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The community is invited to a playground Design Day event on Tuesday evening in Prineville

A new playground for the kids of Prineville – that's what Crook County Parks and Recreation Foundation Board Chair Linda Haden wants, and she's volunteered to spearhead the effort.

She invites the community to a Design Day event next Tuesday, Sept. 11 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Eastside Church. Danielle Campbell, a designer from Playgrounds by Leathers, will share some possible designs, gather information and answer questions.

"CCPRD is very eager to work on this project as it could prove to be a fantastic couplet to the new splash pad being built at the Old Stryker Field," Crook County Parks and Recreation District Executive Director Duane Garner said. "The fun value could go through the roof with this one!"

Haden and the foundation have chosen an area next to the Kiwanis Splash Park as the site of a future playground, noting that the two structures will complement each other. The spot is near the Crook County Fire and Rescue building and Ochoco Creek at Stryker Park on Northeast Court Street.

"The location is pending approval from the City of Prineville and FEMA as this area is in the flood plane," Garner pointed out.

The particulars of the design will be left up to the experts – local children.

Campbell will arrive in Prineville from Ithaca, New York, on Monday afternoon and will meet with Parks and Rec Foundation folks and visit the Stryker Park site.

On Tuesday morning, Campbell will visit local schools to conduct brainstorming design sessions with elementary students to gather their visions of a dream playground.

Based on the students' input and drawings, Campbell will create a schematic design Tuesday afternoon and share some playground designs that evening during the Design Day event.

Haden said the structure will be made of composite material, which is more expensive and lasts longer than wood, and will be handicapped-accessible. It will be designed for toddlers and elementary-age children.

"This will be more of a low-impact kind of playground, where it's closer to the ground and more stable," Haden said.

In addition to the Playgrounds by Leathers, Garner said the parks district is also looking at adding a musical component to the plans. A company called Freenotes Harmony Park builds musical instruments that resemble playground equipment. The instruments are actually tuned and are played using mallets.

"These instruments could be placed along a path or adjacent to the splash pad and playground to add some educational and artistic play," Garner said.

This idea was brought the table by the newest board member of the Crook County Parks and Recreation Foundation, John Bond.

"John comes to the foundation with a long background in construction and is willing to help make this project a success," Garner said. "Dick and Julie Rohaly are also foundation board members and are instrumental in the planning and fundraising efforts going on right now."

Haden will work with Campbell, the designer and special features consultant, as well as Kyle Cundy, the project manager and community organizer at Playgrounds by Leathers.

The playground will be organized and constructed by volunteers. Over the next year, the community will work together to raise funds and recruit volunteers to make the playground become a reality.

The foundation board earmarked $5,000 for Design Day, which covers Campbell's time and traveling expenses. Other than that, the funds for the playground will come in the form of community fundraising, grants and in-kind donations.

Haden says she does not know even a ballpark figure for the cost of the playground because it's still in the early design phase, but she feels confident she can make it happen.

And she knows how to handle the process.

Haden spearheaded the Castle Park project at Ochoco Creek Park in 1995. She worked with the same New York company, Playgrounds by Leathers, back then, and solicited in-kind donations from local businesses, raised funds, and organized the five-day community work party.

But, she says, Castle Park is starting to wear out.

"We had a guy come out and assess it, but rather than try to keep adding onto it, we thought we'd relocate it – we'd put a different one somewhere else," Haden said.

She said that although Castle Park is starting to deteriorate, it's still usable, but there are problems with the Ochoco Creek Park location near the skate park and bike park.

"Police are constantly getting calls from the parents saying that the older kids have bad language, this and that," Haden said. "So we thought, since the splash pad is going to be put in there (Stryker Park), we would add on to it for a playground that's more user friendly."

Haden was able to garner enough community support in one year to complete Castle Park, and she believes she can do the same thing this time around.

"My goal would be to build it in a year. With all the fundraising and everything, it would be a great goal," she said. "It can change, but the goal is to have it done within the year."

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Playground Design Day

Date: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11

Location: Eastside Church, 3174 NE Third St.

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