The group renovating Astoria Hot Springs Park has checked off another item on its to-do list: accept a donation of nearly 100 acres.
On Monday, the Trust for Public Land handed the parcel over to the Astoria Park Conservancy, the group tasked with stewarding the public hot springs park near Hoback Junction.
Astoria Park Conservancy Executive Director Paige Byron Curry said the hot springs complex of soaking pools, decks, lawns, picnic space, hammock setups and other such leisure equipment will take up only about 5 acres. The rest of the land will have an estimated 5 miles of walking trails, natural playgrounds and other outdoor recreation space. “I don’t think a lot of people understand how big the property is,” Curry said.
The original Astoria Hot Springs closed its pools in 1999. The property was then bought, the pools were backfilled and bankruptcies divided the land up among a number of owners.
In 2016, the Trust for Public Land stepped in, consolidated the properties and purchased the lot with the goal of bringing the community hot springs park back.
Soliciting feedback from 2,000 people, the trust’s community design process was partly focused on designating a long-term steward for the property.
“They don’t operate properties in the long term,” said Curry, who left the Trust for Public Land to helm the Astoria Park Conservancy when it was created in 2018 to oversee the project. “This is a big step in the transition between organizations.”
With the property deeded over to the conservancy, the nonprofit plans to have the trust finish building the hot springs pools and their surrounding infrastructure. Curry estimated that would be done by mid-2020.
In August 2019, the plan was to have the hot springs up and flowing by June, but construction crews weren’t able to finish the required concrete work before winter. Now, Curry said she’s hoping for an August opening, “if all goes according to plan and we have an early enough spring.”
Crews will have to start pouring concrete before July to make that deadline.
“It’s all very weather dependent,” she said.
Once the hot springs’ infrastructure is completed, the conservancy will take the reins. Its goal will be to turn the plot’s remaining 90-plus acres into an outdoor park. A design process for that will take place toward the end of 2020 or beginning of 2021
Along with Rendezvous Park and the dikes by the Highway 22 bridge over the Snake River, the completed Astoria park will be “one of the only public areas that borders the river” in Teton County, Curry said. “It will be a great resource for the community.”
To see the progress for yourself, drop by the Astoria Park Conservancy open house, set for 4 to 6 p.m. Friday. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP.