McEuen project races ahead

Design team blueprints are now 60 percent done

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COEUR d'ALENE - The McEuen Field project could be done by September 2013.

The downtown park's designers, Team McEuen, updated construction plan progress behind the multi-million project that could go out to bid in January.

The team shared the blueprints, now 60 percent completed, with city officials and the park's 24-member steering committee Thursday at Parkside Tower.

"We got the pedal down, the foot on the gas pretty hard now," said Phil Boyd, Team McEuen engineer.

The presentation was more of a look at harder numbers than artistic renderings. The numbers and breakdowns could shift as the designers continue to work, but details are becoming clearer.

Parking spots, as it sits, would increase from 595 now to 702 along Front Avenue, inside the parking structure, which will be around 12 feet tall from floor to ceiling, and on the parking lot under construction now at the east of the park adjacent City Hall. Boat trailer parking will be split with 22 spots designed in the parking structure, and 26 spots on the east lot.

An elevator will carry pedestrians at Fourth Street from the Front Avenue promenade to the parking structure below, which will be at park level.

The project is estimated to be $12.9 million from here on out. That estimate is because the design costs and east parking lot are already under way, taken out of the original $14.2 million budgeted estimate. The price also includes possible added city scope projects in it, which weren't a part of the original plan.

Those are engineering or infrastructure projects the city could do along side the project instead of waiting for a future date as to make it cheaper.

For example, the city could repave Front Avenue's side streets or build Third Street storm sewer lines and fiber optic lines across the park when the park is torn up instead of waiting years down the line and putting them in then. Those potential added scopes amount to $1.2 million, and would be up to the city to decide if it wants to add them. But with the additions the project would be $671,581 over budget.

The designers will make another presentation when they're 90 percent completed with the plans, which they said should be around Thanksgiving. Before then, they'll whittle away $671,581 in the design, and that could mean the added scopes would be lopped off.

"We're not going over budget," Councilman Mike Kennedy said after the presentation. "That's the bottom line."

It's the first progress report between stakeholders since dirt started moving on McEuen Field, which has been a highly controversial topic since the city took it on its redevelopment possibility two years ago. Construction on the east lot and mass grading began in September, and the lot should be finished by next month.

How detailed are the plans becoming?

After some trees are removed, and 119 more installed, the park will have 183 of them when it's done.

Negotiations with Front Avenue property owners are ongoing to discuss access points both during and after construction, while the Kootenai County Dog Park Association is beginning a fundraising drive and could have enough pledges in hand to build a dog park at the base of Tubbs Hill at the east end of the park as part of the construction.

If the bid goes out in January, and a company is selected in February, construction on the park would begin in March and wrap up in September, according to the designers.

"This is a beautiful job," said Deanna Goodlander, City Council member, following the progress report. "It's exciting to see."

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