Broken ground

Some Cd'A City Council members won't attend McEuen ceremony Monday marks beginning of park work

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Brooke Carey watches her daughter Paige Carey, 1, swing at the McEuen Field playground Wednesday in downtown Coeur d'Alene. A groundbreaking ceremony will take place Monday for the McEuen Field project.

COEUR d'ALENE - A groundbreaking ceremony for the first step in the McEuen Field redevelopment project will take place at 10 a.m. Monday at the lower level of the City Hall parking lot, but not everyone is saving the date.

The three City Council members who have opposed the downtown park plan since the get go said Wednesday they don't plan on showing up for the celebratory event.

They're not trying to show up the side of the council who supports the plan, they said, they just don't want to be a part of something they've sided against all along.

"I just don't think I could stomach it. The whole thing kind of makes me ill," said Steve Adams, who was elected in November in part because he took a firm stance against the $14 million park redevelopment project, and will be elk hunting at the time of the ceremony. "I oppose the project, I still oppose the project. I don't think I could stand there and watch the dirt movers roll. It would be gut-wrenching, heart breaking."

Groundbreaking ceremonies are more ceremony than dirt turning.

Officials usually mark the significance of the occasion with speeches and stories about the project at hand. The proposal to reconstruct McEuen Field not only divided people in the community, but the City Council as well.

"I don't want to be, basically, associated with anything to do with what they're doing down there," said Councilman Ron Edinger, on why he wouldn't show.

Nearly every vote tied to the project ended four votes to three, with Mayor Sandi Bloem breaking the tie in favor of the project.

She said she's still in favor of the project, which will benefit the city and worked in a lot of compromise as it was being planned out.

"I'm disappointed, you know, none of us got our way," she said on the park project plan, and the council members' decision not to show.

"We certainly feel the minor and major projects we do are a celebration that deserve a groundbreaking," she said. "There are differences of opinions, there were with the Kroc Center, the library and so on ... we move on.

"I think we'll have a great groundbreaking," she added.

The project, which Monday's ceremony marks, involves putting in the parking lot on the south side of City Hall, a connector trail from east to west across the park, removal of part of the larger Fourth Street parking lot, mass grading, and utility installation. It should be done in November.

The rest of the large scale project will go out to bid late this year or early next year and be wrapping up in November 2013, according to a city press release.

"The four to three vote makes it pretty obvious we have fundamental disagreements on what we're doing," said Deanna Goodlander, council member who supports the project, and wasn't shocked by the no-show. "It's not a surprise."

Dan Gookin, the third councilman who opposed the project, said not showing isn't meant to be a sign of disrespect, rather it would be a distraction if he showed up since he has opposed the project all along.

"That's their moment," he said. "I wouldn't want to detract from that."

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