Opponents rally against McEuen Field project

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This colorful signpost, pointing out the potential costs of the controversial McEuen project, was on display at Saturday's McEuen Field rally.

COEUR d'ALENE - Mordantly amusing, the big signpost greeted visitors at McEuen Field on Saturday afternoon, its colorful arrows pointing every which way.

"Fancy Marina - $1.3M," read one arrow, aimed at Lake Coeur d'Alene. "Ritzy Ice Skating - $1.1M," read another. At the very top, just below a large dollar sign, an arrow painted with the words "$14.7M - Parking Palace" speared toward downtown.

Created by opponents of the extensive - and expensive - McEuen Field project, the signpost warned of probable construction costs - at last estimate, between $23 and $39 million altogether.

"I don't think (the McEuen plan) is a good idea at all, because first of all they don't have any contingency, and the funds aren't here yet," said Randy Myers of Coeur d'Alene. "I like it the way it is."

Myers joined a crowd of McEuen Field supporters gathered on the east side of the park. The rally was organized by Friends of McEuen, a local group staunchly opposed to the plan.

"It's upbeat, it's positive. A perfect day," Myers said.

The controversial McEuen plan, crafted by the conceptual design group Team McEuen, calls for the removal of the Third Street boat launch, the construction of a new parking facility and the relocation of the American Legion baseball field.

Sharon Culbreth of Coeur d'Alene said taxpayers would foot the entire McEuen bill, including the portion funded by Lake City Development Corp. She wants to see a public vote on the project.

"I think we have a right to say yes or no," Culbreth said. "They should allow the public to vote. I just feel real strong."

Phil Motl, a Coeur d'Alene business owner, has been passing out "Save McEuen Field" frisbees. At his Army-Navy surplus store on Government Way, Motl has collected 200 signatures from people who oppose the park's redevelopment.

"It's absolutely horrible what they're doing," he said. "How are they going to put these boats down at Silver Beach?"

Behind him, the Third Street lot was filled with boats, trucks and trailers.

While some rally-goers wanted the park unaltered, Brock Poole of Coeur d'Alene was open to improvements. Nothing too drastic, however.

"Some of the ideas in the proposal, aesthetically, they're good ideas," he said. "But how much do you really need to change a park that is already utilized? I'm opposed to moving the Legion field, and I'm opposed to moving the boat launch."

Poole said Tubbs Hill should not be changed, either - the plan would possibly modify the hill, making it less rugged and easier to access.

"I think Tubbs Hill needs to stay the way it is," Poole said.

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