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Two grants will enable city and parks district to team up on master plan for all parks in the community

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - A master plan is in the works for the City of Prineville-owned Barnes Butte property.

The focus was narrow at first.

In its attempt to define uses for its recently purchased Barnes Butte property, the City of Prineville decided to develop a master plan for the 460-acre site.

"Last winter and spring, we developed a feasibility study and pushed in nine miles of trails to get people up there using it," recalls City Engineer Eric Klann.

That action coincided with the creation of a Barnes Butte property focus committee that meets on a monthly basis and Klann applying for two grants to land some funding for completion of a master plan. One grant through National Parks System was for $50,000 and another through Oregon State Parks for $90,000.

Application for two grants was more of a fail-safe than a necessity as one grant would likely cover the cost, but the city found itself the recipient of both. Suddenly, the city found itself in position to broaden its plans.

Rather than commit all of the money to the Barnes Butte master plan, the city reached out to the Crook County Parks and Recreation District with plans to develop a master plan for the entire community's park system.

The thought, according to Casey Kaiser, the city's associate planner, was that the city had become the largest owner and manager of park property. With completion of the Crooked River Wetland Complex and acquisition of the Barnes Butte property, the municipality oversees about 580 acres of park space. Kaiser added that the city owns the property that some of the CCPRD-managed parks occupy, including the bike park, Stryker Park and Pioneer Park.

"The idea was to have on overarching parks and recreation master plan for the area that the city, the parks and rec district, and the citizens all participate in," he said, "so that as we go forward, we can manage all of our parks with all (of the parties) being in alignment and recognizing the same goals."

Funding-wise, the $50,000 National Parks System grant will cover the cost of the Barnes Butte property's master plan while the $90,000 Oregon State Parks grant will go toward completion of the community-wide parks master plan, as will another $50,000 contributed by the parks district.

"I am actually very excited about doing this," said CCPRD Executive Director Duane Garner. "The city has done some tremendous work with the wetland project, and now they have got this huge area with Barnes Butte. For the Parks and Recreation District and the city to be working together just makes a tremendous amount of sense, especially right now looking out into the future. What do we want Prineville to look like five, 10 or 20 years down the road?"

Garner said the partnership will not only provide more resources for parks projects, it would bring more people to the table to brainstorm ideas for park system improvements.

"Part of the master planning process will hopefully guide us through an inventory of everything we have in parks and rec facilities," Kaiser added. "It will help us determine what desires and needs our citizens have in parks and recreation facilities, what trends are growing from parks and recreation perspective, and what we need to build out in our area to stay current with that."

Ultimately, Kaiser hopes that the community-wide master plan process will produce a list of specific projects needed during the next 20 years to meet those goals.

So far, the city and parks district have submitted a request for proposal, seeking consulting firms that have the capacity to complete the master plan. A pre-proposal meeting is planned for March 5, and the deadline to submit proposals is March 26. Kaiser anticipates work will begin on the master plan in May.

"We should have our finalized plan, studies and reports by May 2020," he said.

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