Old Stimson mill site offers opportunities for future recreation

 

On December 6,  the Libby Park Board, City of Libby, and County representatives held a public meeting at Libby city hall, with representatives of the Lincoln County Port Authority, to discuss the creation of a large multi-use recreational area in the eastern portion of the old Stimpson mill site.

Tina Oliphant and Brett McCully from the Port Authority came before the group to “formally explore the transfer of the property.” said Oliphant.

The meeting was well attended, prompting attendee, Jim Germany to comment “Man, this is just crazy, look at all the people here.”

Among those present were Libby Mayor Brett Teske, city councilperson Gary Armstrong, Road Foreman, Mark McCully, Commissioner Mark Peck, and former site manager Paul Rummelhart.

Oliphant and  Brett McCully addressed such issues as public access to the site, a 40 acre parcel adjacent to, and just east of the children’s fishing pond, which was completed a few years ago. The present road to the area, which goes by the motocross arena, is unacceptable for constant public use because of heavy equipment and stockpiles of lumber.

McCully added that a possible road from the Lincoln County Mental Health building property is very possible, and is gaining signatures of support now.

Oliphant said, “Although the Port Authority wants to share the duties and responsibilities of any future recreational facilities, they do not see permanent maintenance of new properties as their sole responsibility.”

Lincoln County Port Authority also wishes to retain all water rights. Bob Petrusha asked who would be taking responsibility for the Children’s pond area, and wondered if the motocross arena would be included in the site. Oliphant replied that she would like to see a task force formed with the city, county, and the Port Authority all sharing responsibility, and that the motocross facility is privately owned and maintained. Petrusha added that the county is looking at hiring an administrator to oversee the entire project.

Everyone agreed that the recreational possibilities for this parcel are almost limitless, Gary Armstrong suggested that the land on the opposite north and east sides of Libby creek should be included, with possible horse and bike trails. Petrusha said he started on the park board 22 years ago with avid interest in creating new trails and connecting the existing trail system, which now crosses the Kootenai to connect the mill site and highway 2 to J Neils park.

Oliphant added that soil from construction of the kids fishing pond was used to make a walking trail by Libby creek. “I think this could be a valuable community asset” said Mayor Teske, and added, “Think outside of the box, it could be anything.”

Top: A map of the proposed recreation area courtesy of Tina Oliphant, Lincoln County Port Authority. Bottom: The children’s fishing pond  at the site.  Photo by Moira Blazi