The city of Liberty Lake is now a voting member of the Centennial Trail Coordinating Council and will take over maintenance of 2.2 miles of trail that runs along the northern edge of the city limits.
“As the north side of the city grows with all the houses going in, the trail becomes more and more used by our citizens,” said Jennifer Camp, the city’s operations and maintenance director. “The city sees it as an amenity even though it’s not within the city limits. It’s on the border.”
The section of trail the city is now responsible for was previously managed by Spokane County. The trail is owned by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. Each jurisdiction along its 40-mile length in Spokane County pays a $20,000 maintenance fee every year. The Coordinating Council votes on how to spend that money.
“It’s almost all maintenance-related,” Camp said. “We have a voting voice on the council, which is important for the city to have a say in what happens.”
There are five voting members of the council representing Washington State Parks, Liberty Lake, Spokane Valley, Spokane and Spokane County. That means there is about $100,000 available each year for maintenance, Camp said. “It’s not a lot,” she said.
The Friends of the Centennial Trail also raises money for projects that improve and maintain the trail, Camp said.
The trail is hugely popular, attracting an estimated 2.5 million users a year along its 40-mile length. Camp said she was surprised to learn how many marathons and other events are held on the trail each year.
Liberty Lake will manage the section of trail between Hodges Lane and where Molter Road would be if it extended that far north. “That section will be most heavily used by the citizens,” she said.
The tasks Liberty Lake will now be responsible for on its section of trail include sweeping, mowing and weed control.
The process to join the Coordinating Council has taken years. Camp said she has been attending council meetings since 2016, but said her time there was not wasted. “Through that process of those years I sat and watched and learned how they operate,” she said.
The only access to the Centennial Trail in Liberty Lake is at the Harvard Road trailhead. But that will be changing. Greenstone Homes has been developing the River District to the west of Harvard Road and the Trutina Neighborhood to the east of Harvard Road.
Greenstone CEO Joe Frank said he is working to add multiple connections to the Centennial Trail in the neighborhoods he is developing.
“We went in for approval on seven different locations,” he said. “We recently got the final approval from the County. We’re waiting for approval from Washington State Parks.”
Frank said he wants to add five connections to the trail west of Harvard Road and two connections east of Harvard.
“They’re just spaced to give easy access,” he said.
He sees the Centennial Trail as a key amenity that needs to be easily accessible by foot.
“The Centennial Trail is a great asset to the community,” he said. “If the only way to get to it is by car, you limit it.”
Frank said he doesn’t know when the final approval might be granted. “We’re hoping it’s soon,” he said.
When approval does come, Greenstone is ready, he said. A portion of the connections from the neighborhoods to the trail have already been built and are only missing the portion that crosses Washington State Parks property.
“We’ve built trails right up to the property, so it’ll go quick,” he said.
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