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New south Ashland park would include dog park

A public brainstorming session for a new park on the south end of town is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, in the Science Building at Ashland High School.

The new 5.52-acre park will be located at 2228 E. Main St., in an open-space area near Clay Street and Abbott Avenue.

Parks Director Michael Black said the city has long planned to put a second dog park on the south end of town, so that will be a priority for the new park.

“The dog park has been in the planning stages for years and years, so it’s time we get a dog park in there for residents to use,” Black said.

Other elements being considered for the park include a community garden, children’s playground, some picnic areas, walking paths and restrooms.

“We can count on all of those to some extent being there,” Black said. “The only thing that is kind of ‘let’s see how things work out’ is the community garden. We need to make sure we have the support from the community, because those are mostly volunteer run. As long as there’s enough people to work with it, then it will be there.”

He said there’s a long waiting list to get into community gardens in town, so it seems likely to gain support.

The purpose of the community input session is to introduce residents to other ideas and get their feedback, he said. A lot of residents have been pushing for a pump track, which is a bike-skills park, and this could be an ideal location.

He said the cost of building the park and the cost of maintaining it are two different things. The plan is to build the dog park first, and then phase in the remainder of the project over the next several years as funding sources are secured.

“We want to make sure we have the money to maintain it over time, and it very well could mean that we do it in phases,” Black said. “I can see pushing forward with the dog park in the next year, and the other projects may need to be phased in over time.”

The parks department has about $950,000 allocated to build the park — $350,000 is from the food and beverage tax, and $600,000 is from various properties the city has sold in that area, including the sale of the YMCA property back to the YMCA for $480,000 and the sale of a portion of a Clay Street property for $120,000.

Black said he is hopeful the cost to build the park will be less than $950,000.

“I’m shooting for a concept that’s more natural with less maintenance and less infrastructure,” Black said.

The purchase of the property was possible due to the sale of land at 380 Clay St. to the Housing Authority of Jackson County for $1.1 million to build the second phase of the Snowberry Brook apartments. The city purchased the East Main property from the Shaffer family, longtime residents of Ashland, for $1 million in 2018.

The Shaffer family sold it at a discount by donating $780,000 because the property would be turned into a park.

“It was really a great deal,” Black said.

The property will have to be annexed into the city, and utilities will have to be expanded to the property.

“All of the utility lines are within a reasonable distance to the property,” Black said.

Thursday’s input session will include a brief presentation, then participants will divide into working groups to view the site plan and discuss design elements.

The working groups will have the opportunity to present their ideas to the full group.

Black said there will probably be one more input session after this first one, then the planning phases will begin.

Once a conceptual design is secured, they’ll have a better idea of the cost and timeline, Black said.

To stay up to date on the development of this and other parks projects, see gis.ashland.or.us/parks/cip.

Ashland High is at 201 S. Mountain Ave. Parking for the input session will be available at the corner of Mountain Avenue and Siskiyou Boulevard, or in the parking lot on the corner of Mountain Avenue and lower Iowa Street.

Contact Tidings reporter Caitlin Fowlkes at cfowlkes@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4496. Follow her on Twitter @cfowlkes6.

A new park is planned on open space off East Main Street near Clay Street and Abbott Avenue in Ashland. Andy Atkinson / Ashland Tidings