One out of two

Medford city officials' potential plan to close a block of Ivy Street between Main and Eighth streets downtown makes sense. Shutting down the two-block stretch of Ivy between Eighth and 10th streets is less appealing.

The section between Main and Eighth streets is narrow and gets relatively little traffic. More importantly, it separates Alba Park from Library Park, the green space surrounding the old Carnegie building.

Removing the street would connect the two park blocks into one, making a much more inviting downtown gathering space and enhancing the city-owned Carnegie building.

We're less enthused with the idea of closing the stretch of Ivy that runs from Eighth to 10th and separates City Hall from the post office building recently acquired by Jackson County.

City Councilman Dick Gordon says the council has been talking for two years about acquiring the land now covered by the street for future use. One possibility is a new police headquarters to replace the outdated and cramped space the department occupies in City Hall.

Once the Postal Service departs, there will be less need for on-street parking on that stretch of Ivy. But the City Hall's parking lot is small, and street spaces are a convenience for residents who have business with departments in City Hall or the Lausmann Annex.

In addition, closing Ivy would leave only one vehicle entrance to the City Hall parking lot from Oakdale Street, a four-lane street.

The city will need to build a new police headquarters at some point, but plans to ask voters for a bond issue this fall were scrapped.

Gordon said he will wait for a city staff report and recommendation before endorsing either street closure, but he suggested the city should act sooner rather than later.

"If we don't start protecting (the land) now, we could lose the opportunity to do so in the future," he said. It's unclear why that would be. Certainly no one else could use the land without the city's OK.

It's hard to see the urgency. Surely the City Council could decide to close the street whenever it needed to.

Since there are no immediate plans for a new police building, the city should wait to take over the street until it becomes necessary.

Correction

Laird Funk, who wrote a guest opinion in Sunday's paper, serves on the Advisory Committee on Medical Marijuana but is no longer its chairman. The tagline on the opinion was in error.

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