City of Prineville officials hope to see the public make use of 460 acres of purchased land

JASON CHANEY - The grand opening for the city-owned IronHorse property will be held in the gravel parking lot shown above, which can be reached by continuing north on Combs Flat Road past Barnes Butte Elementary.

City officials and staff are eager to share with the public the IronHorse property the City of Prineville purchased last year.

To that end, public works personnel have already completed a paved access road and gravel parking lot off of Combs Flat Road, and next Friday, city leaders will host a grand opening event at the site.

"We are doing it very early on in the project because we would like to get the public out there and using the site," said City Engineer Eric Klann.

The grand opening will feature wagon rides courtesy of the Crook County Fairgrounds staff as well as some guided hikes throughout the 620 acres of property, 460 of which is owned by the city and 160 by the Prineville District of the Bureau of Land Management.

The event was scheduled on a Friday to enable students from Barnes Butte Elementary, a school adjacent to the property, to participate in the festivities.

"This is 620 acres right out their back door," Klann said, "so it will be fun to get them engaged in the project."

Klann said he is hoping to encourage interest in the property from other students throughout the Crook County School District as well, noting the land could provide a location for cross country meets, athletic training and educational opportunities.

Following the grand opening, members of the public will be invited a second time toward the end of October to visit the site as part of the Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce's weekly Prineville Perk, a Friday morning event.

Meanwhile, city staff is planning to add some more access points to the property to further encourage public use of the site.

"In the next week or two, we are going to develop an access point on Peters Road," Klann said, adding that another will be created near the Pahlisch housing development.

The emphasis on public use of the property coincides with the recent formation of a new focus committee that will be tasked with determining how the city should utilize the land going forward.

"These (people) just (represent) interested parties ranging from BLM to the (Crook County) Health Department to the school district who would like to be engaged in the development of the site," Klann explained.

He has given each committee member a tour of the property, and the committee held its first meeting in late September.

"That group is going to get together before the second (Prineville City) Council meeting each month to make sure that the project keeps moving on," he said.

At this point, the primary plan is to enhance the trail network on the IronHorse property and nearby Barnes Butte. Klann suggested with the addition of more trails, the property could feature more than 9 miles of trails.

"It doesn't cost much to develop a trail network through there," he said, "and that's a great way to get the public engaged with the property. Then from there, we will just see where it goes. There has been interest in everything from just a reserve area to a sports park and pretty much everything in between."

The grand opening for the City of Prineville-owned IronHorse property will be held Friday, Oct. 13 at 10 a.m. The event will be located in the gravel parking lot at the end of the Combs Flat Road extension near Barnes Butte Elementary.

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