Legion field plan advances

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COEUR d'ALENE - A Coeur d'Alene city councilman who has voted against moving forward with nearly every component of the McEuen Field redevelopment plan, said he's ready to surrender the fight.

"At this point, I've effectively conceded," Steve Adams said Tuesday, one day after voting to approve a memo of understanding between the city and American Legion baseball. "What else am I supposed to do?"

Siding with Adams in favor of the MOU at Monday's General Services Committee meeting - an advisory panel of the City Council -was member Ron Edinger, who, like Adams, has opposed all votes tied to the estimated $14.2 million park overhaul since the beginning but agreed to the MOU.

Edinger said he approved the MOU "begrudgingly," and did so only because American Legion baseball approved the agreement that would have them playing ball at Ramsey Park by opening day 2013.

"The way I looked at it, the American Legion, their board was in favor of doing that," Edinger said. "I've always supported the Legion program, although I don't believe (the proposed ballpark is) equal or better."

Equal or better was the pledge the city said it would provide for facilities it took from McEuen Field if it were to redevelop the downtown park.

The city has plans to start redoing McEuen Field by the fall, and the Legion field isn't a part of the design. The MOU is tied to the McEuen Field project because it secures a replacement site for the Legion baseball field that will be removed from McEuen Field once construction begins.

The MOU was approved 3 votes to 0, with council President Mike Kennedy representing the third vote.

It's the first time Edinger and Adams have sided with the pro-McEuen development side of the City Council, of which Kennedy is part. Nearly every vote related to McEuen Field has ended 4 to 3, with the majority supporting the park plan.

"I hated to do it," Edinger said of his vote. "But like I say, they (American Legion baseball) were put behind the eight ball. What are they going to do?"

Edinger said he doesn't know which way he'll vote in the future on topics related to the downtown park project until they're presented, a statement echoed by Councilman Dan Gookin Tuesday. Gookin is the third councilman who hasn't supported the park plan.

Adams agreed with Edinger that Monday's vote was more about supporting the Legion than the McEuen Field redevelopment plan, but was pleased to see the city make good on its promise to have a field site secured by next year's first pitch.

"It's the spirit of concession and moving forward, they did what we asked them to," Adams said of the city securing a permanent home for Legion baseball.

Building a new field at Ramsey could cost up to $300,000. Lake City Development Corp., the city's urban renewal agency, has said it could allocate more money to the McEuen Field project so the city can use its own money on building the new diamond.

The baseball MOU could be headed for unanimous approval when it goes before the City Council at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 7 in the Community Room of the Coeur d'Alene Pubic Library.

"I guess we'll just do the best we can with what we got," Adams said on moving forward with the plan. "Really the only thing we can do is be good overseers of how the money is spent and make sure it stays within budget."

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