COEUR d'ALENE - Front Avenue property owners won't be asked to contribute as much as originally proposed.
The city of Coeur d'Alene agreed to create a Local Improvement District Tuesday, but reduced the amount for affected property owners by $100 per front foot.
So Front Avenue property owners who live across from McEuen Field will pay $300 per front foot, not $400, as previously considered. It breaks down to $845,100 for those owners, down from the previous $1.2 million.
"I think it's a decent compromise," said Steve Widmyer, one of the property owners who protested the original amount, when reached by phone following the council's decision. "I think it's still a little high, but it is a compromise, and we need to move forward."
The LID will pay a portion of the estimated $2.9 million Front Avenue reconstruction project that is accompanying the McEuen Field reconstruction project in downtown Coeur d'Alene. Part of the council's decision, which passed three votes to two, was to determine what benefit property owners would receive from the project. Enhanced parking, pedestrian and aesthetic components would be gained, the City Council said, but it capped the amount property owners would contribute at 29 percent of the overall street improvement cost.
"LIDs are for everyone," Councilman Woody McEvers said of the funding mechanism that has been used across the city for street improvements. "To pick through every little, individual" component isn't beneficial ... "It's how it's worked everywhere."
Affected property owners would include several businesses and condo owners along the road to Seventh Street. McEuen Terrace residents wouldn't be affected. Parkside Towers has approximately 54 individual owners.
How the city funds the difference will be decided down the line. The City Council has been deciding on the last detailed components recently as the entire park project gets ready to go out to bid at the end of the month. Last week, it decided on including a limited traffic, pedestrian-friendly version of Front Avenue between Second and Third streets near The Coeur d'Alene Resort to reduce traffic congestion on the street and increase pedestrian flow, as recommended by the park designers. Limited traffic means emergency vehicles, buses and service trucks can access the road, as could vehicles during special circumstances. Hagadone Corp. will be included in the LID.
But the reduced LID also means that the city will be responsible for bridging the gap with the $2.9 million Front Avenue project.
The city could whittle away some components of the street plan, though not too much without altering the design dramatically, officials said.
"Beyond that, it really takes away what you're trying to do on Front Avenue," City Administrator Wendy Gabriel told the council during the meeting.
Now, the city could look for other revenue streams. Other possibilities are the project bid coming in under estimated costs or that the money set aside for contingency possibly covering some of it.
Tuesday's meeting was the latest step crunching detailed designs and costs with the project now two years in the making.
"They are getting harder and harder to track down, because they do change," said Deanna Goodlander, council member, before Tuesday's meeting, on the multiple design decisions the council has addressed in the last several weeks. "As the plans change, it obviously changes the numbers."
One of those recent decisions by the city was to request the city's urban renewal agency, Lake City Development Corp., pay up to $4.2 million more for the project to pay for amenities that were recently put back into the plan.
The urban renewal board has already pledged around $12 million on the project, and will decide whether to commit more funding at 4 p.m. today in the Community Room of the public library.
So far, 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.
The City Council's decision Tuesday, however, does put a hard figure on one of the financial components of the plan that hadn't been settled.
"I don't want to stall anymore, I want to get this done, " McEvers said. "Let's just move forward."
Council members Dan Gookin and Steve Adams, who have opposed many elements with the park design, opposed the LID.
One concern for Gookin was pairing the street and park project together appeared as though the property owners were paying for more than just the street, but the park project itself to a point.
"Where actually is the line?" he asked.
But it's the third downtown street to be assessed an LID as part of downtown improvement, as Sherman and Lakeside avenue property owners paid into them in previous years, officials said. That three street approach was adopted by the city years ago as part of its "Main Street" revitalization approach, and Front Avenue property owners are being asked to pay for improvements just as the others had.
"We expect the same thing to happen on Front," bond attorney Danielle Quade said about Front Avenue property owners receiving benefit from the project, as Sherman and Lakeside property owners did on their projects. "From a gut-check level it seems fair."
The LID, which would be paid out over 10 years, is assessed at a radio of 18 to 1 between commercial and residential owners, respectively. For a commercial property owner, the reduction would take his or her assessment from around $38,000 to around $28,500.
Council member Ron Edinger was absent.