COEUR d'ALENE - Lake City Development Corp., the city's urban renewal agency, agreed Wednesday to pay $3.4 million more for the McEuen Park reconstruction project.
The pledge fulfills most of the city's $4.2 million request, and brings LCDC's total contribution to $15.6 million for the downtown park project.
It also leaves LCDC extra money - around $900,000 - from the $16.75 million line of credit it secured from Washington Trust Bank for future projects inside the Lake District, the urban renewal boundary in which McEuen Park sits.
"We need to have money set aside for other things we want to do," said Rod Colwell, LCDC member and finance chair. "It's really a question of, 'where do we want to spend our money?'"
The $3.4 million will pay for a bulk of the amenities the city put back in the park plan after park designers realized in the fall that too many components from the conceptual design were being scaled back trying to draw the park to a then-$14.2 million budget.
Now a bigger splash pad, grand plaza, playground, waterfront promenade and increased pathways will be afforded back into the plan. So will the Harbor House information center and restroom facility, tennis and basketball courts and an expanded veteran memorial, lighting and utility options and main pavilion.
What it leaves off are the add-alternate components.
Those are roughly $800,000 in additional amenities that can be bid out separately, and include colored concrete at Front Avenue intersections, an entry arch and enhanced features on the promenade and main pavilion, such as additional wings and a fireplace.
By leaving those off, it not only saves the agency money for future use, but it doesn't detract from the park project enough to hinder the overall design, the board said.
"These things don't keep it from being a world-class project," said Brad Jordan, LCDC member.
Despite the full request not being funded, city officials said the decision was a major step for the project more than two years in the making.
"It's very good news," said Mayor Sandi Bloem. "They made a great fiscal decision based on their budget, at the same time we can build a park that was shown in the original drawings."
Before the project can go out to bid, the city must identify where it can save around $285,000 on the Front Avenue portion of the project. That's because the City Council on Tuesday decided to reduce the Local Improvement District amount to $300 a front foot for affected property owners.
Park designers will meet today to identify what can be scaled back there. The project is still set to go out to bid at the end of the month, officials said. It could be completed by November.
But LCDC's pledge also means that if bids come in lower than expected, the city can use the difference to fund the add-alternate components.
A major reason the agency wanted to keep money in reserve is because other downtown projects could be in store. The area known as the Four Corners near City Park, another parking structure downtown, and the city's plan to create a green space on the former railroad line through the education corridor to Riverstone are all topics that have come up before and could come up again soon.
But LCDC and City Council member Deanna Goodlander urged the agency to pledge the full amount. The agency could afford it, she said, and the dynamic of the City Council could change with elections coming up in November. The McEuen Park project has divided the council four votes to three all year, and if one or more of those votes turns because of the election, it could shape the future of LCDC as well.
A City Council that doesn't favor urban renewal, which some of the current council doesn't, could vote to disband the current board, and take over. LCDC was formed in 1997 in large part to revitalize downtown, with McEuen Park being a primary reason.
"I feel we have an opportunity to do a legacy project," she said. "And this may be our only opportunity."
With the added amenities, the high end estimate on the park project approaches $17 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 around $20 million.