September 17, 2009 in Washington Voices

Liberty Lake wants parks, but how many?

By The Spokesman-Review

The number and size of parks in the River District was again the topic of discussion at Tuesday’s Liberty Lake City Council meeting as the council takes the final steps toward voting on the Specific Area Plan proposed by Greenstone to govern development in the 648 acres between I-90 and the Spokane River.

The land being developed by Greenstone is owned by Centennial Properties, a subsidiary of Cowles Co., which also owns The Spokesman-Review.

Councilman Neal Olander has long championed having a large park in the River District in addition to smaller neighborhood parks. Tuesday he made a presentation to the council to back up his assertion that Orchard Park, currently listed as eight acres, needs to be 20 acres in size.

The city’s comprehensive plan requires 30 acres of open space per 1,000 residents. Once the River District is fully developed the area will add significantly to Liberty Lake’s population and a large park will be needed. “Nearly half the city population will be north of the freeway,” he said.

Greenstone has presented the city with proposed amenities that could be included in each park. Several of the parks would require overlapping of two types of sports fields, such as soccer and baseball, in order to make everything fit. Olander argued against “cramming” things in. “It really does violate the intent of the parks plan,” he said.

Olander said he’s not suggesting that the landowner donate the additional acres to make Orchard Park 20 acres. He said the city could use TIF and LIFT money to purchase the extra land, but that the land needs to be set aside now before it is swallowed up by development. “This is our last opportunity,” he said.

Councilman Patrick Jenkins pointed out that parks are expensive to keep watered and trimmed. “What do you propose for maintenance?” he said.

In other business, the council got its first look at several projects Greenstone is proposing for reimbursement under the TIF program. Under a new protocol established between the city, Greenstone and Spokane County, the council has a chance to give input on proposed projects before they go to Spokane County for approval.

The five projects include the Harvest Parkway street system, which will go south and west from Mission to serve commercial property; Harvest Parkway utilities; a water main under I-90, offsite sewer service for Tolido Station; and a water main at Mission. Council members seemed accepting of the projects and will vote whether to approve them at the next meeting.

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