Panel: No go on cash flow

But City Council likely to vote on McEuen finance plan anyway

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COEUR d'ALENE - The fine print behind financing McEuen Field is set to go to the Coeur d'Alene City Council.

Not that moving forward on the contract between the city and its urban renewal agency was recommended by the General Services Committee Monday - it wasn't - but the agreement that spells out the financial details on the downtown park reconstruction project will go before the City Council next week anyway.

And if it's like everything else with McEuen Field, it will eke by, four votes to three.

"Their concern is they want to make sure the work gets done and done in an acceptable manner if they're putting the money out," City Attorney Mike Gridley said on the reasons for a formal written agreement with Lake City Development Corp., the city's urban renewal agency. "They're putting out a lot of money and they just want to make sure it goes for the project they're funding."

LCDC has agreed to pay up to $11.5 million on the city's $14.2 million proposed park overhaul project.

The contract clarifies that the agency's money be put to only public improvements, and ensures LCDC representatives are kept in the loop should changes pop up when the project is under way.

While changes would need LCDC approval, ultimately the city would have any final say should the sides not see eye to eye on a proposed alteration.

Both sides, however, said that would be unlikely as the parties would meet per the contract guideline to find a resolution to a possible disagreement.

"There is always a solution," said Tony Berns, LCDC executive director.

Since the day the park project was announced more than a year ago, LCDC was viewed as the chief financial provider to make it happen. The agency was approved for a $16.75 million line of credit, at an interest rate of 3.26 percent, to help fund it. There is a one-time loan origination fee of $41,750.

The contract between the agency and the city is unique from LCDC's standpoint, Berns said, but a prudent step because it outlines financial expectations and details behind the large-scale, controversial plan.

He said LCDC learned a lesson from the multi-partner midtown reconstruction project, which saw communication between groups break down at times during construction.

"So we felt this was good to have in place," Berns said.

The contract calls for the city and agency to split the $1.9 million construction design cost. If the park project isn't completed in three years, the city has to reimburse LCDC for the agency's share of those construction plans. The contract also gives LCDC the authority to hire a third party consultant to monitor the project.

LCDC, which pays for public improvement projects with tax increment financing inside its urban renewal districts, could also fund additional money to the McEuen Field project as a way to help the city in its quest to build a permanent home for American Legion baseball.

By allocating more money toward McEuen Field, which sits in LCDC's Lake District, it could free up the city to allocate money toward the replacement baseball field - which will likely be located outside LCDC's boundaries.

Officials said they could put the American Legion baseball field at Ramsey Park. A multi-million sports complex would still be planned for 15th Street, they said, but all talks are preliminary at this point.

On the proposed contract between the agency and the city, the GSC - an advisory panel - didn't support it.

The subcommittee is comprised of City Council members Ron Edinger, Steve Adams and Mike Kennedy, and Edinger and Adams have opposed the McEuen Field project every step of the way. Monday wasn't an exception as neither supported moving forward on the written agreement.

"To me it sounds like LCDC is basically going to be running the project," Edinger said on the proposed contract. "I know they're putting up the money, I know that. From my understanding, it's supposed to be a city project."

Still, the contract will go to the City Council for approval Tuesday, July 17. Every vote this year on the McEuen Field project has passed four votes to three, with Mayor Sandi Bloem breaking the deadlocked council with her vote.

The project could get started in the spring.

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