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Bend’s Troy Field not for sale, may get historic listing


(Updating to reflect parcel pulled off the market)

A state historic resources committee has recommended that Bend’s Troy Field be added to the National Register of Historic Places. And that’s not the only new wrinkle about the fate of the more than century-old downtown green space — which has just been taken off the market.

The State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation voted 6-1 to forward the nomination on during a meeting Thursday at Portland’s Eastmoreland Golf Course.

The vote begins an up to 90-day refinement and public comment process. All of the documentation is then sent to the National Park Service, which has an additional 45 days to make an up-or-down decision about inclusion, said Ian Johnson, associate deputy state historic preservation officer.

The property has been owned for 80 years by Bend-La Pine Schools, which had hoped to sell it to a hotel developer and use the proceeds to help build new schools. But a required zoning change ran into a buzz-saw of opposition and was rejected.

On Friday, the school district confirmed that it had let a real estate agent’s contract expire on Jan. 31, after one extension. That means the 0.8-acre property is “currently not listed for sale,” according to Bend-La Pine Schools spokeswoman Julianne Repman.

But while the for-sale sign is off the chain-link fence and it will remain a play field for various activities, there’s still no guarantee it will stay that way down the road.

“The board will likely consider all options in the future,” Repman said.

The hotel developer had offered nearly $2 million for the parcel, after the school district turned down two city offers of $850,000 and $1.1 million. The Bend Park and Recreation District did not make an offer for the property.

Repman said the district did not receive any satisfactory offers during the public listing.

The debate over the field’s future amid its unofficial status as a play field, park and gathering spot going back for more than a century helped lead to the proposed National Register listing, compiled by a private party, historic preservation planner Pat Kliewer, and supported by a group called Save Troy Field.

While the National Park Service does reject some proposed National Register listings, Johnson said most are approved as recommended, especially if few or no deficiencies arise at the state or local level.

Kliewer said two earlier historic designations in the area, including the Old Town Historic District, the first such district in Central Oregon, did not include Troy Field, for reasons that had little if anything to do with the historic nature of the property, but more elements such as the requirement of contiguous boundaries and a nearby expanding church’s request to not be included.

Kliewer noted the state requires local jurisdictions to preserve and protect national register properties. But Johnson said that does not preclude any changes being made to a property because it is placed on the National Register.

“We can’t tell a community what is and what’s not important to them.,” Johnson said. “It’s not uncommon for historic resources for there to be competing interests or competing needs, and the best folks to know what should or should not happen is the local community.”

Kliewer said key to her is that a National Register listing would mean “no more back-door meetings, no more deals. They would have to put together a written proposal” for changes to the property.

Bend-La Pine schools had no immediate comment on the state’s decision or potential National Register of Historic Places listing.

Three other agenda items approved by the state committee were proposed by the Central Oregon Irrigation District. One was a “cover document” about federal irrigation projects in Oregon since 1901, and the other two propose listing on the National Register of a downtown Redmond segment of the Pilot Butte Canal and a segment of the Central Oregon Canal at Brasada Ranch, near Powell Butte.

Central Oregon irrigation districts have been and are still in land use and legal disputes with some neighbors about canal piping projects that residents claim will harm their livability and property values. Another COID canal segment, the Pilot Butte Canal on Bend’s north end, was added to the National Register early last year, over the district’s objections.

COID General Manager Craig Horrell said Thursday that the district has been conducting an inventory of historic elements of its canals and features for the past three years, and “weren’t quite done with that” when the Pilot Bute proposal was made.

Horrell said they have identified the “top 10 historic sites on each canal. In doing that, we agreed to mitigate two significant sites on each canal,” including likely information kiosks or parks. He said the two recommended for listing have unusual features such as a wooden syphon pipe and a trestle across the Brasada golf course, and both have public access.

“We like our history, and we want to promote it,” Horrell said.

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