Engaging a Small Community to Realize a Big Vision

Black Bay ParkPost Falls, ID—USA

This 60-acre hidden gem along the Spokane River in the small town of Post Falls, Idaho, is being transformed into a shared asset for the whole community to access and enjoy.

While many cities are actively working to reconfigure industrialized parts of their towns into parks, Black Bay Park is already a natural oasis. Keeping the integrity of the site’s natural design features was a top priority for not only the team but also for highly engaged members of the community. The design is also motivated by the desire to enhance the arrival experience into the park and provide more amenities ranging from restrooms and trash receptacles to more elaborate play areas, riverfront overlooks, and safe water access, while ensuring the park and the river are easily and comfortably accessible to everyone.

In Implementation
City of Post Falls
Vision Planning, Urban Design, Landscape Architecture
Project type/category
Civic/Municipal, Parks & Recreation, Waterfront


In Post Falls, Idaho, Civitas was tapped to create a nature-in-the-city experience for Black Bay Park, a 60-acre parcel along the Spokane River that has been loved by adventurers for years, but relatively unknown to many others. Since Post Falls is a small community without previous experience in crafting a vision for a park—but one motivated to expand their audience—we knew we needed to give everyone a chance to share ideas and opinions, not just the adventurers. To achieve this, we developed a robust engagement process focused on making the activities relatable and entertaining to the community.



We held our first public engagement event during the city’s Christmas tree lighting festivities, and set up inside City Hall where people came inside to warm up. With a captive audience in good spirits, they were more willing to share their thoughts and ideas. Feedback we heard during this and several other public meetings and interviews made it clear that protecting Black Bay Park’s natural design features was a top priority, along with enhancing the arrival experience into the park and providing increased amenities from restrooms and trash receptacles to more elaborate play areas, recreation courts, riverfront overlooks, and safe water access.

We also understood that it was time for the park to be accessible to everyone. One of the more impactful conversations involved a community member who has limited mobility and uses a wheelchair. During our initial conversation she expressed her most basic desire was to experience the park, its amenities and the river with her child, not simply watching her child, much like the way other parents could. This personal story inspired us to provide an improved circulation system that follows the park’s natural topography—including over 100’ of grade change—with looping trail patterns that minimize disturbance while allowing users of all mobility levels to explore the entire park and reach the waterfront.

Civitas’ goal remains to minimize disturbance to large areas of the park while using a network of boardwalks and new floating docks to activate the community’s connection to the river. Extensive riverbank restoration will mitigate erosion, protecting and restoring the riparian ecosystem.