Park upkeep will depend on available resources

TALENT — A resident has asked the city to water shrubs and do other work at Lynn Newbry Park, but officials are concerned about spending money on a facility the city doesn't own.

"I'm just trying to get them to maintain it," said David Orchid. "The lilacs are gorgeous when they bloom in the spring. They are probably 25 years old and they are just going to die."

The city replaced portable toilets with new restrooms last month at the park, which is just south of West Valley View road on the east side of Bear Creek near the freeway interchange. The new rest rooms cost $56,215. An irrigation system was damaged by a 2005 flood and doesn't work.

"I volunteered earlier to water the park, but there isn't a spigot on the property," said Orchid. "It's to the advantage of the park to maintain and rescue what is there."

The Oregon Department of Transportation owns the 21/2;-acre site. Jackson County maintained the park, through which runs the Bear Creek Greenway, under a 25-year agreement that expired in 2004. Since then, the city has operated the facility under a verbal agreement.

"We do have a large range of parks and open space," said Councilman E. J. McManus, who is liaison to the Parks and Recreation Commission. "We just want to make sure that the money that we put in is appropriate for this time as well as five years from now. We need to think long term."

Labor costs to maintain the rest rooms, including opening and closing them to prevent camping inside, are estimated at $10,000 per year. Supplies run $1,700 per year.

A master plan for city parks calls for the investment of $125,000 in fiscal year 2012-13 for an irrigation system and other work at the park. But city officials are uneasy about investing more in a piece of property they don't own.

"We like to know what (ODOT's) thoughts are right now," said City Manager Jay Henry. In the past, city officials have talked with the agency about transferring the property. Henry has directed City Engineer Joe Strahl to draft a letter to ODOT.

"Our Public Works Department has told me that they did not believe the federal highway agency would allow ODOT to transfer the property," said Henry. The agency may want to retain ownership in case the freeway interchange needs to be expanded.

"I think the department wants to hold on to the real estate," said ODOT spokesman Gary Leaming. But he said the agency would welcome a written agreement governing the property.

"We own the land. They own all the facilities," said Leaming. "The verbal lease allows them to continue to use it as a park and allows the Greenway to go through the piece of property." ODOT issued a permit to allow the city to install the rest rooms, said Adam Stallsworth, district permit specialist.

"If you quit maintaining the landscaping and if it becomes a nuisance, we would remove it," said Stallsworth.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at

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