Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

Downtown revitalization project gets more attention

It may seem to some people that discussions on revitalizing the downtown business area promoted by the Chamber of Commerce, city of Prineville and the county is brand new. A week ago, the topic of identifying Prineville’s image as a marketing tool was the focus of a meeting. This week that conversation continued with city planning Director Dick Brown pointing out that a lot of the work has already been done. Revitalizing Prineville’s downtown is a multifaceted process, the group of business people were told last week. Many other communities have successfully made the effort and it is believed that now is a perfect time for Prineville. However the issue that created the most excitement for the audience is the idea of projecting an image, or as it’s often called, “branding.” This process allows a community to grow in a direction of its own choice, helping the business sector as well as its residents. Brown said a lot of the work has already been done and pointed to a list of plans that date back at least 25 years. The Downtown Enhancement Plan, the Prineville Transportation Plan and the Downtown Parking Study are three of the seven studies that have been done. “The parking study shows a need for 600 more parking spaces in the core business section which I consider to be from Deer to Elm streets and south First Street to Ochoco Creek,” Brown explained. A complete sidewalk inventory was recently completed, too, Brown said. Another plan that would play a part in the process was completed in 1976; the Downtown Beautification Element. “That was a Parks and Rec plan,” Brown said, “and the only part of it that was completed was the amphitheater in Ochoco Creek Park.” However, all these plans and elements are only a part of the overall picture. Crook County Judge Scott Cooper explained that the proposed Civic Plaza would help tie the downtown together. It is obvious that there is a need for more office space for the county, Cooper said. The building that now houses the Health Department has not been red flagged as being unsafe, “only by the good heart of the Building Inspector, Bill Clemens.” Long term space needs can be answered by the proposed civic campus which would tie in the courthouse and Sheriff’s office with new facilities on the other side of Third Street. The basic plan is for the county to purchase the old Texaco corner, Third and Dunham streets, as well as the building the Video Hut is in. The city is working with Pacific Power to buy the power company’s old office building and by tying all that in, the area from Ochoco Creek to S. Second Street would become the focus of the city’s downtown core. From the size of the audience, interest in revitalizing the downtown business section is high. That, Cooper pointed out, will be vital to getting anything accomplished. “We’ll need the state’s help. Right now the Department of Transportation’s regional transportation plan is being circulated and Prineville’s Thirds Street repaving project has been upgraded from low priority — unfunded to high priority — unfunded. We need written comments from the business community on such issues as truck routes and traffic.” Cooper explained that there are six Crook County project on the ODOT plan and 36 Deschutes County projects. Traffic through the downtown center is one of the biggest problems to solve and that will take ODOT’s help. Truck traffic on Third, especially when that traffic involves turning north onto Main Street, is a major problem. Even with a lot of the preparation work done, both Cooper and Brown understand that there is a lot more work to do. “It’s an exciting project,” Brown said, “in that it involves four government bodies; the Rural Fire District has a part to play, the Parks and Recreation District and the city and county. All will have to be willing to work cooperatively.” Cooper quickly added that the state will have to be involved also. “We can not do anything without state resources and that’s when we’ll need pressure from the business community.”