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Discussions about adding hard-surface pump track are in infancy at this point

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Parks leaders are considering the addition of a hard-surface pump track to the existing dirt bike park.

Having opened in the summer of 2016, Prineville's community bike park is still fairly new.

But it is already popular and frequently used, and an interest in more options like it abound.

"There is an ever-increasing demand for fun, active things to do," said Duane Garner, Crook County Parks and District's executive director.

So talk of expanding the bike park has begun. Parks leaders and Darlene Henderson, a local member of the Central Oregon Trail Alliance (COTA), are considering the addition of a new hard-surface pump track.

"Shortly after the bike park was built, we were able to purchase the one-acre piece of land adjacent to the bike park. We wanted to ensure there was some sort of buffer between the park and the residential neighborhood (to the north)."

The district also felt that ownership of the land would enable them at some point in the future to connect the existing bike path along Ochoco Creek to the Rails to Trails path that will eventually get built along the City of Prineville Railway easement.

Henderson, who later joined the CCPRD Board, had another idea for the land.

"Way back then, Darlene was the one who said we should look at doing a pump track in that area that is hard-surfaced," Garner recalls.

The district mulled the idea for a while but didn't take any serious action on it. However, some recent developments have brought the suggestion back to the forefront. Garner noted that the Ochoco Irrigation District and the City of Prineville are discussing plans to pipe the portion of irrigation canal that follows the railway easement and cover over the open canal.

Meanwhile, the Rails to Trails project, a proposed 10-foot wide trail, is expected to go out to bid by as this next spring.

"It seemed like the right time to start planning out what this would look like," Garner said.

Discussions are in the early stages at this point, but parks leaders are looking at what shape the park expansion would take, how large it would be, and whether additional parking or signage would be necessary.

While those details are yet to be determined, it hasn't prevented Garner from sharing a vision for the area. He could see the area become a hub of activity, where the two bike parks connect the Ochoco Creek trail to the Rails to Trails pathway. All of this would accompany the nearby skate park, which is about to undergo a substantial upgrade, and pickleball courts that are slated for resurfacing in the near future.

"We are trying to create a very active environment down at that end of Ochoco Creek Park," he said.

Though the potential project is still in its infancy and discussions have only recently begun, Garner said the district will likely pursue some funding in the near future.

"We will start targeting some grant opportunities for the park piece relatively soon," he said, adding that it shouldn't take parks leaders long to develop some cost estimates for the project.

Nevertheless, people should expect a bit of a wait before the district would ever break ground on the bike park expansion.

"From here to reality could be four or five years. It's hard to say," Garner stated.

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