First phase will include a natural meadow along the creek, walking paths, a playground, a restroom and the relocation and enlargement of a community garden
Construction of Ashland Creek Park is underway and is set to be complete early in the new year.
The process to build the park began in 2003 when the Parks and Recreation department purchased seven acres of land on East Hersey Street where it intersects with Water Street.
"The land was purchased with the intent to build a neighborhood park," says Parks Superintendent Bruce Dickens. "We went through quite a bit of public process while planning it out."
Construction plans were ready in 2011 when Dickens joined the department, but funding was not in place.
"I worked with the staff here to make a grand proposal to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department," Dickens says.
The city applied for and was awarded a grant of $310,000 to help pay for the construction of the park. The balance needed for construction, about $150,000, will come from the city's capital improvement fund.
The total cost for phase one of the park is budgeted at $620,000.
The department received two bids for construction of the park with Medford-based Roxy Ann Rock Construction submitting the lower qualified bid.
"They've done work for us in the past, " Dickens says. "I'm confident in the contractor and their work. I'm comfortable with the timeline and know that they're good at completing work on time."
Dickens gave the company notice to proceed with construction on July 28 and work began Aug. 11. While the project won't have a formal groundbreaking ceremony, the Parks and Recreation Department plans to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony upon the park's completion.
Of the seven acres, four will be developed for the park in this first phase.
"It will have a lot of the obvious stuff in it," Dickens says. "There will be playground equipment, bike racks, a kiosk, it's a nice neighborhood park."
The park also will feature the return of the community gardens in a larger size.
"It will feature more formal pathways through it," Dickens says. "The old gardens started to blend together. I think the new gardens will have a much better layout."
An old, white barn that is believed to have been built in the 1930s was torn down in the early stages of the project. While the metal roof and much of the wood was sent to be recycled, Dickens says that some of the wood will be used in the park.
"We stockpiled as much usable lumber as we could," Dickens says. "We might be able to use it for benches or other structures in the park. We'll need to find some creative uses for it. A lot of the wood has character."
There also are plans for a half-court basketball court and shelter in a future development phase of the park. Costs for phase two have not been estimated or budgeted yet.
At the start of the project, the old white barn has been torn down, the community gardens have been taken out and grading has begun. The plan calls for utility work to occur in mid-September, with restrooms, drinking fountains and community garden path layouts set for mid-October. Work on playground equipment and concrete paths through the park is set to begin in mid-November and the park finished in January.
"I'd say that, in my experience, this is a pretty reasonable timeline for the type of park we're building," Dickens says.
Though there are many changes coming to the property, at least one thing will remain the same. A fig tree at the park will stay.
"It's something that's really important to the community," Dickens says. "It's sort of an icon. It will need some pruning, but we've got some tree protection around it to keep it safe during construction."
An archaeological dig for American Indian artifacts was conducted at the site in late-May by Ashland-based company Cascade Research. Dennis Gray, the company's owner and principal investigator, expects to finish processing uncovered material and have results ready to present in late-September.
"This park really has been a fun project," Dickens says. "I'm excited to see it reach completion."
Email reporter Ian Hand at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 253-722-4071. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/IanHand_DT.