It is the greenspace equivalent to dueling banjos – the contrast of Rocky Hill Park and Pavillion Park in Liberty Lake.
As the anchor tenant in the city’s recreational system, Pavillion Park goes back to a time before Liberty Lake incorporation in 2001. The 14-acre venue has become home to a popular summer concert and movie series as well as mainstream sports like baseball, soccer and basketball while a spacious field on the park’s upper level hosts Frisbee and kite enthusiasts. The site even has its own advocacy group known as the Friends of Pavillion Park.
Rocky Hill is the newest installment in the capital projects lineup, also in the neighborhood of 14 acres and sporting amenities for basketball and tennis. As just one of many community contributions to the park, the local Rotary chapter renovated some old soccer goals and had them moved on to the grounds. The space also features a network of walking paths that will eventually connect to the Centennial Trail.
As the city prepares to celebrate the completion of Rocky Hill’s second phase of construction with a ribbon-cutting this Saturday, Liberty Lake Mayor Wendy Van Orman said the new park will be a valuable complement to an existing civic staple.
“When Rocky Hill gets going, I think it’s going to be just as popular as Pavillion Park,” Van Orman said.
The roots of the park go back to 2000 when land originally owned by a local family named the Kennetts was purchased by Liberty Meadows and subdivided into 310 acres. Greenstone Homes, a development company based in Liberty Lake, later launched a residential neighborhood known as Rocky Hill in the area.
The city broke ground on the first phase of the park in spring of 2008, installing irrigation, grading the land and planting turf and trees. The initial construction on seven acres also included the addition of a basketball court and a parking lot.
Doug Smith, Liberty Lake’s director of Community Development, gave credit to Greenstone Homes, land owners Bill and Judi Williams and the Meadowwood Homeowner’s Association for the donated property, estimated at a value of $1.36 million.
Van Orman said Greenstone has always been a proponent of municipal greenspace. As an original member of the City Council, Van Orman had conversations with Greenstone owner Jim Frank and the late Lud Kramer, one of the early advocates of incorporation, about prioritizing parks, trails and open space as Liberty Lake developed.
“Greenstone has always been a fabulous developer as far as making sure there is greenspace,” Van Orman said.
In addition to aesthetic enrichment and added venues for exercise, Van Orman pointed out that parks like Rocky Hill add to the property value of homes in the surrounding neighborhood, a perk that benefits Liberty Lake’s general fund and the ongoing requirement to provide essential city services.
Like Discovery Park in Spokane Valley and a new greenspace scheduled for the Greenacres area, Rocky Hill benefited from a state grant, this one to the tune of $500,000. The funds came in handy, especially considering the city’s recent budget concerns that include a projected $700,000 deficit for 2011.
The grounds of Rocky Hill also feature two of the oldest standing structures in Liberty Lake – a barn built by Louis Domrese in 1948 and an adjacent two-bedroom house constructed the following year. The buildings were preserved during the development of the park and Van Orman said there is the possibility of establishing a Liberty Lake historical museum in one of the spaces as long as it is structurally sound.
The second phase of the park began in January and included two tennis courts, restrooms, picnic facilities, pathways and playground equipment. The park also features a picnic deck donated by Greenstone and located on Rocky Hill itself. A monument – chronicling the layered history of the grounds – was installed last week.