Prineville Future Includes Bike Park, Wetlands Project, Data Centers & Ochoco Mill Development


(Photo above: Prineville Hospital | provided by the Neenan Company)

Prineville Bike Park
An idea that began as a plea from the area youth for a permanent alternative to their self-built jumps has come to fruition. The groundbreaking or in the bike park world, ground packing of the Prineville Bike Park kicked off May 6. The bike park will be designed to allow riders of all ages to test their abilities and learn new techniques.

Endless banks of dirt encompass a pump track and various twists and turns keep riders moving and excited about the Prineville Bike Park. A variety of different zones ranging from the basic Family Zone for those just starting, progressing to an advance zone for the more experienced.

The Prineville Bike Park with its wonderful wood and rock features is free and open to public. This collaborative community project would not be here today without the major contributions from Facebook, Crook County Parks and Recreation District, Ford Family Foundation, the City of Prineville, the Crook County Rotary Club and the Prineville Kiwanis Club.

By providing a centrally located unstructured sports for teens, boosting tourism with bike recreation, and strengthening the community health outlook with physical activity, the Prineville Bike Park is a fantastic opportunity for the people of Prineville.

Wetlands Project
The Crooked River Wetlands came about through innovative and environmentally-conscious thinking on the part of the City of Prineville. The City was faced with a mandate to expand and improve its wastewater treatment capability. The normal solution, a new wastewater treatment plant, would have cost the City (and taxpayers) over $57 million. And it wouldn’t be expandable or as environmentally sustainable as city staff desired.

The solution, 120 acres of ponds and lagoons along the Crooked River, will utilize the natural environment to treat wastewater. Additionally, riparian improvements along the river, as well as over five miles of hiking trails (three of which will be paved) will promote educational awareness, fitness and environmental sustainability.

Given the recent growth of Prineville, the City’s new wastewater system has been designed to service the City’s needs through the year 2030. And the beauty of the wetlands is that, as the city expands and grows, so can the wetlands – sustainably, environmentally and with reasonable cost to the taxpayers.

A real asset to the environment of the Crooked River, the community, students and tourists will have a wonderful park-like setting to hike, run and learn about the environment.

Ochoco Mill Development
Out with the old in with the new. Ochoco Lumber Company is primed and ready to take Prineville to the next level. Ochoco Lumber’s historic mill site is being reborn.

After years of careful planning, development of Ochoco Mill in Prineville began with St. Charles Health Systems’ investment in a new hospital for the community. Incorporating a beautiful design with cutting edge technology, the St. Charles Prineville hospital is a gem recently uncovered in the largely untapped Ochoco Mill property. With endless potential and opportunity for growth, Ochoco Mill’s development is geared for success.

Highlighting local natural features, Ochoco Mill’s development offers future businesses beautiful landscapes, stately infrastructure, a multi-use trail, views of the winding scenic Ochoco Creek, along with Highway 26 frontage and access.

Economic Opportunities with New Hospital
Research conducted by St. Charles, Stroudwater Associates and The Neenan Company led to the new hospital design is improving access to care for patients while enhancing their care experience and providing better value for their health care dollars. The $30 million health care campus includes a primary care and specialty physician clinic along with hospital services including inpatient beds, an emergency department, surgery suites, a laboratory, imaging services and much more.

St. Charles Prineville, which opened in the fall of 2015, is expected to stimulate economic development in Crook County. The design allows the physician and their team to be at the center and the patients can see into that space. The new hospital’s location, along with its new philosophy on healthcare, is expected to be a much-needed economic development shot in the arm for Prineville.

Steve Forrester, Prineville’s city manager, understands the impact of the new hospital. “It’s been a lot of years of hard work and dedication to bring it to the point where we are now. If you look at the scope of development in Prineville, we have the data centers up on the hill next to the airport. But the intersection of Hwy 126 and Combs Flat Road (site of the new hospital) is the busiest intersection in our community.”

Large and growing residential developments both south and north of the new hospital make the site very desirable for future commercial development. “Making this new hospital happen here brings city infrastructure out this way. We have a number of homes here that aren’t on city water or sewer and this development is going to bridge that gap and make a big difference on this end of town,” added Forrester.

Barnes Butte Elementary School
The new 73,000 square-foot Barnes Butte Elementary School, which opened in the fall of 2015, boasts a pod design, with each grade level of classrooms surrounding and looking into a commons area. The structure is multi-level and includes a 6,000-square foot gymnasium for use by both the school district and entire community.

The architects for the school were BLRB Architects based in Bend.

Jim Bates, principal for Barnes Butte Elementary, stated that he believes the most exciting change is what the design of the building provides—which is connectivity.

“This move brings stress for our students, families and staff. Change is unsettling,” he initially stated. “But this is change with excitement and hope. Everything about the school was sketched and put into reality with the educational process and community in mind. We will all experience the fruits of that labor as we begin to use it. It’s a beautiful building for sure.”

In addition to the new school, the district is doing an additional $15 million of improvements on other facilities in the district including Crook County Middle School, Cecil Sly Elementary, Powell Butte Community Charter School, Paulina School, Ward Rhoden Stadium and the current high school.

Economic Potential
The unemployment rate in Crook County dropped to 6.9 percent in April from 7.2 percent in March. The rate is down significantly from last year when it was 8.7 percent. Crook County added 110 jobs from March, stronger hiring than the typical gain of 70 jobs expected this time of year.

After recent revisions, Crook County’s employment situation is better off than initially estimated. Despite the downward pressure from wood product manufacturing (-90 jobs), the county as a whole is up by 130 jobs from last April (+2.4 percent). Construction (+50) and leisure and hospitality (+100) each added a significant number of jobs from last April, which helped to boost county job growth.

Within those employment levels Contact Industries employs 215 people in its 575,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Prineville providing sophisticated technology, high-volume production capacity and innovative sales and merchandising support to customers throughout the world. Over the years, Contact Industries has evolved into a value-added producer of engineered veneered mouldings and millwork serving a variety of industries including window and door, institutional and residential furniture, cabinet and architectural projects. The company reports a positive outlook on the future.
Pioneer Cut Stock Inc., with 70 employees, is lumber manufacturer featuring premiere wood window manufacture. Consolidated Pine also a manufacturer of wood products, finger-joint, primed mouldings and solid mouldings, employs approximately 29 people at the Prineville plant, but plans are under discussion that could include major upgrades and investments. Dayspring Hardwood & Moulding, Inc. currently has 35 employees and specializes in hardwood mouldings, flooring, stair treads/risers, handrails, crown mouldings, engineered/recycled flooring and specialty items.

Although Les Schwab Tires moved its headquarters to Bend several years ago it still mains at least 400 employees at its tire distribution plant in Prineville.

Putting Prineville in the national news Samson Motors, Inc. is featured in the May Issue of Smithsonian, in the article, The Future of Cars is Already Here. The entire issue focuses on the future, showing how science fiction is becoming reality. With six current employees but anticipating hiring up to 37 new employees in the next 12-18 months Owner/Designer Sam Bousfield says the pre-production flying prototype has completed carbon fiber wings and the ground test vehicle recently out performed a Jaguar XK8 in a ground acceleration test. Samson relies on several Central and Northwestern Oregon mold and part production shops for the majority of their composite parts and says plans for a local kit manufacturing facility starting in 2017 are in the works.

Impact of Data Centers
Facebook, the first data center to locate in Prineville, broke ground during January of 2010. Since that time the company has added three additional massive buildings for a total of four totaling over a million square feet.

Apple built a 10,000 square foot data center in 2012, following that with a 335,000 square foot building, and has a second 335,000 square foot center under construction this spring.

So what does all this mean for the Prineville – Crook County economy?

Long Term Rural Enterprise Zone
Prineville – Crook County was chosen by both Facebook and Apple because of the tax benefits derived from participating in our Long Term Rural Enterprise Zone (LTREZ). A statewide program (there are nine companies here utilizing the LTREZ) the LTREZ provides companies with 7-15 years of tax abatement on new property and equipment. But this is only granted if their investments create a guaranteed minimum number of jobs – at specified wage levels. Our minimum requirements for the data centers included at least $10.45 million in capital investment and the creation of 35 jobs within
three years.

The average wage for all new jobs had to be at least 150 percent of all jobs/industries within the county, which is currently $62,369. The City of Prineville and Crook County negotiated additional terms with the companies like payments-in-lieu-of-taxes. With Crook County’s chronically low incomes and high unemployment rate, the state viewed Crook County as a perfect match for the Long Term Rural Enterprise Zone program. LTREZ positions Crook County to generate new jobs, whether they come from additional data centers, light or heavy manufacturing, or secondary processing.

Facebook now employs 160 people. Remember – 35 jobs were required for the LTREZ.
This spring 250 construction workers, representing 45 companies, are building Facebook’s
newest data center.
Over the past five years Facebook’s economic impact, generated by construction include 651
jobs in Central Oregon and 3,592 jobs in total in Oregon.
Facebook’s construction projects from 2009 to 2013 generated enough personal income to
raise more than $6.5 million in state income taxes.
Apple now has 130 direct jobs. 50 percent of their direct employees live in Crook County.
Apple now has more than 300 construction workers building their new data center.
Approximate average annual wage for the 290 direct data center employees – $65,000.
Franchise fees are collected by the City of Prineville on the data centers’ electricity usage including $1,388,861 in 2014.

Both Facebook and Apple pay the City and County payments-in-lieu-of-taxes.
*Facebook – $300,000/year starting in 2017; up from $110,000 before that.
*Apple – $250,000/year starting in 2017; up from $150,000 before that.
*Note – these payments are split between the City and County.

So what’s the overall economic impact of the data centers on the local economy?
A 2014 economic study performed by ECONorthwest shows that Facebook’s data center brought $45 million in economic activity to the region in 2013 – which has turned into new opportunities for residents and companies.
Benefits include direct and indirect jobs. The job “multiplier” means that, for every one person that Facebook directly employs, 2.3 other “indirect” jobs are created. For Apple the multiplier is 1:3.
Both data centers have made large investments in infrastructure (fiber, power, water wells, roads, and traffic improvements) that will allow the expansion of existing businesses and the acquisition of new ones far into the future.
According to ECONorthwest, approximately $25 million in project-related spending occurred in the Central Oregon economy.

Since 2011, Facebook has donated $1,165,000 to Crook County schools and qualified nonprofits through its Community Action Grants program; additional donations were made to support STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education.

How have the data centers affected the housing market?
In 2011 the average price of a home in Prineville was $80,000. By 2015 the average price rose to $144,000. In the five years that data centers have been building and operating the average home price rose by $64,000. Our economy, once dominated by timber, tires, and agriculture, now includes high technology.
Prineville’s 2,906 homes times the average increase in value is $185,984,000. This $185,984,000 is home value increases enjoyed by citizens throughout the City since the arrival of the data centers.

But what about water usage? Are the data centers sucking our aquifers dry?
Traditional data centers, which are cooled by chilled water systems, can use a great deal of water. Facebook and Apple are not a traditional data centers.
Apple is committed to using almost exclusively green energy sources.
Among the most power-efficient built to date, Facebook’s buildings are designed to utilize our natural, cool, desert air. They use 60 percent less water than a chilled water system. They’re also recapturing rainwater for reuse as irrigation, to flush toilets , and for low-water consumption technologies like automated faucets and toilets.
Facebook has drawn its own groundwater since 2011, according to the Oregon Department of Water Resources. In 2014, the company used a combined 10.5 million gallons of water — 1.3 million gallons from the city and 9.2 million gallons from its wells.
Kyle Gorman, region manager for the state Water Resources Department in Bend, compared data centers with other water users in Central Oregon. “An average 18-hole golf course, on about 120 acres, uses around 1 million gallons of water a day in summertime. One average acre of irrigated farmland uses about 10,000 gallons per day. While they’re significant water users data centers are small in comparison to a several hundred-acre farm.”

Facebook and Apple have helped Crook County grow from a timber, agriculture, and tires economy – to a timber, agriculture, tires, and technology economy. And the land on which the data centers are located is now producing economic activity – jobs and fees -when it could have still been collecting tumbleweeds.


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    James Anderson on

    We have been trying for years to get a good skatepark here in Prineville OR,, There is a skatepark already here but it is sub par and dangerous to ride,,for example there are huge cracks in the cement and all the old style metal ramps bend and flex when you ride them witch throughs your balance off tremendously,,I have been skateboarding for over 25 years and I wont waist my time at the Prineville skatepark that we have now.I have to travel to other nearby cities that actually have great skateparks like Madras or Redmond, or Sister, or Bend…..Oregon is knows world wide for the best skateparks around..What gets me is that the city of Prineville gathered up 100k$ for a new skatepark for Prineville,they were going to have dreamland skatepark builders come in and make an amazing place for us to skate,,,but the people running the city bought some bronze horse statues with the100k$(that was for the skatepark) to put in front of city hall……………..

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