has yet to convince the city of Medford that's the case with its proposal to be a partner in ballfields just east of the freeway near the airport.

The private school wants to move from Jacksonville to property on Chevy Way, and it wants to build the ballfields on an adjacent 7-acre space owned by the city.

The school would pay to build the fields and maintain them seven months of the year, according to a proposal it presented last week, while the city would maintain the fields five months of the year. The school would get first crack at using the fields, but otherwise they would be available to the public.

In many parts of the city ' in an area, say, where the city wants to build a neighborhood park ' this might be a fine arrangement. But this site is out of the way of most Medford residents. While several dozen houses are nearby, the area is zoned for industry and is gradually turning to that use. The land isn't in city limits.

— Cash-strapped Medford would have to find money somewhere to pay its share of upkeep on the Cascade Christian fields. Parks officials say that could be as much as &

36;6,000 a month, although Cascade Christian leaders estimate it would be much less.

Complicating the issue is the city's focus on building a major sports park on Highway 99 south of Medford. It has been endorsed by voters and is moving toward construction. The parks department correctly wants its focus there. It shouldn't necessarily turn a cold shoulder to other offers, but it should be certain anything it spends money on fits into priorities.

The land near the proposed school is, in fact, on a city list of potential neighborhood parks, but it has never been one considered important enough to fund. Should Medford set money aside for it now, because of Cascade Christian's offer?

Free land for ballfields is unquestionably a good deal for Cascade Christian. And the deal might be good for Medford as well if the city can get another community ballfield at little cost.

But the burden remains on school officials to convince the city that the benefits of the proposal outweigh the costs.

Participate in wetlands study

A study of potential riparian and wetland areas in Ashland will only be as good as the participation of city property owners.

Notices of the study have been mailed to many property owners inside the city's urban growth boundary requesting their assistance. The notices include a form asking permission for a consultant to conduct fieldwork on the land. Replies have been coming in slowly.

The inventory of wetlands and riparian areas is required by the state. The best accuracy is achieved by walking the property and studying the vegetation and soils. If property owners deny access, the survey will involve more off-site methods ' educated guesswork.

It's important for property owners and residents of property with wetlands and riparian areas to participate in the study. Their assistance will give the city a much better sense of what the inventory is and may help property owners avoid unpleasant surprises with future development.

A public forum on the inventory will be held at 6:30 p.m. June 4 in Ashland Civic Center council chambers, 1175 E. Main St.