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Talent land addition could bring PT school facilities

Phoenix-Talent schools officials are starting a process that could bring 43 acres of school land into the Talent UGB

Phoenix-Talent School District is looking to the future with a request to place district land with athletic fields on Colver Road into the city of Talent’s Urban Growth Boundary. The move would allow for new buildings and more fields on the site once the land was annexed into the city.

“Hopefully we’ll have a great space for kids and the community for years to come,” said district Superintendent Brent Barry. “We have usable field space right now, we just want to be using the whole property.”

The school district owns 43 acres within the area. About 12 of those acres are for sports, including soccer fields and baseball and softball diamonds. The site was designated as TA-1, an urban reserve for future city expansion, in the Regional Problem Solving exercise completed a decade ago.

Building won’t happen anytime soon as multiple steps lie ahead with approvals needed along the way from city, county, regional and state authorities. Talent Community Development Director Kristen Maze said the process to have the land added to the UGB might take a year, but cautioned that was only an estimate.

Meetings around a conceptual plan for the site have already been held and more are coming as the city works through the process. Conceptual plans for land use and transportation must be approved by the Rogue Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization Technical Advisory Committee before it goes to Jackson County for review. Once conceptual plans are approved, then a UGB amendment process could begin.

The district has long desired to move forward with the site but addressed other priorities or faced obstacles, said Barry. First came planning for and passage of a $68 million bond measure in 2017 for major district upgrades. As that construction work wound down, the Almeda fire struck in 2020 and further delayed action as more pressing needs were addressed.

District softball, baseball and soccer games and practices are held regularly at the facility. The district would like to locate its Outdoor Discovery Program to the site and upgrade the athletic fields there, said Barry.

Phoenix-Talent Little League currently has fields at Chuck Roberts Park but has expressed interest in having more fields at the Colver Road site, said Barry. In addition, the Boys and Girls Club of the Rogue Valley operates programs in classrooms, the gym and fields at Talent Elementary School, but might have a facility at the location. The group then might be able to offer more programs to support students and families, he said.

A district bus barn is located on the site. There’s also the school farm, a space where students can keep animals as part of the district’s agricultural programs, said Jon McCalip, district facilities and projects director.

An old district maintenance building at the east end of the property will be torn down in the near future, said McCalip. The district has moved maintenance functions to the high school campus, which has been renovated.

Water for fields comes from Talent Irrigation District water rights and is supplemented by three wells on the property. City water also runs to the site, along with a Rogue Valley Sewer Services connection.

In 2021, use of a portion of the site was proposed to house Federal Emergency Management Agency transitional housing of Almeda fire victims. School officials said at the time the use would be a way to help students and their families displaced by the fire return to the district. FEMA later decided to use different locations for the trailers.

Besides the TA-1 area, city planning staff has included an area known as TA-ROW that would link Talent middle and elementary schools more directly to the playing fields in the conceptual plans. Students currently must cross railroad tracks twice to get from the campuses to the fields.

TA-ROW is a narrow, north-south area of 59 acres west of current city limits. Property in TA-ROW located south of Foss Road is in private ownership. Bear Creek Orchards owns the land north of Foss Road and a right of way easement for a road or bike and walking path would need to be obtained.

Maze said she has advised Harry and David officials of the city’s potential interest in gaining a right of way. TA-ROW was envisioned to provide a transportation link in the RPS process. The city of Talent would be the applicant to have TA-ROW added to the UGB.

Both TA-1 and TA-ROW conceptual plans will be reviewed by Talent City Council and the Planning Commission May 24. Should they concur with the concepts, they would then go to the Technical Advisory Committee, which would review the plans and forward them to Jackson County.

Only after the county approved the conceptual plan would the school district make a formal application for a comprehensive plan amendment to add the land into the UGB. That would lead to another round of planning, reviews and approvals by the city, county and the state’s Department of Land Conservation and Development before an action would be final.

Reach Ashland freelance writer Tony Boom at tboomwriter@gmail.com.