Community bike park proposed


Local COTA representative Darlene Henderson presented the idea to the Prineville City Council last month

by: LON AUSTIN - This parcel of city-owned land, north of Ochoco Creek Park and west of Juniper Street, was the top choice given for the proposed bike park.

To bolster recreational opportunities in Prineville, local Central Oregon Trail Alliance (COTA) representative Darlene Henderson is proposing construction of a new bike park.

“It is an outdoor recreational facility that is specifically designed for bikes,” she said. “It has high density trails and what are called technical features.”

Those technical features include wood elements like ladder bridges and log rides, rock gardens, rock drops, and boulder causeways, and dirt berms and bicycle jumps.

“They are the fastest growing type of park in the U.S.,” Henderson said.

With the help of Crook County Commissioner Seth Crawford, Henderson has given presentations to the local Kiwanis and Rotary clubs as well as the Parks and Recreation District board and staff.

Those entities all expressed support for the proposal. Parks and Recreation District director Richard Bonine noted that the parks industry is leaning more toward these types of unorganized sports facilities, because of the reduced need for maintenance.

“It’s not like a baseball facility where everybody comes at once and plays a game,” he said. “People come and go at their leisure.”

The challenge Henderson faces is securing a suitable location. During a presentation at a late November Prineville City Council meeting, she proposed three potential locations. All of them are city-owned and include a plot on the northeast corner of Main Street and Peters Road, a parcel north of Crooked River Park on South Main Street, and another just north of Ochoco Creek Park, bordering the west side of Juniper Street.

Henderson stated her preference for the Ochoco Creek Park-area location because of it proximity to an existing bike trail and existing park as well as its central location in the community. She further asked the city to donate the land on the basis that the bike park would function as a community facility.

The proposal was met with resistance from city councilors as they are still determining what they want to do with the land holdings. Dean Noyes explained that earlier this year, the council agreed to work with the city’s realtor of record to determine the value of each property they own and decide on the best course of action for each parcel.

“It’s an objective, arms-length view of where we are and it makes sense to get that perspective back so we can be better guided in making these decisions,” he said.

Councilor Steve Uffelman agreed, noting that private offers have come in for the land near Ochoco Creek Park.

“It has monetary value to the taxpayers we represent,” he said.

In response, Henderson said she agreed, but said the decision should come down to how you measure the value of the land.

“To me, I’m a taxpayer and a resident, and I think there is a lot of value in recreation. That draws people and that serves the community,” she remarked.

To punctuate that point, Crawford told the council about a survey conducted by the National Association of Homebuilders in 2000. He noted that 36 percent of the homebuyers they surveyed listed walking, jogging, or biking trails as important or very important, the highest rating other than highway access.

“To me, putting an amenity like that in our town would improve the community and bring more folks to live here,” he said.

While city councilors preferred to determine land values and the best strategy for each parcel, they did appear to support the bike park idea itself.

“I would love something else for them (local children) to do,” said Councilor Jason Beebe, who grew up enjoying riding bike trails in town. “It is keeping kids out of other things they could be into. I support the concept.”