PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County Parks and Recreation District hopes the community will rally behind an effort to fund a major upgrade for a downtown Prineville park. Executive Director Duane Garner says Stryker Park doesn't have many amenities. He hopes the Portland Trailblazers-Moda Assist competition will help provide funding for a facelift, "It’s a large-scale, it’ll be a downtown improvement project. As we’re looking for ways to begin a fundraising campaign, we became aware of this opportunity with the Moda Assist program. We applied and just found out we’re one of the three finalists." Prineville is up against Baker City and Independence for the contest, which commits $20 for every assist made by a Blazer in a game; the money is for an all-abilities playground.
Garner says Stryker Park has been a blank slate since the area flooded in 1998. He says plans have been in the works for a while and the district has already overcome several hurdles. "The city of Prineville to give us land use approval for that site, and knew that we would need to get approval from FEMA to be able to build in the floodplain, and be able to design something, knowing that it perhaps could flood at some point and make sure it didn’t cause any damage to the structure – all those pieces came together and so we’ve got this fantastic proposal for, I would say, we’re going to call it a destination playground."
The full project is expected to cost about $600,000 dollars and includes a volcano tube crawl tunnel, magical wizard castle and big pine enchanted treehouse; it would be built near the splash park planned by the local Kiwanis Club. The winner of the 2019 Moda Assist grant is determined by online vote. "Win or lose, you know, I think the experience will be worth it," Garner tells KBND News, "We want to get this project out in the view of the public and it really is going to be a community project. We don’t have any funding dedicated for it, yet."
Redmond's Baker Park was last year's big winner, receiving $15,000 from Moda Health and the Trailblazers. This year's award could be larger because Moda is committing twice as much per assist than in 2018. Garner hopes to capitalize on that exposure, and controversy over the voting process that elevated the program's recognition. And, he says, he plans to appeal to the kids. Because, he says, if the kids get behind it, it'll be successful, "We’re going to do our best to push it through social media, like our Facebook page; we’ll use other traditional means, as well." Online voting begins February 20 and continues for 30 days.