The path along Larson Creek, photographed near Murphy Road in east Medford, may someday connect to the Bear Creek Greenway. - Bob Pennell

Mini-greenway would be missing link

A proposed mini-greenway along Larson Creek through east Medford would connect North Phoenix Road with the Bear Creek Greenway.

The proposal will be presented to the Medford City Council during a study session at noon today.

Walkers who use the path alongside Larson Creek every day were excited to hear news of the proposal.

"I would support an extension," said Mary Nelson, who walks the path with April Kincaid, her co-worker at the Senior Services Office on State Street in Medford.

Nelson said she'd even ride her bicycle along the path if it connected to the Bear Creek Greenway. "I won't ride in traffic," she said. "It's just too dangerous."

But Margaret Hutsell, a resident of the nearby Sun Oaks subdivision who walks her dog, Freddie, a Shih Tzu, on the path every day, said she has mixed feelings.

She said she hates to see word get out about one of Medford's best-kept secrets and worries that upgrading and lengthening the path could lead to overcrowding of the serene space.

Medford Public Works employees and Steve Durrant, (see correction below) landscape architect with Alta Planning + Design in Portland, will present the plans for the 1.7 mile Larson Creek Greenway.

Roughly one-fourth of the path already exists. When completed, the greenway would hook up to the Bear Creek Greenway on one end and the proposed Southeast Plan's greenway along Larson Creek at North Phoenix Road on the other end.

Durant said it will not only provide a route for pedestrians and bicyclists but will enhance the creek and its surroundings.

"We're very excited about it in part because there is that section that people use and it's very popular," he said.

Alex Georgevitch, traffic engineer for Medford public works, said preliminary costs put the greenway construction at $1.5 million to $2 million, but the figure does not include easements and property purchases.

"Land acquisition costs are unknown at this time," he said. He said though state and federal grants would be sought, there is no funding designated for the project.

Among the options are building a path through what is now part of the Rogue Valley Manor's Quail Point Golf Course, should the golf course change in the future.

Tom Becker, Rogue Valley Manor's chief executive officer and president of Pacific Retirement Services, said he was surprised to learn about the proposal and said there are no plans to change Quail Point.

"I don't know what they're doing," he said, adding that the Manor worked with the city 14 years ago to move the fence and give it an easement.

Georgevitch said the purpose of the study being presented is to establish an alignment for the remainder of the corridor so as future development is proposed, the property can be protected.

The council is set to review several aspects of the proposed route, including demolition of some duplexes and removal of a concrete channel to restore the creek's native habitat as well as an easement from St. Mary's School. Bridges, crosswalks and an overpass above North Phoenix Road are also being proposed.

Georgevitch said the proposal is recommended by the city's bicycle committee and city engineers because Barnett Road will likely not have bike lanes east of Ellendale Drive once the new south Medford interchange is built. He said due to property acquisition, adding bike lanes to Barnett would cost $15 million to $20 million, so the Larson Creek Greenway is an alternative route.

Durant said he and city staff are looking for feedback from the council, and plan to return in about two months with a final recommendation.

Reach reporter Meg Landers at 776-4481 or e-mail

Correction: Steve Durrant's name was misspelled in the original version of this story. It has been corrected in this version.

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