July 30, 2010 – Bend Bulletin – Lottery grant boosts plans for park

This article was published on: 08/30/10 12:00 AM

Lottery grant boosts plans for park

$250K to help Bend buy 3.5 riverfront acres

By Hillary Borrud and Lauren Dake / The Bulletin
Published: July 30. 2010 4:00AM PST

A $250,000 state lottery grant awarded to the Bend park district this week will boost plans for a new riverfront park just north of Colorado Avenue in Bend.

The Bend Park & Recreation District already set aside $750,000 of its own money to buy the land this year, and The Trust for Public Land is fundraising for the remainder of the $1.81 million purchase price.

The approximately 3.5-acre site is on the east bank of the Deschutes River, across from McKay Park. The planned park, tentatively called Miller’s Landing, could feature a connection to the Deschutes River Trail, a beach and boat landing area, off-street parking and a structure that might include restrooms, according to a conceptual drawing and e-mail from Bruce Ronning, director of planning and development for Bend Park & Recreation District.

The park would also provide access to proposed water features at the Colorado Avenue Dam and spillway, such as a whitewater play area for kayakers and a calm channel for people floating down the river on rafts.

So far, the park district has only crafted a very general concept. If the purchase goes through, there will be a public park design process, Ronning said in an interview Thursday.

Under a purchase agreement with the site’s owner, Millbrook LLC, the Trust and park district must decide by the end of November whether to purchase the property, and the sale must be completed by Dec. 31, said Kirk Schueler, president of Brooks Resources Corp. The company is part of Millbrook LLC, a joint venture with the Miller family. The Millers own Bend-based Miller Lumber.

For Michele Lepore, 38, the park would be an improvement from the property’s current state.

“It would be great, it’s an eyesore the way it is now,” said Lepore, who lives across the street from the proposed park in the River Run Condominiums. “There would be more traffic, but it would be nice to have a park. I don’t mind the sound of laughing children.”

Idea dates back two decades

Park district staff have talked with the Miller family about the possibility of acquiring the land since at least 1992, Ronning said. Millbrook LLC had planned to build more than 35 townhomes on the site, but the company’s plans changed when the recession hit, Schueler said.

“As the market turned and land values started to decline, you couldn’t make a lot of units on it work,” Schueler said. “But the price was getting more affordable for a park, so it seemed like a good time to work with (The Trust for Public Land).”

State lottery funds

The $250,000 state lottery grant to the Bend Park & Recreation District was part of a $1.6 million round of matching grants awarded Wednesday, according to a news release from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

A provision in the Oregon Constitution dedicates 15 percent of lottery funds to parks, water quality and fish and wildlife habitats. On Wednesday, the Secretary of State’s office approved a ballot measure, which would continue this allocation, for a statewide vote in November.

Over the years, the Bend Park & Recreation District has received four grants through the lottery program, for projects from Pine Nursery Community Park to the Deschutes River Trail pedestrian bridge south of Farewell Bend Park, Ronning said. The grants totaled approximately $1.2 million.

“We feel really fortunate to get $250,000 for our district,” Ronning said.

Hillary Borrud can be reached at 541-617-7829 or at hborrud@bendbulletin.com. Lauren Dake can be reached at 541-419-8074 or at ldake@bendbulletin.com.

Published Daily in Bend Oregon by Western Communications, Inc. © 2010