Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Orofino Activity Connection Plan update

By Elizabeth Morgan

The Fitness and Youthful Activity group, a subcommittee of Orofino Chamber of Commerce, met with a wide variety of interested residents on April 20 to share ideas and comments on the draft of Orofino’s Activity Connection Plan (ACP) created by Chris Danley with Vitruvian Planning. The focus of this meeting was to present and gather information. 

“The Orofino City Council meets April 26 and it would be great to have all of our comments compiled by then so I can present to Council; We want the Council to go through the draft and identify any suggestions which are not feasible or do not mesh with the city’s future plans. We want to apply our efforts to those goals which are realistic to attain.

St. Germaine will also present to the School Board at their next meeting on May 16, to learn how the city might be able to incorporate the ACP there.

The draft of the 19-page plan held some really wonderful ideas, here are but a few of them:

One of the activity sites in the draft was Canoe Camp, noted for its historical and cultural assets as well as one of the sites available and in close proximity to residents along Hwy. 12.

Unfortunately, most residents must cross Hwy. 12 to access the park. Is there a way to provide a safe way to get there? Could a median or some type of signal be install to make the crossing less hazardous? This would be considered under infrastructure improvements and most likely, a costly one. But not all of the recommendations are as expensive.

Danley goes on to suggest other site improvements for Canoe Camp, such as installing aquatic bird interpretative panels at regular intervals along the trail with pneumatic bird sound stations; the addition of bike parking at the east end of the site.

“Clearly, we need to approach the National Park Service to show them they are being recognized in this plan. I believe once we have a final plan, there will be an opportunity to present this to them and engage them in a more formal manner.”

The plan has several recommendations for various street infrastructure to accommodate various desired trails and connect existing trails. The plan suggests narrowing the traffic lanes and removing on-street parking to allow room for bike paths throughout the community. “I don’t see these being accepted,” admits St. Germaine, “the lack of parking has long been an issue.”

But the best part of putting all our heads together is that a wide range of solutions are offered. There are some creative thinkers out there, and I especially liked the suggestion of constructing a multi-level parking garage!

The Chamber’s main focus will be on trails and pathways connecting existing trails to desired trails. Many are hoping to see a substantially longer trails or paths available, which can be accessed throughout our community.

In the attempt to create trails away from state highways, St. Germaine’s has offered to check into the possibility of making a proposal to Mike Williams, the owner of Camas Prairie and Bountiful grains Railroad to see if portions of the railroad right of way can be used for paths.

The Fitness and Activity group has reached out to Director Todd Hurt of State Hospital North. Hurt is presently reviewing the draft and is anticipated to convey his comments.

Mayor Ryan Smathers shared an item of interest which was recently discovered by the City which may help our cause. Idaho Statute 36-16-04 limits landowner liabilities for recreational trespass on private land. As long as there is no collection of fees, the property owner cannot be held liable for any injury or mishaps that might occur. This may help persuade private landowners to allow access for trails, etc. and open up more possibilities.

“At one time this area had a BMX bike track on private land, it would be interesting to find out why it closed down. Was it a liability issue?” St. Germaine’s next question was “Is there somewhere else we could have one? If there’s a demand for an activity, we should probably look to see how it could be facilitated.”

“Once I have the input I’ll relay the feedback to Danley for revisions,” said St. Germaine. “He hopes to have a final plan completed by June 30.” In the meantime, please email your ideas and comments to

It will be up to the city to implement the plan. It doesn’t need to be completed overnight, but it provides an overview of goals we would like to put into action.

There are grants out there which may help with some of the funding that will be needed. Of course we have our amazing Specialist St. Germaine to work her magic with finding funds. We are so fortunate to have her expertise.

Just last week, she shared that the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) recently announced a grant which may be used to fund bike paths, sidewalks and other facilities. St. Germaine will explore the specifics of the grant to see if it could bring Orofino just a few steps closer to our destination.

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