In the cards

Citizens have their say about McEuen Field proposal; majority are in favor of public vote on plan

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Hundreds turned out to listen and offer input at a presentation on the City of Coeur d'Alene's proposed McEuen Park renovation Thursday at Woodland Middle School.

COEUR d'ALENE - By a show of cards, the crowd didn't support the conceptual plan for McEuen Field.

Those cards, flashed by audience members as questions came up, also said the city shouldn't move the Third Street boat launch.

And there should be a public vote - open for all Kootenai County residents.

"I hope it goes to a public vote," said Duane Severson, leaving the McEuen Field meeting at Woodland Middle School Thursday, the forum that gave the public an opportunity to address the design team about the park's redesign plan. "Over 50 percent of them are against it, from what I saw in there."

If it was feedback the team wanted, it's what they got, both pro and con. Around 300 people filled the gym, and many took the time to speak.

It's too big and grand some said, while others thought it was a home run.

"Start with the skate park," said Chase Turner, local skateboarder, encouraging the team to build the plan that benefits more people, especially the youth. "Right in front of City Hall to see your work in action."

Familiar topics - the boat launch, altering Tubbs Hill, cost, and the possibility of a public vote - received their fair share of testimony during the meeting scheduled for three hours and still going as The Press deadline approached.

"Come on guys, cave in a little bit," said Gary Ingram, asking for a compromised plan that includes improvements, but a drop spot for vessels, too. "Give us the boat launch."

The amenities don't fit Idaho, some said.

"You're trying to bring California and the East Coast to my town and I don't want it," said Dave Sheridan.

Mayor Sandi Bloem addressed the audience before the question and answer period. She said that if the park is built no general fund tax dollars would be used, nor would a bond be proposed. Tucked away urban renewal dollars, grants and other avenues would be the option.

"I can tell you that there is no intention from the council to raise your taxes, your property taxes," she said.

People applauded comments on all sides. One woman was booed for suggesting the town had outgrown the boat launch.

"I think they heard a lot of negativity," said JoAnn Nelson, of Team McEuen as she was leaving the meeting. "It seemed like people were unwilling to listen to their answers."

The city also said it's exploring the option of putting a replacement boat launch at Silver Beach, near the Beach House restaurant off Coeur d'Alene Lake Drive. The other possibility is on the Spokane River, near North Idaho College, but after listening to several concerns with the river site, City Parks Director Doug Eastwood said the city might be leaning toward the Silver Beach site. The city might also have a chance to land a baseball field off 15th Street near Cherry Hill park.

"This is a beautiful plan," said Jennifer, 30, who couldn't be tracked down after she gave her comments for a last name. "I encourage you to continue to stand by it."

That vision came from a community "I want me and my family to be a part of," she said.

Topics were voted on when the discussion veered into two camps. The votes were tallied by members flashing a colored card. Those cards were then counted

Some of the results: 179 said they generally disapprove of the plan and 110 said they approve; 158 said leave the boat launch while 92 said it would be OK to move it; the public vote option, to include all the county, won in a landslide.

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