POST FALLS, Idaho — In terms of new growth, housing usually comes to mind. But the city of Post Falls has other kinds of growth on the agenda as well — namely a new, improved play-space for residents' four-legged friends.
With a $700,000 price tag, the Singing Hills dog park project — which would be completed in about a year — is just one of several items on the agenda for tonight’s City Council meeting, starting at 6.
The Singing Hills playground sits in the middle of the Harmony Place neighborhood, off Idaho Street. For now, dogs are prohibited on the property, which consists of a large open playing field, an aging playground space, a small covered pavilion and one porta-potty.
The Singing Hills dog park project has not been well received by some residents.
“If this dog park goes forward in Singing Hills then you will be going against what the community’s wants and needs are,” resident Eric Lynne wrote in an email to Post Falls City Council.
About 20 people attended a public workshop July 19. A summary of the meeting, which was presented to City Council, says 10 attendees were against the change, two were in support and the rest were neutral.
Lynne, who lives in the neighborhood, not only attended the meeting but collected almost 100 signatures from “within a quarter mile of the park” in opposition to the project.
Post Falls Parks & Recreation director David Fair said in a memo to City Council members on July 30, that “The need for a dog park was considered such a public priority, that it was listed in both the 2021 and 2020 council adopted comprehensive plans.”
Fair said the Parks & Recreation Commission has been discussing the city’s need for a dog park in Post Falls for close to 20 years.
Some residents say they weren't aware of the proposed change to the park until a few days before the commission’s open invite to the workshop.
“Last week was the first time hearing what Parks & Recreation is planning on doing to our neighborhood park,” said Tara Still, a Harmony Place resident.
“There was only one sign at the park by the play structure about the community workshop.”
Among concerns voiced by the public are additional traffic from people who don’t live in the neighborhood, additional noise, possible odors emitted from a dog park and a loss of green open space.
City planner Robert Quinn said in an email that “the workshop was announced on the city website, city Facebook page, the city Parks & Recreation Facebook page, a sign was placed in the park and we reached out to the local HOAs we had contact information for.”
The project has been brought up at numerous Planning & Zoning meetings throughout the past year, he added.
The plan being brought before City Council tonight is an updated design from the one originally presented on July 6.
It includes plans to improve the sidewalks, update and expand the children’s play area, install playground curbing, fencing and concrete for the dog park, water connections for drinking fountains, installation of lighting, ADA pedestrian ramps, additional restrooms, modified parking and improved landscaping and irrigation.
The plan designates about 1 acre for the dog park, including a gravel walking path within and also leaves a half-acre of open, green space outside the space designated for dogs.
Fair said “staff provided (this) alternative design based upon feedback from the onsite meeting.”
“Changes included a reduction of size of the dog area, expansion of the playground, and more open space to throw a ball or Frisbee,” he said. “The commission compared both designs and in the end, they chose to go with the modified design. They recognized that it did not meet the needs of the people who do not want a dog park, but it did attempt to address most of the concerns raised.”
Of the $700,000 needed to complete the project, a large donation has been offered toward it.
“We have a donation pledge for $100,000 but do not have the money in hand yet,” Fair said.
Project planners have requested $40,425 from the city. The rest of the money would come from impact fees imposed by the city on new growth.
A contract with JUB Engineers was approved at the July 6 City Council meeting.
There are three dog parks in Coeur d’Alene but this will be Post Falls’ first. Quinn told council members on July 6 that Singing Hills is the most viable location due to having the fewest number of adjacent residences.