Feedback on Sandpoint park site concepts
A revised final draft set of site plans were presented to the Sandpoint City Council at their June 3, 2020 Council meeting. You can watch the presentation on our YouTube channel by clicking here. These revisions were based on community comments made at previous Council meetings, workshops, feedback provided at City Hall and on this Open Town Hall blog post. These site plans will be incorporated into the final Parks and Recreation Master Plan to be considered for adoption by the City Council in July.
Two of these site plans (City Beach and Downtown Waterfront) contemplate a property trade/sale to maximize the public benefit depicted in the site plans and leverage a public/private partnership in the case of the Downtown Waterfront plan to pay for the public improvements. A property swap at City Beach would allow the City to acquire the property proposed for the realiged boat launch at no cost to taxpers. It would also add additional waterfront to be owned by the public permanently. Currently, the public grassy area and boat moorage located along Sand Creek near the BNSF tracks is privately owned and available for public access via a lease with the City. The City would retain all other shoreline/waterfront access it currently owns, including the walkway and shorline in front of the Best Western Hotel. It is the grassy area located between the public pathways which is currently primarily used by the Best Western and Trinity Restaurant that will be considered for trade. Conversations with BNSF which has restrictions on the deed prohibiting commercial use have occurred. The property restrictions would be transferred in conjunction with the swap. Community surveys administered through the master planning process indicate that the overwhelming public desire for funding parks is public/private partnerships. The property trade/sales will require separate public hearings in accordance with Idaho state law which will be scheduled in July.
Please share your thoughts with us here or come into City Hall to discuss further. We also have large displays of all of the concepts and their earlier versions in our lobby.
We want to hear from you! At our community meeting at The Panida Theatre Tuesday, October 1st, our consultants through GreenPlay LLC provided an update on their initial findings and survey results that will guide the development of our 20-year Parks and Recreation Master Plan. You can see their Powerpoint presentation by clicking the link below:
In addition, they presented four initial park design concepts for the following areas: War Memorial Field; City Beach; Downtown Waterfront; and the Sports Complex (Travers, Centennial and Great Northern). We have posted a visual of each of these concepts, along with a brief narrative. Please take a look and share your comments/feedback.
If you are interested in watchig GreenPlay's presentation on the master plan and the concepts, please click the video link below which is from the October 2nd City Council meeting.
We also have concept boards on display in the lobby at City Hall. Stop by anytime Monday - Friday, 8 - 5. We are happy to have a further conversation with you.
Travers/Centennial/Great Northern Sports Complex Pine Street borders the south side of the 18-acre site that makes up the Travers/Centennial/Great Northern Sports Complex (TSC) that was opened in 1986. The initial phase was 5 acres and constructed over an abandon landfill, with following phases being the result of added acreage from a Louisiana Pacific Corporation land trade and a purchase from a private party. The Park is the city’s major sports venue providing competitive opportunities for youth and adults with softball, little league baseball, tennis, football, soccer, skate park, picnicking, and multiple trail loops. There are two shelters and a restroom, an accessible children’s play area, and off-street parking in two locations. The TSC is definitely a well-used sports complex and provides for not only community recreation, but also serves to provide facilities for Sandpoint High School’s use for tennis. The skate park is heavily used through most of the year when snow is not present. The soccer and softball fields are in high demand for league play and tournaments. The playground is popular and used constantly by area neighborhood residents. The perimeter trail system that offers multiple length loop options is used by both bikers and walkers, providing easy access to all areas of the complex.
This is not to say that the TSC is problem free. There are a number of critical deficiencies that limit it being used to its highest efficiency. The southern third of the complex was the first phase of construction and built over an abandoned landfill. The surrounding terrain to the northeast also was a drainage way flowing in a southwesterly orientation. The softball fields and surrounding areas over the landfill that received fill material during construction to create properly graded fields has continued to settle, causing severe grade changes in the playing surfaces, primarily the outfields. These grade changes are in some instances as much as 8-10 inches. There are similar grade issues on the Centennial fields directly to the north of the softball complex where soccer and baseball occur. This condition continues to worsen due to the decay of trash and debris within the landfill. During the spring, the softball, soccer, and baseball fields are so wet that they are not usable for long periods of time. This is influenced by the naturally ‘heavy’ soils of the Sandpoint area that are high in silt content and drain poorly. Additionally, ground water from the original drainage way directs any subsurface water directly below these fields.
The correction of this condition will require significant improvements that will entail excavation of unsuitable soils and replacement with more free draining soils, combined with a subsurface drain system that will collect both surface and subsurface water, and directing it to a location that does not impact use of the complex. These corrective measures must be employed whether reconstructing to natural grass fields or to artificial turf fields. The advantages of converting at least some of the fields to artificial turf are much more efficient surface and subsurface drainage, considerably more scheduled field uses per day and extended seasonal use, especially if the fields are lighted. Based on these considerations, the concept plan recommends that the three softball fields be reduced to two, both converted to artificial turf, allowing for more use throughout the year. The little league baseball field is proposed to be relocated to the northeast corner of the Centennial fields. The concept master plan for City Beach recommends that its two existing tennis courts be relocated to another park location. This is also the recommendation for the two existing tennis courts at Lakeview Park. The TSC concept plan proposes that these displaced courts be reconstructed on the south end of the complex, along with the introduction of pickleball courts. The addition and location of both tennis and pickleball courts also condenses the useable space on the south end of the complex, also contributing to the reduction of softball fields. This consolidation of tennis and pickleball facilities will provide Sandpoint with an accessible location for community and tournament play. The two existing tennis courts are proposed for a possible future enclosed tennis facility. Locating the enclosure or structure here, will preserve the northerly view ‘window’ into the park. Pickleball courts are anticipated to be phased with eight courts per phase.
Total parking stalls are deficient for tournament use of the facilities, especially on the south side of the complex. The concept plan calls for a full reorganization and reconstruction of the south parking lot, extending it further westward to provide a total count for parking on the west side of 220 vehicles. The existing skate park should be more aptly termed a skate pad. This venue is proposed to triple in size with added apparatus, lighting, and possibly shade structures. The existing children’s play structure will remain, and a new splash pad proposed just north of the play area. The existing restrooms are proposed to be replaced with a new facility, shifted slightly north of the current location to allow room for tennis and pickleball courts. An enlarged open natural grass area is proposed north of the splash pad for gatherings and picnicking. The existing youth BMX facility to the east the play structure will remain and be enhanced. A new BMX for young adults is proposed to be located to the far southwest corner of the complex near the railroad right-of-way. A new maintenance facility dedicated to the sports complex will be relocated slightly west and north of its present location.
Downtown Waterfront For purposes of this study, the Downtown Waterfront is defined as both sides of Sand Creek from the Hwy 95 Bypass bridge north to the Cedar Street Bridge. The east side of this channel incorporates the gateway to City Beach and shoreline improvements completed during the construction of the bypass in 2008 that included the Sand Creek Trail, public art, landscape enhancements, lighting, shoreline access/seating areas, and development of a 32-stall public parking lot/trailhead south of Bridge ST. The west side has an elevated pier supported, pedestrian boardwalk/boat tie-up dock that is a 1000 ft in length, extending from Oak ST to the south side of the Sandpoint Marina. It provides a pleasant waterfront pathway and boater access to the downtown. A ramp/stair structure on the north end of this boardwalk provides for an accessible route to the waterfront and is used as a launch site for paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes. Pedestrian connectivity to City Beach is via a pedestrian bridge that parallels Bridge ST or utilizing the Cedar Street Bridge to the north to access the east shore and the Sand Creek trail. Access from the boardwalk to Bridge ST and City Beach is only accessed by negotiating a steep grade through the parking/access drive.
Waterfront property with public access directly adjacent a downtown, is rare in any community. It brings with it the opportunity for increased activities, water access, and enhanced aesthetics that most Cities and towns can only aspire to. But like many communities, Sandpoint has not taken full advantage of this remarkable asset. Businesses along the western shore have mostly neglected to use this waterfront to their full advantage other than for vehicular access and parking. It is currently unorganized and unkempt with a degraded alley-like appearance from Cedar ST to Bridge ST.
To encourage economic development within the downtown, the Concept plan suggests that property owners (from Cedar ST to Bridge ST along 1st Avenue) should explore development opportunities to the east, expanding structures with increased square footage and orientation to Sand Creek. The natural grade change from 1st Avenue to the access road would allow for two levels of increased square footage, or an upper expansion with open or enclosed parking below. Except for a conceptual mixed use development currently proposed to replace structures on the SW corner of Bridge ST and 1st Avenue that were recently destroyed by fire, no properties have looked to have any significant orientation to the waterfront or expand to their eastern property line.
The Farmin’s Landing property that extends from Bridge ST north to the Panida Theater along Sand Creek’s west shore has long been viewed as an underutilized section of waterfront. Past studies have suggested that it could provide an enhanced public space with increased access to Sand Creek. Both vehicular and pedestrian access from 1st Avenue is from Oak ST where a colorful gateway arch denotes the entry and acts as a public art piece. Access from Bridge ST utilizes a steep drive with no sidewalk. It can be difficult to negotiate during winter months and allows for limited views of oncoming, eastbound traffic. In 2018 Consultants were retained by the City to evaluate Farmin’s Landing as a potential site for an underground collection/treatment location for downtown stormwater prior to being released to Sand Creek. The plan incorporated limited pedestrian improvements while retaining 27 car parks, and some seating. In response to this area being designated as a bike route, the plan proposed a 120 ft long ramp to negotiate the grade differences from the parking to Bridge ST. A stair was also proposed at the ramp’s south end.
Addressing the goal of creating recreational opportunities on publicly owned waterfront, the concept plan suggests that the redevelopment of Farmin’s Landing could be enhanced beyond the 2018 study recommendations. It envisions a small venue public gather spot be created by establishing the access road’s development incorporate a plaza-like feel, expanding seating and congregation space toward the water. The slope would be terraced with seat high walls facing the water, with stairs to negotiate the slope. To allow for more activity on the water the pier dock system would be expanded as a location for gatherings or performances, with special lighting features and seating. The existing non-motorized launch dock should be converted to accommodate ADA use. The pier supported boardwalk is proposed to expand northward, possibly as far as the hospital to accommodate more boat access to downtown. Improvements such as these would present a more festive and aesthetic view of the downtown from the Hwy 95 Bypass and provide a more fitting view for business and properties to orient toward. To accommodate business owners’ concerns of close proximity parking, the concept plan recommends improving and retaining 20 parking stalls. This should be considered a short-term solution with future studies initiated for development of a downtown parking facility to free up the waterfront from parking.
To maximize the value of publicly owned waterfront, the concept suggests that the existing 32-car parking lot on the east shoreline be converted to a use that is not fully focused on parking cars on the waterfront. This location seems appropriate for consideration of a revenue generating concession, preferably water oriented, such as kayak/canoe/paddleboard rentals. It would also be a logical location for an accessible launch. Or consider a public/private partnership development or long-term lease for possible retail use in this location. To increase connections to City Beach from this location the plan recommends creation of a public pier supported boardwalk that would follow the shoreline eastward below the Hwy 95 Bypass and railroad bridges for connection to the proposed boat launch area.
Lastly, there should be an emphasis put on the redevelopment of the intersection of Bridge ST and 1st Avenue as a city center orientation point and wayfinding route to City Beach. Special attention should be paid to vision triangles, truck turning radii, and consideration for reorientation of the parking in the lot on the SE corner of the intersection that serves retail.
CITY BEACH The City Beach park was created in 1922 following the ground being donated by Northern Pacific Railroad, although substantial improvements were not immediate. Flooding wiped out early improvements and continued to be problematic until the property’s elevation was raised 8 feet to alleviate this condition and the creation of the Albani Falls Dam allowed for permanent flood control. Major improvements were not seen until the mid-1950’s when the local Lion’s Club initiated work on recreation of a beach house, grass areas and walks. Other improvements were added over the years as funding became available resulting in the current City Beach Park. However, the lack of a master plan to coordinate these improvements has resulted in amenities located in the most convenient places and consuming larger areas than necessary to accommodate them.
Paramount to the concept plan is to maintain the beach/waterfront as a passive, family-oriented space. All major uses along the shoreline have been retained – Children’s play area, concessions building/restroom/lifeguard office, large picnic shelter, restroom, swimming areas. Enhancements include an enlarged, accessible children’s playground with splash pad.
Following the goal of maximizing the value of waterfront for public use, the plan suggests more significant changes. Currently located at the southern end of the beach is a city boat launch, along with parking and a Parks, Recreation & Open Space Division maintenance shop. The maintenance shop and parking are recommended to be relocated with the shop being moved from City Beach. The boat launch is recommended to be relocated further west on property being considered for trade between the City and a local developer/resort owner. This land swap would allow for a new boat launch and trailer parking that does not compete with beach/park users for waterfront and vehicle parking. This change would double the current boat trailer parking and increase the launch by one lane while eliminating activity conflicts in the park’s core. Accessible parking and a fire lane turnaround would still be maintained at the park’s southern end. The land swap would allow the City to acquire additional permanent public waterfront and accessibility.
Connectivity shown in the plan illustrates new or upgraded pedestrian paths to allow users to move comfortably and safely through the park and parking lot. Enhanced connectivity is envisioned to the north for access to the Windbag Marina and beyond to the Ponderay Bay Trail via a new Ponderay Bay Trail Trailhead near the entrance to the park with dedicated parking. This trailhead is in accordance with the Ponderay Bay Trail master plan. To allow for waterfront connectivity, a boardwalk is proposed to flow below the railroad and Highway 95 Bypass to Sand Creek with eventual connections to downtown. The opportunity also exists to increase day use moorage along this boardwalk, increasing water access to downtown. An underutilized grass area in northern area of the park currently exists, surrounded by travel lanes and parking. This area is rarely used for gatherings, picnics, or even free play activities. The concept plan recommends that this area be considered for the introduction of a special community activity, such as the proposed carrousel (adding to the economic vitality) and added parking. With this alteration, the plan reorients parking and adds over 125 car parking stalls to the park. Parking maneuverability would be improved, landscape enhancements added per ordinance, and areas to collect and treat stormwater would all be addressed with this concept. This change would also allow for parking adjacent the beach to be relocated, freeing up valuable space for beach goers.
To encourage economic vitality for the community, the concept plan calls for the introduction of a performance structure and activity pad located on the western side of the park. Utilities improvements could be extended to this location to support various sized concerts or other performances and community events. The hard surface would be organized to allow for use seasonally as a basketball courts, or other court games with sleeved backstops or net/goals. This hardscape surface could also serve as an ice rink during winter months adding activity and use during the winter months. The area directly east would be opened up to allow for large gatherings of viewers by removal of selected trees, relocating existing tennis courts to another city park location, and relocating the existing volleyball courts to the southeast grass area near the beach reserved for boats only. This open area would become the largest uninterrupted open space within the park, forming a central green with views eastward to the lake. Utilizing what is now a roadway and parking, a proposed pedestrian promenade along the park’s west side would provide for fairs, markets, and other gatherings while serving as a required fire access lane to a remodeled concessions/restroom building.
Six natural infield alternatives were considered for the artificial field infill at War Memorial Field. City staff and the consultants for this project recommended the selection of Option #1 - natural rubber/cork infill. Displays were the infill options were available at City Hall and ultimately the Sandpoint City Council unanimously selected the option recommended by staff at its December 18, 2019 Council meeting. If you click on the summary chart, you will be taken to the Council packet which includes more detailed information and a larger size of the graphic.
This concept focuses on playability and durability of the field surfaces and therefore features artificial turf. An artificial surface is the best surface to achieve the highest level of playability and durability, especially considering our weather. It adds a softball field in compliance with Title IX requirements and realigns the baseball field to be northwest facing. This is preferred for baseball, especially from a safety standpoint. This concept also features an increased parking lot to reduce parking impacts on the neighborhood, an improved boat launch and increased boat/trailer parking. It contemplates a dog park as well as improved gathering space, restroom facilities and access at the waterfront. (Click on the image to see the concept full screen.)
This concept encompasses Farmin, Centennial and Great Northern Parks. It contemplates expanding the skate park which is arguably the most used area of the park system by 400%. It recognizes that the parking lot at Travers is significantly undersized and triples the amount of parking available. Great Northern is in the best shape of any of the fields the City currently owns. They are in good enough shape that they do not need to be re-built.
This concept contemplates a tennis complex centered at this location and adds two additional courts which anticipates the removal of the tennis courts at Lakeview Park and City Beach. In addition, sixteen pickleball courts are centered at this location, a splash pad is added near the playground, an expanded bmx track is next to the tennis courts.
Travers was built over a landfill and the soils are not good. There are significant freeze/thaw conditions and subsurface issues which require constant maintenance in order to ensure safety. The concept anticipates replacing the three current natural turf softball fields with two artificial turf fields. In addition, micro-soccer fields have been added. Playability will be significantly icreased with these fields because the current fields are often un-playable in the spring. In addition to softball, these fields can also be used for soccer practice and other purposes.
Great Northern is currently in the best condition of all of the city fields, but this concept does anticipate improved drainage at that field as well.
(Click on the image to see the concept full screen.)
This concept features parks and recreation improvements which provide connectivity to City Beach and promote economic vitality in the downtown core. The design at Gunning's Alley/Farmin's Landing along the Sand Creek waterfront and between the Panida Theater and Bridge Street includes significant stormwater management and treatment features which was the principal reason the City purchased this property. This is the primary outfall for stormwater runoff from the downtown core and it drains into Sand Creek. The concept anticipates the businesses/building owners along Sand Creek eventually expanding their face to the waterfront and taking advantage of the opportunity along the water. It features a connecting boardwalk along Sand Creek, under the byway and rail bridge to City Beach. It expands the dock into Sand Creek to create a public gathering space along the water's edge. It envisions expansion of the public boardwalk to the Cedar Street Bridge or beyond, which would require agreement of the adjacent property owners. (Click on the image to see the concept full screen.)
Parks and Rec consultants have developed a concept for City Beach which supports more types of recreation, parking and a dedicated event space to promote economic vitality within the downtown core. The dedicated event staging area is a hard surfaced area the size of a NHL hockey rink. It can be installed with chilling components below to facilitate ice skating in the winter in order to activate City Beach as a year-round destination.
A key component of the concept is an improved boat launch with more parking which realigns this use to separate it from the rest of the park uses. This component is dependent upon the City being able to negotiate a land swap with the Best Western Edgewater Hotel property owner. The parties are under discussion about a land swap for the grassy area between the current hotel and the sidewalk along the waterfront which the City owns in exchange for the current RV park which belongs to the private owner.
Through a realignment, this concept adds more than 130 parking spaces (in addition to the boat launch parking) to what exists today. It includes the addition of a splash pad and expanded regional playground along the shallow side of the beach where families with young children most often recreate. It identifies a potential location for the Carousel of Smiles (a second location is identified in the Downtown Waterfront concept).
(Click on the image to see the concept full screen.)