Let's make a deal

State offers Coeur d'Alene five miles of shoreline and $3 million

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GABE GREEN/Press A truck drives along Coeur d'Alene Lake Drive Tuesday afternoon. The city is about to take over Coeur d'Alene Lake Drive in a portion from the state, what could one day be a new boat launch.

COEUR d'ALENE - Coeur d'Alene could become proud owners of around five miles of waterfront property. Oh, and $3 million cash.

Before the city agrees to take that land, and the $3 million check that would come with it from the Idaho Transportation Department, it wants to know what everyone thinks about the proposal.

"There's certainly some value to look at," Mayor Sandi Bloem said of the deal sitting in the city of Coeur d'Alene's lap. "The question is, do we want to move in that direction?"

The deal would give the city around five miles of East Coeur d'Alene Lake Drive, the old highway, from the city limit line at Silver Beach to just west of Higgens Point. The city would also get $3 million. In return, the city would take over maintenance of the road.

Annual upkeep on the road would cost the city $13,160, street superintendent Tim Martin estimated. That would be paint for striping, labor costs and 11 pass-throughs by snowplows, which is the typical amount for an arterial road each winter.

"As neutral as possible, it's doable," Martin said of taking over the stretch of road. "I know my plow times won't go up."

The city would also take control of that portion of the Centennial Trail, which runs adjacent to the road.

The state approached the city about taking over the land last year as the city was looking for a possible replacement spot for the Third Street Boat Launch.

Back then, the Third Street launch was to be removed as part of the McEuen Field redevelopment plan, and the city needed a spot to put a replacement launch.

While the timing didn't work out, and the boat launch has remained at McEuen, the state was still interested in handing control to the city. The city could still build a boat launch at Silver Beach.

The boat launch could partner the city with Kootenai County, costing the city $1.5 million to $2 million to build the launch. City Councilman Ron Edinger said Tuesday he believes that was the city's main focus for possibly jumping on the deal - which he opposes.

But, Deanna Goodlander said, the possible land acquisition needs to be looked at separately, regardless if a boat launch can be built.

"This has to stand on its own merits," she said. "What is the value to the city of Coeur d'Alene? It can't be tied to the boat launch or McEuen Field."

The property up for grabs traces the old road but extends to water's edge in spots, creating public access to the lake.

"We don't plan for what we have today, we plan for the future," Bloem said of the possible deal. "There are opportunities here we won't have if we don't have access to the water."

The state had offered the same stretch of road to the East Side Highway District. The district asked ITD around two years ago to put the offer in writing, including how much the state would be willing to help in maintenance costs, but never heard back, which killed the deal, according to John Pankratz, EHD district supervisor.

The city could take a portion of the $3 million windfall and set up a trust, paying maintenance costs from interest on that trust. The Department of Lands would still be the agency in charge of issuing dock permits for private property owners in the affected area.

Before it does anything, the city wants to host an open house to hear from neighbors of the road or anyone else. That meeting time hasn't been determined.

GABE GREEN/Press Tuesday afternoon a jogger treks along Coeur d'Alene Lake Drive. The city is about to take over Coeur d'Alene Lake Drive in a portion from the state, what could one day be a new boat launch.

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