It may look and feel like concrete, but it’s not.
The new pathways that radiate from the gazebo in Coeur d’Alene Park are made out of a softer material called “hardener.”
And according to some parkgoers, the improvements have left them with hard feelings.
“It looks shabby,” said John Pouzer, who had taken cover in the park’s gazebo during a midafternoon downpour last week.
“They’re not straight. There’s no border. It looks like a bunch of kids put it in.”
Other park enthusiasts said the $64,000 paths are bumpy, meander like drunkards and suffer from ragged edges.
Dean Lynch, a member of the Browne’s Addition Steering Committee, acknowledges the ragged edges.
“The project won’t feel finished until it is smooth along the edges,” he said. Lynch said he hopes the Spokane Parks Department will bring in some fill dirt to smooth them out.
“Over time the Parks Department maintenance people will smooth out the edges,” said Mike Stone, special operations manager.
Officials at both the Parks Department and the steering committee said they had limited funds to work with.
“The prices came in too high to do surfacing across the park using existing products,” said Taylor Bressler, parks division manager.
“The architect recommended this material.”
The hardener is a combination of cement, sand and native soil. It is less expensive to put down than a concrete or asphalt pathway, said Stone. The project was part of a 10-year-long renovation plan for Spokane’s oldest park.
As the renovation comes to an end, the next step may well be repairs. The popular gazebo at the park is looking well-worn, in need of replacement pieces and repairs.
“We implemented the renovation as we had money to do things,” Lynch said. “We did the park benches, tennis courts and gazebo. The last project was the pathways.”
Money for the pathways came from community development funds.
If the new pathways are cracked by tree roots or plain old wear and tear, the hardener, unlike concrete, can be refinished, Lynch explained.
“The surface is such that if it gets torn up, you add water and go over it with a roller,” he said.
Lynch said he hopes the paths keep puddles away and provide a softer surface for joggers in the Browne’s Addition park. The new paths, poured in June, are an improvement, he said. They formerly were dirt.
“They were narrow and difficult for strollers and wheelchairs to navigate,” he said.
As for the uneven surfaces, Lynch attributes some of that to “people carving their initials in it and riding bicycles over it before it was completely set.”
At the south end of the park a group of picnickers huddled under a tree in an effort to avoid a fast-falling rain.
Yvonne Castro, cutting her nephew’s cake, said she liked the old paths better.
“I think it would have been nicer if they had left the grass,” she said.
Menciana Meippen said she visits the park on a regular basis. But the change hadn’t caught her eye or her feet. “To tell you the truth, I haven’t noticed them,” she said.