–UPDATE January 31, 4:35 PM– Ashland Parks and Recreation announced this afternoon that the trees will stay for now. The prospective donor for the project decided the project should be deferred and reconsidered. The donor cited concerns that the project was not contributing to community harmony as originally anticipated. As a result the Ashland Parks and Recreation Director, Michael A. Black, says that the project will not proceed this year and that its future is under review.
–UPDATE 11:00 PM– Ashland Parks and Recreation commissioners met with the public Monday night to vote on the remodel of the Japanese Garden in Lithia Park.
Dozens of people showed up to the meeting and over 30 people requested to share their opinions in front of the commissioners. Many people at the meeting were against removing two Douglas Fir trees for the remodel while some were in agreeance with the proposed remodel plan.
The commissioners voted in favor of the proposed remodel plan which does include removing the trees.
After the meeting, those opposed to the removal began discussing the ideas of starting a petition.
ASHLAND, Ore. — Ashland Commissioners are meeting to discuss a controversial renovation in Lithia Park.
It’s all part of a plan to remodel the park’s Japanese garden. But the plans aren’t sitting well with some Ashland residents who are protesting two healthy douglas fir trees being removed.
“Trees are the lungs of the planet…,” said Julie Norman, Ashland resident.
The fate of two douglas fir trees are at the root of a recent debate.
“We want it managed according to the mission of the Parks and Recreation Department which is [to] preserve and maintain,” said Norman.
The Ashland Parks Foundation wants to re-design the park’s Japanese style garden to create a more authentic and wheel-chair accessible garden. However, in doing so, two healthy trees need to be removed.
“The trees are definitely old and they’re definitely beautiful,” said Michael Black, Director of Ashland Parks and Recreation. “But it’s going to be kind of hard to work around them too and they are kind of encroaching on the garden and on the sunspace for the garden as well.”
Black says it’s unfortunate, but they are on board with the plan as is.
Still, he’s hoping everyone finds a way to work together for the greater good of the community.
“The ability to do such a major renovation in the park… so, I really hope that we can find a way that we can make all the groups happy,” he said.
Parks Commissioners will be voting on the proposal Monday night.
Amanda Rose is a multimedia journalist for NBC5 News. Amanda graduated from Columbia University earning a Master’s degree in Journalism. She also received a Bachelor’s degree in English with a specialization in literature from the University of British Columbia.
She’s a Los Angeles native, but is thrilled to return to the beautiful Pacific Northwest and is passionate about reporting on the criminal justice system.