Kootenai County wants to develop a 10-acre natural park near Hayden Lake that would include a playfield, trails and area for wildlife habitat preservation.
The Kootenai County Commission voted Tuesday to accept the master plan for the park, which the county hopes to develop in 2007 with a state Land and Water Conservation Fund grant.
Locals Robert Turnipseed and George Anderl in 2003 donated the land, which is in the middle of the Woodland Heights housing development. The wooded property off Loch Haven Drive, just southwest of Hayden Lake, was always intended for a park, yet it took Turnipseed and Anderl years to broker a deal.
In the end, the men donated the land to the Idaho Foundation for Parks and Lands. The foundation will transfer the land to Kootenai County when a state conservation grant is received. The arrangement gives the county leverage to use the $500,000 value of the proposed park property as matching money for the grant.
Now that the commission has approved the concept for the park, the county must come up with $20,000 for engineering and design work, said Kootenai County Parks and Waterways Director Kurtis Robinson. Once that is done, the county will apply for the state grant, perhaps in November 2006.
If the grant is awarded, the county would begin construction on the park in spring 2007.
“It’s a great project,” Commissioner Rick Currie said.
The park would include a paved parking lot with access off Loch Haven Drive. The north end of the property would become an open playfield of turf grass not intended for organized sports. A paved trail would follow the perimeter of the 3-acre playfield. There would be a picnic area with four tables and a restroom.
About 4.5 acres of the land would be preserved for wildlife habitat, and the county would plant wildflowers and meadow grass on another acre. A gravel trail would meander through these areas.
A three-rail wooded fence would buffer the park from the surrounding neighbors, many of whom have back yards looking toward the proposed park area.
Robinson said the wildlife preserve and wildflowers would act as an additional buffer.
The county had a public meeting in 2002, asking adjacent property owners whether they would support a park. Robinson said 31 property owners attended the meeting and all their concerns were mitigated during the planning process, which included four different design options.
“They’ve endorsed it with good enthusiasm,” Robinson said.
Some people are already using the land as a park. Trails from mountain bikers and four-wheelers are carved out in some areas. Other people have used the vacant acreage as a dump.
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