Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Conversations about the future of Medford’s parks and green spaces occurred at the public meeting hosted by the Park Board on the evening of March 9 at City Hall. Staff photo by Anna Segner.

Medford residents’ park dreams might be more than a pipe dream

The Medford Park Board welcomed residents to dream about what they would like incorporated in area parks. 

Over the past six months, the park board has been discussing the futures of the various green spaces. On March 9, they opened that conversation up to the community during a public meeting at City Hall. 

“This is an opportunity to think about what you would want the parks to look like in 20 years,” Park Board Member Jerry Paschke said to the few that gathered to suggest ideas. 

“We’re not looking for the nuts and bolts about how to make something happen, because if we only did that, nothing would ever happen,” said Paschke.

The meeting ran as an open forum for discussion. Park maps and notepads were arranged on each table for residents to review and write down their ideas. 

Eight green spaces were up for discussion, including: Central Park, Straight River Park, Radel Park on First Street Southeast, Jones green space on Second Street Southwest, Frank Woodfill Wildlife Refuge (a mile south of Medford on County Road 45), Outlet A at the end of Riverview, Old Water Tower Site (on First Street Southwest, and the New Water Tower Site (on Third Avenue Southeast).

Park board members were present at the meeting and were available to chat about ideas. 

The city presented ideas, and community members added to the list. Ideas for the parks ranged from community gardens to drinking fountains to play areas. 

Another idea was a river trail for Frank Woods Wildlife Refuge. 

Diane Ristau suggested pickle ball courts for the Radel Park. She said that she has played with her family at the Owatonna pickle ball courts in Morehouse Park, and they really enjoyed the game. She mentioned that, if courts were in Medford, it would be fun to get a Medford league together. 

The ideas will be considered in a 20-year plan. The park board hopes to get assistance in drafting a plan from the University of Minnesota. 

New park board member Grace Bartlett said that the public meeting was partially an effort to appeal to the University of Minnesota’s funding and assistance. “We want to hear from the community and get people involved,” she said. 

Adam Jirak, of the city’s Public Works department, was passionate about making the green spaces the best that they can be. 

“We need other places beyond the Straight River Park for kids to play,” said Jirak. “I’m not from the city, but I would have loved to easily get to a park to shoot hoops with friends when I was little.” 

He spoke about how the Old Water Tower site is small, but it could function as a fun area if it had a small playground, half basketball court and a small pavilion. 

“We have to be careful about what we can and can’t do. Certain areas of town have more to offer kids, and we have to be concerned with safety. Some areas are more isolated than others,” said Jirak. “I’d like to see places that parents trust for their kids.” 

All ideas are going to be reviewed and considered over the next year as the Park Board develops a plan.

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