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Great winter walking on plowed Rimrock Drive

HIKING — Spokane has a choice snow-free place for a winter walk at Palisades City Park thanks to a maintenance issue that prompted plowing of Rimrock Drive overlooking Spokane Falls Community College area.

After Monday's snow storm, Fairchild Air Force Base crews plowed the road, which is gated to prevent public vehicle traffic. The Air Force has a pump in the area that delivers water from the Spokane River to the base.

Cross-country skiers out to take advantage of the rare winter windfall were disappointed to see the mostly snow-free pavement on Wednesday, but the rare plowing event is a boon for winter walking on a flat surface with one of the best views you'll find overlooking Spokane.

The trailhead is off Greenwood Road up from Indian Canyon Road. (See Hike 78 in Day Hiking Eastern Washington.) 

City projects could affect access to South Hill bluffs

TRAILS — The City of Spokane's plans to “remodel” High Drive in 2014 while updating sewer lines could change bike lanes and reduce parking options for the popular South Hill bluff trails.

Traffic flow, pedestrian walkways, and bike lanes will also be affected, according to the Friends of the Bluff.

A neighborhood meeting on set for 7 p.m.-9 p.m. on Tuesday (Oct. 8) at he new Jefferson Elementary School Multi-Purpose Room, 123 E. 37th Ave.
 
This might be the public's best chance to see the initial plans and provide constructive input, the Friends group says.
 
 

Agreement reached on Spokane River boat access at Convention Center

BOATING — The Spokane Parks and Recreation Board apparently has reached an agreement with the Spokane Public Facilities District that may assure maintaining a viable boat take-out point under the Division Street Bridge after the voter-approved $55 million Convention Center expansion project is finished.

The outlook wasn't so good when I wrote today's Outdoors column on the subject or when I wrote about the state of the issue in April as final Convention Center plans were being approved.

But here's a message received tonight from Parks Board member Andy Dunau of the Spokane River Forum:

I’m pleased to be able to share what I believe is good news. Today, the Spokane Parks and Recreation Board passed a resolution that the PFD has agreed to. The resolution addresses items needed to move forward this fall with development activities on Centennial Trail and Spokane River shoreline that are part of the convention center expansion. The section of the resolution that is essential to a put-in/take-out for the water trail reads as follows:

“The Park Board approves the Access in principle and subject to further review and approval design of the Park Board, and further authorizes the Spokane Parks and Recreation Department to be the lead agency in getting the Access permitted, conditioned on the District’s acknowledgement that it will bear all costs and expenses associated with permitting and construction of the Access, including any expenses ordinarily assigned to the City as lead agency for any permitting and/or construction of the Access, up to an amount not exceeding $47,000.”

The PFD verbally agreed to the resolution at the Park Board meeting, and will memorialize their agreement to it in a letter being sent to the Park Board.

We now have in writing a commitment of funds from the PFD, a design that has received broad support (also funded over the summer by the PFD), and Parks and Recreation agreeing to be the lead agency to develop the access. We can now get to the fun part: creating the Spokane River Water Trail Division Street Bridge Access.

Over the past week, intensive hours were committed by both PFD and Parks and Recreation staff and Boards to take this critical step forward. We are very appreciative of their time, effort and support. The Forum would also like to thank Spokane City Council for amending the municipal code last spring to allow this site location to move forward; Avista for their support in developing the design; Spokane Riverkeeper for providing important policy and regulatory guidance; and the many individuals and user groups who are the lifeblood of helping make good things happen.

$55 million Convention Center project should give voters more, not less river access

UPDATE: Sept. 12 at 8 p.m.: Tentative agreement reached on Spokane River boat access at Division Street.

RIVERS — Plans for the voter funded $55-$65 million expansion of the Spokane Convention Center are advancing to the construction stage, but Public Facilities District officials continue to suggest that maintaining viable public river access at Division Street Bridge for rafts, kayaks, paddle boards and outfitters is not their priority.

I wrote about this in April when the designs were being approved.

I wrote about it again today as the PFD readies to begin digging without giving a commitment to a viable boat access when the construction is complete.

Unbelievable.

Join the group to pick up Palisades Park

PUBLIC LANDS — Volunteers are invited to join Spokane's annual Palisades Park Cleanup Day set for 9 a.m.-noon, Saturday (April 27).

Palisades Park is 700-acre natural area behind the gate that blocks vehicle traffic from the old Rimrock Drive and the fabulous view over Spokane Falls Community College and the rest of Spokane.

Come wearing gloves and toting bags and tools for picking up litter and maintaining trails.

A new long-range project will kick off to recontour and revegitate the old sandpit area in heart of the park.

Carpool and meet at the intersection of Greenwood Road and Rimrock Drive to sign up.as we need a record of volunteers and to assist in letting volunteers know where help is needed,

Palisades map

The Pocket Guide to the Conservancy and Wildlife trails of Palisades Park is available for $3. Make check payable to Palisades. Send cash/check to: Palisades, W. 4625 Bonnie Dr, Spokane, WA 99224

More Than a Century of Winter Fun at Manito Park



   The morning after the season’s first snowfall, as I worked at my computer I could look out the window and see a steady parade of people heading down my street toward Manito Park.
Parents towed toddlers on sleds and teenagers laughed and pushed and punched one another as they trudged to the traditional sledding hill at the edge of the park. I couldn’t help myself. I had to smile. Welcome to winter in the heart of Spokane.
   

   I stopped typing and watched another family as they walked past my window and, not for the first time, I appreciated the direct link to the past this park provides. Each winter, for more than 100 years, the view has been essentially the same. Snow falls and people come out to play.
   

   I moved to Spokane in 1999 and for several years we lived outside of the city, north toward Green Bluff and near the shallow, curving Little Spokane River. But in 2006, when I realized we were spending a big part of each day driving to and from the city, we sold the big house with the big yard and moved into a little cottage around the corner from Duncan Gardens. My surroundings changed from sprawling suburbia to the intimacy of an old neighborhood with a big park next door.
   

   We’d visited Manito Park from time to time, but after the move the 90-acre oasis became more than a place to visit. It became a seasonal marker for my days. In the spring we watch the tender green buds unfurl and dress the gardens. In the heat of summer I walk through the rose garden at the end of the day and the air is sweet with the scent of a million blooms. In the fall, the park glows with golden leaves.
   

    Every day, in every season, people come to the park. But there is a subtle shift in winter. This time of year Manito is a more solitary place. Icy mornings bring out only the most diehard walkers. And night comes too fast.
  

    But after a fresh snowfall, it’s as if the park sends an invitation to a party. Just as it has been since 1903, the sledding hill is crowded with people and laughter fills the air.
   

    Several years ago, after recording my weekly public radio program in the studio upstairs, I stopped by Vintage Rabbit Antiques on Monroe.  One of the dealers had a box filled with vintage postcards and I pulled out one that showed a crowd ice skating on the pond at Manito Park. I loved the slice of life captured in the photograph, with men, women and children celebrating the simple pleasure of  skimming over a frozen pond, cold air biting at faces, the wind stinging hands and ears.
   

   I bought the postcard, scanned the card and keep it on my computer; a wintery moment frozen in time, linking me to both the past and the present in a place I’ve grown to love.

 

Note: This column was featured in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Nostalgia Magazine

Cheryl-Anne Millsap blogs about antiques and collectibles at The Spokesman-Review. Her audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com
  

Beacon Hill trails get $4K boost from REI

PARKS — Trail rehabilitation and restoration projects around Beacon Hill and Camp Sekani are getting a boost from the REI store in Spokane.

The store's presented $4,464 to the Spokane Parks & Recreation board for use in the popular mountain biking and hiking area. 

This is the last of three community grant part checks REI has awarded for 2012, a year of record giving through the program, said Carol Christensen, REI outreach specialist in Spokane.

 In addition to the Parks & Rec Foundation, REI awarded $10,000 to the Friends of the Centennial Trail and $10,000 to the Riverside State Park Foundation.  

That's a total $24,464 boost to popular local outdoor recreation destinations.

“REI’s mission, 'To inspire, educate and outfit for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship,' is what drives the market-based grant program,” Christensen said.

The Friends of the Centennial Trail and Riverside State Park Foundation pooled a portion of the grant funding to hire a volunteer coordinator to “recruit, train, and supervise volunteers to perform repairs, maintenance, and cleanup of the Centennial Trail, including campgrounds, recreation sites, and cultural sites and to create and maintain a database of volunteers.”

All three organizations have already been active in getting volunteers on the trails with more than 150 hours logged through the volunteer coordination program and several trail projects completed at Beacon Hill/Camp Sekani.

Get involved with these organizations by contacting Jake Graham at Riverside State Park, email riverside@parks.wa.gov , or Mike Aho at Spokane Parks and Rec, maho@spokanecity.org.

Info: Carol  Christensen, cchrist@rei.com.

Volunteers sign up for work day at Camp Sekani trails

TRAILS — Volunteers are organizing a work party to spruce up the trail system at Camp Sekani along the Spokane River below Beacon Hill.

The Camp Sekani Trail Day is set for Saturday, July 14, 9 a.m.-noon.

Camp Sekani, owned by the city of Spokane, provides recreationists with hiking, mountain biking, disc golf and many other outdoor opportunities.

This work project will bring together volunteers to clean and maintain existing trails, rehabilitate areas that have suffered from overuse and help to develop the overall infrastructure of the Beacon Hill area for users.

Plan to bring sturdy trail shoes, appropriate clothes, gloves, water bottle with water in it as there is no access to water.

Useful trail tools include shovels, rakes, litter bags, and loppers.

RSVP to volunteer coordinator Catherine Lyle at clyle@spokanecity.org.

Camp Sekani is located at 6707 E. Upriver Drive.

Directions:  Head East on Mission. At Mission and Upriver Drive take a right. Continue on Upriver Drive for about 2 miles until you see the Sekani gate on your left. Enter the gate and you should notice the caretakers house on the right. If you get to the Boulder Beach Parking Lot on your right you have gone too far.

Public meetings seek ideas on city parks budget cuts

CITY PARKS — In 2013 the City of Spokane Parks and Recreation Department will be facing an estimated 5.5 percent budget reduction totaling about $1 million.

Parks officials have set two public meetings this week to help form priorities for the program cuts that will need to be made:

Tuesday, June 26, 6 p.m.-8 p.m. at Southside Community Center, 3151 E. 27th, in the Spokane Parks Foundation Ballroom.

Thursday, June 28, 6 p.m.-8 p.m. at Northeast Community Center, 4001 N. Cook, in the Hillyard Senior Center, Conference Room. 

If you can't make it to one of the meetings, please give your opinion in this short survey.

You can also learn more about the 2013 Budget at spokaneparks.org.

Meetings address Spokane Parks Department budget cuts

PARKS — Every division of the Spokane Parks and Recreation Department will be facing a 5.5% budget reduction in 2013 as the city seeks to trim the department's budget by $1 million.

Park departments include Riverfront Park, Park Operations, Planning, Administration, Budget/Finance, Marketing, Youth Centers, Youth Camps, Outdoor Programs, Corbin Art Center, General Recreation, Therapeutic Recreation, Aquatics, Sports and Sports Facilities.

Officials have scheduled three meetings to gather public input on how to maintain services while budget shortfalls are addressed.

The public meetings are 6 p.m.-8 p.m. as follows:

  • Thursday (June 21), West Central Community Center, 1603 N. Belt.
  • June 26, Southside Community Center, 3151 E. 27th.
  • June 28, Northeast Community Center, 4001 N. Cook.

Comments also can be emailed to Parks@spokanecity.org.

Palisades City Park a treat for spring walkers

HIKING — On the rimrock bluff overlooking Spokane Falls Community College, spring walkers can enjoy a year-round feast of views over Spokane as well as a splash of wildflowers and blooming serviceberry that will be approaching a peak in about two weeks.

Since the Rimrock Drive was blocked off to motor vehicles, the area once plagued by garbage dumping and partying has become a haven for hikers.  Stay on the Rimrock Drive for easy walking or follow the dirt trails, some of which lead to a waterfall between the rimrock and Indian Canyon Golf Course.

Find out how to get a trails map and information on the area at the Palisades Neighborhood and Conservation Area website.