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Ashland plans to spruce up before summer tourists arrive

 Posted: 4:40 PM April 08, 2014

Ashland is planning several quick projects to spruce up the town before the height of the summer tourist season.

The City Council recently approved short-term aesthetic and safety improvements that had been recommended by the Downtown Beautification Improvement Ad Hoc Committee.

Visitors will see three new "Welcome to Ashland" signs at a cost of $3,150 total. They'll be installed near a railroad trestle on North Main Street, at Siskiyou Boulevard and Tolman Creek Road and on Ashland Street near Exit 14. The city may spend $3,000 more if it decides to light the signs.

The city will replace unsightly asphalt along a sidewalk on Lithia Way between Oak and Pioneer streets with soil and possibly flowers at a cost of $12,500.

In the fall, the city will add a row of trees and tree grates to help Lithia Way more closely resemble the rest of downtown.

A new street light costing $3,000 and designed to be pedestrian-friendly will illuminate a dark walkway that connects Main Street with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Thomas Theatre.

A final short-term project will involve improving a messy triangle of dirt, bark chips and concrete next to a convenience store at the intersection of Lithia Way and Pioneer Street. The corner is home to a public art sculpture resembling columns of rock. Costs and other details are yet to be determined.

The Ashland Parks and Recreation Department has been tasked with improving the landscaping around city-owned downtown parking lots, which are suffering from sparse plantings and weeds, according to the ad hoc committee. A parks department policy not to use herbicides in most cases has created maintenance difficulties. Landscaping at a Lithia Way parking lot was recently maintained by people who had been required to perform community service, according to staff.

The short-term projects will be paid for with city lodging tax revenue. The city has about $62,000 earmarked for improvement projects each year.

The ad hoc committee is continuing to work on prioritizing and formulating recommendations for longer-term improvement projects.

Some residents would like improvement dollars spent to replace dark gray pavers that were installed as part of a controversial downtown Plaza renovation project.

— Vickie Aldous

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