Land without a use - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Land without a use

Cd'A prepares to take possession of former BNSF land near river

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Posted: Thursday, December 13, 2012 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - While the details have shifted, the big picture remains the same.

The only question left to answer may be what the best use of the land would be.

On one condition:

The 29 acres stretching from Memorial Field to Riverstone, must be preserved for public space.

"You could have soccer fields out here," said Doug Eastwood, parks director, as he toured the land Tuesday and began brainstorming on what could one day develop on the stretch between Riverstone and City Park. "You could have just about anything."

First things first.

After years of planning with several different agencies, the city of Coeur d'Alene is ready to gain control of the parcel, which was once old railroad line running west of Northwest Boulevard and through the education corridor.

That's because Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company abandoned 1.25 miles of railroad tracks on the property, which gave the land over to the Bureau of Land Management, which doesn't want it.

The BLM said the property would be better served under local control, not federal, so it's willing to lease it to the city for a "reduced price."

Managing land inside urban areas doesn't fit the department's mission, said Kurt Pavlat, BLM field manager in the Coeur d'Alene office, so it wants to cut the city a deal.

"It would be very advantageous" for the city, Pavlat said.

To gain control, the city must apply through the BLM to lease the land, called a "Recreation and Public Purpose With an Option for Patent." The city is preparing to do so, and appears to be the only applicant. If approved, the lease would eventually give the land to the city.

As part of that application, the city must describe what it plans on doing with the space, which runs 200 feet wide and runs along the Spokane River at points. No commercial development allowed: It's for the public only.

That's where brainstorming comes in.

Street tree arboretum, sports fields, public gardens, commuter trails - the question becomes, what would people like to see there?

"It's an incredible opportunity to start thinking about," Eastwood said.

After filing an application, the city will form a steering committee to identify in more detail what could crop up, and where.

Terms of the original deal, which had been years in the making, also involved the North Idaho Centennial Trail Foundation and Lake City Development Corp., the city's urban renewal agency.

Through that deal, BLM was to get roughly five miles of the adjacent Prairie Trail, which was developed because the nonprofit NICTF borrowed $2.5 million from LCDC to buy the $6 million parcel below market value. LCDC was to get the 29 acres through the trade.

But the BLM doesn't want the Prairie Trail either, so that should leave the NICTF with the trail, and the 29 acres leased to the city. Meanwhile, LCDC executive director Tony Berns said in an email that the agency is currently working "on the best possible solution for the Prairie Trail remaining a long-term community public treasure."

As for the 29 acres of old BNSF land now?

Railroad ties have been removed, trees and shrubs thinned, trash cleaned up and an old warehouse knocked down, as the city cleans up the land to better gauge the parcel's footprint.

"That surprised me," Eastwood said, looking over the size of the piece near the Spokane River. "I didn't realize it was that big."

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  • concernedcitizen posted at 6:42 am on Sun, Dec 16, 2012.

    concernedcitizen Posts: 2530

    I agree with Mary. Remember this article folks. Just like McEuen, the commercial corridor, the ball fields, etc. They all ready have a plan for this land. The question is, which stakeholder will benefit?

  • JoeIdaho posted at 4:15 am on Sun, Dec 16, 2012.

    JoeIdaho Posts: 2841

    "Who is John Galt?"
    He is the one that you libs have taxed out of business; and when he fails, which he IS now; will be the one who can't pay for more parks, won't hire more people, and will withdraw more & more from society, leaving you MORE government and LESS jobs for the ordinary American. He is also the seniors who have lost homes to taxes, and who will now have their healthcare RATIONED by the idiot you voted for.

    This shenanigan is another stupid move by CDA, they should have kept the RR right of way, ensuring the ability to install rail again for public transport when neded. But nope, CDA needs another park, another McKuen; another great bout if fully insane spending by a city that will run out of money soon.

    And downtown....NO, you are wrong.
    The city of CDA is NOT going to "double & triple in our lifetimes".....DUH.
    Know why?
    Because most all of the land in city of cda has already BEEN developed.

  • downtowncda posted at 7:40 pm on Fri, Dec 14, 2012.

    downtowncda Posts: 712

    This has always given me a laugh through the decades. The city acquires land close to the waterfront. The first place they turn is to Doug Eastwood, who wants to turn it in to a sports playing field. Don't get me wrong.. sports are great. Sports can be played on any level property that becomes available in the city. The waterfront is special and these areas need to be available to more than the 5% of people that are totally into sports courts.

    The City of Coeur d' Alene population is going to double, then triple in in our lifetimes. Slow down - just let some areas retain their natural state for a while - let the people vote down the road on the best use..... It may be that that strip and any others that become available to the city are the only areas left that harbor natural views and native vegetation.

    People need somewhere to go that has not been developed, noisy or congested with tourists. Please, just stop trying to develop and pave over everything that come within grabbing reach.

  • CaiusCosades posted at 11:41 am on Fri, Dec 14, 2012.

    CaiusCosades Posts: 380

    Mary you contribute nothing to our community except turmoil and misery.

  • Timeless posted at 7:46 am on Fri, Dec 14, 2012.

    Timeless Posts: 480

    Mary, no one cares to hear your negative opinions. Please search for a positive, helpful way to spend your time.

  • lola123 posted at 6:51 am on Fri, Dec 14, 2012.

    lola123 Posts: 352

    Thank you Mary for more of your uplifting positve influence into our community.
    (In case you didn't understand, that was sarcasm).

  • Mary Souza posted at 8:03 pm on Thu, Dec 13, 2012.

    Mary Souza Posts: 814

    I'm sure the city has had this planned out for years.. probably since at least 2005. Why are they pretending they don't know what will happen with this property?

  • witness posted at 5:56 pm on Thu, Dec 13, 2012.

    witness Posts: 59

    Turn it into an urban community garden to promote sustainability. Or, if you don't like that, make it an urban in-fill camping site for the houseless population.

    The "Starbucks & Ferragamo loafers" population already have plenty of parks, and NIC finally has plenty of parking lots.

  • area man posted at 5:24 pm on Thu, Dec 13, 2012.

    area man Posts: 90

    Why not see if NIC will buy it. Maybe they can expand the education corridor.

    Who was John Gault?

    A joke concocted by Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum. Objectivism isn’t some sound philosophy with which to disagree. It is a failure by its own standards: it is a contradiction that must be maintained by its believers to avoid grappling with an objective reality they are not prepared to deal with, in the style of Jim Taggart, Rand’s nihilistic… well, you get the idea.

  • truthful1 posted at 5:13 pm on Thu, Dec 13, 2012.

    truthful1 Posts: 554

    "Who was John Gault?"

    -- A fictional character that did nothing for anyone.

  • bullman3 posted at 3:56 pm on Thu, Dec 13, 2012.

    bullman3 Posts: 142


  • bullman3 posted at 3:55 pm on Thu, Dec 13, 2012.

    bullman3 Posts: 142

    Kerful CDA just another way to spend your money. Dont think now would be a good time.

  • Ziggy posted at 3:25 pm on Thu, Dec 13, 2012.

    Ziggy Posts: 1295

    Who was John Gault?

  • dtsinidaho posted at 11:14 am on Thu, Dec 13, 2012.

    dtsinidaho Posts: 251

    I would say, why not build a little dirt hiking trail through this area over the winter and spring. Then have the public walk the Spokane-River-Walk trail all summer. Then come back next fall and decide what to do with the public land lease. Holding public input meetings, using social and electronic communications, come to a conclusion on what components need to be included... (IE: ADA compliance, Shelters, Traffic redirection, restrooms, safety features etc.) Then let the designers have their fun. Then come back and have the committee's do their stuff.

    I think this project should be done in little steps for political reasons, but I am sure that doing the big project all at once is probably cheaper.

  • dtsinidaho posted at 11:03 am on Thu, Dec 13, 2012.

    dtsinidaho Posts: 251

    I would say, just make a little hiking trail first so that the public can walk it and get an Idea of what would be nice to have. Say for next summer. Then hold meetings in the early winter to formulate a plan of components to be included in the Spokane-River-Walk area. Then have the designers come up with creating a long term guideline for development. Then in a VERY TRANSPARENT fashion, show how it will pay for itself in Public Satisfaction and Tourism enhancement.

  • Bob Loblaw posted at 10:18 am on Thu, Dec 13, 2012.

    Bob Loblaw Posts: 413

    Why, exactly, do we have to "do" anything with it?

  • CaiusCosades posted at 9:06 am on Thu, Dec 13, 2012.

    CaiusCosades Posts: 380

    Gladiator Arena.

  • Redtwin2 posted at 8:53 am on Thu, Dec 13, 2012.

    Redtwin2 Posts: 35

    Rails to Trails is always popular. All that needs done is a little paving. Otherwise, why not leave it open to off road vehicles like ATV, BMX, and dirtbikes?

  • CClavin posted at 8:37 am on Thu, Dec 13, 2012.

    CClavin Posts: 221

    How about a driving range.

  • I Carry posted at 8:12 am on Thu, Dec 13, 2012.

    I Carry Posts: 559

    OOHHHH, OOHHHH, I know.... Lets build a park--a very expensive park!

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