Ashland residents will have one month to provide feedback on the future of Lithia Park through an interactive map and online survey.
The survey, including an interactive map of the entire park, will launch March 31 on the city’s website, www.ashland.or.us.
“It will be an opportunity for feedback that will get to the heart of issues,” said Laurie Matthews, the project manager.
The Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission authorized $230,000 last year to hire Portland MIG Inc. to update its Master Plan for Lithia Park — an analysis of the assets and issues of the city’s crown jewel.
The consulting firm presented a “Foundation Report” at the commission’s meeting Monday, summarizing its first step in the 18-month process. The 55-page report, written after field observations and interviews with commissioners, staff and stakeholders, will be used as a standard set of information on Lithia Park for the consulting team, the city and its residents, Matthews said.
She highlighted a number of strengths and weaknesses at Lithia Park, including Ashland Creek and other natural resources, buildings within the park and circulation patterns among vehicles and pedestrians. Big-picture issues such as sustainability and resiliency during climate change were also brought up.
“We recognize that the park is an area that is tied to a larger ecosystem,” she said. “We will look for ways to address water quality, to increase the health of the creek.”
Parks commissioners also named several issues that need to be addressed.
“The biggest challenge at Lithia Park is the camping issue,” Commissioner Joel Heller said. “Hopefully we’ll look at that.”
Matthews said the team has looked at the issue and planned to solicit more feedback over the upcoming survey.
Commissioner Rick Landt advocated to reserve larger, older trees in the park.
“The less obvious key in Lithia Park are large trees — some of them have been there for a hundred years,” Landt said.
Commissioner Mike Gardiner wanted the team to address accessibility and safety throughout the park, citing that some trails and routes lead directly to open roads with traffic.
The team, working with several local subcontractors, plans to have the strategic planning run through April before setting up an open studio for a “design week” in June.
Residents can reach the team at ParksInfo@ashland.or.us.
—Reach reporter Tran Nguyen at 541-776-4485 or tnguyen@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on twitter @nguyenntrann.