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

Browns Park improvements to be completed this summer; Balfour Park expansion planned

By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

Improvements are coming to Spokane Valley parks this summer as the city continues the park development plan contained in the Parks Master Plan.

Browns Park, an 8-acre piece of land at the corner of Pines Road and 32nd Avenue, is in the final phase of its development, which started in 2015. Earlier phases increased the number of sand volleyball courts and added a basketball court, splash pad, a large picnic shelter, a walking path and restrooms. Another addition has been a skate dot, a small area with some skate park features.

This year a new playground will be added, along with a small restroom and a picnic shelter.

“This is the final phase of the improvements indicated in the Browns Park Master Plan,” said Parks, Recreation and Facilities Director John Bottelli. “Browns Park will be finished after this.”

The playground will have features that will be accessible to children of all developmental and physical abilities, Bottelli said. A ramp will extend up to the play structure, making it wheelchair accessible. There will be several different types of swings as well as a We Go Round, slides and climbing features.

The park has come a long way since before 2015, when it had few amenities and only four sand volleyball courts. There are now 16 sand courts, designed to make the park a sand volleyball destination. The city has partnered with the Evergreen Regional Volleyball Association to host games and tournaments at the park, one of which is set for Memorial Day weekend.

The new playground, restrooms and shelter are currently under construction and expected to be finished in mid-June. The cost of the final phase is an estimated $740,000, which the city paid for partially with a $525,000 grant from the Department of Commerce.

The other park to see improvements will be Balfour Park. Currently, the small park is on the corner of Balfour Road and Main Avenue, but the city owns a large vacant parcel of land adjacent to the park that will be used to expand the park. The Spokane County Library District also has plans to build a new Spokane Valley Library on a corner of the property, with construction planned for 2022.

This summer the city will be widening the roads around the vacant land – Herald Road, Balfour Road and Main Avenue – as well as putting in utilities for the future park and library. The roads need to be widened to accommodate increased traffic and on-street parking. Construction is expected to begin in July, Bottelli said. The project is expected to cost $1 million and is being paid for by the city.

A construction date for the park expansion has not been set, but Bottelli said the city plans to work on the design this year at the same time that the library is being designed.

“The goal is that we’re going to coordinate the design so we can have an integrated community center campus,” he said.

Several years ago, the city held multiple meetings to get public input on what features the expanded park should include and how it should be designed.

“We have the conceptual site plan,” Bottelli said. “That master plan was revalidated in 2019. There were exercises to check in with the community to make sure it still matched the community’s goals.”

Bottelli said there will be more public meetings this summer, where the public will be asked which features should be completed in which phases. The park will likely be expanded in phases as the city gets funding, Bottelli said.

“We’ll have to make decisions about what’s first,” he said.

The city currently has $1.8 million set aside for the expansion of Balfour Park, Bottelli said, and he hopes the city will be able to set aside more in its next annual budget. The city will also be seeking grants to help pay for the project.

“I’m very optimistic that we’ll have some money to get started,” he said. “We’re hoping to get moving on this quickly.”

When the park and library are finished, both located right across the street from City Hall, Bottelli said he hopes the area will look and feel like a downtown campus.

“It’s so exciting, I think, what’s happening at Balfour Park at last,” he said.