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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Former gravel pit becoming CdA park


Dump trucks, compactors, graders and dozers are sculpting the landscape at the Riverstone development in Coeur d'Alene, where they are also creating a six-acre pond for a new public park. The area is a former gravel pit that is slowly being filled in. 
 (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Dump trucks, compactors, graders and dozers are sculpting the landscape at the Riverstone development in Coeur d'Alene, where they are also creating a six-acre pond for a new public park. The area is a former gravel pit that is slowly being filled in. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Coeur d’Alene’s newest park is emerging from an old gravel pit.

Massive dump trucks dropped loads of dirt in the bottom of the pit Thursday, followed by graders that packed down the fill. The pit swallows about 8,000 cubic yards of dirt every day.

Eventually, the old gravel pit will become a 25-foot-deep pond spanning six acres. It will be the centerpiece of a new city park near the Spokane River.

The park is part of Riverstone, an old industrial complex along Northwest Boulevard that’s being redeveloped as a live-work-play neighborhood of condos, offices, stores, restaurants and recreational space. Public areas are a key component of the project, according to developer John Stone.

The 10-acre park will feature a mini-amphitheatre overlooking the pond, volleyball courts, a picnic shelter, restrooms, parking and a trailhead for the Centennial Trail. A man-made creek will wend its way in between future office complexes. Fountains and waterfalls will keep the pond aerated.

Public areas will be clustered on one side of the pond. Restaurants and offices are planned for the north and east portions, though a public walkway will circle the entire pond.

Stone said the pond, which will be lined, could begin filling up with water this fall.

Taxpayers are chipping in about $4.1 million for the project through Coeur d’Alene’s urban renewal agency. The agency’s members approved the expenditure last month, contingent upon final approval from the City Council, which already has given the park an initial endorsement.

About $2.5 million is earmarked for pond and park construction. The remaining money will be used for other public projects in the development, such as roads, sewer and stoplights.

The $4.1 million represents about one-third of the infrastructure costs on the old gravel pit site. Stone doesn’t get the money upfront. He’s borrowing the $4.1 million to do the work. Over time, the urban renewal agency will reimburse him from property taxes generated from Riverstone.

As the old gravel pit is transformed into offices, shops and housing, property values on the site will increase, generating more tax revenue for the city, officials said.

“Basically, we go out and borrow the money,” Stone said. “It gets paid back from increased taxes off of our site.”

As part of the agreement with the city, Stone will maintain the new grass around the pond for three years. Property owners surrounding the park will be responsible for taking care of the pond’s pumps and mechanical equipment.

The agreement eases the city into park ownership, so it doesn’t have to pay out maintenance costs right away, said Troy Tymeson, the city’s finance director.

Creation of the pond and park are innovative solutions to a former eyesore, Tymeson said. The public gets new recreational space, and the man-made pond will boost property value, he said.

“It’s a body of water. Businesses want to build around water, so it will add value to the city over time,” Tymeson said. “It’s expensive to fill those holes.”

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