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Our View: Great public effort makes for great public space

Another national top-10 list? Ashlanders might be tempted to yawn.

In recent months alone, Ashland has been named to Mother Earth News' list of 10 “Great Places You’ve (Maybe) Never Heard Of” (and we’re pleased, really, to think we may not have been discovered in some places) and Fodor’s Travel list of the top 10 of America’s Best Small Towns.

A bit earlier in the year, Ashland was picked as one of six “centers for innovation,” innovative communities across the nation, to receive grants from the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation (part of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History).

And on Oct. 1, Lithia Park was named one of America’s Great Public Spaces by the American Planning Association. The national group of professionals “committed to making great communities happen” started the list in 2008 to recognize public spaces that “promote social interaction and a sense of community.”

Past honorees include Central Park in New York; Union Station in Washington, D.C.; the Ferry Building in San Francisco; Jackson Square in New Orleans; and Grand Park in Los Angeles (the former Civic Center Mall).

While it’s a great honor to join this august list, we’re confident that, like most Ashlanders, we’d much rather spend the day in Lithia Park than in any of those previous winners.

That’s a tribute to the vision of early community leaders who set the course toward establishing the 93-acre enclave on Ashland Creek, a dagger of land that pierces into the heart of the community, and civic stewards who have preserved its natural resources while developing it just enough to enhance the ability of residents and visitors alike to recreate there.

This is a town that values its parks so much it elects a separate Parks and Recreation Commission, a rarity in city governance. We’re pleased to join the APA in saluting Lithia Park as the great public space it is, thanks to the efforts of so many for so long — chief among them the residents as a whole, who are eternally vigilant in the care of their park. Well done!