Riverstone lot may cost county

Citylink passengers can park cars, catch buses at the site, which has been used free of charge for years

SHAWN GUST/Press Riverstone West, LLC and Kootenai County are working on a lease agreement for the Citylink parking lot and hub in Coeur d'Alene that could cost the county more than $20,000 per year. The site has been allowed to operate at no charge in previous years.

Riverstone West, LLC is asking Kootenai County to pay more than $20,000 a year to use a parking lot for community busing services, after the company has provided the lot for free for several years.

The county can hardly be bitter, said Commissioner Dan Green.

"I guess it's always nice getting it for free, we'll be disappointed we have to pay, but it's the gentleman's property," Green acknowledged.

For roughly five years, developer John Stone has allowed vacant lots at the Riverstone development to be used for Citylink buses to pick up and deposit passengers. Riders have also parked their cars there.

Those activities have been situated for about four years at a 1.4-acre dirt lot at East Seltice Way and West Riverstone Drive.

"It's tremendous. We're right in a central location, where the buses meet," said Christine Fueston, county Federal Transit Administration grant administrator, who said up to 100 cars park at the lot each day. "Passengers can transfer at that location. There's also the link that goes down to the casino, so it's used as a park-and-ride for people employed at the casino. It's been a very good location."

Riverstone has always provided the lot for free to the multi-agency-run service.

But Riverstone has changed its tune in recent discussions, Fueston said.

"We've talked about it, and you know, it can't be free forever," she said.

The commissioners will vote at their weekly business meeting at 2 p.m. today to adopt a new lease agreement with Riverstone, in which the county would pay $1,730 a month for the lot, totaling $20,760 a year.

"Riverstone has been terrific to work with. It's no reflection on anybody, really," Fueston said. "It's a good site, it's a good deal for public transit."

Riverstone spokespersons could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Last year, the Riverstone development's movie theater, and two adjacent multi-tenant retail buildings, were deeded back to a Seattle-based lender.

Stone has told The Press that about $15 million has been lost in the Riverstone investment.

Payments on the dirt lot, to start immediately after the proposed lease is signed, would be covered by FTA funds, Fueston said.

Citylink services won't be affected, she said.

The lot, initially a temporary location, is going to become a fixed Citylink site, she added.

Funding has been obtained to engineer a transit center there, she said, though more funding is still needed for construction next year.

Citylink offers routes across the metropolitan area of Kootenai County, as well as to the Coeur d'Alene Casino.

Fueston understands the request for lease payments for the Riverstone lot, she said.

"It's the right thing to do," she said.

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