COEUR d'ALENE — The city of Coeur d'Alene is strong, vibrant, and filled with residents who love the way of life the Lake City provides, said Mayor Steve Widmyer.
Widmyer gave his third State of the City address Tuesday morning at the Coeur d'Alene Chamber of Commerce Upbeat Breakfast in The Coeur d'Alene Resort. The mayor highlighted past and future public works projects, gave the audience a picture of building trends in 2016, highlighted education, and stressed the city's priority on public safety.
"I am hopeful we maintain a city government you believe in and that you are proud of," Widmyer said. "Now, we by no means are perfect. We can always improve. But my hope is that we have a city government that you believe operates for the good of everyone."
Phase one of the Four Corners project, Widmyer said, brought major improvements to what is now known as Fort Ground Drive and will provide a better crossing area for pedestrians. The second phase of the project, he added, will include a new skate park, an upgraded Memorial Field, and a joint-use parking lot.
In addition to the Four Corners project, Widmyer said 2017 will see the city embark on projects to build a parking garage to address needs in the downtown corridor, and a complete revitalization of Seltice Way that includes the city's first two-lane roundabout and a multi-use path for pedestrians. Both of the projects, he added, would not be possible without funding from the city's urban renewal agency, ignite cda.
"We are fortunate that North Idaho has almost fully recovered from the devastating effects of the Great Recession and building is strong," Widmyer said as he transitioned from talking about public works projects to highlighting building trends in 2016.
According to the mayor, 243 single-family building permits were issued in 2016, well above the historical average. The total value of new constructions permits in 2016 was $75.6 million, which Widmyer said represents a "solid average."
Widmyer added that 2017 promises to be at least as strong as 2016.
"In real estate, the three keys to success are location, location, location," Widmyer said. "For better jobs and economic success, the three keys are education, education, education."
Widmyer then stressed the need for residents in the city to support teachers and the education system by letting state legislators know how critical both are to the community. If residents want business to improve, Widmyer said an educated workforce is a must.
City officials, Widmyer said, believe public safety is the No. 1 priority and, with the passage of a general obligation bond to upgrade fire department equipment and facilities, the feeling is shared by the community. Widmyer added that nearly 62 percent of this year's fiscal budget goes toward public safety expenditures for the city's fire and police departments.
"We in Coeur d'Alene have the best first responders," Widmyer said. "Our fire and police departments have outstanding leaders and are the finest departments anywhere."