By Ben Olson
It’s been a stellar first year for Pine Street Woods, the 180-acre gift to the community from Kaniksu Land Trust. Featuring year-round trails through rolling meadows and healthy woodlands, the PSW is now entering its first winter in high style.
KLT and the Sandpoint Nordic Club are hosting a grand opening for the newly built outdoor recreation center planned from 3-6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 21 at the Pine Street Woods. The opening will be a potluck-style event — soup is the preferred contribution — with a bonfire, tours of the new center and staff on hand to explain winter recreation programs. Thanks to a unanimous vote Dec. 12 by the Dover City Council, KLT has been granted a special use permit to operate the rec center.
KLT Executive Director Katie Cox is pleased with the new facility, and especially how the team at Idagon Homes finished it before the deadline: “It’s an anomaly in the Sandpoint building market [to finish on time], but Colin Burnett and Justin [Schuck] at Idagon accepted this project and said, ‘We’ve been watching everyone do so much work to make this project successful and this is our chance to help.’ We really are happy with how it came together.”
Low and non-imposing, painted a dark forest green-brown and placed conveniently beside the parking lot, the building achieves a perfect balance in its setting — a plan that was by design, according to Cox.
“I’m also an architect and color is very important to me,” Cox said. “The fact that something blends in rather than sticks out — especially in a natural setting — is important.”
First through the double doors is a community room that will serve as a warming hut, gear storage and changing area in winter. There are benches, coat hooks and places to store boots when changing into nordic skiing gear.
“We’ll also have a place where you can wax or learn how to wax your skis,” Cox said. “On the weekends it will be staffed, with staff giving pointers on how frequently to wax. You can either bring your own equipment or we’ll have it there.”
A service counter will offer rental gear for classic and skate nordic skiing, as well as snowshoes and merchandise for sale from Sandpoint Nordic Club. This counter will be staffed Saturdays and Sundays throughout the winter. Gear is available to rent for the season, the week or by the day, for both adults and youth.
Beyond the service counter, a drive-through equipment storage shed will house grooming equipment, including a nordic and fat bike groomer. The Sandpoint Nordic Club will operate the nordic groomer on the wide trails, laying down both wide corduroy for skate-style skiing and cutting double grooves for classic nordic skiing. Pend Oreille Pedalers will operate the fat bike groomer on the narrow trails, which will also be open for snowshoers.
“Pine Street Woods and the outdoor recreation center to me, is a bit of a dream come true,” said Sandpoint Nordic Club’s Ross Longhini, who spent much of the summer 70 feet above the ground trimming trees to open up snow coverage for the wide trails.
“This allows us to remove a lot of the barriers for people to be outside in the winter,” he said.
The access road leading to Pine Street Woods will be plowed and sanded regularly, but Cox stressed the importance of drivers maintaining a 15 mph speed limit at all times for safety.
The final touch to the rec center will be a front porch added in January by custom home builder Collin Beggs. The porch will be made with timber frame and burned wood, complimenting the natural aesthetic the center has achieved.
“We had over 25 busineses that either donated 100% of their services or materials, or gave us a huge reduction in price,” Cox said. “That really allows this building to be as beautiful as it is without all the costs.”
For Cox, the Pine Street Woods project as a whole is a true example of all forces aligning to produce something good and lasting for the community.
“The most important thing about PSW is that it allows everyone access to nature,” Cox said. “We had over 1,500 hours of volunteer time this summer — there’s no way that KLT could have created this space so quickly unless we had all this help.”
To learn more about Pine Street Woods, visit kaniksulandtrust.org. To find out more about nordic skiing, including rental prices, check out sandpointnordic.com. Support winter fat biking by visiting pendoreillepedalers.org.
*This story has been updated to recognize Sandpoint Nordic Club as a co-host for the grand opening of the outdoor recreation center.
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