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Neighborhood park to be built on East Main Street

Jamie Lusch / Daily Tidings Ashland Parks and Recreation plans to build a new park on East Main Street.
Public meeting scheduled for July

East Main Park development began last week with a meeting of representatives from Terrain Landscape Architecture, Progressive Bike Ramps and Ashland Parks and Recreation Director Michael Black.

The first meeting of project members focused on “scheduling and scope,” Black said at the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission meeting June 9.

A public meeting will be held in July to solicit feedback from the community on the concept for the park before the team begins design, he said. The public meeting date will be announced and noticed in local media outlets.

APRC and Ashland City Council approved acquisition of 5.5 acres at 2228 E. Main St. in 2018. The adjacent property owner offered one acre to add to the lot for $100,000, and the construction of East Main neighborhood park became a listed priority for APRC in early 2019.

“We always try to negotiate to get the best price on property, but in this case, the property owners wanted to do something good for the community and have the back of their property remain a park and be part of this new park,” Black said May 18. “They actually came to us with the offer of $100,000 without us even asking for them to reduce the cost from market value.”

Ashland City Council approved acquisition of the additional acre at its May 18 business meeting, with Councilors Gina DuQuenne and Shaun Moran casting nay votes.

In support of the acquisition, Councilor Paula Hyatt highlighted “synergistic elements” of the park project that align with accessibility and transportation goals for the city and opportunities for jump-starting economic diversification in ecotourism. The new park is located in an area without many existing options for public space, she said.

The property connects to a pedestrian path and has sufficient space for a community garden, open space, walking trails, bicycle pump track, skills park, dog park, playground, restrooms and parking, according to conceptual designs. Inclusion of a community garden responds to substantial public interest in increasing the number of gardens available for use in Ashland, Black said.

The first lot was purchased for $1 million using revenue from the sale of 2.57 acres of undeveloped land on Clay Street to the Housing Authority of Jackson County for affordable housing development initiatives, Black said. The project is also supported by $480,000 from a lot sale to the Ashland Family YMCA in 2017, for land the fitness center used for expanding programs.

Land sales and previously dedicated funds total nearly $2 million available for the project, leaving three-quarters of a million to develop the park after land purchases and design costs. Community members invested in seeing the bike skills park and pump track built are seeking other funding sources and grant opportunities to fund that portion of the project, Black said.

“I really laud the nimble movements of parks through these land acquisitions and the trading back and forth and the forward-looking use of their dollars,” said Councilor Stephen Jensen in a motion to approve the one-acre acquisition. “It is a definite enhancement to this city and an absolutely essential part of who we are as a town.”

DuQuenne and Moran did not respond to requests for comment.