MEDFORD, Ore. -- The residents of Medford's Liberty Park might be one step closer to the improvements they say they desperately need. On Thursday, an advisory committee will go before the Medford Urban Renewal Agency, or MURA, to make recommendations to approve a set of amendments to the city's revitalization plan. These amendments will increase MURA's funding and in turn, allow the city to make much needed improvements to Liberty Park.
The MURA board appointed the advisory committee to meet with residents of Liberty Park and find out what changes they would like to see. The amendments would funds Liberty Park street improvements, a sewer lateral replacement program, and housing assistance. Some of that funding would also go toward seismic upgrading in the City Center. The proposed changes would allow the budget to increase by about $20 million.
While Deputy City Manager Kelly Madding says Liberty Park has always been in MURA's area for revitalization, the neighborhood was neglected due to the original plan's lack funded projects in the area.
"There weren't a lot of projects that were Liberty Park-specific in the plan. This city council and this MURA board...at least the MURA board at this point has said [to] devise programs for Liberty Park...The money is dedicated to those projects specifically. I think we will carry out those projects but it's up to us to show that we can do that."
Liberty Park residents have been vocal about their wants for improvement projects in the area.
"We don't have sidewalks and we have a lot of people walking, the homeless teenagers, the other homeless people," said Joy Pelikan during MURA meeting back in January. "With parking on the street, that leaves people walking right about in the middle of the street."
Madding acknowledges that neighbors are skeptical but says if these amendments pass, MURA will follow through on its plans.
"I think that their attitude in some sense is, 'we're going to wait to see if you actually produce' and like I said I assured them that if this program goes forward, we will have these resources that are dedicated to their area and that we would carry out the program," said Medding.
Thursday's meeting however is the first step in lengthy process that ultimately will be decided on by the Medford City Council. However the city says if the amendments are passed, residents could see projects beginning by late summer 2018.
MURA accomplished its first project in 1993 and has gone through many changes since its inception but its goal has always been to revitalize the city's downtown. You can view a list of MURA's accomplishments here.