MURA lacks money to pay for both parks and parking lots

Urban renewal dollars are almost tapped out, forcing a tough choice for Medford officials who find they don't have enough remaining funds to finish parks and parking lot projects.

The Medford Urban Renewal Agency had hoped there would be up to $700,000 left to put toward the Hawthorne Park makeover and Bear Creek Greenway improvements scheduled for this summer. Currently, $1 million has been budgeted for a project that could cost up to $1.7 million.

In addition, MURA hoped to spend an additional $700,000 toward finishing two parking lots on two downtown properties purchased last year.

Between the projects, the MURA board needs about $1.4 million.

On Thursday, the MURA board found out it only has about $700,000 left over once it completes more than a half-dozen remaining projects, including a new intersection at Fourth Street and Central Avenue.

Chris Corcoran, MURA board chairman and city councilor, said he considers the remodel of Hawthorne Park a priority.

"It's a crown jewel," he said. "It's the ribbon on the package that was urban renewal."

When MURA made Hawthorne Park a priority a few years ago, the two parking lot properties weren't even in the picture.

Corcoran said the city Budget Committee will meet in May and he hopes to get some direction to help prioritize the projects.

Also, the Budget Committee will make a recommendation about where to obtain the additional $700,000 needed, potentially from the city's budget, which is separate from the MURA budget.

— Damian Mann

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