Plaza-style skate park will include multiple concrete ramps and a bowl while tennis courts will get new surface

ARTWORK COURTESY OF CROOK COUNTY PARKS AND RECREATION DISTRICT - CCPRD plans to double the size of the skate park and resurface the tennis courts, among other improvements.

The local skate park will soon get doubled in size, and the nearby tennis courts will receive long overdue repair work, thanks to new grant funding.

The Crook County Parks and Recreation District was finally awarded a local government grant by the Oregon State Parks Commission, following two unsuccessful attempts the past two years. The district will receive $280,896, 60 percent of the funds needed for the $468,160 project, and the remaining 40 percent match of $187,264 will be covered by several cash donations, donated in-kind work, and cash saved by the district.

Prineville's skate park was built in the early 1990s, after a group of high school bikers took their idea to then Crook County Parks and Recreation District Director Gary Ward in 1989. With his help, they chose the site and solicited donations from the community for the blacktop, fencing and labor. The kids built some of the original ramps.

"Fast forward to about four years back, the Ford Family Foundation did some leadership training and classes," said CCPRD Executive Director Duane Garner. Each year, the leadership cohorts completed a project, one of which was to resurface the skate park.

"That's where the latest (skate park expansion) effort really got some momentum," Garner said.

Members of the cohort engaged local skaters to determine what changes they would like to see to the more than 20-year-old facility. Meanwhile the parks district leaders reached out to Dreamland Skateparks, based in Astoria.

"We had them come out and do a workshop with the young people," Garner said. "They sat them down and all of the kids got papers and pencils, and they all drafted what they thought a new skate park should look like."

While skate park renovation discussions moved forward, the parks district began hearing from local pickleball players. They had begun using the tennis courts adjacent to the skate park, but since they are in such poor shape, the players have asked for the district to repair them.

"The courts down there have been sitting for years without any attention," Garner said. "That surface has been bad for a long time."

Parking had also become an issue as more and more people had begun using the park amenities off of Juniper Street. To fix the problem, the city approved diagonal parking near the skate park and tennis courts as well as ADA access to the facilities.

Because of all the needs concentrated in the same area, Garner said the district decided to pursue a larger-scale single project that would address the issues. The grant funds will pay for the parking changes, a new tennis court surface, and a skate park renovation and expansion that will more than double the size of the attraction.

Contractors will remove the metal ramps, leaving the new concrete surface intact, and add multiple concrete ramps and other fixtures featured at a typical plaza-style skate park. The facility will feature a bowl, common at other skate parks in Central Oregon, but due to groundwater issues, the bowl will be shallower than other parks.

"I think we are going to end up with something that is kind of unique to the area," Garner said.

Final approval of the local government grant will come in September, so no work can begin on the project until after that time. Depending on weather and other factors, the project could begin as early as this fall or wait until the following spring and summer. The work is expected to take about two or three months, and the facilities will be closed during construction.

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