Liberty Park takes shape 20 years later

A dream for 20 years, Liberty Park finally will make the transition from concept to reality over the next month.

The city has put the project out to bid and expects a ground-breaking ceremony in September for the quarter-acre lot at the corner of North Bartlett and Maple streets.

Brian Sjothun, director of Medford Parks and Recreation, said the project is small enough that he anticipates many bids would be received by the Sept. 8 deadline.

"The bidding pool should be fairly large," he said.

The city already has ordered the $33,775 concrete, prefabricated restroom, the $21,260 playground equipment and the $12,155 picnic shelter.

Sjothun said the park has been designed primarily for younger children, though it's also suitable for families.

The construction contract is expected to be small enough that City Manager Eric Swanson can sign off on it without additional approvals from the Medford Urban Renewal Agency board.

The playground will have a spin-max tower, which is an updated version of a merry-go-round. A play structure with areas to climb and slides will be installed. Five benches also have been ordered.

A multi-spring safari truck has been donated by Krauss Craft Inc., the manufacturer of the playground equipment located in Grants Pass. The value of the safari truck is $5,549.

The unisex bathroom will have a single toilet and sink, as well as a drinking fountain attached to the building.

The park has had a long history, with other sites chosen but ultimately abandoned over the years.

To create the Medford Urban Renewal Agency more than 20 years ago, the Liberty Park neighborhood was cited as an economically depressed area that would benefit from redevelopment dollars.

Lithia Motors was required to spend up to $500,000 on the park as part of its agreement with MURA and the city of Medford to build The Commons downtown. Under the agreement, the park should be completed by the end of the year.

Lithia calculates it has provided $523,230, which includes land acquisition.

The Medford Public Works Department is removing cracked concrete and replacing it with new concrete on North Bartlett, next to the park.

Cory Crebbin, public works director, said the street work has been scheduled for some time and was not related to the park.

Joy Pelikan, who lives a couple of blocks from the new park, said she welcomes the concrete replacement.

Pelikan said she would like the city to consider building more sidewalks in the neighborhood so the walk to the park can be easier.

"So many people have to walk in the street with their strollers," she said.

She said she also plans to take her granddaughter to the new park for picnics.

"It's quite convenient for me," she said. "It will bring me happiness. Maybe the park is not what we strived for, but it will be a small neighborhood improvement."

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or email

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