Medford receives grant for new park

MEDFORD — An infusion of more than $420,000 for Medford Parks and Recreation will spark development of a 15-acre park and provide playground equipment for another.

Oregon Hills Park, at the corner of McAndrews Avenue and Chablis Trail in east Medford, received a grant of $376,513 from the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission.

The park will occupy a wooded area where two tributaries of Lazy Creek converge. The design will feature unstructured, natural-play areas, a water and sand play area, pathways, a climbing area for kids, a picnic pavilion, parking lot and creekside discovery area.

"It's a new concept — not new on the national scene — but new to our parks system," said parks planner Pete Young of the natural-play approach.

"There are a lot of different elements that encourage natural play and invite kids to interact in the natural world. It's a lot like kids played when I was growing up."

In addition, a 10-by-10-foot trestle, called the Shady Oak Discovery Platform, will give people in wheelchairs and walkers a close-up view of the park's native oak trees.

"It will be almost kind of like a treehouse deck," added Young. "Kids who can't normally get into the tree tops because of mobility issues can get up close and enjoy the park."

Long-range plans call for the park to eventually include a trail system, exercise stations, additional picnic shelters, restrooms and possibly a basketball or volleyball court.

The Parks and Recreation Department has budgeted $460,182 as a match for the first phase of the project, estimated to cost just under $840,000.

A second grant from the state, for $44,000, will help fund a new playground at Lone Pine Park, a project that neighborhood children and parents will help to design, Young said.

Public input was used to plan the design for Oregon Hills Park, as well.

Construction at both parks is slated to begin next spring, with completion expected by fall 2012.

Information about the parks will soon be placed on the department website at www.playmedford.com.

Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at buffyp76@yahoo.com

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