Tunnel, road earn decision, too

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COEUR d’ALENE — After more than five hours of testimony and debate on an anti-discrimination ordinance, the Coeur d’Alene City Council considered two other ongoing issues late Tuesday night (and early Wednesday morning):

• An easement agreement with Blackridge Properties LLC for a Front Avenue pedestrian tunnel was approved 4-2.

The company will pay to build the tunnel connecting the underground parking facility at McEuen Park to its property at 401 Front Ave., site of the Bank of America building.

Chris Meyer, representing Blackridge Properties, said the easement gives his company a chance for a below-grade link to the parking garage before its north wall is completed.

“It’s an opportunity cost that presents itself now,” Meyer said, noting that only one parking space would be lost to provide access to the underground doorway.

Council members Dan Gookin and Steve Adams were opposed to the easement.

• Council members voted 5-1 to reject the Idaho Transportation Department’s offer to transfer ownership of Lake Coeur d’Alene Drive to the city. Deanna Goodlander cast the lone vote in favor of ITD’s offer, which would have included a one-time, $3 million payment to the city.

Council members Steve Adams and Ron Edinger — along with several residents of Silver Beach Road — questioned the costs of maintaining the road, let alone adding amenities such as a boat launch or a public beach along the five-mile stretch.

“Why does the city of Coeur d’Alene want to take on a burden of this magnitude? I can’t figure it out,” Edinger said, adding that ITD officials should offer the road to the East Side Highway District.

Goodlander disagreed, saying the city should keep open its options to improve trails and other public access amenities by working on a long-term plan for the roadway with the ITD, East Side Highway District, Idaho Parks Department and private property owners.

To that end, Mike Kennedy proposed asking city staff to work with ITD officials and other stakeholders along Lake Coeur d’Alene Drive on a master plan for the road and adjacent amenities.

Kennedy’s motion passed 4-3, with Goodlander, Woody McEvers and Mayor Sandi Bloem in favor. At that point — 1:12 a.m. — the marathon meeting finally was recessed until Thursday’s strategic planning workshop.

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