It wasn't standing room only, but those bowlers attending last night's city planning commission meeting were very vocal in their support for the proposed new bowling alley.
>A major hurdle to having the old SS Flegel trucking building turned into a modern bowling alley was passed with the city's approval of a conditonal use permit
The application for a conditional use permit allowing the conversion of the old Flegel Trucking building on Gardner Road for use of a bowling alley had been carried over from an earlier meeting. A lack of quorum held up any action the first time the matter was brought to the planners. This time it was clearly a strike.
The proposal presented by Matt and Laura Hawes is for a 16-lane, state-of-the-art bowling alley. Matt Hawes told the commissioners the facility would be a big benefit to the community. "We will schedule as many tournaments as we can, and that will bring people to the local motels, restaurants and gas stations."
The conversion, when completed, will incorporate the original 12,000 square feet that was Flegel's office and shop facilities. Two 4,000 square foot additions will be constructed, one on each side, accommodating eight bowling lanes each. That configuration, Hawes explained will make it possible to hold tournament play on one 8-lane side and open play on the other at the same time.
At the present time there are no plans for using the upper floor of the two story building.
Supporters were lined up and ready to talk about the perceived need for new indoor recreation in the community. Betty Woodward lives in Mitchell and told the commissioners that she drives over to Prineville every Tuesday to bowl.
"I am president of the Senior Bowling League," she explained. "Seniors need a place for recreation. The average age of those in the league is 78 and there are about 60 of them. It is important they have a place to bowl. These people love to bowl."
Fran Bristow identified herself as the president of the woman's bowling league. "We need a new bowling center," she started out explaining, "we would rather call it a center than 'alley'. The old lanes are dirty and the equipment is broken down and not always usable," she added.
When asked by one member of the planning commission how many bowlers there are in the area, Ann Hill, who said she has been bowling for 20 years and serves as the secretary/treasurer of the woman's league, was quick to answer. Due to the condition of bowling now, many bowlers have stopped bowling. There were many more in previous years, she said. "Last year we had 140 men, 199 women and 32 kids signed up. In 1996, which was not our best year, we had 199 men, 263 women and 43 kids. We don't have a facility that parents want their kids to go."
The downtown bowling facility recently changed ownership and, as one bowler pointed out, the new owners are working to upgrade the alley's equipment and reputation.
However the response the Hawes have received after announcing their plans to develop the Flegel building has been, Laura Hawes said, huge. "There has been a large community response. People are hungry for indoor recreation. A clean, well run place is needed. A place where people can take their friends and have a good time."
It was apparent, from the questions and comments made by various members of the planning commission, those supporting Hawes plan were preaching to the choir. The motion made by planner Bobbi Young was quickly seconded and almost as quickly unanimously passed.
Hawes said he isn't sure when the remodeling of the building can begin or when he expects to begin welcoming bowlers. With the city's approval, the process of getting the final engineering and architectural work can now begin. Hopefully before winter drives recreationalists indoors Prineville will have a new indoor recreational facility.