With initial acquisitions largely accomplished, focus now turns to connecting communities with access at trail’s north endpoint. The goal: access for and connection to Kootenai and Ponderay.

And the first phase of the next phase is rigorous planning with the cities and trail stakeholders. Read about this critical next phase and two new Request for Proposals to assist the process. Read our press release below.

Friends of Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail and Ponderay Seeking Consultants

SANDPOINT – Lesson No. 1 from several years of effort to develop a public trail along the shoreline of Lake Pend Oreille: Planning pays off.

So now that the campaign to purchase a critical link for the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail is nearly complete, trail advocates have turned their attention to the next steps necessary to complete the Pend dOreille Bay Trail.

And step No. 1 is more planning.

“It’s great that the public can now enjoy access to Lake Pend Oreille along a shoreline trail,” said Larry Davidson, president of the non-profit group Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail.

“However, our work isn’t done,” Davidson said. “Now it’s an out and back experience from the south end, and people in Kootenai and Ponderay still don’t have direct access from the north end. Also, we might want more amenities in the future. So we need better direction on where to go from here.”

The City of Ponderay and the Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail have released two requests for proposals (RFPs) to help address these issues.

The city’s request is for a “Neighborhood Sub Area Plan” that will help guide decisions about the location and size of a railroad underpass, contaminated property cleanup and the type of development that could occur on both the lakeshore and the west side of the tracks.

A companion planning effort will be the “Master Trail and Interpretive Plan” for the length of the trail, from Sandpoint’s City Beach to the Bonner County Historical Society’s proposed museum site in Kootenai.

In 2010, the Friends published the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail Concept Plan, a two-year award-winning community planning effort that was made possible with the help of a National Park Service technical services grant.

The Concept Plan gave general direction and a 30,000-foot view of the trail. But some of the proposed elements in the Concept Plan are no longer relevant because of changing circumstances. The Master Trail and Interpretive Plan will give more detail and provide cost estimates. The plan will also focus on how to share the natural and cultural history stories of the local area.

Some of the most difficult questions are related to how to connect the shoreline to Ponderay and Kootenai. Ponderay’s Sub Area Plan will help answer those. The project area for both plans also includes Brownfields sites on the shoreline that are contaminated from historic mine smelting operations.

The City of Ponderay and Idaho Department of Environmental Quality are currently working on a plan for cleaning up the sites, which are contaminated with lead and other heavy metals. The current public portion of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail stops short of those properties.

“We want a plan that can help guide public parkland and private property redevelopment of the Brownfields sites on the lakeshore in a manner fitting with our local values,” said Erik Brubaker, Ponderay City Planner. “We also want to give our town a presence on the lake, both for the quality of life for our residents and to give people another reason to visit Ponderay.

“Highway 200 is our Route 66,” he added, “and right now you can pass through Ponderay and have no idea that a pretty nice lake is right over there.”

Ponderay and the Friends hope to have consultants hired by the end of the summer. The planning is being entirely funded through grants from the LOR Foundation, a Wyoming-based family foundation dedicated to enhancing livability in the rural intermountain west.

Because the Master Trail and Interpretive Plan will cross jurisdictional lines, it is being overseen by an interagency committee of planners from the cities of Sandpoint, Ponderay, Kootenai and Bonner County, as well as members of the board of the Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail.

Meanwhile, the City of Ponderay plans to purchase the final parcel of four waterfront lots this fall owned by the Hall family that are in the trail corridor. In November, the Friends announced the successful completion of a $400,000 capital campaign to cover the cost of that purchase.

The four parcels stretch along nearly a mile of shoreline from Sandpoint’s water treatment plant and the historic Humbird Mill ruins in the south, past the Elks Golf Course to within a few hundred feet of Black Rock, the old smelter site.

Potential applicants can get copies of the RFPs through the City of Ponderay and City of Sandpoint websites: www.cityofponderay.org and www.cityofsandpoint.com/POBT/.