People want changes that will make Hawthorne Park safer, study finds

Public opinion favors situating the playground and pool at Hawthorne Park closer to surrounding streets to improve this downtown recreational facility and make it less of a haven for criminal behavior.

"We heard safety was a really big concern in the park," said Dan Jenkins of MacKenzie Group, which was hired by the Medford Urban Renewal Agency to study upgrading the park.

Preliminary plans and a survey helped gauged local residents reactions to improving Hawthorne Park, plagued in recent years by criminal activity and homeless people who sleep overnight.

The MURA board has set aside $1 million to upgrade the park in hopes of incorporating into the revitalization of downtown. The money doesn't cover the costs of a new swimming pool, which is part of a $14.5 million bond measure before voters this fall.

A poll of local residents found that 513 approved a proposal that would make playgrounds, the pool and other intensive activities more visible from surrounding streets. Another similar proposal that would place a new swimming pool near Main Street came in second with 421 approving. A third proposal, which would cluster activities in the center of the park, received thumbs up from 318 respondents.

Some of the options that received the most favorable ratings include a swimming pool, playground, restrooms, lighting and making improvements along Bear Creek.

— Damian Mann

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