By Mayor Shelby Rognstad
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, city business, along with the rest of the economy, had slowed down considerably. As businesses are now opening back up, City Hall is getting busy. As I write this, the final touches on Phase 2 of the downtown project are being completed.
Thanks to the hard work of our Infrastructure Services management team, we have another capital project that came in on time and under budget. Similarly, the Memorial Field project is coming along on schedule. Just this week the city received two grants to support Phase 2 of the Memorial Field project: one is for boat launch improvements, including new bathrooms; and another is for a kayak launch at the site. The combined amount is nearly $400,000.
The coronavirus pandemic has also slowed our extensive master planning efforts. Most plans were delayed between 60 and 90days due to impacts on our ability to meet and engage the public for necessary input. The Multimodal Transportation Plan picks back up this week with a series of team meetings. One component of the plan includes the sidewalk network, for which there will be a public workshop in June.
Simultaneous to these master planning efforts, which require public input and buy-in, are capital improvement plans, which are technical plans prepared by professional contractors. The Transportation Capital Improvement Plan is being completed this week. Similarly, the Water Master Plan draft is complete and being reviewed by staff now. These plans, along with the Wastewater Capital Improvement Plan and the Inflow and Infiltration Reduction Plan, will all be rolled into a city-wide capital improvement plan for adoption by the Sandpoint City Council this fall. Collectively, they will help the Council prioritize project funding well into the future.
The Comprehensive Land Use Plan, now about 60% complete, is expected to go before Council for adoption in September. In July, the city will launch a survey on the Opengov platform (through our website or on the Engage Sandpoint mobile app) to vet the goals and objectives with the public. Part of that process will also invite public feedback on land use priorities and preferences regarding future land use and potential development scenarios.
Next week at the regular City Council meeting, Wednesday, June 3, there will be a public workshop to discuss site-specific details of the Parks Master Plan. The focus will be on City Beach, the downtown waterfront (Farmin’s Landing and the Sand Creek lot) and the Sports Complex (Travers and Centennial parks).
Site plans for each will be posted on our website for public review by the end of this week.
This will be the first Council meeting open to the public since before the COVID-19 closure of City Hall. Social distancing only allows a seating capacity of 50 — including mayor, Council and staff — so in-person public participation is still limited. However, we will continue to live-stream and the public can still participate via Zoom (the link is available on our website, sandpointidaho.gov, under “meetings”).
The Council meeting Wednesday, June 17 will open with a public workshop on the Parks and Recreation Master Plan. This portion will focus on operational priorities, policies and recommendations of the plan. The whole plan will be brought before Council for adoption in July.
The Little Sandcreek Watershed component of the Parks and Recreation Master Plan will be addressed this fall. The environmental review of the watershed is currently underway and, by August, I expect a decision framework that will provide staff and Council with a process for approving or denying proposed recreational projects and programs within the watershed.
This process ensures that any proposed recreational activity within the watershed will be thoroughly vetted to protect water quality and ecological health.
I encourage readers to re-engage with the city’s master planning efforts as we head into this final phase of planning. I can’t overstate the importance of your participation, as the priorities and strategic investment decisions made now will determine the liveability of Sandpoint for future generations.
Please join me for the Mayor’s Roundtable to discuss all this and more on Friday, May 29, at 3 p.m. on Zoom: bit.ly/2ZHEC9l (meeting ID: 874 9211 0111, password: 051350), or you can watch on Facebook Live through my page, Mayor Shelby Rognstad.
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