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Travers Park improvements move ahead

Staff Writer | December 28, 2022 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — Work is moving forward on improvements at Travers Park.

A survey on what area residents would like to see at the site should be added to the city's website soon, and an open house is planned for just after the new year, Planning and Development Manager Maeve Nevins-Lavtar told the council at the Dec. 21 meeting.

Improvements at the Travers/Centennial/Great Northern Sports Complex were identified as a community priority in terms of the city's park system.

Among the proposed improvements are the renovation of the parking lot, drainage improvements to the sports fields and the relocation of the maintenance building, Nevins-Lavtar said.

City officials are working with Mike Terrell Landscape Architecture to refine the concept design for the Travers complex, determine project costs and help identify funding opportunities, including the Land Water Conservation Fund grant.

While the city plans to apply for the grant next month, how much the city intends to seek and the exact concept are still being fine-tuned, Nevins-Lavtar told the council.

"That's where we need the public's input," she said. "[That amount will be] based on what amenities they want, and we know we're looking at a plaza area in the middle that would have bathrooms, seating and all of those great kind of the facility amenities."

Nevins-Lavtar said she anticipates coming back before the council in mid-January with more information and more detailed costs.

A survey will be posted until Jan. 5 for the public to provide feedback about the design. In addition, an open house is planned for Jan. 5 at City Hall from 5-7 p.m. to gather additional input and provide information about the project to area residents.

"That survey will focus on specific questions related to the field," Nevins-Lavtar told the council. "So we really want to talk and hear from the sports users that use those fields currently."

The Planning and Development manager said the city wants to know how the fields are being used, what works and what doesn't, where a multi-use concept might work — and where it might not. They also want input on whether artificial turf is an option for some of the fields and whether removable or temporary mounds would add flexibility to some of the fields.

A bike park facility would be added on the west side of the park, and a site has been identified as the location for the James Russell Sports Center.

Opened in 1986 on what was an abandoned landfill, the Travers/Centennial/Great Northern Sports Complex has grown from a 5-acre site to one that is more than 30 acres, Sandpoint officials said. The park has become the city’s major sports venue for everything from baseball and softball to tennis and football. It is a popular picnic and playground site and houses the city's Concrete Lake skate park as well as multiple trail loops.

While the park is popular year-round, there "are a number of critical deficiencies that limit its being used to its highest efficiency," Sandpoint staff said in a report presented to the council last week.

Grading issues cause severe grade changes in the playing surfaces, primarily the outfields, in some cases as much as 8-10 inches. There are similar grade issues on the Centennial fields directly to the north of the softball complex, where soccer and baseball occur. In addition, softball, soccer and baseball fields are so wet in the spring that they are not usable for long periods of time.

Correction of the issues will require "significant improvements" and corrective measures, officials said in the report.

Those measures will be necessary whether the entire complex remains natural grass or some of the fields are converted to artificial turf. In the report, city officials said converting at least some of the fields to artificial turf would allow for more efficient drainage and extend field use, both on a daily and seasonal basis.

In the concept plan, recommendations call for a reduction in the number of softball fields from three to two, with both being converted to artificial turf, allowing for more use throughout the year. In addition, the plan calls for the Little League baseball field to be relocated to the northeast corner of the Centennial fields.

The TSC concept plan calls for tennis courts to be rebuilt at the south end of the complex and the introduction of pickleball courts.