Focus group participants and survey respondents want it to honor Crook County's heritage and history

PHOTO COURTESY OF CITY OF PRINEVILLE - One item under consideration for roundabout art is the old Hudspeth steel wheel logging cart.

Right now, most people likely see Prineville's new roundabout as little more than a new traffic structure.

But local leaders hope to eventually give it more meaning to residents and motorists who encounter it as they head east into the community. They want it to be the gateway to the community, and they plan to do that with carefully chosen artwork.

"Now that the roundabout is open, the community has an opportunity to decide what they would like to go in there," said City Engineer Eric Klann, who has spearheaded an effort to install artwork at the center of the new structure.

The Prineville City Council convened a workshop in mid-February to launch a preliminary discussion on the topic.

"We have had a couple of focus groups where we are getting the community together to talk about opportunities," Klann added.

Most recently, city staff reached out to around 9,000 residents with a survey, generating more than 1,000 responses.

The council, the focus group, and survey respondents all came to one similar conclusion — whatever artwork was chosen should celebrate Crook County's history. People have universally called for artwork to represent the mining, agriculture, logging and ranching roots of the community.

Those weighing in also made clear what they don't want — an abstract piece of art that reminds them of what they see in Bend.

Klann said that community leaders are strongly considering use of existing machinery and other items located throughout the county for the roundabout centerpiece rather than creating a piece of art from scratch.

"One of the items we have talked about is the original Hudspeth steel wheel logging cart," Klann said. "That is a pretty neat artifact that we have."

Other potential artifacts under consideration include an old mining derrick and dredge as well as different ranching equipment available throughout Crook County.

The idea was supported publicly by Crook County Commissioner Jerry Brummer, a focus group member who spoke at a recent city council meeting.

"We have a lot of things here that are unique to our county," he said.

City councilors agreed and went on to stress how important it is to make good decisions that align with the desires of community residents.

"This is something that is going to have to last for 40 or 50 years or even more," said Prineville Mayor Betty Roppe, "and I want to make sure it is something that we really, really want."

The roundabout focus group will meet again this coming Tuesday, from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. at Prineville City Hall, to further discuss artwork options. Klann said members of the public are welcome to attend.

Local leaders hope to reach a decision in the coming weeks as work on the roundabout continues. Though the structure is open to east-west highway traffic and to northbound Tom McCall Road, work still remains on the south side connection of the structure that will not likely conclude until mid-fall.

"We can't start any (artwork) construction until ODOT is completely done," Klann said. "I would think next spring we will be working in there."

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