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Sports park long overdue for city

Local editorials

All interests should be accommodated, but playing fields are the priority

Medford residents can help shape the future of their community Wednesday in the first of two public meetings about the city's new sports park.

Medford voters agreed three years ago to increase the city's hotel-motel tax paid by visitors in order to raise money to purchase land and develop the park on 132 acres east of Highway 99 near Bear Creek Corp. and the old Starlite drive-in theater.

The park has the potential to bring great value to the community, both as a place for residents to play softball, soccer and other games and as a draw for out-of-town teams attending tournaments here.

It's no surprise that when the city asked park users for a wish list of amenities they'd like to see in the park, they got a wide range of responses.

Sand volleyball, disc golf, lawn bowling, croquet and a dog park all have constituencies. A nature center has been proposed for the riparian area along Bear Creek on the eastern edge of the property.

— Good ideas, all. The park should offer a variety of activities for a variety of interests.

Our only concern ' and it's a small one ' is that planners not lose sight of the primary reason for this development and the funding that made it possible.

Owners of local hotels and motels supported the increase in the city's lodging tax because they saw the potential for increased business from visitors who stay here for sporting events such as the Rogue Valley Cup, one of the largest soccer tournaments in the state. Voters supported it because it gave the city the money to build a new park by taxing out-of-towners rather than residents.

Merlin McDaniel, hired by the city to oversee design and construction, says there's room enough for everyone. There certainly should be on 132 acres.

But let's not lose sight of the reason this complex is needed. First the city should make sure that enough soccer, softball and baseball fields are built not only to accommodate regional tournaments, but also to handle the local teams and leagues that are now scrambling for practice and game time on too few fields.

After that, it can add as many other facilities as space and imagination will allow.

Above all, attend the meetings, at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the McLoughlin Middle School Media Center and 7 p.m. Nov. 19 in the Jackson County Courthouse Auditorium, 10 S. Oakdale Ave. Make your wishes known. This is a project for every Medford resident, one that will enhance everyone's quality of life for years to come.

We're ready for fall

Usually, all it takes for a change in the weather is for us to write about how nice it is. So here you go: Boy, this weather is so nice, makes you want to break out the sunscreen and hammock.

OK ' and don't tell the weather gods we said this ' what we'd really like is a good dose of cooler weather and even some rain. Eighty-eight degrees on Oct. 26 is too much of a good thing.

There is a change on the horizon. Predictions call for a 40-degree drop in the daily high temperature by the weekend and lows below freezing by Thursday or Friday nights. No rain, however.

Even though we'll miss the warm days, we are overdue for the next season. So we'll greet the coolness with some relief. But, admit, just like us, you'd like to use that sunscreen and hammock just one more time.