Enjoying the Parks of Libby

Spring has arrived along with flocks of singing robins and bright crocuses.  Some of us are getting out rakes and shovels.  Some of us are heading to the park with our children, our pets, or our picnic lunches.

Libby has several parks for local residents of all ages and interests to enjoy from playgrounds to boat ramps, from baseball fields to tennis courts.  A spring picnic along the banks of the Kootenai River offers a spectacular view of snow-capped Dome Mountain against a sturdy blue background.

Our most popular family park is, of course, Fireman’s Memorial Park.  Initiated around 1965 by the volunteer fire department, the original park commemorated former volunteers with a small picnic area. In the mid 70’s, the park was expanded with grant money to offer 20 campground sites and a sewage dump.  In the 1980’s, the city took over maintenance of the park.

Since then the park has seen several additions—the Chamber of Commerce building, a new pavilion, expansion of the parking area, an electronic billboard, new playground equipment, a splash pad, new trees, park benches, an upgraded irrigation system, and the Fireman’s Memorial bronze statue. Many of these improvements have been possible because of grant money and donations of money and labor from local residents.

Future possible improvements include replacing the old wooden playground equipment and adding a drinking fountain.

Our baseball lovers are proud of our beautiful Legion Field.  It is know as one of the nicest amateur baseball fields in the Northwest.

Originally known as the school Athletic Field in the 1920’s, it was home to high school football and track events and a swimming pool.

The field was also home to adult baseball games partially sponsored by the Neils family. The site is named after Lee Gehring, a well-known amateur player who moved to Libby after World War II and was very involved in Libby baseball.

Legion baseball was started in the 1950’s and continues to this day thanks to the many volunteers who work tirelessly to maintain the field, build new grandstands and fences and restroom facilities. One particularly dedicated volunteer shared that he often spends 60 hours per week working there and not just during baseball season.

Instead of 3’ tall weeds and orange flagging, the city is proud to give Libby the beautiful Riverfront Park.  Formerly the site of WR Grace’s Export Plant, the 17 acre park has been reclaimed by the EPA and is now being developed by the city. There are currently two pavilions at the park.  One is the Community Asbestos Memorial Project and the other is the Fred Brown Pavilion. There are also two river accesses and the David Thompson Search and Rescue building.

Last year the city planted over 50 trees, installed irrigation in the main part of the park, and paved City Service Road and some parking areas.  This year the city plans to plant another 45 trees, install street lights on City Service Road, and purchase a restroom facility to place near the Fred Brown Pavilion. The Lincoln County Veterans Memorial Foundation has chosen a site for a memorial which should be completed by Veterans Day in 2014. We are very excited about this new addition to the park.

Besides the EPA’s assistance in laying the foundation of Riverfront Park, most of the improvements have been paid from Economic Development funds, grant money and donations of money and labor by many people and businesses.

The city will be sponsoring a Riverfront Park dedication for the community on August 3rd as a way to thank all those who helped build the park. More information will be published as the date approaches.

Although some people consider parks to be a luxury, they are, in fact, vital to a community’s overall health – physical, psychological and economic.  Our council has been pleased to have the opportunity to improve upon our former parks and to give a new park to the community in 2012.  We are delighted to see people enjoying these parks which  exist predominantly through the work of dedicated volunteers and community supporters.  We hope that you will not only enjoy these beautiful parks but you will also help us maintain them by perhaps volunteering or picking up litter or cleaning up after your pets.

If you have any questions or suggestions concerning Libby’s parks, please contact us at City Hall, 293-2731.