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CPRD website gets a major overhaul

New features include virtual tours of the district's 22 parks, improved trails section and online interactive registration forms

The Chehalem Park and Recreation District website got a facelift in late March, including a sleek new look, but several new features also promise to make it a more powerful tool for users and the district. PHOTO COURTESY OF CPRD - A.J. Hamil of Visiting Media takes 360-degree photographs for a virtual tour of the Chehalem Park and Recreation District's Spring Meadow Park. The virtual tours are a new feature for CPRD's website, which was upgraded this spring. 

Among the most technologically advanced features are virtual tours of CPRD’s 22 parks, the golf course and paddle launch, which were created by Portland-based company Visiting Media.

The tours, which are available on the site’s “Parks” page, are 360-degree photographs that allow users to look in any direction, including up and down, to explore a park remotely. Visiting Media also has the capability to make the virtual tours compatible with virtual reality headsets in the future.

CPRD had previously provided virtual tours for its rental facilities, but public information coordinator Kat Ricker, who led the website upgrade project, has made virtual tours of the parks a more prominent feature of the new site in hopes of increasing accessibility for users.

“That was one of the goals I had when I got here, was to get to those virtual tours of our parks,” Ricker said. “So this is sort of a landmark from my position. I’m really excited that’s finally arrived. Technology kind of caught up to us.”

Ricker believes the new trails section of the site, which includes a trailhead map, detailed information and maps of each trail, and a page dedicated to the Chehalem Heritage Trails, will make the district’s five trail systems easier to find and use.

The district’s trail map is the second-most popular brochure, but the web site will now offer more up-to-date information.

“The most frequent questions I get, just in public information inquiries, are ‘Where are the trails?,’ ‘Where can I walk now?’ and ‘What’s going on at Parrett Mountain with Bob and Crystal Rilee Park?’” Ricker said. “The trails section should address that now. There is a trailheads map and descriptions with very clear labels of what’s open now and what’s proposed.”

The website overhaul will also allow CPRD to offer forms that can be filled out and submitted online.

Previously, if CPRD needed a user to fill out a form, they would have to post it as a PDF, then have them fill it out and either scan it and send it back or drop it off at the aquatics center in person.

The number of forms available in a web format will slowly increase, but CPRD sports coordinator Julie Peterson, for one, is eager to make them more available.

“People don’t have the time to drive to the pool to drop forms off anymore,” Peterson said. “The web is where it’s at.”

The website will also allow CPRD department heads like Peterson to disseminate information via text messages. Currently, users can sign up to receive information in broad categories like sports, recreation, CARE childcare and aquatics, but in the future the information will become more specific, relating to smaller groups like individual sports leagues or particular recreation classes.

Other new features include a red ticker on the main page that will provide information on emergencies or unscheduled closures, as well as better analytics for CPRD to gather information.

In addition to retaining the same pull-down menus from the previous version, the site has also orga nized information according to target audience with tabs for youth, adults and seniors.

“We have so much going on that it’s always a challenge to figure out how to present it so people can find it,” Ricker said. “That, hopefully, is going to be a better service.”

Ricker contracted with Lake Oswego-based design firm Aha Consulting, which also designed the websites for the city of Newberg and Newberg Public Schools.

“I was attracted to them in their own right and they were highly endorsed by those two,” Ricker said. “We wanted something that was very easy to navigate, performs professionally and also preserves a warm and friendly field from Park and Rec that we value.”