COEUR d'ALENE - All in.
The city of Coeur d'Alene wants to add previously removed amenities to the McEuen Park plan, and is asking its urban renewal agency to fund the additions.
The City Council agreed Wednesday night to move forward with a project plan that now includes tennis and basketball courts, as well as an expanded pavilion and other perks that weren't a part of the project design a few weeks ago.
The council, as it has on almost all McEuen Field matters over the last year, split on the matter, and Mayor Sandi Bloem broke the deadlock by voting in favor of the enhanced version of the plan.
"The headline this morning was absolutely right," Bloem said, referring to the Press headline in Wednesday's paper about the park options before the council. "'What park do you want?'"
The decision means the next step is to officially ask Lake City Development Corp., the urban renewal agency and main financial supporter of the park project, to contribute up to $4.2 million more.
LCDC has already pledged around $12 million for the project, and another $4 million would all but exhaust the $16.75 million line of credit it secured to support the park project. That could mean future projects in the Lake District wouldn't be able to get urban renewal support.
The city agreed to pay an additional $1.4 million of its own funds to land the park plan including through savings and future overlay funds, and is working on a Local Improvement District with Front Avenue property owners that would pay for street improvements adjacent the park.
The city could still look for savings out of those two financial streams, Councilman Mike Kennedy said, which could alter details in the future.
But right now, he said, it's important the city go to LCDC first to see if the city can build the best park it can with the funds that could be available soon.
"LCDC was formed for this purpose," he said. "I think we should go back to them."
With the added amenities, the high end estimate on the park project is around $17.6 million. But the total proposed estimated cost of the project - including money that has already been spent on it, such as work already completed and architect and engineering fees and contracts - would be $20.8 million.
While the estimated costs on the project are becoming clearer, they have shifted considerably since the conceptual idea was introduced two years ago. Figures as high as $39 million when the design drawings were introduced have shifted down to $27 million, and at one point as low as $14.2 million.
"Just weird," Councilman Steve Adams, who voted against the increased funding, called the changing cost numbers. "Almost bizarre. But aside from all that, I think LCDC should pony up ... At this point, we're neck deep ..."
Council members Ron Edinger and Dan Gookin also voted against it. Gookin called it "an abuse of urban renewal."
Council members Woody McEvers, Kennedy and Deanna Goodlander voted in favor.
The city has said it wants to send the project out to bid this month. LCDC meets for its monthly board meeting Jan. 16. It was unclear at the Press deadline whether LCDC would call a special call meeting for the topic.
City makes offer on Person Field
The city of Coeur d'Alene Wednesday night said it has offered School District 271 $655,000 for its share of Person Field.
Due to a budgetary shortfall, the school district is selling its 3.8-acre portion of Person Field, the 7-acre park on 15th Street it shares with the city.
But the city is offering to pay the appraised value of the property, which is zoned Residential 12, while also requesting that the city's recreation department have access into two more of the school's gyms.
The city currently has joint access to several school districts gym. The city is requesting to extend agreements with two of those schools, and for access into two more gyms as part of the property purchase. The city is also requesting the dog park portion of Northshire Park, another park the school district is selling.
The school district will discuss the offer at its Jan. 7 meeting, chairman Tom Hamilton said.