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Moving local history into the present

Digital audio tours provide local park history at the touch of a cellphone button


A 60 second history lesson is available at the push of a button, or the click of the mouse or the scan of a QR code. As a part of an effort to broaden communications, the Chehalem Park and Recreation District is creating a self-guided history tour of 10 parks in the Newberg-Dundee area.

Kat Ricker, CPRD public information coordinator, said it started in January with a two-part project.by: GARY ALLEN - History on display - A new post at Scott Leavitt Park is one of 10 providing information for the new history audio tours created by the Chehalem Park and Recreation District. The tours are self-guided and intended to provide a community connection between the park's namesake and local history.

“First we’ve gone mobile with the website,” Ricker said. “Second are the audio tours. (We’ve been) settling on that the last couple of months and started releasing them over the summer.”

The audio tours are available by calling 503-573-4225 and selecting the extension assigned to the park, visiting the website www.cprdnew berg.org or scanning the QR code on the newly-installed posts.

“We decided to go with namesake parks because it’s important for us to connect to the community,” she said.

Unlike traditional print posters that take up space and disrupt the patron’s experience, Ricker said the post route tied with the digital tour means they can use modest signage and the information is available to people remotely.

“We’re sensitive to avoiding visual clutter in our parks, and try not to intrude on the patron’s experience with signage any more than is necessary,” she said.

And before all ten parks have officially been launched — seven are available at this point — the tours have been accessed by out-of-state callers.

“We were surprised at how many out of state calls there were,” she said. These included calls from California, Washington, Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada and Alberta.

She said the company CPRD selected to set up the audio tours, Guide By Cell, offers data tracking so they can monitor the usage.

“So we can see when people call, what days, where they call from, how many parks they chose to listen to and how long they stay on the line,” Ricker said. “Guide By Cell’s research shows people tend to hang up after 60 to 90 seconds, so we timed the scripts carefully. It seems to be working well.”

Patrons can expect a 60- to 90-second tour for each park, narrated by George Edmonston Jr., co-founder of the Newberg Historical Society.

“This is the first time I’ve ever had a project that combined the enjoyment I get out of doing voiceover work and the enjoyment I get out of local history,” Edmonston said. “It’s a lot of fun. I’m learning a lot and it’s just a good fit for me to help out in this way.”

He said each recording includes a welcome to the park, reminding users there are 22 facilities in the area.

“We move from there to a brief description of when the park was introduced to the system and a little something about the name, who was Antonia Crater, who was Scott Leavitt, who was Ewing Young, who was Herbert Hoover, to introduce the names that are given to these parks,” he said. “It’s in talking about these men and women whose names are on the parks that you get the local history.”

He said every script ends with the amenities each park offers, ranging from walking paths, to basketball courts, disc golf and the aquatic center.

Ricker said the CPRD plans to have all 10 tours completed within the next month.

For more information and a complete list of parks with tours available, visit www.cprdnewbgerg.org.



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