Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review
Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)
The long planned and much anticipated Orchard Park is finally taking shape in Liberty Lake in the River District, bringing play areas and meadows to the neighborhood north of Interstate 90 and west of Harvard Road.
The 11-acre park is located at the southwest corner of Indiana Avenue and Harvest Parkway, though neither street has been finished yet. The land, which was donated to the city, is on the eastern edge of the development, and will be surrounded by homes and apartments when the area is fully built out.
What is being built now is Phase 1 of the park, said Liberty Lake City Administrator Katy Allen. The city had hoped to build it all at once, but they did not win a hoped-for grant and construction bids came in higher than expected.
"Our strategy, because of the need out there, was to move forward," she said. "Then we have this Phase 2 that's still being discussed."
The site is taking shape and is expected to be complete in the fall, about the same time the streets bordering the park are expected to be finished. The city also has to wait for sewer and water to be extended to the site, which is happening this summer, Allen said.
The city held multiple public meetings to get input about park amenities and the meetings were well-attended. "The residents who have lived out there for a while said what they wanted to see," she said.
Phase 1 of the project will include a large splash pad, a parking lot on the north side, a playground, walking and trike paths, a restroom, picnic tables and open meadows. A contract for $2.3 million was awarded to Beacon Concrete.
Other amenities - including a pavilion, picnic shelters, a community garden, additional landscaping, more playground equipment, a sport court and a south parking lot - will have to wait until Phase 2, Allen said.
"It's still a good project, though," she said. "We worked very hard to work with people's priorities. It was very challenging to fit that within a budget."
A large set of electrical transmission lines run down the west side of the park, making that side the designated area for meadows and passive activities.
The city plans to be reimbursed for the park construction costs with the Tax Increment Financing and the Local Infrastructure Financing Tool funds. The programs collect a portion of property and sales taxes generated within the district that can be used to pay for certain infrastructure projects.
The city will need an additional $1.2 million for Phase 2 and is researching how to fund it, though it will likely involve TIFF and LIFT money as well, Allen said. The second phase should be built next year "if everything goes the way they plan," she said.
Putting aside land for the park was a requirement set out in the River District development plan that was finalized back in 2009. The River District is being developed by Greenstone Corp. on land owned by Centennial Properties, a subsidiary of Cowles Co., which also owns The Spokesman-Review.
Once complete, designers hope the layout of the trees will look like an orchard. In a nod to the train history of the area, the planned pavilion has been designed to look like a train station depot.
Though construction is expected to be complete this fall, the park will not open to the public until spring.
"We have to let the turf establish before people use it," Allen said.
Allen said she thinks the community will be pleased by the amenities in the park when it is complete. There will be room for outdoor movies and concerts and the splash pad is seven times larger than the one in Pavillion Park, the city's signature park.
"In some ways it's like Pavillion Park," she said. "It's a little bit of everything."
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