Troy Field is an empty lot in downtown Bend, covered with grass. It has never held a building, and arguably its most historic use has been as a launching pad for the city’s annual pet parade. It’s owned by Bend-La Pine Schools, which had hoped to sell it and use the proceeds to help reduce the size of the district’s upcoming building bond proposal.
Not everyone’s happy about this. A vocal segment of the community thinks the land should be given historic status. An application to do so will go before the state’s Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation at its Feb. 16 meeting in Portland.
If the committee has its wits about it, it will reject the proposal.
It’s true that thousands of Bend residents, many of them children, have used the field over the years as a de facto play area, ballfield and ice skating rink. And it’s true that the field lies in a part of the city that includes some of its earliest cultural buildings, including churches, schools and the old Deschutes County Library. Proximity, though, doesn’t lend historic value to the land. When the nearby Old Town Historic District was created in 2001, Troy Field was not included.
It’s also true that the field is close to downtown. That’s doesn’t make it historic, either.
Meanwhile, the school district, which acquired Troy Field in 1937, would like to sell it and use the proceeds to offset some of the more than $260 million in building bonds it hopes to have voters approve later this year.
Those who would squelch that effort by having the field declared historic are misguided at best. If they have their way, every taxpayer in the school district will pay more for new schools than he or she should. That’s not right.
Instead, lovers of Troy Field should, as has been suggested before, raise the money to buy the land from the district and do with it what they wish. If there’s been any serious attempt to do so, it’s been nearly invisible. The state’s historic preservation advisory committee should steer clear.