It’ll be history in the making when construction begins on Pavilion Park at Liberty Lake this spring.
The 14.1-acre park will feature an architectural style reminiscent of the lakeside community’s old park, dating back to 1908. That park’s dance pavilion gives the new park its name.
“It’s one thing that probably best represents Liberty Lake history,” said Ross Schneidmiller, a historian of the area.
Those working on Pavilion Park say people are drawing together from many different organizations to make the park a reality.
“It’s a success story of the private and public sectors working together,” Schneidmiller said.
But funding for the central focus of the park, the pavilion, is somewhat of a question right now, said Wyn Birkenthal, manager of county parks. No state or county money is earmarked for the building.
“It’s going to depend a lot on community and corporate fundraising,” Birkenthal said. Residents hope to continue fund-raising efforts for years to come to build the pavilion and, eventually, a pool.
“We have this dream list, and we’re going to start chipping away at that in different places,” Schneidmiller said.
When Schneidmiller was growing up on the north side of Liberty Lake, he said, there was always a vacant lot where children could play.
“That isn’t there anymore,” he said. “When you think about the child that’s trying to find a place to play … they’re not going to play on the golf course. There needs to be a place where people can play.”
Liberty Lake Park, Spokane County’s largest, spreads over 3,000 acres on the south side of the lake. But, said Birkenthal, that land is “forested and deeply sloped,” with no open, grassy areas.
“It’s a fantastic nature park,” he said, “but Pavilion Park will provide a balance to the community.”
Jan Harris, a 15-year Liberty Lake resident agreed.
“People think that needs are being accommodated, but not where families are concerned.”
The bulk of the money for the first development phase at the park - restrooms, baseball fields and other features of the new park - came from the state through a grant that matched the $300,000 value of the land donated by Schneidmiller’s father, Elmer Schneidmiller.
The Pavilion Park project competed with about 65 other projects for its initial $300,000 in state funding, Ross Schneidmiller said.
“There were no givens we were going to get this money,” he said. But the project was well received, and the money came through.
The U.S. Small Business Administration donated $42,000 for the Parks Department to buy 223 trees of more than 20 varieties.
The East Spokane Rotary Club is pitching in for handicap-accessible playground equipment.
“We were looking for something to do to benefit kids,” said Rotary member Wayne Gibson. Among the equipment being considered is a merry-go-round, slide and swing that wheelchair-bound children can use, he said.
The Parks Department is working with residents and architects to design buildings reminiscent of the old pavilion. That pavilion had what one architect called a “Chinese flavor to it, with upturned eaves.”
John Manning, a partner at ALSC Architects, W422 Riverside, is working on designs for the park’s first building: a restroom.
“It’s a period kind of building reminiscent of construction that existed” at the old park, he said.
The old pavilion stood in a park where a lakeside development called Alpine Shores now stands. The park was privately owned but open to the public from 1908 to the early 1960s, Ross Schneidmiller said.
The dance pavilion overlooked the lake and was the central attraction in the old park. In the long, covered walkway extending to the pavilion were pinball games and funhouse mirrors.
The new pavilion won’t be as big as the old one, Schneidmiller said, but will house a picnic shelter and historical displays. An amphitheater and stage will extend from one end of the building.
Schneidmiller has been collecting historical photos for years and is using them to guide architects’ plans for the pavilion, restrooms and other future buildings.
This park will have something for everyone, Harris said, from the “92-year-old grandma who’s having a picnic” to children looking for a place to play ball.
The first phase of the park’s construction - including restrooms, sidewalks, sports fields, basketball and tennis courts and irrigation - should be finished by June 30, said Sam Angove, director of county parks.
Now the dirt is soft and deep on the land at the corner of Country Vista and Molter Road. Shoes sink in during a walk across the field. Soon it’ll be covered over with concrete parking lots, grassy fields, swings, slides and jungle gyms.
Ross Schneidmiller can visualize the park now as he hopes it will be one day.
Walking across the freshly graded field, he motions toward the land bordering Country Vista, where the playfields will be.
Schneidmiller points to the place where the pavilion will be built. Some day, he said, people will gather there for picnics, parties, and July 4 celebrations.
“We feel that the park can be put together, but there’s no guarantee,” he said. Groups of residents will continue to ask the state, county and private corporations for money to fund future projects.
“We’re stepping out on faith,” Schneidmiller said. “It’s important not to restrict ourselves as to what it can become.”