Mixed news from a recent meeting with City Administrator Jennifer Stapleton regarding the parking lot closure: It could be a few months before the parking lot at the Sandpoint trailhead is open during the weekdays again. The reason given for the lot closure was the lack of space along the city street to accommodate both large delivery trucks and emergency vehicles in the event of a fire or other emergencies at the city water treatment plant.
Stapleton said the developer cannot control exactly when these deliveries are made, and so it is not possible to make temporary closures to accommodate the deliveries. The four-story building will be under construction all summer, so the closure will remain in effect likely throughout the summer season – or longer if there is a shortage of building materials or other complications.
The city plan is for the trail to remain open during the parking lot closure hours (6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to noon Friday). Trail users will need to park at the Windbag or City Beach or elsewhere and walk or bike to the trail. We are disappointed and recognize that this is extremely inconvenient for many, especially those who have physical challenges. In addition, we have received reports of trail users encountering hazardous conditions when passing through the parking lot during construction hours. Please take care!
Looking ahead, we hope to focus city attention on improving the trailhead parking and access situation. We will continue to advocate for the expanded parking plan in our Master Trail Plan, which would involve converting the grassy swale inside the water treatment plant fence to parking and treating stormwater underground. This is an expensive, but feasible option. We also would like to see if we can work with the city and condominium developer to shift pedestrian use to a sidewalk along the condominium complex, instead of in the bike path on the street. This would be more pleasant and safer for pedestrians walking from City Beach or the Windbag.
Please share your trail access thoughts with us at friends@pobtrail.org. You can also let the city know your thoughts about the current trail access situation and potential long term solutions by commenting on the city’s feedback app: Engage Sandpoint.