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Measures 15-59 and 15-60: Yes

Editorial

The costs are slight, but the benefits are substantial, especially for kids

Medford residents will be asked in the coming election to support two city bond measures that would cost very little, but provide an almost immeasurable benefit.

The two bonds would provide funding for sidewalks leading to elementary schools and for the infrastructure needed to develop the city's sports park. The total cost of both bonds would be about &

36;3 a month for the owner of a &

36;150,000 home. The savings will be measured not in dollars and cents, but in the safety and well-being of our community's children.

The sidewalk measure would go a long way toward making the walk to and from school much safer for many elementary school children. Organizers say 3,000 to 4,000 children walk to school and, in too many places, they must walk next to traffic because sidewalks don't exist.

Since January 2002, 41 children have been struck by vehicles while walking or riding their bikes in Medford. We don't know how many of those could have been prevented had sidewalks been available near the schools, but we do know the lack of sidewalks is an invitation to disaster in many areas.

This measure would pay for an estimated 5 to 6 miles of sidewalks and would help every elementary school in Medford. The cost would be about 10 cents per &

36;1,000 of assessed value, or about &

36;15 annually for the owner of a &

36;150,000 home. The cost of not providing the sidewalks could be a price that none of us want to pay.

The second measure would provide funding for development of the Medford sports park, situated between Interstate 5 and Highway 99 in south Medford. Voters previously approved a hotel-motel tax increase to pay for the purchase of the 132 acres where the park will be located.

— The sports park also would be a boon to children, with ballfields and play areas for sports like baseball, soccer and softball. The park also will feature large natural areas along Bear Creek, as well as one of the final stretches of the Bear Creek Greenway path.

The value of the park was evident in the vote for the hotel-motel tax, in which business and lodging owners supported the increase because they knew it would be an economic plus for the city and the Rogue Valley. Sports tournaments are revenue generators, filling up motels and restaurants and boosting sales at everything from gas stations to local theaters.

The cost is estimated to be 20 cents per &

36;1,000 of value, or &

36;30 annually for the owner of a &

36;150,000 home.

The local economic development agency, Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc., estimates the sports park will bring in an additional &

36;12 million annually to businesses.

But the real winners will be the residents of Medford, who will add another gem to the city's park system and help ensure the city will continue to be a place that values its children and its livability.

The Mail Tribune urges Medford city residents to support measures 15-59 and 15-60. It's a small investment that will pay big dividends for the city and its children.