City keeping its options open

Wide range of ideas will be considered for downtown park

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Kim Robbins marks her top five choices for design ideas for McEuen Field during a public meeting about the park's future held Thursday at the Lake City Senior Center.

COEUR d’ALENE — McEuen Field stood front and center Thursday night — as it has in years past — with a slew of ideas and possibilities pitched by the community on what should one day cover the downtown park.

Those ideas ranged from walking trails, public art, open green space, athletic fields, parking space and just about everything else under the sun.

“We’re here tonight to talk about what we want to see in the future,” said Lauren Schmitt, project manager for MIG, the Portland-based land planning firm that hosted the brainstorming workshop at the Lake City Senior Center. The firm also has worked on the Coeur d’Alene Parks Master Plan and the Education Corridor in the past.

This time around, the city of Coeur d’Alene is ready to move forward on revamping all or some of McEuen Field should the community want to.

“This time next year we could be breaking ground if everything goes well,” said Doug Eastwood, parks department director, following the meeting.

A lot needs to happen between then and now. But Thursday’s workshop was the latest step getting there since the city put McEuen Field back on its radar last year.

“I’m really glad I came,” said Chase Turner, 17, the youngest of the roughly 75 people in attendance, who supported the idea of a skate park being part of the plan. “I really wanted to go and give my input about what I can do.”

Before the meeting, those attending put stickers in the answer boxes on surveys that asked what they did at McEuen Field and what they’d like to see there. During the meeting, they voted on their approval or dissatisfaction on pictures of improvement designs other parks have implemented.

Those pictures included gazebos, public market space, baseball fields and skate parks, and the feedback spread across the table.

“I like it because the open space is open,” said Anne Solomon, when a picture of a big green space was shown with people sitting in the grass, adding that it allows for a versatile use of the land.

Others wanted to see more specific designs with the space.

What to do with the ball parks came up.

Dave Walker said that too many ballparks gives McEuen Field a look of fenced off parks that nobody uses when people aren’t playing games.

“Morning, noon and night, seven days a week,” he said about seeing the vacant fields.

But Charlie Roan cited a park in Kirkland, Wash., that incorporated a first-rate ball field into a mixed-use park that could work well in downtown Coeur d’Alene keeping the baseball field there.

With much new and different input given Thursday, Eastwood said it was a good first step.

The city put McEuen back on its to-do list because the adjacent Front Avenue is long overdue for improvements and Lake City Development Corp., the city’s urban renewal board, would be a key financial source for the project and would have to start budgeting for it.

The next step is to gather the voting cards each guest submitted, as well as the ideas from the discussion and sticker votes. Then, keeping past ideas over the last 10 years in mind, eventually turn the suggestions into a architectural design.

There will be several more meetings along the way, and the progress will likely be displayed on the parks department Web page at www.cdaid.org, so the progress can be tracked as it moves forward.

“This is a great start to something we want to do,” Eastwood said.

For more information, call 769-2252..

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