New park comes to Medford

A small, but long-awaited park will take shape next year in a west Medford neighborhood sandwiched between Riverside and Central avenues.

Liberty Park, at the corner of Maple and North Bartlett streets, will be completed sometime before fall 2012 in coordination with work on The Commons, a redevelopment project that will feature the headquarters for Lithia Motors.

"There are kids in the neighborhood that would make good use of it," said Pastor Stan Way of Cornerstone Christian Church, across the street from the proposed park.

On June 7, city officials will hold a public hearing to receive comments on what features the community would like to see in the park. A location for the hearing hasn't been firmed up yet.

"The neighborhood will drive what goes into the park," said Brian Sjothun, director of the Medford Parks and Recreation Department.

Lithia Motors, as part of its agreement with the city on The Commons project, has agreed to provide $500,000 toward the park, which will cover two now-vacant lots and will be roughly the size of Vogel Plaza in downtown Medford.

Sjothun said it will take about two months to complete the public process before the Parks and Recreation Commission adopts a plan on Aug. 16. Then, the City Council will make its decision on Sept. 1.

The opening of Liberty Park will coincide with the opening of The Commons sometime next year.

Liberty Park has been discussed off and on over the years but was stalled along with The Commons project when the recession hit.

Way said the lots across from his church have sat vacant since he became the pastor 14 years ago. "Having a park there would be an improvement," he said.

He said the neighborhood itself has improved over the years, and many houses have been remodeled.

He said the city should consider making the park as kid-friendly as possible.

Phillip Hosley said he moved into his house on Maple just a few months ago, so he welcomed news of the park for himself, his grandchildren and the neighborhood children.

"It would be nice to have a park," he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or e-mail

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