Person Field sale finished

City agrees to pay $750,000 for Person, Bryan land

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COEUR d'ALENE - Done.

The city of Coeur d'Alene agreed to purchase Person and Bryan fields from the Coeur d'Alene School District Tuesday night, ending an at times rocky negotiating process that lasted several months between the two entities.

The city agreed to pay $750,000 for the roughly 2-acre Bryan Field and the 3.8-acre portion of the 7-acre Person Field owned by the district.

The council, however, reiterated some arguments it has voiced throughout the negotiating process before agreeing to the purchase - namely, it felt it was coming up on the short end of the financial deal.

"I'm tired of this issue, we have debated it long enough," City Councilman Mike Kennedy said. "At the end of the day, let's just move forward."

The sticking points for the City Council were two-fold: It disagreed with the appraised value of the properties and believed the Person Field property was rightfully the city's property to begin with. Those topics came up last month when the two entities had a public meeting on terms of the deal. That meeting settled on an amount between $655,000 and $750,000. Before that figure could get settled, Bryan Field would have to be appraised, which it was recently to the tune of $309,000.

That put the combined, independently appraised value of the two properties at $964,000.

The property valuations were both completed by Coeur d'Alene appraiser Edwin Muehlbach.

But the lands were appraised at Residential 12 zoning. Each of the properties is zoned R12, meaning they could be developed into multi-unit properties if they were sold through a sealed bid process to a private buyer. The city, though, said they should have been appraised at park land zoning, since the goal of the deal was to ensure both remain public parks, and that would have dropped the value in the ballpark of $600,000.

Added to that, the city said, the city gave the school district its half of Person Field in a "good faith" deal roughly 20 years ago so the school district could receive land near Lake City High School while keeping enough property near Lakes Middle School to keep accreditation.

Now, the city said, it will be more diligent in future deals, instead of counting on "good faith" ones to pay dividends in the future. The council approved the purchase four votes to one, with Councilman Ron Edinger voting against it.

"I'm saddened it came to this," Mayor Sandi Bloem said. "In all good faith, we gave (a portion of Person Field) to the district."

But the school district has maintained since negotiations began that it was statutorily required to conduct its business in the best way for the district. It owned Person Field, regardless of what happened roughly 20 years ago prior to it obtaining the parcel.

"We don't believe their perspective is correct," said School Superintendent Hazel Bauman following the meeting. She attended the council meeting along with trustees Ann Seddon, Brent Regan, Jim Hightower and Tom Hamilton. "There are many more legs to this octopus than those that were talked about tonight. But we think the best thing that was said was we got to move on, both entities have a lot to do."

The school district wanted to sell the park properties so it can fund the acquisition of a new district office building located on Northwood Center Court, near the intersection of Northwest Boulevard and Ironwood Drive.

Bauman called the final deal "very good news," but didn't want to rehash negotiating points the entities had been volleying during the previous months.

"I don't think it would serve any purpose for me to rebut or to send slings and arrows toward the city," she said. "I believe taking the high road is the appropriate way so that our community can move forward and both entities, both leaderships - trustees and city council - can get on with the business of being leaders in the community."

The city plans to pay for the properties out of its rainy day fund.

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