A gift of 1.5 acres will allow the Bear Creek Greenway to seek state funds for an extension of the pedestrian path north of Pine Street.

CENTRAL POINT — A gift of 1.5 acres will allow the Bear Creek Greenway to seek state funds for an extension of the pedestrian path north of Pine Street.

The land is in two tax lots between Pine Street and Upton Road. It's a gift from Naumes Properties LLC, which is jointly owned by the families of Mike and Laura Naumes and John and Marilyn Duke.

"We're excited at the county," said Jenna Stanke, special projects manager for Jackson County. "It's an important piece and connects directly with county property. Without it, we couldn't extend the Greenway through the Expo. Though it's a little parcel, it's a big piece of the puzzle."

The acreage is valued at $160,000. Stanke, the county's Greenway coordinator, said it will be years before the new site is developed into a paved bikeway and walking trail; however, it opens the way for planned development this summer of the Greenway from Upton to the Dean Creek frontage road.

"We've been working many years on this, with many discussions," said Stanke. "It's the link we needed to extend the Greenway from its present north end at Pine and make it reach to Upton."

Money for the development of trail segments comes mainly from the Transportation Enhancement Fund of the Oregon Department of Transportation and, now that the land has been acquired, an application can move forward, she said.

The gift of the land, she noted, was especially important for the cash-strapped county, which has little money to buy land for expanding the Greenway.

"We have a very small budget for the Greenway program," Stanke said. "We would have been forced to look for grant funding and cash donations, both of which are hard to come by in this economic climate. We very much appreciate the generosity of the company.

Robert Boggess, manager of Naumes Properties said, the donation "opens a huge door" for the Greenway.

"The owners of the company are delighted to contribute to the Greenway's continued success," he said. "It is a real gem for our community."

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.