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New bowling center proposal approved by city planners

When the SS Flegel building turned out to be unworkable, a second location to turn into a bowling alley and family entertainment center was found
Last summer, city planning commission approved a request for a permit that would allow a new bowling alley to be located on Gardner Road. Now the plan is to build the entertainment facility in the Baldwin Industrial Park.
   Matt and Laura Hawes' original plan was to build a 16-lane, state-of-the-art bowling alley in the old SS Flegel trucking building. It turned out that that structure sits in a flood zone, a fact that caused financial problems. Now the proposal is to renovate the Craig Ironworks building on High Desert Drive. This time around, the plan is for an 18-lane bowling and recreational facility.
   The new establishment will be located in the 22,000 square foot building previously planned for industrial use: iron works. The building is relatively new, and has never been occupied. Zoning for that site is M-3 and, according to city Planning director Dick Brown, compatible for a bowling alley/recreational facility. When completed, the establishment would provide not only bowling, but an arcade, children's play ground, snack bar, a bar, meeting rooms and bowling pro shop.
   Matt Hawes explained that the facility will be more than a bowling alley, it will be a family fun center. The structure, the first big building at the top of the grade, will be better for this use than the Flegel building, he said, because it will not need additional construction. To put 16-lanes into the Flegel building would have meant adding onto the structure.
   Before granting the conditional use permit, various members of the planning commission voiced their concerns. Commissioner Paul Cuddy said he was concerned about allowing a recreational facility in an industrial area. After it was explained that the bowling alley was an allowable use in the M-3 zone, Cuddy said he didn't want to make a big deal of it, but there is a shortage of industrial land within the city.
   "My concern," he said, "is whether this is a good use of the site."
   Another commission member, Jim McMillin, pointed out that while it may not be the best use of industrial land, the Craig iron works building has been sitting empty for two years.
   Newly appointed to the commission, Brad Hill agreed with McMillin. If the Baldwin Industrial Park was full with industrial businesses, he commented, "what better than a place those workers could get lunch or breakfast?"
   Hawes had said that his preliminary plans are for the facility to open early enough, if the business is there, for employees from Les Schwab's warehouse complex to have lunch.
   Landscaping both on the highway side of the property, around the parking lot and along the entrance was also discussed. Brown pointed out those issues were among the conditions included in the staff recommendations.
   Two issues that will have to be worked out by the developer are signage and access. It took Meadow Lakes Golf Course more than two years, Brown said, to get signs in locations that the state department of Transportation would accept.
   "ODOT won't allow any signage on highway right-of-way, or within a certain distance from the highway," he warned Hawes.
   ODOT will not allow access to the property directly from the highway and at least one commissioner worried about the lack of a left turn lane from Hwy 126 onto High Desert Drive. The state's transportation plan, Brown said, shows that traffic at that intersection is currently about 70 percent of what it needs to be for any modification.
   The number of jobs the proposed bowling alley would generate was another question Hawes was asked. "We expect to generate more business than at the Flegel building," he answered, "which means more tournaments, which means more revenues and we'll probably have to have more employees. We'll hire as many people as we can, probably 10 or 12 initially," he said.
   Planning Commissioner Don Woods' concern was with landscaping. "I'd like to see landscaping in a mature form and not have to wait 20 years to see what it's suppose to be," he said.
   Hill agreed. "This is the entrance to Prineville and I want it to look nice, not just like an industrial zone."
   Before calling for a vote on the permit application, Planning Commission chairman Bill Gowen had the final word. "This wasn't what it (the building) was designed for. The problem is, I don't like to see the building being empty for two years."
   The permit was approved with only one dissenting vote. Cuddy, apparently concerned about the lack of industrial space in the city, cast the only NO vote.