By Don Nelson

The Winthrop Town Council has approved a six-year plan for the town’s parks and recreation facilities, in time to qualify for state Recreation Conservation Office (RCO) grants to support specific projects.

RCO grants have been instrumental in such projects as the Winthrop Rink and the Susie Stephens Trail.

The plan prioritizes the Susie Stephens Trail and the RiverWalk project for completion, as well as other connectors to the Methow Trails system and other key locations in the town.

The plan is revised every six years and undergoes Planning Commission review and approval before it goes to the council. It cites projects such as Mack Lloyd Park, Heckendorn Park, the rink, the Town Trailhead, the completed portions of the Susie Stephens Trail, and the newest feature — Confluence Park on Riverside Avenue — as examples of progress the town has made in developing its parks and recreation system.

The document notes that, because of Winthrop’s location at the center of a heavily used recreation area, the town must plan to accommodate more than its 400 residents.

To help meet the plan’s objectives, one goal is to continue building public and private partnerships that help the town with developing new features. Past partnerships have included several state, federal and county agencies, Kiwanis, the Methow Conservancy, the Methow Valley School District, Sun Mountain Lodge, Methow Trails and other local organizations.

Another goal is to “foster the development of Winthrop as a walkable community and trailhead for the Methow Valley.” Another is to develop more access points to the Methow and Chewuch rivers. The town should also look for opportunities to create more neighborhood “pocket parks,” the plan recommends.

Existing facilities that may need more improvements and maintenance include the Winthrop Barn, Mack Lloyd Park, the Winthrop Rink and the Town Trailhead, the plan notes.

Progress charted

The plan reviews the progress and development of other projects such as the Susie Stephens Trail, which saw the completion of its second segment in 2017 and awaits the third and final segment; the RiverWalk project, which has been in discussion and planning stages but will see some construction this year; Confluence Park, which was donated to the town by Jim and Gaye Pigott, and will require regular maintenance; and Heckendorn Park, which may be targeted for future improvements.

The plan bases some its finding and recommendations on a 2017 parks and recreation survey that helped identify the town’s most-popular assets and most-pressing needs. The survey showed strong support for the Susie Stephens Trail, the RiverWalk, a trail to Pearrygin Lake State Park, and a trail to eventually connect Winthrop with the Methow Valley School District campus and Twisp.

A six-year capital improvement plan, specifying projects and projecting costs, is included in the parks plan.

At last week’s town council meeting, Town Planner Rocklynn Culp said the plan needed to be adopted for the town to qualify for RCO grants this year.

For more information about the plan, contact Town Hall at 996-2320.