A new park on the Moran Prairie could make a splash as early as next year.
The Spokane County Commission voted this week to spend $2.5 million for the first construction phase of the new park with a pool on 61st Avenue near Freya Street.
Construction is expected to start this year on the pool, which will be modeled in part on one the county opened with much fanfare in August at 18120 N. Hatch Road.
“We think it’s great,” said Ginger Johnson, a mother of two who lives across from the vacant land that will become the new park. “We look forward to it.”
The eight-acre park is part of a collaboration the county made with Summit Ridge Christian Fellowship, which purchased land just south of the new park to build a church.
The county and fellowship will share some drainage and sewer costs, and the church has agreed to allow parkgoers to use its lot if the park’s gets full.
Summit Ridge Pastor Brent Harris said locating the church next to the park is ideal for special events and other programming.
“There’s hardly any flat, buildable land to build on on the South Hill unless you want to pay an arm and a leg for it,” Harris said.
Parks officials echoed Harris’ relief in getting property. The county purchased the park land for $210,000 in 2004.
“Being able to secure this land is really ideal for the neighborhood,” said Mark Patrick, a member of the county’s Parks Advisory Committee who worked on the deal. “This is going to be fantastic for the whole South Hill.”
Construction on the North Side aquatics center was completed last year, and the pool was able to open for two weeks at the end of summer. In that time, the county generated $16,000 in entry fees and $2,000 in concessions – money that equaled more than 80 percent of the pool’s operating expenses.
Attendance reached at least 300 on nine of the 13 days it was open.
“They are really catered and designed to bring the whole family here,” county Parks Director Doug Chase said.
Chase said he hopes the South Side pool can generate similar interest and revenue. Like the north aquatics center, it will have lots of lounge chairs, a waterslide and other features.
But there will be differences, too. Chase hopes to build more deck space and to have a permanent concessions stand.
Scott Turk, who lives adjacent to the park, said some neighbors have raised concerns about increased congestion. However, he said he’s satisfied that the park’s lot will be able to handle the demand.
By the time it’s open, his young daughter might be old enough to use it, he said.
“It’s better than building houses,” Turk said.
Besides the pool, the park will feature a rock-climbing structure, basketball and sand volleyball courts, picnic shelters and a walking trail.
Park officials chose the amenities after interviewing students at Mullan Road, Hamblen, Adams and Moran Prairie elementary schools, Chase Middle School and adults who attended a meeting about the park.
“If we’re going to build a park, we want it to be as much what the neighbors want as we can get,” Patrick said.
Almost 700 people responded to the survey. The five most popular amenities, in order, were basketball courts, rock-climbing features, swings, paved pathways and traditional play structures.
Commissioners likely will be asked to approve a second allocation next year once parks officials find out how far the first $2.5 million stretched, Chase said. Total cost of the project has been estimated at $3.4 million, he said.
“Much of the park will be developed with the pool; how much depends on the final cost of the pool,” Chase said. “It may be done in two or three phases.”
Attendance at the new aquatics center will be eyed closely by city of Spokane officials, who are contemplating opening new pools of their own, said Mike Stone, Spokane’s parks director
“To us, it provides some valuable feedback as our Park Board tries to come up with our aquatics plan,” Stone said. “It will be a wonderful project for the county and, ultimately, for the citizens.”