Talent considers plan for improvements to Chuck Roberts Park

TALENT — An amphitheater for outdoor movies and other events could be one of many improvements coming to Chuck Roberts Park as the Parks and Recreation Commission focuses on completing a master plan.

"We want to complete that in the next few years and move on to other parks, instead of jumping here and there," said Parks Commissioner Janet Chose.

Commissioners will work with a Bend firm to secure grants for the projects. Earlier this year, the City Council asked the commission to prioritize its desires. The council included funds in the parks budget to hire the consultant.

"I'm really excited about doing a walkway around the entire park. It kind of ties in with the trail system we are trying to get going," said Chose.

Movies were held a couple years ago in the park, said Chose. Plans aren't definite, but the amphitheater won't be large and it may have either grass seating or benches.

While many aspects of that park have already been developed, other features have not been completed and there is apparently no funding to get that work done, said Dale Shaddox, interim city manager.

Chuck Roberts Park, named for a former Talent police chief, is a 12-acre site west of Talent Avenue between Arnos Street and Rogue River Parkway.

The city's largest developed park, it includes baseball fields, tennis courts, basketball courts, a picnic area, children's playground, restrooms and soccer fields.

Public Affairs Research Consultants Resources of Bend has been retained to help prioritize projects and to help with grant applications. The company's previous Rogue Valley clients have included the city of Rogue River, Josephine County and the Medford Urban Renewal Agency.

Commissioners have seen other cities get parks grants and felt there would be ones for Talent, said Shaddox.

"Small cities need a little bit of help," said Shaddox. "We don't have the staff here at City Hall to spend a lot of time looking for grants and money."

PARC Resources has already identified a total of $850,000 in grants that could be sought for the park. The firm could pursue all those grants for less than $20,000, said Shaddox.

Commissioners met with PARC representatives on Nov. 15. A prioritized list was developed to match projects with grants available in the next few years.

Replacement of playground and swing area landing materials with a permanent surface and a safety railing and retaining walls around the tennis courts were identified as the top priority.

A permanent walkway and jogging path around the entire park is the second priority. A 6-foot-wide synthetic material path is envisioned.

Development of a large, open grass area east of the ball fields ranked third. New restrooms, a park storage building, soccer field improvements and amphitheater are envisioned.

Parking lot improvements adjacent to Talent Avenue ranked fourth. The area will get new surfacing next year under a separate ODOT grant, but lightning and landscaping will still be needed.

Other improvements could include a water feature adjacent to the playground area, a new picnic shelter with tables, barbecues and water fountains and Little League ballfield improvements.

PARC representatives will return on Dec. 14 to follow up on Chuck Roberts Park and to talk about another commission priority, development of a mini-park in an area with no park. No specific location has been selected.

Two openings exist on the commission, said Chose.

"I feel like this is an exciting time to be involved in the parks," she said.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.

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