Plan outlines parks priorities

Dog park, community center, splash pad sought

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Keegan Day, 4, plays on one of the swings at White Park in Post Falls during a trip Monday to the oark with his father.

POST FALLS - A dog park, splash pad, community center and trail improvements are among high priorities listed in Post Falls' draft parks and recreation master plan expected to be approved by the City Council tonight.

"It's a snapshot of where the system is and where it needs to go," Dave Fair, Post Falls parks and recreation director, said of the plan. "But it's going to take patience and projects will depend on available money, grants, donations and whether they're part of the impact fee fund. A lot of factors play a part (on when projects will become reality)."

Consultant GreenPlay was earlier tapped by the city for $119,800 to gather public input and develop the plan over the past nine months. The plan, earlier recommended for approval by the Parks and Recreation Commission, was paid for with impact fees from growth, annexation fees and the parks trust fund.

Resident Del Porter, who walked through Kiwanis Park on Monday, said the plan is needed, especially with Post Falls expected to hit another growth spurt.

"I'm glad they're thinking about the future while land is still available and growth should help pay its way," he said, adding that he would like to see more bike/pedestrian trails and connections.

Fair said larger amenities such as a dog park, community center and splash pad have been envisioned, but no sites have been determined.

High priorities and their estimated costs, not including operation and maintenance, include:

* dog park, $45,000;

* splash pad, $150,000;

* add playground at Black Bay Park, $150,000;

* upgrade Falls Park playground, $150,000;

* upgrade Q'emiln Park playground and parking areas, $225,000;

* improve access to Black Bay, $30,000;

* complete Corbin Park improvements, $500,000;

* picnic shelters at Woodbridge Park and Park in the Meadows, $30,000 each; and

* complete Park in the Meadows improvements, $100,000.

Fair said the city continually looks for properties and has identified the northeast and west sides of the city as needing parkland, especially as Post Falls grows.

The plan states that Post Falls will need 18 acres of additional active parkland and 379 acres of more passive parkland by 2020 if it wants to maintain its current level of service of 16 total park acres per 1,000 people.

Fair said the former Quad Park was offered to the city, but the price tag for less than five acres was more than $1 million. The site has been divided to the point it's no longer feasible for the city to develop it.

"Putting in a ballpark doesn't make sense if you don't have parking," he said. "We just haven't found affordable land that's suitable yet."

The plan recommends a feasibility study for a large sports complex. The concept on the Rathdrum Prairie was earlier discussed, but Fair said it doesn't have legs without a study.

A local BMX group has backed off pursuing a Post Falls site as the land possibilities didn't appear to mesh with the group's needs, Fair said.

A community center is also a priority, but would likely take a bond to finance it and Fair said it remains unclear what format it would take. A swimming pool, gymnasium and classrooms are among the ideas for a center.

"There's been a desire for one for 20 years, but we don't believe we're at a point where we could pass a bond on it," Fair said.

Walkability and connectivity of trails needs to be improved, the plan states.

"There is currently a heavy reliance on the use of bike lanes as opposed to off-street trails," it states. "While this may be adequate for commuters and adult cyclists, it is not ideal for recreational trail users, particularly those with children."

The plan states that the city has met or exceeded in providing recreation opportunities for younger children and that teen and special needs programming should be expanded.

The city has had a parks capital improvement plan and overall comprehensive plan, but not a stand-alone parks and recreation document that indicates how the system will develop over time.

Parks plan online

A copy of Post Falls' draft parks and recreation master plan can be viewed at www.postfallsidaho.org under "Departments" and "Parks and Recreation."

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