SANDPOINT – A three-year campaign to raise funds to purchase nearly a mile of waterfront along the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail culminated this week with the second purchase of shoreline property by the City of Ponderay.
The Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail, which raised $400,000 to help with the property purchases, applauded the cities of both Ponderay and Sandpoint for investing in what’s becoming a favorite lakefront destination for residents and visitors alike.
“We are gratified by the way our community stepped up to make this shoreline trail something the public as a whole can enjoy for all time,” said Larry Davidson, president of the non-profit Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail.
While the shoreline trail can now only be accessed through a trailhead in Sandpoint, north of City Beach, the city officials in Ponderay dream of one day connecting the trail to their community with a safe railroad crossing.
“For Ponderay and Kootenai families, proximity to the lake has long been clouded by the lack of access,” said Erik Brubaker, Planning, Parks and Development Director for the City of Ponderay. “Completing the connection to the lake, having now extended that access along the lakeshore, would add value to our great neighborhoods and helps protect our outdoor-loving, small-town traditions.”
The Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay is a non-profit organization working with the cities of Ponderay, Sandpoint and Kootenai to create a non-motorized shoreline trail that will connect these communities and provide safe, public access to Lake Pend Oreille.
In order to permanently protect the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail, the cities and the Friends agreed to collectively purchase the waterfront corridor from the Hall family over a period of four years. According to the agreement, the City of Sandpoint purchased the first two parcels in 2011 and 2012, the City of Ponderay purchased the third and fourth parcels in 2013 and 2014, with the Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail raising sufficient funds for the fourth parcel.
The Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail conducted a campaign to raise $400,000 to complete the purchase of the final parcel by this week’s deadline. The group raised the money over two years from private foundations, individuals and fundraising events.
The vision for the trail began many years ago with Ross and Hazel Hall, who owned the property and saw the potential for a public pathway along the trail corridor, known to many locals as “bum jungle.” North Idaho Bikeways president Bob Carlson was the first to promote the trail and put it on a planning map for the region. Carlson also served on the original bay trail planning committee launched by the City of Sandpoint nearly 10 years ago.
“This trail has always been the highest priority for Sandpoint trails,” Carlson said. “But Ponderay’s concerns over drawing kids across the tracks and private ownership by the Hall family and the railroad put that off until five years ago.”
“An almost impossible set of obstacles has finally been overcome to bring this linear beach park into the public domain,” he said.
The Friends are planning a formal dedication next month, followed by a party at the Pend d’Oreille Winery in Sandpoint on Nov. 13.