SANDPOINT — While the decision will ultimately be up to City Council members, the city’s consultants for the Parks and Recreation Master Plan have recommended artificial turf at War Memorial Field.
“Playability is the key,” said Dell Hatch with GreenPlay, LLC, during the Oct. 2 City Council meeting. “... As an artificial turf field, we think it is something that can accommodate an incredible increase in access and use.”
GreenPlay officials were back in town last week to present the preliminary concepts for Memorial Field, City Beach, the downtown waterfront and the sports complex. Much of the focus of the Memorial Field presentation was in regards to the turf and why they felt it would be the best fit for the field. However, Hatch also said they are looking at boat launch and parking lot improvements, and a fenced dog park among other considerations.
As for the turf, Hatch said they have had some discussions with Festival at Sandpoint officials, because there has been some “reluctance and unknowns” on their part.
“Admittedly, there is some learning curve that would occur there,” Hatch said, adding that tour buses and such would not be allowed to drive out into the field, and food vendors would have to be set up in a manner that would protect the surface.
A few people spoke in favor of artificial turf for sports playability, including Lake Pend Oreille School District Superintendent Tom Albertson and Sandpoint High School’s head baseball coach Chase Tigert. Cari House, past president with the Festival, said Festival officials would prefer natural turf for a number of reasons, including the potential production cost increases, as well as the patron experience because artificial turf is a hotter surface than natural grass.
“It is very much our desire to continue working with the city regardless of the decision,” House said. “It is our hope that we can continue to exist if the decision were to be made for an artificial surface, we are just uncertain of some of the issues that would arise for our organization.”
The consultants moved on to the preliminary concept for City Beach, which features an event staging area that can double as an ice skating rink in the winter, a carousel, a splash pad, expanded playground and more. One of the things Hatch said they looked at was reestablishing the boat launch on the south end of the RV park area, which is proposed as a parking lot. Hatch said the boat launch, where it sits now, creates a conflict with boat trailers and vehicles trying to maneuver around the tight space allowed for turning and backing up.
Moving the boat launch and turning the RV park into a parking lot is dependent on a proposed land swap between the city and the private owners of the RV park, who also own the Best Western Edgewater Resort property. If the land swap works out, the city will get the RV park area, while the private landowner would get grassy area between the hotel and sidewalk along the waterfront that is currently owned by the city.
“There is I think very good faith discussions going on between the city and the Edgewater Resort ownership about whether or not this can happen,” Hatch said.
The next concept the consultants looked at was for the downtown waterfront, which focuses on the area from the Panida Theater down to Bridge Street known as Gunnings Alley or Farmins Landing. The preliminary concept proposes the area as a gathering place and the “hub” of downtown. It would also add a boat dock under the Cedar Street Bridge and a boat ramp parallel to Bridge Street. It also includes stormwater management and treatment, as Farmins Landing is the primary outfall for stormwater runoff from the downtown core, draining into Sand Creek.
Finally, the sports complex includes Travers, Centennial and Great Northern parks. Some of the features the consultants added into the preliminary concept include expanding the skate park at Travers Park and adding a tennis complex, as well as pickleball courts and a larger parking area. Hatch said they also recommend replacing three natural turf softball fields with two artificial turf fields.
While Great Northern is in the best condition of all of the city fields, the preliminary concept proposes improved drainage at that field as well.
GreenPlay’s powerpoint presentation, the video feed of their presentation and the four concepts are available for public viewing and feedback using the city’s Open Town Hall online tool at opentownhall.com/7920. The link is available on the city’s Facebook page, website and through the Engage Sandpoint app under the parks icon. The concepts are also on display in the lobby at City Hall.
Mary Malone can be reached by email at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.