Written by Ali Taylor, Association Executive Coeur d’Alene Association of REALTORS®
Amanda Kuespert, our Association President, knew she wanted to do something on the behalf of the Association that would make an impact on a community and that would last into perpetuity. So, we decided to use the National Association of REALTORS®’ Placemaking Grant to help Amanda’s goals become a reality.
The Association had already helped to build a great playground a few years ago in Coeur d’Alene, the largest city in our jurisdiction. For our second project, we wanted to branch out to another community to impact.
We wanted to see what was on the planning boards of a few of our neighboring cities and so we set up appointments with their Park and Recreation divisions. We met with several jurisdictions and heard the ideas that they had already been brainstorming. When we spoke to Eric Singer, Rathdrum Parks and Recreation director, about his story walk idea, we knew immediately this was the project we had to be involved with.
A story walk, or storybook trail, is a trail where as you walk along the trail, you find a page from a storybook, and then another one, and you begin to realize you’re following a story. See Storybook Trails: Where Kids Can Walk and Learn at the Same Time.
The project gave us the opportunity to be involved in the project from the beginning to the end from prepping the site to picking the first book that would be showcased at the grand opening. This trail would be great for any age group and would truly be a shining star in the area where there was nothing like it. And we would have some real ownership and creative input. It was perfect.
So, we dug in with the project. We walked through the wooded site and planned out where the trail would be. The site was nothing but weeds and dead trees and we got down and dirty by removing weeds, logs, and debris. We began to see the trail take formation. The next trip back, we marked where the story posts, which would display pages from the book, would be installed. Then we made a volunteer call for an all hands-on deck to do the final clearing, dig the holes, mix the concrete and install the posts.
We also added some art work – a giant Sasquatch and two smaller ones within the trail for kids to find as well as some benches and bridges along the trail. We had a great group of REALTORS® come out to help and we were done in no time at all.
At the grand opening ceremonies, the Rathdrum Mayor attended and light heartedly said the town’s mountain was where you could find Big Foot thanks to the REALTORS®. It’s a project our members can be proud of for years to come.