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It’s almost a park

by CRAIG NORTHRUP
Staff Writer | August 14, 2020 1:09 AM

Delays, vandalism shadow slow progress on Atlas project

A park for the ages is drawing nearer to completion along the Spokane River. It won’t be long, in fact, before the Atlas Waterfront Project blossoms into the newest addition to the Coeur d’Alene parks family.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our community to have 4,000 feet of public waterfront, trails, a water dog park and a beach,” said Bill Greenwood, director of the Coeur d’Alene Parks and Recreation Department. “But the ADA swimmer area and ADA kayak launch are the items I’m most excited about.”

Feedback during public workshops asked for a variety of facilities for the project. While public access to water was high on the list of demands, not far behind was a park with Americans with Disabilities Act-friendly amenities.

An official opening date has been put on hold, as vendors have not been able to provide all the materials to lay the final touches on the project, mostly a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Once completed, the new park just west of Riverstone will feature bike trails, walking trails, picnic areas, ADA-friendly access to the water, step-seating at the river’s edge, kayak and paddleboard launch sites, swimming access and a sizable dog-friendly portion on the eastern side of the property.

Greenwood said the delay has allowed crews to focus on finishing touches to make the park exquisite.

“Progress is good, considering some hurdles and changes to the scope of work,” he said.

One such hurdle has been vandalism. While the site is closed to the public while under construction, Greenwood said some people have ventured into the restricted site to tag the area with graffiti, break rocks and some of the steps, and grind on seat walls with skateboards.

The project is under the purview of the city’s urban renewal agency, ignite cda. Ignite executive director Tony Berns said he’s optimistic about the park’s opening.

“Paving of the parking lot and trails has begun,” Berns said. “Landscaping materials will start arriving by the end of the month, and once in the ground, will really tie all of the park elements together.”

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Roughly 4,000 feet of waterfront access awaits Coeur d’Alene residents and visitors in the nearly-completed Atlas Waterfront project, a new park that is awaiting final materials before opening to the public. (Photo courtesy city of Coeur d’Alene)

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The setting sun casts shadows on Thursday evening at the site of Atlas Park, which is still under construction. (BILL BULEY/Press)

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A boat on the Spokane River passes by the site of Atlas Park, which is still under construction, on Thursday. (BILL BULEY/Press)