The furor over changes at the Ashland Senior Center have overshadowed everything else the Parks and Recreation Commission is doing, even when there is little or no connection. A project to create a new master plan for Lithia Park is among those commission efforts that are reasonable when viewed dispassionately, but take on an almost sinister character when viewed through the lens of Senior Center supporters.
The new master plan for the park will be produced by Portland consulting firm MIG Inc., which specializes in urban planning and design, including parks and recreation and master plans. The process will involve extensive public participation, starting this week, when residents may weigh in on the park in a listening session from 4-5:30 p.m. Wednesday.
The master plan replaces one that was completed 100 years ago. And it is intended to guide maintenance and preservation of the park for a century to come.
That puts the $230,000 contract into perspective. It may seem like a lot of money, but it's not an outrageous amount to spend on 100-year plan for the city's premier outdoor space.
As Parks Director Michael Black stresses, the intention is not to reinvent the park. Lithia Park works very well on many levels, and it doesn't need to change drastically. At the same time, parts of it are showing their age, including the Perozzi Fountain and the often-vandalized (and currently stored) Abe Lincoln statue.
Ashland residents should welcome the opportunity to participate in planning the park's next century.