Crook County Parks and Recreation District had just completed work to improve seating at its Crooked River Park amphitheater.
With help from the City of Prineville, the district had flattened out the grassy hill to the north of the stage and recovered the space with brand new sod. It was ready for upcoming events.
That changed this past weekend, when at some point, an unknown person took a vehicle onto the newly planted grass and left it torn up and covered in tire tracks.
"That is going to amount to thousands of dollars of damage for us to go back out there and fix," said CCPRD Executive Director Duane Garner.
Details on the destruction are limited so far, but what Garner suspects happened is that somebody took one of the golf cart rentals used last weekend at the Crook County Fair and "took it on a little joy ride out to Crooked River Park."
The reason for suspecting a golf cart is Garner learned that one of the golf carts was discovered missing after the fair concluded. Fairgrounds Manager Casey Daly explained that they rented a fleet of golf carts for the fair and when it was time to return them, they were one short.
"We scoured the whole place and we couldn't get our hands on it," he said, adding that fair leaders reported the incident to police as a theft.
Adding credibility to the theory, parks district personnel later located a discarded golf cart windshield in the bushes nearby. Also, Prineville Police Officer James Young located tire tracks passing through a blockade in the area that is too narrow for standard vehicles to pass through but wide enough for a golf cart.
By press deadline, no suspects had been identified.
Garner said the vehicle driver spun cookies in the muddy baseball field at Crooked River Park, creating a bunch of ruts on the field, and then drove to the top of the freshly landscaped amphitheater and spun a few more cookies where parks staff had just laid around 30,000 square feet of sod.
"That is quite a few thousand dollars' worth of sod that we just put down and a tremendous amount of work only to have someone to go and tear it up," Garner said. "We will probably have to straighten it up and get more sod to piece in where all of the seams came apart."
The one bit of good news is the driver stuck to the top of the grassy hill, so they didn't end up ruining the entire landscaped area.
As efforts to find the culprit continue, Garner said that parks district plans to address the repairs as soon as possible.
"We will get right on it," he remarked. "We have some events coming up really soon."
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