By KEITH ERICKSON
COEUR d’ALENE — The transformation of a prime stretch of undeveloped waterfront property along the Spokane River into public open space including a park, a trail system and swimming areas is expected to start later this year.
During a public workshop on Monday, the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission was provided with an update on the evolving conceptual plans for the former Atlas Mill site that includes 3,600 linear feet of shoreline.
It was the latest in a series of public forums held to gather public input on what to do with the 47-acre former Atlas site purchased last May by the city.
With several more opportunities for public participation planned, Coeur d’Alene Parks and Recreation Director Bill Greenwood said the city expects to open bids for construction of the public amenities in early July.
About 20 people attended the 60-minute presentation by Phil Boyd of Welch Comer Engineers. While the former mill site purchased for $7.85 million comprises 47 acres, the total area being conceptualized for public use is 60 acres straddled between the river and Seltice Way west of the Riverstone development.
Boyd outlined two areas of public improvements along the waterfront corridor:
• “Clean and green” improvements expected to cost $3.5 million and consisting of sloping vegetated banks leading to the river, trails, erosion control measures, irrigation, shoreline stabilization and limited turf and landscaping.
• Other potential improvements, totaling $2.8 million, include a water accessible dog park, additional pedestrian access to the water, picnic shelter, vendor building, kayak launch, rustic playground, food truck area and parking for 65 vehicles.
Following the presentation, the public was invited to several stations to learn more about each aspect of the conceptual plan.
Kevin Bowman, who lives in the Mill River development west of the former Atlas Mill site, voiced his support of the plan and its dedication to open public space.
“I love what they’ve done,” he said. “I do a lot of biking and hiking and I’m excited to have where I live connected to Coeur d’Alene.”
Kurt Katzer, who lives in Riverstone east of the site, said he appreciated the changes made by the consultant.
“It’s gotten a lot better. They’ve taken into consideration a lot of the public comments,” Katzer said.
Scaling back access roads’ intrusions to the property and improved trail connectivity were among the changes he endorsed.
The next public forum for the Atlas waterfront plan will be March 15, at noon at the Coeur d’Alene Public Library. During the joint workshop, the City Council and Parks and Recreation Commission will review public input and prioritize amenities potentially funded by ignite cda, the city’s urban renewal agency.
The plans can be viewed on the city’s homepage, (cdaid.org) by clicking on the Atlas Waterfront Project button.