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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

From expanded parks to another river trail, Spokane Valley’s new parks director outlines his vision

Spokane Valley Parks, Recreation and Facilities Director John Bottelli takes a seat Friday near the new CenterPlace Regional Event Center West Lawn Plaza in Spokane Valley.  (Dan Pelle/THESPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Expanding Balfour Park as plans to build a new library bordering the park take shape.

Developing a 45-acre wooded property along the Spokane River, near Flora Road and Euclid Avenue, into a new park.

Progressing a newly proposed trail project along the northern part of the Spokane River.

All of those initiatives are among John Bottelli’s priorities as Spokane Valley’s new parks, recreation and facilities director.

Bottelli, who started his new position a month ago, comes into the job after working for Spokane County for approximately 13 years. The 50-year-old said the Spokane Valley job seemed like a natural next step in his career – especially since he wanted to continue living in the area.

“These opportunities are far and few between,” Bottelli said. “Spokane Valley has an amazing opportunity to develop an interconnected park and trail system. There’s just so much great work that can be done here.”

Bottelli said his career in municipal government started in the late ’90s with working for the Coeur d’Alene Tribe.

He joined the county in 2007 as parks special projects manager, elevated around two years later to assistant director of the county’s Parks, Recreation and Golf Department. Upon becoming the county’s park operations division manager in 2017, Bottelli was responsible for overseeing more than 15,000 acres of public lands and park facilities.

With Spokane Valley, Bottelli said he is supervising around 11 people, as well as more than a dozen parks and open spaces.

Here is a look at some of the other projects Bottelli has prioritized with his new position:

CenterPlace: Marketing the newly renovated West Lawn plaza space at the CenterPlace Regional Event Center, which Bottelli said will be available to rent by itself or in conjunction with the event center. The recent $2 million renovation resulted in a new hardscaped plaza with a concert stage and dance area.

Browns Park: Starting construction on the final phase of improvements at Browns Park, which includes a playground, a small shelter facility and a small restroom, Bottelli said.

Pinecroft: Working with the state Department of Natural Resources to enable public access to the state-owned Pinecroft Natural Area Preserve next to Mirabeau Point Park.

Sullivan Park: Completing the acquisition of 14 acres of land next to Sullivan Park for expansion. The city entered into the purchase and sale agreement in 2019; Bottelli said the city has paid 10% ($84,400) toward the cost, with the remaining $759,600 earmarked in a capital reserve and included as an anticipated expense in the 2021 budget to be paid once cleanup of aluminum dross contamination along the site’s northern border is complete.

Spokane River Trail: Still in a conceptual phase, the Spokane River Trail project would connect existing trail segments on the north side of the river from Flora Road up through Plante’s Ferry Park to Upriver Drive. Deputy City Manager John Hohman detailed the concept to the Spokane Valley City Council in late February.

“My pie-in-the-sky vision would be connecting up the Appleway Trail to the Centennial Trail, probably along the Flora Road corridor,” Bottelli said.

Beyond access to a regional transportation system through the Spokane Transit Authority, Bottelli said Spokane Valley is unique for the trailhead points located at the city limits, such as those for the Dishman Hills Natural Area, the Saltese Uplands Conservation Area and the “soon-to-be-developed” Etter Ranch Trailhead at Antoine Peak Conservation Area.

“To me, the tie-in with our regional transportation authority and an interconnected parks and trails system is that citizens can take public transit to locations at or near our parks and from there recreate beyond the transit stop,” Bottelli said.

Working out of his office at CenterPlace at Mirabeau Point Park, Bottelli said he’s referenced a “fire-hose analogy” to describe the amount of information he’s had to take in to get up to speed.

“The Spokane Valley parks and trails system is a system of interconnected amenities and it serves as an economic development engine. It increases wellness for the city and the quality of life for the whole region,” Bottelli said. “That’s why I’m in this business.”