A longer beach, bigger campground and environmental learning center could be new features of Liberty Lake Regional Park as county officials finalize a plan for a $12 million upgrade.
The Spokane County parks department in April finalized a new master plan for the park to guide the park’s future for the next few decades, said Paul Knowles, special project manager for the Spokane County Parks, Recreation and Golf department.
The master plan focuses on the south end of Liberty Lake and highlights several upgrades occurring in five phases.
The project calls for improvements to the main parking lot with the installation of an environmental learning center and park headquarters, upgrades to the beach and group camping areas, and the addition of a nature playground, pedestrian bridges and a boardwalk with an observation platform.
The RV park will be redesigned and expanded along with improvements to the equestrian trailhead and trail system that includes connections to Mica Peak and Spokane County Conservation Futures properties.
“Everybody is going to reap some benefits from these enhancements,” Knowles said. “People love the natural setting out there with the lakes and forest … They really wanted to see the master plan balance that with upgrades to the park.”
The 3,600-acre park currently has 125 feet of shoreline with a beach and swimming area, picnic areas, an off-road recreational vehicle park, an extensive trail network, a boardwalk, and tent and RV and camping facilities.
The department was prompted to develop the master plan – which hasn’t been updated since 1972 – because of an increase in park visitors, aging infrastructure and $50,000 from an anonymous donor to offset costs, Spokane County Parks, Recreation and Golf Director Doug Chase said.
The parks department gathered community input over five months last year through interviews, pop-up studios, workshops and open house events. It incorporated feedback into the plan developed by Spokane-based Bernardo Willis Architects.
Community members indicated they wanted the park to remain as it is – but with improved amenities, Chase said.
“We contacted the public to obtain as much input as possible,” Chase said. “They came up with some great concepts in the plan. It’s always fun when we’re able to gain that much direct input from the community.”
The county may consider relocating the more than 300-acre off-road vehicle facility to the Airway Motocross Park as well as pursue acquisition of five land parcels between the county and Zephyr Holdings to expand the beach area, according to the plan.
Park improvement funding will come from four to five sources that include federal and state grants as well as Spokane County real estate excise taxes.
By completing the park’s master plan, it provides the department opportunity to apply for grants in 2020 for the first phase of the project, Chase said.
Spokane County purchased the land for the regional park in 1966 for $275,000 from the Miller Ranch family and dedicated more than $200,000 in park improvements including reroofing seven structures, upgrading the water system, repairing picnic tables, fire pits and signs.
Liberty Lake Mayor Steve Peterson said city officials welcome the park upgrades.
“Anything that (the county) is doing to better our parks and have a consolidated plan they can work on and fund is great,” Peterson said. “We’re all for that.”
Peterson said residents are drawn to the city’s close proximity to hiking trails and the lake. He said he hopes improvements to the Liberty Lake Regional Park will drive more visitors to the area and increase economic development.
“The community really needs to make sure we look at embracing outdoor activities in our economic development plan and the value we place on our community, because it’s a big driver,” Peterson said.
The master plan must be approved by the Spokane County Commissioners.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.