Developers pay for parks in Medford and other cities

I'm wondering what developers have to do to make sure there are enough play areas for children in the city. I'm thinking of the new high-density apartment complex on Spring Street. It's almost like they got their own park that other people have to pay for.

— Rhonda R., Medford

It may seem that way, Rhonda, but the answer is different than you imagine. The Jackson County Housing Authority gave the city 2.5 acres of property that will help expand the Donahue-Frohnmayer Park and act as a buffer along Spring Street. The Housing Authority also built a play area within the apartment complex.

Every developer is required to pay system development charges to the city before building. The SDCs pay for parks and a variety of other city services, such as sewers and roads. There are at least three dozen parks in Medford alone.

The Housing Authority's project on Spring Street, called Cherry Creek, has been controversial since Day One. Originally designed to house 100 units, it drew a maelstrom of protests from neighbors, who said it would affect property values and increase traffic congestion. Their concerns led the Medford City Council in September 2011 to reject the project, saying it was incompatible with the neighborhood.

But the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals ruled that the city made mistakes in denying the Jackson County Housing Authority's application.

The Housing Authority threatened a discrimination lawsuit against the city last year, which led to a compromise.

The Housing Authority reduced the size to 50 units on Spring Street and transferred the 2.5 acres of the 6-acre property to the city for parkland and a buffer. In exchange, the city agreed to swap a commercially zoned lot at the corner of Sixth and Grape streets (behind the Mail Tribune) to the Housing Authority, which plans to build a 30,000-square-foot building that will contain 50 units of low-income housing.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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