COEUR d'ALENE - After two hours of testimony, and a year in the making, the Coeur d'Alene City Council decided by a hair not to put the multi-million dollar McEuen Field conceptual project to a public advisory vote Tuesday night.
That's not to say the project is going to be built as presented. Instead, the community will likely have to come together to fine tune a plan on which it can better agree, the council said.
"Every one of us is going to have to bend and compromise a little bit to get to where we want," said Mayor Sandi Bloem, who cast the deciding vote against issuing an advisory vote. "We're all passionate about where we are now. It brings out a lot of feelings. But it's OK, the passion has probably created more creative thinking than we've had in a long time."
The motion, made by Councilman Ron Edinger for a public advisory and seconded by new council member Dan Gookin, failed 4 votes to 3.
Around 100 people jammed inside the Community Room of the public library to testify in support of and against the idea of whether the city should put the park's fate out to a vote.
Supporters of a public vote stated the park plan was too expensive for the City Council to decide alone, and one that wasn't favored by the general public. Those against said it was a difficult decision that required the leadership of elected officials to decide after weighing all the arguments.
City Council members had more or less expressed their stances on which way they would vote for the better part of a year, and each of the members cast their votes Tuesday as they had said they would.
Edinger, Gookin and Steve Adams voted for an advisory vote, while Deanna Goodlander, Woody McEvers and Mike Kennedy voted against it. That left Bloem to break the tie.
"There is a third alternative," she said, pointing to the fact that the planning process on the park could pick back up and a more compromised plan could be crafted.
But she stuck to the stance she has maintained since the project got off the ground that good park planning doesn't require an advisory vote from the public, rather public input.
After the decision, people left the room as the council meeting resumed to take up the rest of its agenda.
Public comments, both verbal and written, had 18 in support of a vote, 21 against, and one who preferred more compromise, not necessarily a vote.
"Yeah, I am," said Bruce Carey, when asked if he was disappointed with the outcome. "All it is, is an advisory vote."
An advisory vote is a non-binding vote, the results of which the City Council could consider when making a final decision.
"I'm ready to chuck the whole thing and start over," said McEvers, on the compromise route.
Dick Stauffer, a designer on Team McEuen who helped craft the plan, said the design team and steering committee will wait for direction from the City Council on what it should do next, including going back to the drawing board.
At last check, the first phase of the potential project on the downtown park overhaul - called its footprint - was estimated to be around $17 million.