A proposed greenway bike path will run along a drainage ditch that feeds into Larson Creek east of North Phoenix Road. City officials hope eventually to connect the Bear Creek Greenway with Prescott Park. - Bob Pennell

Connecting with Nature

The pieces are falling into place for a new Greenway bike and walking trail that ultimately will connect Bear Creek to Prescott Park in east Medford.

Last week, the City Council approved spending almost $400,000 for two parcels totaling nearly 4 acres near Barnett and North Phoenix roads.

The purchases would nail down all of the rights of way for the trail from Barnett to Chrissy Park to the east. Other negotiations are underway to eventually connect Chrissy to Prescott Park.

"Eventually people will be able to go from the Bear Creek Greenway to Prescott Park," said Randy Jones, who was on the former Southeast Plan committee and is general manager of Mahar Homes.

Jones said Mahar already has committed to providing easements along a drainage ditch that feeds into Larson Creek for a Greenway path as part of the Southeast Plan, which ultimately envisions 1,000 new homes in southeast Medford.

The City Council will have a second reading of the proposed ordinance authorizing the sales on July 20.

A 1.51-acre piece of land owned by Carol Musser would be purchased for $151,100. The property starts at North Phoenix Road, north of Barnett.

The largest purchase, $236,000, is for a 2.36-acre property owned by Frank and Joyce Goddard of Medford. The property is less than 1,000 feet to the east of North Phoenix Road.

The Goddards have been waiting more than a decade to sell the land to the city.

"We've had this tied up for years," Joyce Goddard said. "As soon as they give us the release, then we're free to sell the rest of it."

At one point, the Goddards had received a private offer of more than $1 million for the entire property, she said.

Last year, the council agreed to a $350,000 purchase of 3 acres of land owned by David and Joy Young near the northeast corner of North Phoenix and Barnett roads. The Young property is in between those owned by the Goddards and Musser.

The city has been pulling the money to buy the properties out of its contingency funds, planning to repay the dollars through system development charges as the area is built out.

Councilor John Michaels said dipping into contingency dollars sets a bad precedent.

"I see our contingency as our emergency fund, and I am uncomfortable with this," he said.

Other councilors disagreed, saying the prospect of building a trail system through Medford is a worthy goal.

"For that reason, the end justifies the means," Councilor Chris Corcoran said.

The Greenway path for these properties is also located near a proposed business district.

Jones said he anticipates that creation of a village business district will get underway in just over a year, being fully built out in three to five years.

The Young property is critical for creation of a road system that will be used for the 8-acre commercial development.

The main street for the commercial area will be a continuation of Stanford Avenue. The new street will be built just off Barnett and connect through the land purchased by the city.

Jones said the remaining properties that lead to Chrissy Park are under the control of Mahar, which will provide easements to the city for the Greenway trail.

In most cases, developers will assume the cost of constructing the trail as part of various building projects, Jones said. In other cases, the city will be responsible for building portions of the trail, he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or

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