Front Avenue LID in works

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COEUR d'ALENE - The city of Coeur d'Alene is suggesting property owners chip in $1.2 million for improvements along Front Avenue tied to the McEuen Field reconstruction project.

Whether property owners agree to that or a different amount will come down the line, but the City Council agreed Tuesday night to initiate the formation of an Local Improvement District (LID).

The LID would ask Front Avenue property owners whose properties would benefit from public street improvements to pay around 42 percent of the $2.9 million street improvement project, City Administrator Wendy Gabriel said.

It breaks down to $400 a front foot, but those numbers could shift as the city and property owners continue to meet to discuss payment possibilities.

"We are here to ask you to just kick the ball down the road and start the process," Gabriel said. "You're not asked this evening to determine what dollar amount yet, we're bringing you some project costs and estimates later."

The LID would pay for street improvements from which would benefit affected property owners between Second and Seventh Street. It would not include costs associated with the park improvement.

Front Avenue was identified as the city's "third street" in its downtown three-street plan when it adopted its Main Street Theory following a public space study years ago.

Part of that plan, in a nutshell, said the city should design its downtown on the three major streets: Front, Sherman and Lakeside. Improvements on the latter two have been partially paid for by an LID. Sherman's LID called for property owners to pay around $1 million, while Lakeside's was around $732,000.

Front Avenue improvements were held off because the city wanted to coincide improvements there with the park project, which had been on the city's radar for years.

While the council agreed to the concept Tuesday, the LID would have to go before the council several more times before it could be adopted. The public hearing on an LID would be Jan. 2, but the public would also have a chance to comment at a Dec. 18 meeting. If an LID passes those rounds, the ordinance would go up for adoption Jan. 14 with the first bill of a possible 10-year LID due January 2015.

* The City Council also agreed to adopt a new stormwater fee ordinance that would charge affected residential property owners $3.76 or $4.13 a month, depending whether stormwater from their property utilizes swales or hard pipes, with swale users having the higher charge of the two.

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