News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

SPRD outdoor parks soar in popularity

The three outdoor parks – bike, disc golf, and skate – located adjacent to the Sisters Park & Recreation District (SPRD) Coffield Center, are proving extremely popular with the public — residents and tourists alike.

According to SPRD Executive Director Jennifer Holland, “While this last year has been a rollercoaster, we have been thrilled with the increased use of our specialty parks… As assets of the park and recreation district, these parks belong to the community. Seeing the skate park busting at the seams, families taking their little ones to the bike park, and all the out-of-state license plates parked at the disc golf course warms my heart.”

Hyzer Pines Disc Golf Course serpentines through 15 acres of mature pine trees off of McKinney Butte Road and Highway 242. It was designed by Ryan Lane and is considered a premiere 18-hole, par-three course.

Volunteer labor built the course in 2006 and it opened in May 2007. It is open to the public from sunrise to sunset, is free of charge, and doesn’t require reservations. Several times a year, the course hosts disc golf tournaments for which the course is reserved and a fee charged. Holland is hopeful that SPRD will be able to establish a program for disc golf league play.

The skate park was built in 2015 by passionate community members who saw a need and filled it with donations of time and money. High school students, under the leadership of Sisters High School Math Teacher Dan O’Neill, provided the labor.

There has been an increase in the amount of graffiti showing up at the park this past year. O’Neill hopes by creating a new feature at the park, using students and young adults to build it, more of the skaters will experience ownership of the park like they did in the early days.

Holland indicated that weekends are the busiest time at the skate park but, with students at home for a good share of this past school year, they saw increased usage during the week as well.

Phase one of Bike Park 242 was begun in 2015, but the project sat for several years until hundreds of yards of dirt could be found. A local woman was having a large pond dug on her property, and all the dirt taken out was hauled to SPRD to build the track bank and moguls. Then-SPRD-Director Liam Hughes secured a grant to cover the costs and procured a 40-foot storage container to act as the deck.

Kiwanian Dave Marlow produced a full auto-cad design for the project. Marlow, along with Dave Hiller, Tom Hespe, Kerry Bott, Jeff Omodt, Mike Vermillion, Cal Allen, and Mark Thompson constructed the wooden deck on top of the container and the 16-foot sloped wood ramp. Casey Mundt of Blazin Saddles designed the shape of the curve and Chris Cochrane of Ponderosa Forge crafted the steel frame for the track. The track includes three sets of moguls of varying difficulty, which were shaped by Robinson & Owen Heavy Construction with their equipment. Parents of some of the skaters also helped, including some moms who suggested the installation of cloth sails to provide some shade.

Once the dirt was procured, the entire project took about six weeks to complete, with Marlow and Hiller on site every day. The bike park, like the disc golf course, and the skate park, were truly the result of individuals’ passion and community effort.

All three park groups started out as committees under the SPRD umbrella in order to get liability insurance and apply for grants. They were awarded Oregon Parks and Recreation Department grants, which helped establish the programs. Currently, maintenance of the parks is a combined effort of volunteers and SPRD staff, with big-picture maintenance being done by each park volunteer group and trash being pulled by SPRD.

“These parks were built by dedicated community members who saw a need in Sisters and volunteered their time to see these projects to completion… It is often hard to quantify the social, emotional, and economic impact parks have on communities. However, if you ever come to the Coffield Center after school or on a weekend, you will see the positive impacts all around at our specialty parks,” Holland said.

Holland reports that SPRD is focusing on their future. They are in a position to open up as soon as state regulations allow and hope to be back to normal programming in the fall. Their efforts right now are on hiring personnel.


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