Trail extension planned near the river spanning the whole park, amphitheater hill to be leveled to improve seating

JASON CHANEY - City Street supervisor Scott Smith works on leveling the grassy hill in front of the amphitheater Friday.

Work on a City of Prineville public works project has provided Crook County Parks and Recreation District an opportunity to upgrade one of its parks.

The city will add a new bike and pedestrian trail to Crooked River Park in the near future and has already begun work to level the grassy hill situated in front of the Les Schwab Amphitheater at the south end of the park.

The city recently began construction on an aquifer storage and recovery system that will enable them to pull water from wells in Prineville, pump them up to an aquifer under the Prineville Airport and store the water for use during peak demand. Apple is funding the $8.7 million project.

The city has opted to drill the 20 shallow wells along the Crooked River, some of which will be located in Crooked River Park. In order to perform maintenance on those wells going forward, the city will need some type of access. That need created an opportunity for the parks district.

"One thing we have wanted to do for a while is build an actual trail along the Crooked River the full length of the park," said Duane Garner, CCPRD's executive director. "They agreed to build a path and gravel it and lay the foundation for us to be able to pave it."

Garner said that the new trail will essentially be an improved extension of an existing wood chip trail that follows the Crooked River from Rimrock Park just north of Crooked River Park to the other side of an overflow irrigation canal managed by Ochoco Irrigation District.

"It's going to be right along the river from one end of the park to the other," Garner said, noting that the completed path will be about 3,000 feet long.

Demand for such a trail is evidenced by people already walking the proposed path, despite the fact there is nothing there but grass.

"It's a regular route that people are already walking," Garner remarked. "It is really just kind of formalizing it by putting in a surface."

Along with trail upgrade, the city will fix a longtime issue near the park's amphitheater. Garner said the grassy hill that faces the amphitheater is too steep to use lawn chairs and other seating, making the venue less user-friendly and underutilized.

"It gets used every once in a while for local concerts. Sometimes churches use it for a church service," he said, "but it has been kind of a difficult area."

So the city has agreed to level out the hill and give it a softer slope so that it will accommodate more people and seating. Workers began leveling the amphitheater hill late last week.

"Hopefully, it will make that whole area greener, nicer and more useable for events," Garner said. "Hopefully, by doing this improvement, it will make it more desirable to rent out and have events."

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