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Bend Park & Rec gets national honor for river corridor work


The Bend Park and Recreation District’s efforts to transform the Deschutes River access areas in the heart of Bend have been honored with a national award.

The park district has been selected to receive a National “Facility or Park Design Award” by the National Recreation and Park Association for its role in the riverside parks corridor transformation.

The District’s involvement included:

· Acquiring 43.7 acres of property for the Riverbend, Farewell Bend, Miller’s Landing and McKay parks;

· Negotiating easements for the trail (completing key gaps in the 31-mile Deschutes River Trail);

· Collaborating with private property owners;

· Conducting extensive public outreach; and

· Designing and constructing the four parks, trail and the Bend Whitewater Park.

“It was not long ago when the Deschutes River was used only for timber industry purposes and not recreation,” said Don Horton, executive director, Bend Park and Recreation District. “That heritage is important to remember along with the monumental contributions and vision of people like Bill Smith, the Cushman, Miller and Robinson families, Trust for Public Lands and the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance to help residents and visitors enjoy access to the river.”

The District’s total investment in the river corridor project is $18.7 million, including:

· $1.6M for 22-acre Farewell Bend Park including a playground, two river-viewing shelters, beach area and a boardwalk extending into the river with interpretive signage.

· $2.7M for 13-acre Riverbend Park including a large community events venue hosting dozens of events each year and a beach area.

· $1.4M for 4.7-acre Miller’s Landing Park including a community garden, riverside boardwalk, beach area and nature play area.

· $1.1M for 3.9-acre McKay Park including changing rooms, beach area and spectator viewing areas. Expected completion is winter 2017.

· $9.7 million for the Bend Whitewater Park, including three separate channels for floating passageway, whitewater recreation, and habitat area, and a pedestrian bridge.

· $2.2M for accessible river trail improvements including a new undercrossing.

The total District investment would have been larger if not for help from Bill Smith, president of William Smith Properties. Smith sold the 19-acre parcel that became Riverbend Park and the District headquarters for significantly less than market value, saving the District funds to be used for other projects.

“This award is shared with members of our community, because without their input about priorities for parks and recreation, the river development would not be what it is today,” said Horton. “Residents and private businesses have helped identify acquisition and development priorities of our parks, and made it possible for the Bend Whitewater Park and the extension of the Deschutes River Trail through this corridor to be realized.”

Each year, NRPA National Awards are presented to individuals and agencies across the U.S. to honor their efforts in the field of parks and recreation. This year, BPRD was one of six agency award winners. The award will be publicly presented during a special reception at the 2016 NRPA Annual Conference in St. Louis on Oct. 6.

“NRPA is pleased to honor our nation’s park and recreation heroes — agencies and individuals who work tirelessly and with passion to improve the lives of their citizens and make their communities great,” said Barbara Tulipane, president and CEO of NRPA.

A full list of NRPA National Award winners is available at

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