SPRINGFIELD - The Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission voted Thursday, Jan. 17, to proceed with buying the Bates mill town property in Grant County for development as a state park.

The property consists of 131-plus acres near the junction of County Road 20 (Middle Fork Lane) and Oregon Highway 7.

Parks officials envision a park with 40 campsites, parking at the river and a reservoir on site, trails and other features. There also would be room for interpretive panels explaining the history of the former town and area.

The property is owned by the Bates Park and Museum Foundation Inc., which bought it with a $400,000 loan. Grant County guaranteed the loan, which would come due with interest in December 2008.

A staff report to the Parks Commission recommended that the agency buy the site for $450,000 "as is" or $500,000 if the county removes the remnant of a large concrete kiln structure left from the mill operation.

If the parties reach agreement on the money and close the deal, the property would be added to OPRD's development calendar. It could take a couple of years to build the park.

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